I have a poor track record with sewing clothes – I'm talking unwearable results – and it's been several years since I've attempted to sew anything. But a few weeks ago I was writing a scene in my novel rewrite (more on that soon!) where a character is sewing a dress for her daughter, and I needed to brush up on the terminology. And then, of course, I got sucked into the massive amount of sewing tutorials online, and was inspired to try again, and do it right this time.
I pulled my sewing machine out of the back of the closet and spent an hour in a local fabric store trying not to go overboard. With everything I needed in hand, I made a "beginner difficulty" tank from Grainline Studio because I appreciate how modern Jen's patterns are. That turned out well, so I tried a shirt with sleeves, and that, too, was a success. After that I started playing around with making some minor changes to the pattern to fit my body type better, which naturally lead to reading about pattern drafting, which is intimidating but really exciting. When I go shopping it seems like I'm constantly saying, "I like this, but I wish it had different sleeves," or "I wish it was in a different fabric," or "I wish it was just a tad longer," and the idea of being able to make exactly what I want and have it custom fit would be a dream.
When I stumbled across this Nani Iro fabric I immediately knew I wanted to make a dress out of it. I also knew that the type of dress I wanted to make was essentially just a top with a skirt attached – two things that, on their own, I knew I could figure out. So, tentatively, I started to plan out the dress, making a test version in muslin first, then using the Nani Iro fabric.
The skirt of the dress is just two big rectangles of fabric that are pleated and then sewn together, but for the top I drafted a pattern, starting with a basic bodice and adding a princess seam and making it fitted and shorter. Then the top and skirt were sewn together and an invisible zipper put into the back. I'm simplifying, of course – there was a lot of trial and error, stitches that had to be ripped out and redone, and many, many, careful rounds of trying the dress on while pins held parts of it together. But there you have it! A dress. I have dinner reservations with a few girlfriends tonight and I'll be wearing it with a cardigan and tights.
(Do you have any favorite fabric/pattern/sewing resources? I'd love to hear.)