It has again been a while since I last posted, but this time I have half of a good excuse: last week Ben and I went to Mexico! I have no excuse for not posting during the preceding four weeks, though, so it’s not a whole excuse. We had such a great time, and I really want to go back, though I always say that about everywhere I go and never repeat trips because there are just too many things in this world to see. We spent lots of time swimming in the Caribbean . . .
. . . we snorkeled . . .
. . . we saw Mayan ruins . . .
. . . and perhaps the highlight of the trip for me was meeting this adorable squirrel monkey.
And of course, we ate tons of delicious Mexican food. I love traveling, and I hope that 1. I can find a real job when I’m done with this Ph.D. thing, and that 2. this real job will provide enough money for more regular travels. Before we left, I spent a lot of time sewing up summer dresses. In addition to the one I’m writing about today, I made a summer Sureau from Deer and Doe and a modified version of Kwik Sew 3758. Today I’m going to tell you about a mashup of Simplicity 2648 and the Deer and Doe Belladone. I’ve made three Belladones now, and I absolutely love the skirt. I like how the front pleat allows some extra give around the tummy area but still looks clean and smooth, and I love the option to add slash pockets. I didn’t do the pockets on this dress, though, because I had to squeeze this dress out of like 1.5 yards of fabric. I never buy enough fabric! While I love the Belladone skirt, the back bodice is too distinctive for me to want a thousand versions of it, and the front bodice is a little too boring for me to want a thousand versions of it. I wanted to find a good v-neck bodice, which was more difficult than I thought it would be because most of what I could find were surplice necklines, which don’t tend to work on me in wovens. I do love regular v-necks on me, though, because they visually break up the bust area and elongate the neck, both of which are flattering for large-busted shorties like me. I also wanted to find a TNT princess-seamed bodice, so I looked for one that had regular and v-neck options that I could easily attach to any skirt I wanted. I ended up with Simplicity 2648, which I was excited about because it’s one of their Amazing Fit patterns. I usually have terrible luck with the Big 4, but I’d heard good things about the Amazing Fit line from Simplicity. I think it turned out pretty well! There’s still a bit of wrinkling under the bust that I want to work out in the next version, and the waistline itself is just a smidge too tight, but overall I think this fits pretty well. I didn’t make a whole ton of alterations, either. I did my usual taking up at the shoulders, but not as much as I usually do – I think I only took it up a half inch because one of the amazing fit options is for petites. The princess seams fit pretty well, but I took them in here and there to reduce some wrinkling I had. I did alter the Belladone skirt by turning the regular pleats into box pleats, which I thought might made the skirt even smoother. I don’t know if it’s all that much smoother than the regular Belladone pleat, but it does add some variety, so that’s good. Thankfully it’s really hard to see, but I totally forgot to match up the bodice and skirt darts on the back of the dress, so they don’t match at ALL. The eyelet fabric hides it pretty well, and I don’t think you can see it at all in this photo though it’s somewhat noticeable in person. When I realized what I had done, I ripped out the pleats on the front skirt and realigned them so they matched the princess seam lines on the front because I didn’t want to look at mismatched seam lines every time I looked in the mirror, but I wasn’t about to rip out a whole dart in eyelet where the stitches sink into the embroidery around the eyelet holes. I was too worried about snagging the embroidery, so I left it as is, figuring that most people wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Thankfully, it ended up not even being that noticeable. You can see kitty Desdemona yelling at me in the photo above (she looks like a little floating ear, eyes, and mouth to the right of me!), so I had to appease her with a few pets: The eyelet fabric is from Joann’s. I bought it last summer as part of a grand plan to sew up a bunch of summer dresses, but never got around to using it. I was excited to find some perfectly matching poly satin at Joann’s for lining because I find that one of the RTW elements that’s hard to duplicate in home sewing is perfectly color-coordinated accents or trims. I’m always seeing dresses or tops with lace or crochet details that perfectly match the main fabric, but it’s hard to come by different types of fabrics that match each other perfectly unless you’re sewing neutrals, and we all know that I NEVER sew neutrals (though I totally need to because my closet is starting to look like a carnival or a clown convention!). What I’ve realized since buying this fabric is that Joann’s often has coordinating colors in their bridal section that match some of the seasonal fabrics. However, I’m not as excited about this as I once was because they’re all poly. I usually line with Bemberg rayon when linings are necessary, which can still be a little hot in the summer, but this poly made this dress almost oven-like in the humid heat of Mexico. I definitely won’t be wearing it on the hottest days of summer! While serging the bodice and waist together, a piece of the skirt lining accidentally made its way under the serger knife. I didn’t want to tear everything apart, go back to Joanns and hope to find more of this fabric, then re-assemble everything with the new piece, so I just cut a piece of the leftover scraps and darned the hole closed. I was a little nervous about this because the lining is visible through the eyelet, but you can’t tell at all. What a relief! I roughly followed Sewaholic’s tutorial for a clean-finish machine-sewn lining because I despise hand-sewing, but I couldn’t work out how to finish the armholes using this method. The tutorial is for the Cambie dress and its armholes are constructed in a unique way, so I wasn’t sure how to handle the regular armholes on this dress. I’ve used Rae Hoekstra’s clean-finish lining method for dresses without closures in the past, but I couldn’t figure out to do that on this dress either because of the zipper. I’m sure there’s a way to make these lining methods work together, but I think it dawned on me that they weren’t going to play nicely too late in the process – if I had tried to finish the armholes earlier than I did, I may have been able to do it. Since I was too late, I ended up doing the armholes last and just finishing them with bias binding. This bias binding (which is from my oft-mentioned benefactor, my friend Annah’s grandma) is extra narrow, which I think ended up not being that great because it makes the armhole smaller (does that make sense? Smaller binding=smaller seam allowance=smaller opening.). The armholes are just a bit too high on this dress for me now, and coupled with the waist seam that’s just a bit too tight, this isn’t the most comfortable dress I’ve ever made. Next time I’ll get it right! I really love the eyelet fabric, so I’m sad that everything didn’t work out perfectly, but it’s still a wearable dress. I love eyelet so much that while I was in the middle of making this dress, I went shopping and bought a dress from LOFT made of eyelet. You can see it in the picture above where I’m holding my monkey friend. I was a real renegade, buying a dress right in the middle of Me Made May, in which I chose not to participate. But that dress is exactly why I shouldn’t participate in things like Me Made May or RTW fasts. I still really enjoy shopping, and when I spot something unique that fits, I want to be able to buy it (and wear it, whether it’s May or not!). The trouble is that things don’t usually fit–which is what drove me to sewing in the first place–but when they do, I don’t have a strong belief that I should avoid buying them just because I know how to sew. I do have some concerns about supporting unfair working conditions in the fashion industry, but honestly, I’ve never shopped at the notorious “fast fashion” places, and I know less about how the fabric that I buy is produced than I do about how the clothes from Ann Taylor stores are produced. They have a website at www.responsiblyann.com that describes the steps they take to ensure fair working conditions and sustainable manufacturing, though of course I’m trusting them to be telling me the truth. There’s no way to find out how the fabric I buy is manufactured in most cases, so I can’t say I’m totally innocent of supporting bad things simply by sewing at home. In conclusion, I love both my new dress from LOFT and my new handmade dress and have mixed feelings about pretty much everything else, haha.