I had planned to write this post a week ago, but I got sick last weekend and spent the next few days totally miserable – tired, stuffy, sore throat. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, especially getting all gussied up to take blog photos of completed projects! I cancelled class for my students on Tuesday but had to drag myself in on Thursday because they had a paper to write, and I also had an appointment to get my sewing machine cleaned on Wednesday, so I was really worn out from all the activity and was just a vegetable while I was home. I’m still sniffling now, but I’m mostly recovered.
Anyway, I finished my second Deer and Doe Belladone a few weeks ago and have been wanting to blog about it ever since. I have such a backlog of things I’ve finished and haven’t posted about that I’m going to talk about my first and second Belladones in this post. Let me start by saying that I LOVE Deer and Doe patterns! They fit me very well right out of the envelope, which is amazing. This happens more often with independent pattern makers than it does with the big 4, but it seemed like the Belladone was particularly easy to fit. I almost could have made it without any modifications, but I tweaked a few things here and there to make the fit better.
So this is Belladone #1, for summer. I was obsessed with this fabric – I just love colors (haha, can you tell from the walls in my apartment?), and this has lots of them, so it’s clearly superior to other fabrics! It’s a linen/cotton blend from Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study line, and it’s called Parenthetical in Potpourri. I was really pleasantly surprised with how little it wrinkled, considering that it’s a blend of two fabrics that are known for wrinkling. The first day I wore it I was running late, so I had to drive instead of taking the train to campus, and being scrunched up in the car plus seatbelt didn’t leave me with a wrinkled mess like it usually does.
My cutout in the back is still ever-so-slightly gappy, especially when I move in certain directions, but I’m mostly happy with it. When I wore this on that first day, everyone was complimenting me on the front, and then a few minutes later when I turned to leave, they’d gasp and then compliment me on the back! This is a dress that really knows how to make you feel good about your sewing skills, especially considering that the back isn’t really that hard to make! The directions are really well-written, and I wasn’t confused even once. The back is the area where I had to make the most alterations, which is typically the case for me. I took the two back pieces in slightly at the center seam and overlapped the top triangles a little more than was called for in the pattern. I also cut the back just a little shorter than the pattern called for because I always have a problem where if the front of a bodice fits me, the back is slightly too long. I suppose what I really need to be doing to solve the back problems is starting with a smaller size and then doing a full bust adjustment. There’s been a rash of really awesome and clear FBA tutorials going around lately, so I’m going to give it a go on my next new make. Lauren’s tutorial for the La Sylphide sewalong finally made sense out of FBAs for me, as did Alana’s for the Dakota sewalong.
I was really worried about that front pleat sticking out in an obnoxious way, but it looks pretty good, I think! Another alteration I had to make was taking the dress up a bit at the shoulder – I think about a half inch. As I’ve mentioned before, this solves two problems for me – armholes and waists that are riding too low. I also usually have some gaping at the armholes, and this dress was no exception though it was pretty minimal. In order to deal with it, I pinched out a little dart where it was gaping and then rotated the amount of the dart into the horizontal bust dart that was already in the pattern. It was my first time rotating excess into an existing dart, and I was pretty excited about how well it worked! It’s amazing to me how excess fabric in one area can be taken care of by removing it in another area. Magic, I tell you!
For winter, I want to make myself a long-sleeved t-shirt out a black tissue knit, because for some reason I think this would look awesome to wear underneath this. For now, I’ll just wear it with a cardigan, tights, and boots. This cardigan, by the way, really shows you how much I need to knit my own sweaters. It’s just way too long, even though it’s a petite size. I can’t wait until I know enough to make my own sweaters!
So that’s pretty much it for the first Belladone. After making and loving this one so much, I decided I wanted one for fall with sleeves. I had been eyeing some fabric for a while and it went on sale for like $4 a yard, so I grabbed it and decided to make my fall Belladone with it. Now that it’s all said and done, I’m not as in love with the fabric as I originally thought I’d be. It’s a quilting cotton, and it just doesn’t drape as well as the linen/cotton blend. I have a bad habit of falling in love with quilting cotton prints and then making things out of them that don’t live up to my expectations. I still have a few in my stash that I need to use up, but I need to institute a rule about buying them in the future. It’s so hard, though, because you can find them so cheap that it always seems like a great idea to buy them. Anyway, this fabric was annoying for two other reasons besides its hand. First of all, I didn’t buy enough of it to make the sleeves. I bought the same amount that I bought for the summer Belladone because I’d had plenty of extra left over and could have easily cut sleeves out as well . . . but that fabric was 54 inches wide and the quilting cotton was 44. Ugh. So I went online, found some at fabric.com, then hemmed and hawed about what else I wanted to buy along with it, and by the time I made up my mind it was sold out. Remember how I said it was on sale? Yeah, that’s because it was being discontinued and was in the clearance bin. I was really irritated with myself for being so stupid twice over and even cried. What can I say – I’m a crier. You’ll probably hear a lot about me crying on this blog! I finally found some at a website I’d never heard of before – Ladyfingers Sewing Studio. I was concerned that their obscurity wouldn’t bode well for my shopping experience, but it all worked out smoothly, so yay for Ladyfingers! This nefarious fabric is Lucky Penny Fallen Leaves in Night by Allison Glass, for those curious. Though don’t be too curious because you’ll never find the stuff!
So there it is, the fall Belladone. I had the worst time with that sleeve. I tried to use a tutorial from Threads to draft my own sleeve, but it was ridiculously too huge for the armscye. I don’t know if I did it wrong or if Threads is a propagator of the unnecessary sleeve cap ease that’s so rampant in commercial patterns, but it did not work out at all. I ended up just taking the sleeve from the Deer and Doe Sureau pattern and popping it in. The Sureau sleeve is gathered, but somehow it turned out that I needed to use a quarter inch seam allowance instead of 5/8 to get this sleeve to fit, plus it ended up not having enough fabric to be gathered. Whatevs, it covers my arms and doesn’t look horrible. I was never committed to the idea of the gathering anyway.
I really love the mustardy yellow paired with grey. I started to type that this is one of my favorite color combos, but honestly, when I really think about it, there are tons of combos that could qualify as “favorites.” I’m pretty indiscriminate when it comes to pairing colors!
I wanted to make the back solid as well as adding sleeves so this could be worn for fall without a cardigan. Everything seemed fine at the muslin stage, but I must have mucked something up because the top of the back was way too tall. It was crawling halfway up my neck. I hacked it down and it looks mostly okay. You can’t really tell in this picture, but when I hacked it down, it meant that some of the zipper teeth had to be enclosed in the bias binding I used on the neckline. I tried to cut the teeth out, leaving just the tape to be caught in the binding, but I didn’t do such a great job and the the stiffness of the zipper in the binding caused the two halves of the bodice to be uneven. You can’t really tell in the picture, but the right side is definitely higher than the left. I ripped it out once and redid it because it was really noticeable, but I didn’t want to rip it out a second time to get it perfect because I was worried about causing additional problems by stretching out the neckline with all the handling.
I mentioned earlier that there were two problems with this fabric, but I only told you the harrowing tale of not having enough of it to make sleeves. I also ended up not liking the all-over print once it got put together. Once again I chose a busy print that left me with no waist definition. I could tell right away that I didn’t like it before I even tried it on. I thought I might rip it apart and substitute a different color for the waistband. I had some grey fabric in my stash that I thought would be perfect. It turned out that the grey fabric didn’t match at all – it was too cool to go with this warm yellowy grey with mustard accents. Then I decided that it would be totally awesome if I could find a mustard fabric to match the leaves in the print. I even mocked it up in Gimp and loved how it looked.
What I didn’t realize is that that mustardy yellow color is exceedingly strange. I took a swatch into Joann’s to look at the Kona cottons, assuming that quilting cotton designers might take coordinating solids into account when designing their prints. No such luck. Against everything I could find, this mustardy yellow actually ended up looking sort of limey. So I gave up on that idea and went to Target, where I bought my second-ever belt. Woohoo, belts! You solve all my problems!
See how happy you make me, belt? You’re awesome. Why on earth did I ever think I couldn’t pull off a belt? My body apparently pretty much requires a belt whenever I wear print dresses.
So goes the tale of the Deer and Doe Belladone in my household. Wow, that was really long! At least you got to see two different dresses, though. I’m resisting the urge to call them “looks” after the marathon sessions of Project Runway watching that I’ve been doing. I feel the need to not call them “looks” or discuss how I’ve “styled” them. Maybe when I start taking myself more seriously as a seamstress (though it’s not Project Seamstress, is it?). For now, my ineptitude at making sleeves and ordering enough fabric make me feel that I’m not worthy of such high-minded language.
I finished my Sureau last weekend, just before the sickness caught me in its grip. I did a marathon photo session, so the photos are all ready to go and I’ll post about it in a few days. During that marathon photo session, of which this fall Belladone was a part, you may have noticed that my tripod is captured in the bottom right corner of all my photos. Editing it out would cut off my feet or part of my arm in most of the photos, so I’m leaving it as is. Ah well. I will figure out this photo thing someday, including not capturing the tripod and getting rid of the three feet of dead space above my head!