Monday, March 17, 2014

perfect pattern parcel: dandelion dress

Bare skin! Watch out now y'all. The earth is finally tilting in my favor after ignoring my pleas for like two full months. Though I prefer cold weather fashion, I will always prefer warm climates even if it means I have to stow away my beloved grandpa cardigans. My heating bill was half my rent last month, so... get lo$t, winter.

Here's a cool little number. I'm participating in the blog tour to help promote the newly launched Perfect Pattern Parcel, which is a way to purchase a bundle of five PDF patterns by independent designers -- naming your own price! -- with part of the proceeds going to charity. It's headed up by Jill of Made with Moxie and Rachael of Imagine Gnats. Cool idea, right? The first parcel includes five women's patterns, most of which you probably recognize:

Lady Skater Dress by Kitschy Coo
Dandelion Top/Dress by Seamster Patterns
Summer Concert Tee by Dixie DIY
Ava Dress by Victory Patterns
Accordion Bag by Sew Sweetness

The charity supported by this parcel is Donor's Choose, a non-profit that matches the needs of teachers and their students for specific projects with willing donors. The funds raised from each Pattern Parcel sale will support these efforts to minimize educational inequality and expand the resources available for children K-12 to receive a quality education. 

THE PATTERN: After much waffling about what to sew first, I decided to use this opportunity to try out a new-to-me pattern company, Seamster Patterns (formerly known as Disparate Disciplines). I knew they existed but I hadn't researched their patterns fully. The Dandelion Dress is a semi-fitted top or shift dress with a few combinations of necklines and sleeve options. I don't normally scramble to buy shift dress patterns because they're hard to fit on my body, but the unique construction and seaming of the Dandelion caught my attention. I've never seen anything like it. Here's the side, with the front on the left:

I chose to make the scoop neck raglan sleeve dress. The pattern pieces look crazy and I often had no idea what parts of the garment I was even sewing together, but suddenly I noticed I had made a dress. Here's what one step of the construction looks like:

It was fun to make something that was actually pretty simple but used a unique construction process. Sometimes you just get bored sewing plain ole side seams, yaknowwhatImean. The Dandelion is easy enough to follow and comes together surprisingly quickly.

FIT: I did have an... interesting time with fit. As expected with a shift dress, there was a swayback issue on my muslin. Big time. There was also excess fabric in the front, which I believe is how the pattern is drafted -- they advertise it as a dress you can move and eat comfortably in. My muslin was made of stiff quilting cotton and I looked preggo in it when I slouched. To adjust, I had to fold out two vertical inches of the back pattern pieces at the lower back and somehow grade it out to nothing at the sides (where are the sides?!). I kept muttering "This is going to be a disaster" as I was altering the pattern pieces, because a 2" swayback adjustment seemed outrageous and undoable, especially on unconventional pattern pieces like these. I also folded out 1" from the waistline at the front. Miraculously, though, it worked well enough. The dress now hangs properly and doesn't have a hurricane of fabric swirling over my ass. It's still a comfy fit though, as it's intended. This is the size S, by the way.

CHANGES (besides shortening it too much, duh): I used a knit fabric because it was the only workable fabric in my stash for this pattern. Plus I wanted to use something solid so you could actually see the seaming. I seem to own a TON of chiffon (why, oh god) and a TON of wool, but not much in between. Brilliant. I like the texture of this fabric, I think. It's a stable knit that was easy to sew, but it's kinda bulky at all those darts and seam intersections. Because of the darts, you can't really make this pattern as is on a serger alone.

To accommodate the knit fabric, I eliminated the back zipper and finished the neckline with a band instead of a facing. I attached the neckband flat before sewing the center back seam together so I didn't have to calculate the circumference. I hemmed the sleeves and bottom edge on my coverstitch machine. I thought that stupid thing was broken because it was spitting out garbage stitches on lighter weight knits last week, but it sews beautifully on this kind of fabric. Make up your mind, Coverpro.

As always I have things to point out about the pattern. Why can't I just say "'Here's a dress. Alright see ya"? I guess I think I'm being helpful to others by yammering on for days. What's wonderful, in theory, about this PDF pattern is that it tells you which pages to print for which variation you're making -- so I didn't have to print out a bunch of sweetheart necklines or tank top yokes if I wasn't going to use them. However, the guideline was wrong and it didn't list enough of the pages I actually needed, which I didn't notice until I had taped everything together so had to go back to the PDF and scroll through each page to figure out what I was missing. I haven't seen other bloggers mention this so maybe my version was weird, or maybe nobody wants to point out pattern mistakes.

These front bust darts drive me crazy. I tried narrowing them, but they are still very prominent and eye-catching on a solid color fabric because the dart points end directly on the apex. I softened the dart points here a bit in my photo editing software so I wouldn't cause you to blush, but in real life they're much more "Hey girl." I also feel like these seam lines and darts together with raglan sleeves and a scoop neck is kind of a strange style combination -- like this dress can't decide if it's a t-shirt dress or something fancier. Styling is key, and I'm not stellar at that because I don't own much jewelry or shoes. The scarf helps I guess. I made it!

PERFECT PATTERN PARCEL: There is a deadline to purchase the whole 5-pattern bundle, so you have until March 21, 2014 to do so, which you can do here. They're hosting a huge giveaway of fabric shop gift certificates, too, so head to their Facebook page to get a chance. There are billionz of other bloggers participating in the blog tour posting their own creations from the available bundle of patterns. Some of my favorite garments so far are: True Bias, Adirondack Inspired, and Crafterhours.

IN CONCLUSION: Here's a dress. Alright, see ya. Oh, and buy the PPP.