Howdy and Happy Thursday! Before I get into today’s post, a quick housekeeping note. I have added a few pictures and more detail into the post from Monday for Butterick 5030. There was a question about how I added fullness to the skirt, so I wanted to expand on that a little. If you have other questions, let me know! I’ll make sure to include more information on pattern alterations in future posts. I know how helpful it is.
Now, let’s talk about creative spaces. I always love seeing where people work; how it’s organized and arranged, what equipment and tools use, the aesthetics of the room. I started my business in the little house we were living in at the time, in the smallest spare bedroom you can imagine. Once all the furniture and equipment were in it, you could no more turn around before bumping into something. It made for some interesting sewing sessions! Then I moved into what was supposed to be the formal dining room, then into a new house and spare room, then a real studio space as we grew and needed the square footage. Right now, post-business and only sewing for myself, I’m lucky. Our house has a spacious loft upstairs that gets tons of natural light and there’s plenty of space to spread out. I know what it’s like to have your hobby crammed into a room the size of closet, so I’m very grateful to have the space I have now.
Side note: I spent a couple hours this week cleaning this room from top to bottom, but there’s nothing I can do about the dogs toys that are always hanging around . . .
There’s something so charming about a wrap dress. I designed one in my very first collection, and even now it stands out as one of my favorites. It had short sleeves and a layered, asymmetrical skirt and a sash belt, and I loved it. (See the bottom of this post for photos.) It was part a spring/summer collection, so we made it in a delicious linen/rayon blend that moved so elegantly and felt even better on. The dress was sold in a sample sale at some point, and I never got around to making one for myself. I’ve never forgotten about that style though, and I finally had some time last spring to make one–and I didn’t have to draft a pattern!
The thing about drafting a pattern for a wrap dress or top is that there’s contouring involved–a process whereby the pattern is manipulated to lie against the body without gaping open. It’s a consideration for any garment with a low neckline or cutouts, and it can be tedious and a pain. There’s a reason why so many wrap dress styles are done in knit fabrics; the stretch factor helps ensure a better fit. That said, I still love wrap dresses in woven fabrics–I just didn’t want to invest all the time required to draft the pattern myself. In my search for one, I got really, really lucky.
Butterick 5030 is the ultimate wrap dress pattern for wovens, and when I make it in red for the holiday season, it will be the third time I’ve made it. The fit is excellent (no adjustments needed), but I did make a few small design changes: I added a cuff to the sleeve, increased the flare in the skirt, and drafted a lining. I have a hard time not lining things, especially dresses like this. It just looks more professional and polished to me. I made it in blue cotton for spring and navy for fall.
This project is more than a year in the making. Last fall, after I closed my business of five years, I needed some time to switch gears. I hadn’t sewed for myself in way too long, and I was giddy at the thought of getting back into the studio on my own terms, without pressure or deadlines. Like many of you, sewing is, among many other things, comforting to me. I’m happiest in my studio working on a project. I feel productive, and it’s immensely satisfying putting my creative skills to use.
Knit garments were never really my thing. When I thought about knits, I did not think flattering or stylish. Sloppy, shapeless, and . . . shapewear. Because when was the last time you wore a knit dress without having to consider all the lumps and bumps? Yeah, same here. All that aside, I was anxious to start some projects that were different from what I’d been designing for the past few years. I was also down to almost nothing in my closet. That is no exaggeration. In addition to selling or donating nearly everything I owned, I hadn’t bought many clothes during the business years, nor did I keep any samples or garments for myself. I was down to one pair of jeans, some ratty tees, and workout clothes.
The last time I made a knit garment was in college. I was taking an advanced patternmaking class, and we spent a good amount of time studying knits and how to create those patterns. The mid-term was drafting a knit pattern and making the garment made from that pattern. I made a wrap dress with three-quarter sleeves in this icky, scratchy mint green polyester fabric with some sort of floral metallic design. Fabric choice aside (hey, I was a broke college student), the dress came out beautifully. I didn’t hate learning about knits, nor did I dislike the final product. I just fell deeply in love with fabrics like sateen and denim and linen and silk gazar and wool.
So, back to last year. I’m not sure where the inspiration for this project came from, but it was probably the discovery of the pattern. I spent a lot of time looking at patterns because I was finally free to use them for myself. (We drafted everything ourselves for the biz.) I loved everything about the design: the pleats under the bust, the fantastic sleeves, the wrap belt, the length. Perfection. Then, as luck would have it, I found a gorgeous grey knit. Now, full disclosure here, it’s beefier than what the pattern suggests and you can see that in the photos, but I love it. It’s a performance knit that would probably make a great zippered hoodie or pants, so it basically feels like wearing a sweatshirt. The best. The challenge with knits is finding something appropriate for your project, but also substantial enough so that you feel comfortable in it. If three layers of shapewear is required just for a dress to look good, you can count me out of that little scenario, thanks.
I got over halfway through the project and for whatever reason decided to put it away. It lived in my hidden storage tote of The Forgotten for over a year. The Forgotten, all the projects we give up on, abandon, or just simply forget about. Something told me to dig around that tote last week, and I rescued this little dress. Then I finished it in a day and fell in love. No shapewear required!
Vogue 8825. Cuffs, hand sewing, and hem left to do: