About two weeks ago, a cape dress pattern arrive from Gehman’s Country Fabrics. I’ve mentioned them before: I ordered a cape dress through them. Well, I liked it so much I decided to get the pattern for the dress.
The pattern is quite good: it’s simple (only six pieces), in proper paper rather than tissue paper like commercial patterns, with clear instructions on a separate sheet. It’s very easy to work with, although I was a little disappointed with the length of the skirt – a little shorter than the dress I had bought. I’ve since adapted the pattern slightly – I cut the bodice about an inch longer at the bottom to fall at a more comfortable waistline, and I cut the skirt a couple of inches longer, too.
So, naturally, after receiving the pattern, I set about sewing dresses. I had a bit of a backlog of fabric that I’d bought for dresses but not sewn into anything: two pieces that I bought in America ($1.50 per yard! Can you believe it?) and two pieces I’d purchased in Australia. I cut out the patterns for three of them and sewed them at the same time. I don’t have pictures at the moment; I’ll try to get some soon. One is of a mostly pinkish floral, and I did that one with long sleeves: gathered with elastic at the wrist. One is of a cream-based floral with dusty blue and greens in it: that one has three-quarter length sleeves, pleated into lace. The third is a black background, with bright blue, green, and yellow floral. That has sleeves gathered in pleats just above the elbow, with a ruffle.
The fourth lot of material, I thought was too bright for an entire dress. I’d seen pictures of vest dresses with contrasting vests, and I thought it looked nice, so last week, there was a sale on at the local fabric shop, and I picked up some plain-coloured fabric for quite cheap. I used the cape dress pattern, but ignored the cape bits and adapted the bodice pattern to get the vest. And I was just starting to sew, when… the sewing machine decided to stop working.
I honestly do not know what is wrong. It won’t sew for me. It will sew for my mother and sister. Go figure.
Either way, I decided to hand-sew the dress. Now, on the other dresses, I’ve hand sewn around the pockets, the edges of the cape, and the hem. That in itself is a lot of sewing. But an entire dress? I’ve never hand-sewn an entire adult-sized dress before (I guess I still haven’t, since the bodice collar was machine-sewn on this one).
It took a lot longer to make than dresses normally do. I mean, I can usually turn one of these things out in a matter of two or three hours on the machine. This one took more like two or three days.
Oh, well. It’s also a lot neater than machine-sewing. I’ve used a lot of invisible stitching, so you can’t see lines of thread around all the hems and the collar of the vest, like you usually would.
So, all in all, a productive venture. I might hand-sew more in the future; it’s soothing, and a lot, lot neater.