Thursday, September 4, 2014

The $10 Chrysanthemum Dress

I love the way this dress turned out. The fabrics match wonderfully and it’s quite comfortable. It’s more neutral than my usual super bright and exciting fabric loves, but it still manages to be rather attention grabbing, especially with the giant flower on the chest. I love that.
Love that giant Chrysanthemum!

Let’s start with the fabric. Since I’m also a gardener, I love how this fabric has the Latin names of plant written all over it. The floral is an interior décor fabric which was given to me by my aunt when she was moving. It’s a heavy cotton with no stretch but quite soft and flexible. I've hung on to it for years because it was a rather small piece and I just barely got this dress out of it. The collar and waistband fabric was a one yard sample from the design room at work (I work for an RV manufacturer), so technically, it was also interior décor fabric. It’s some kind of shiny synthetic that has almost a metallic tone under bright light, which I love.

The zipper came from a box of sewing bits and bobs that once belonged to my grandmother, so really the only parts of this dress I paid any money for were the thread (because I ran out halfway through the project) and the actual pattern. Total cost = less than $10. Awe-some!

I used New Look pattern 6799 for this dress. This was a new pattern for me and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. The dress turned out rather well and I’m happy with the overall look of it. There were some parts of the pattern instructions that threw me just a little but I was able to find a simpler way to put it all together, so I just went with that.

I sew the same way that I cook. I attempt to follow the instructions at least for the first time. After that, I make changes until I get something I’m really happy with. The only exception to this is that if I find the instructions either unreasonably complicated or just plain stupid, at that point, all bets are off and I have no idea how any of it will turn out. This one was somewhere between good and “screw that”.

The parts of this one that were confusing involved attaching the waist and the collar. I’m not sure why the instructions were written as they were, but they were a bit overly complicated, so I just attached them both the way I saw fit and completely disregarded the instructions from that point on.

I know that for some people, disregarding the instructions completely would have been a drastic move, but I’m perfectly comfortable with it and it often leads me to come up with fun ways to customize my newly made garments such as the top-stitching which is now on the collar.

Why will this photo only post sideways? I have no idea.
I don’t want you to think that this is a bad pattern. It’s not. I’m sure that part of my frustration with this pattern was that it was not the style of dress I usually sew. I prefer princess seaming because I feel like I have more control over that than I do darts, which in this particular case were not in the right location for me and I should have gone with my instincts rather than follow the little dotted lines. Also, this pattern had the chest just a bit higher than what is appropriate for my body. I have a longer waist and while I could have elongated the bodice if I’d wanted to, my lack of fabric prevented that. The other reason I think I was frustrated was that I’m used to being able to piece together a dress in two or three hours at most. This one took me five. 

Overcast seams took up a lot of thread.
I had to overcast all the seams because the cotton really wanted to unravel, plus the issue with the instructions, then I ran out of thread, then my machine decided to have a tension meltdown. I can’t blame any of that on the pattern.
I’m willing to concede that anyone else might enjoy this pattern more than I do, especially if they’re shorter in the body than I am. Someone else might understand the waistband/collar instructions better too. If I make anything else from this pattern, it will be the jacket, but I probably won’t actually read the instructions for that either. That’s just how I am. :P

Do you ever sew without instructions? Without patterns? Do you ever fly by the seat of your pants when sewing or do you have to follow every step to the letter?

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