Plans and action!

my sidekick
I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, and it sure does feel good! I’ve only actually finished one thing though: Cation Design’s free dolman top pattern, which is AMAZING! I’ve already worn it so much it needs a wash before taking blog photos…
Right now I have unfinished on or around my table:
  • A Vogue designer dress I started before the gown thing happened
  • A “quick” silk blouse that gave me trouble with the hem before being cast aside in favor of the Cation top
  • An Archer that needs snaps and cuffs stitched down from the spring
  • A black double-knit dress started last Sunday

If I focus I could finish all of these projects easily this weekend. However, I really want to make another Cation top and I just got a stack of Sewaholic patterns in the mail, including the Renfrew. My small office is dressing up as one of our coworkers for Halloween next week, and I need a black and white striped tee. I’m just going to see what type of stripes JoAnn has when running errands this morning… I have a feeling a Renfrew is meant to be this weekend!

***The following is no longer relevant. I stopped by Ross when running errands, just too check, and I found a gown! I’m free! It’s black, boring, and made out of some horrible polyester knit that will never, ever wrinkle. It’s perfect! In other news, I did not find a single black and white striped knit, except for a few zebra prints. Why is that classic combination so elusive??

I’m feeling pretty great about all the sewing going on, but there is a cloud on my horizon. I found out last week that our Holiday Event is black tie this year and I need another gown. I just can’t face that again yet! I may buy something, and the thought of David’s Bridal actually crossed my mind a couple times. I’m also thinking about this dress, which is just a summer jersey maxi dress. What do you think? Does black make it formal enough? I could make a beaded belt or and add some beading at the neckline. Again, I’m working not attending, so no one’s really going to be looking at me and comfort is first priority.
Any ideas or advice on this one? I want the next gown I sew to be black and simple. Something that could be worn for any formal event that pops up like this.

Bay Area Generosity

Last weekend I attended a Bay Area meet up hosted at Vanessa’s lovely home. She doesn’t have a blog, but if she did it would be a great one – she’s SO creative and makes fabulous clothes and all sorts of other things. I had such a great time listening to everyone’s updates and seeing some really fantastic creations. The variety, creativity, and skill in this group of women is staggering.

I hadn’t been feeling very well and almost didn’t go, but I had been having a lot of trouble deciding on what to do about that gown and I knew that just being around these women would be inspiring in itself, and they might also be able to give me some guidance and reassurance about picking a pattern and moving forward. I wasn’t wrong! The consensus was that I should stick with the plan, which was to make Simplicity 2444, extending the skirt pieces to the floor. I’ve made this dress before, it turned out well, and it meets all my opera ball criteria (big skirt to hide comfy shoes, pockets, ability to wear normal undergarments). I’m so thankful for all of you, you really helped push me across a self-imposed, but real hurdle.

Image from Pattern Review

When I got home, I had a message from Vanessa asking if I was interested in a dress form she wasn’t using anymore, as it might help with my gown-making. How sweet is that? So, now I have a dress form! I’m so excited! 

Well, after all that I’m not sticking to the plan. Part of it is actually the renewed self-confidence I got from the meet up and having a dress form to do some basic fitting on, but an even bigger part is that I’m just not excited about that dress. Despite the protestations of the group, I still worry that it’s going to look homemade and young in a sea of designer gowns, and when I whined about this to my coworkers at lunch last week, one of them wrinkled her nose and told me flat-out to not do it. It hit me that she’s right. Even if my worries are unfounded and the dress would look fine, I just don’t feel good about it.

I decided to use the bodice of Vogue 1176, without the bow, and pair it with the skirt of Simplicity 2444, gathering the skirt instead of pleating it, and cutting it on the fold if possible. I feel good about this decision, and have the bodice pieces cut out and ready to start sewing. One of the most helpful pieces of advice from the meet up came from Beth, who said to just make the bodice first, and then worry about the skirt, which will come together in no time. It’s simple advice, but it really helped me think of this project in a more manageable way. I’m just going to construct the bodice today, and if it fails I know I can whip up the Simplicity bodice in a couple hours.

Image from Pattern Review

So, a huge THANK YOU to the sewing bloggers of the Bay Area who helped make this gown project happen! You all are wonderful!

And one more thank you has to go out to Meg, another Bay Area sewing blogger, who hosted a giveaway for Thread Theory Jedediah Pants that I won! As soon as this gown project is over I’m going to start planning a pair of pants for Eric. We’re both excited for this pattern!

Further Fanciness

Aside from sewing and hiking, my third passion is guitar, and since that’s the passion that has been winning my free time the last couple weeks I have nothing new to show this weekend. I have been spending some time thinking about my next big project, though, which is going to up the level of fancy in my sewing by a few notches, believe it or not. You guys, I’m so out of my element. I’m a bumpkin teacher, not an urban socialite!

Anyway, I have to go to a ball in September – a real, honest-to-goodness ball. It’s for work and I will be actually working at the event, but I still need a gown. I had been going back and forth about making or just trying to thrift one, but then I bought some fabric so I guess I’m making it. A gown is really just a dress with a long skirt, right? I can make a dress!
The perfect warm grayish lavender… a bit darker in real life
I found this poly dupioni in the clearance section of JoAnn. I know I should do better than a JoAnn poly dupioni, but gowns really eat up fabric, $3/yd is well within my budget, the color is absolutely perfect, and, most importantly, it’s not a shiny satin. This remnant of gray lace coordinates perfectly, but I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t make it in the final design.
Now I just need to decide on a pattern. Because I’m going to be working, I need a comfortable dress that I can move in. Pockets are a huge plus, as are sleeves, and the ability to wear normal undergarments is a must. Two weeks ago I was really sure that this was the one, but now I’m waffling. I’m afraid that the skirt might look frumpy unless I fit it perfectly. It will look especially bad if the seams aren’t pressed totally flat, and I don’t know if this fabric is capable of that.

Image from Simplicity
This dress turned out to be such a great design for working events that I kind of want to just make it again. I could incorporate the lace on the cummerbund included in the pattern. I am a bit concerned about being totally boring, though, both because the design isn’t all that interesting and my fabric is plain, and because I just made it and it has some distinctive features.
Image from Simplicity

There are a few more patterns floating around my head and my super-helpful Pinterest board (what did we do before Pinterest??), but none of them are quite as good as these two. I have a couple months to make it but I’m sure they will just fly by, and as much as I would love to gather inspiration and dream up the perfect design I really want to keep it simple this year.

Have you ever made a gown? What did you wear it to, and how did it all turn out? If you needed a gown in the near future, what sort of dress would you want to make?