Friday, July 25, 2014

Vogue 1390 - Brown Pleated Shift Dress

While I have been lax on blogging, I have been sewing here and there.  I sew because I like being able to make things to wear, and also because it is a good, constructive, creative way to occupy my mind and body, which makes it fun for me.  Unfortunately, my projects have piled up unblogged because it is difficult to get them photographed.  Even though for the most part I do the photographs myself, it still requires a block of time to take the photos, and another block of time to edit.  I do like to have a record of my projects here, however, so I'm not going to worry about the order and go ahead and blog what I can.

Anyway, my most recent make is this Sandra Betzina dress pattern Vogue 1390.  It looks like I made view B (and I did use the 'v' neckline) but I used view A's directions because my pleats were already on my fabric.  This is because my fabric is a cotton pleated shower curtain that I purchased for $3.99 at the thrift store:
Sorry for the blur
I had purchased the pattern when it was on sale and was keeping my eye out for some kind of panel printed fabric.  When I was trawling the thrift store linens section, I came across this shower curtain with its chocolate brown pleats (I am very, very attracted to texture in fabric), a little light bulb clicked on in my head and I thought it might work instead.  For $3.99 it was worth a try!

One thing I will say about refashioning items from one thing into another:  you never have as much fabric to work with as you think you will.  I had to cut the heading with the grommets off and I had to cut the hem off, which reduced my yardage.  I carefully cut the lining away.  The pleated section was on the edge, so I had to cut off some plain yardage and sew it to one side of the pleats so that the pleats would actually be centered and be wide enough for my center sections. The pleats were pressed down in alternate directions, and because I used the pleated section on the front and back panels of the dress, I couldn't play around with the placement -- my main concern had to be actually getting the yardage I needed.
These pleats are much narrower than the ones given in the pattern directions for view B, but as long as you pleat your fabric before you cut it out, I'm sure you can make your pleats any size you want.  Again, I didn't do any of this because my fabric came already pleated; however, if you are interested in doing these alternate wavy pleats yourself, I found this tutorial that explains the process.

Here's a view of the back.  It's wrinkled but that is because I've worn it all day (and at least three other days now -- one was my day of flying to Tennessee.  It's a great travel dress).
This is a substantial little dress.  The cotton itself was sturdy, the panels are pleated (which adds fabric heft) and the yokes, the bottom bands and the side panels are all doubled (which further explains why I barely had enough fabric -- I had to do a little creative piecing with the side panels).
This is my first time making a Sandra Betzina pattern.  Her sizing is different, but a size C is roughly equivalent to a size 14.  Although I usually add an inch to the side seams at the waist of size 14s, it was a little confusing how to do this with this pattern, and the dress is supposed to be loose-fitting, so I cut a straight size C and hoped for the best.  I did shorten the length by two inches (I'm 5'8"); I was afraid a longer length might look too dowdy.
The most time-consuming part was cutting out the dress, and that was because I had to reconfigure the fabric and sew pieces together just to have enough.  Once I finally got everything cut out, I sewed the whole dress up in a single afternoon (except for ten minutes), which is super fast for me.  It may have been because I was working with a sturdy woven cotton, which is very cooperative.  There is also no hand sewing on this dress, no turning up of a hem, and no zippers or other closures, all of which make it faster to sew.
The construction of the dress was a little different, so I was afraid to deviate from the directions very much.  Sandra advocates finishing all the seams with a serger, but I just stitched and pinked all mine, which worked fine.  I finished the sleeve seams by sewing purchased bias tape to the edge and turning it to the inside and topstitching it down.  The final silhouette has a bit of a bell shape.  I took a little of the hip curve out (the hip curve on dresses and skirts always hits me mid-thigh, I need to make some type of fitting adjustment prior to cutting out), but I left some of the bell shape in.  It's subtle (and hard to see in these photos), but it's another fun element to the dress.

I have to say this is a very useful and comfortable addition to my wardrobe. So far I've worn it for a day of traveling on a plane and through airports, to an outdoor military ceremony, and to church.  It could go to the grocery store just as easily, and to be honest the most needed clothes in my life are things I could wear to the grocery store.  And I love that it's made out of a shower curtain!! But my favorite thing about this dress is that it goes with these shoes:
Crown Vintage Peony Wedge Sandal
I bought these (as well as a brown pair) from the online DSW clearance section with a birthday gift card from my husband:)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


A large rainbow that appeared over my neighborhood this past spring
It has been awhile since I posted.  I have to confess that for the last few years I have been feeling a bit squeezed by life.  Reading blogs by others (one of the most encouraging to me is Brenda at coffeeteabooksandme and if you haven't read her blog I 'implore you to exert yourself' and give it a try) and blogging myself has been helpful, but sometimes blogging itself gets squeezed out by life.  I have four boys and a daughter, all now teenagers/young adults, ages that bring with them a lot of relational, parental, emotional, and financial challenges.  I love them all to pieces, but I don't always know the best way to maneuver in these difficult waters.  Add to that the reality of aging/dying parents and the awareness of our own growth in years, job stresses, etc. and my husband and I looked at each other one day and said "This must be what a mid-life crisis feels like!"  Hmmm........

I appreciate so much your kind comments about my mother's death.  It is strengthening to have the support of friends.  I just returned from spending a week and a half with my siblings cleaning out my mom's house in Tennessee.  As an adult I have never lived in a house with a basement and often lamented that fact.  I am rethinking that now:)  Apparently, a basement is a place where you can just put all the things you don't know what to do with, and after 30 plus years in the same house.......let's just say my brothers became very good friends with the man who ran the dump!  We didn't get completely finished, but we made a good dent in it.  We each chose some things to keep (and I am now trying to fit my treasures into my house), and the rest will go into an estate sale.

We coped emotionally because the work just kept driving us forward.  We didn't have much time for meditation.  We boxed up the photos and decided that maybe next summer we will get together to go through them - there was no way we would have been able to do them this time.  My two brothers and my sister and I all get along very well, so while the task was difficult, the time spent together was comforting and relatively stress-free (I just realized I made a pun;)  We really didn't want anyone else to help -- it was a job that needed to be "just us."  We got to spend some good time with my dad and his wife as well, taking him dinner three different times.

There were some fun things.  My brothers and I stayed up late one night laughing at old photos:  all I can say is the 1970s and 1980s were not kind, style-wise......  My sister and I found our wedding dresses and prom dresses (all made by my mom).  Lots of things we had forgotten about.  But a lot of my mom's possessions (her "nice things") were acquired in the last 25 years, after we were all grown and out of the house.  The grandkids associated all the nice things with her, but my siblings and I remember instead the naugahide couch that we used for building forts and for sliding down the stairs on the cushions and things like that.  (For the record, I totally understand waiting until the kids are grown before having nice things because kids break things;)

There were other fun things.  Over the weekend I spent the night with two of my high school friends, and we had a wonderful time staying up til three in the morning reminiscing and catching up.  Also, another friend and her husband came and took me for dinner one night, and a fourth friend came by one afternoon and we spent about an hour catching up.

I thought I would have a little more downtime for memories and driving around significant places, but it was really too busy.  I did spend one night alone in mom's house (I flew to Tennessee, but my husband drove in the next week so he could pack my stuff up in a trailer and we could haul it back to Texas).  That night it was hard to go to sleep -- very, very seldom in my life have I spent the night in a house by myself:)  But as I lay there thinking about life now and life after death, I realized that the things that are the most solid, and most central, and most real, are God's truths.  When life's hard or sad or happy times come round, those truths will hold.  Sometimes Confessions say it best.  Here is Question 1 from the Heidelberg Catechism (1563):

Christian, what is thy only comfort in life and in death? 

That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him. 

Also, the words of Paul:

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21 (KJV)