Saturday, 20 January 2018

PR Winter Street Dress - version 3 for me. My first wadder of 2018


A while back, nearer the start of my sewing adventure, I made some Winter Street Dresses (pattern from Pattern - for me and for my daughter. I made all of the dresses in a short time scale as Pattern Review was running a competition to make this dress to celebrate the launch of their in-house pattern range. Looking back at my PR reviews, this was in May 2014. Here is the link to the review of the blue dress - and from that, links to the others.

Description of pattern:
"Just like it's cousin - Summer Street Dress, Winter Street Dress is an easy to sew knit dress with a waist seam and a narrow pleated skirt. The narrow skirt with inverted box pleats has just the right amount of ease where you need it, resulting in a very comfortable and cute tulip shape. The bodice is drafted for a "C" cup. There is a choice of elbow length flounce sleeves or a full length sleeve. You can even make it without sleeves. The skirt is designed to fall above the knee for a more trendy look but it is super easy to lengthen or shorten it. 

From Winter to Spring to Summer, this is a perfect transition dress! 

Fabric suggestions - A variety of knit fabrics will work here but we recommend medium weight knits for a more structured look. The pattern will work for lighter weight knits like rayon jersey as well. We do recommend lining the skirt if you are using lightweight knits." (From PR website)

I made a dress from very stretchy fabric - review here and photo below this - it stretched lengthwise a lot and the dress got longer and longer and the waist lower and lower! I tried to fix it by taking up a large chunk at the waist from both bodice and skirt but I accidentally created a hole in the fabric when I was unpicking. The fabric was so difficult to use. That was the least of its problems. It got jettisoned. 

Without belt

With belt

Because of the stretchiness of the fabric, it appeared to fit better around my bust than my remaining blue version, which is the only one of mine which remains (Joanne still has hers, I think - that's in a wine colour which is rather nice - review here). 

My burgundy one was my first and never fitted well so was given away. (I still have some of the fabric so might make a top to go under the kimono; I think it's in the correct colour palette)

I only wore the remaining one a couple of times, really, as I didn't feel quite right in it partly because it felt a bit tight. Also, I felt the folds at the back of the skirt just didn't lie nicely, which I put down to it being a bit tight. I liked the fabric and the colour (blue) though so it was kept in case I got slim enough to wear it. 

Even in this one, at the making stage, you can see that the inverted pleats don't lie nicely.
I didn't realise it was this bad even then!

I had some fabric from the same range in my stash. This wasn't in a colour or shade I liked so much but it's a colour that has been suggested that I should wear (petrol blue, I think, though I saw it as green and I see it as a bit dull and sludgy - you can tell I don't like it!).  I decided I'd make another Winter Street Dress, since I originally made a lot of changes to the pattern and I still had the printed pattern (it was a PDF pattern), though now I'd have to go up a size.

Wednesday - 10 January, First sewing bee of the year

I took the blue dress to sewing class and tried it on. Rory agreed that I needed a bigger size for my hips. However, she felt the dress was going up a lot at the back - by that I mean the back of the skirt was substantially shorter -  and directed me to add quite substantially to the back waist at the centre (8.5 cms!), tapering out towards the sides. I also had to add to the sides back and front, but not to the centre front. The pattern is designed to be cut with back and front identical and on the fold. After the alterations to the pattern, I now had separate back and front pieces. I made the tucks as suggested. Only then did I realise that of course I had cut out the bodice, which at the time I thought fitted me, to the original size - it would have been better to go up a size, I now feel. This meant that I had about 2 cms extra fabric at each side of the skirt.

Showing extension to back height

Close up view of front at the front and back under that.

At Home

I didn't follow the directions given on the pattern as I was now going to have to modify the skirt portion. The directions put the sleeves in flat and the finishing touch is to sew up each side and sleeves. However, I made up the bodice, using stabiliser in the shoulder area - this was the first time I have manged to insert tape properly using my overlocker. I set the sleeves - no problems. I finished all raw edges by overlocking. Actually, for the first time ever, I used the 4 stitch overlock stitch and made up the bodice on the overlocker, though I machine tacked first. I think this has worked well and the inside looks neater, more finished than my last version, which has some unfinished seam edges. I added the neckband also in the round - doubling neckband, in the round, quartering, attaching to right side of fabric, testing fit, then folding to the back and planned to do decorative zigzag stitching or cover stitching to hold the seam allowances down. I didn't follow this method previously. I think I followed the PR instructions, which were good and Deepika had an online tutorial covering neckband insertion.

My previous neckline seam attachment is concealed and I finished the neckline by stitching in the ditch.  Last time around, the neckband was attached unfolded, to the right side of the fabric, folded over to the wrong side, the seam edge turned under and secured by stitching in the ditch from the right side. They look completely different, much to my surprise. However, this method looks fine. I don't have a cover stitch machine so planned to use a zigzag stitch to hold down the seam allowances inside the neckline but Rory didn't feel I needed anything other than tacking the overlocking to the seam allowance at the shoulder - we'll see if that works. I didn't  have enough of a suitable shade of thread to do the neckline, the sleeve hems or the skirt hem, in any case.

After my bodice was finished, I machine basted the skirt front and back together at the sides. As the skirt waistband is wider than the bodice waistband, I used an extra tuck in the skirt and basted the skirt to the bodice, ready to see what see what Rory would suggest.

Wednesday - 17 January. Second sewing bee.

I tried on the dress for Rory to look at the waistline area. There were a few changes made - by pinning in place after releasing the stitching - taking a bit off the centre back skirt and a small bit off the centre front bodice. Rory suggested I should have taken a wider tuck rather than the extra small pleat but I did what I did because I had already done it if you see what I mean! I knew the stitching would be coming out.

I tacked together to test out the new settings - I thread traced where the pins had been to give me an idea for matching the bodice and the skirt as of course, the seam allowances were no longer the same size.

Rory thought the waistline looked much better. She felt I needed even more width at the back but too late for that. Then she thought it was simply the fabric being caught up on my trousers, which I was still wearing. She said the side seams were running straight.

As I was measuring up the alterations for the two sides (Rory marked only one side, front and back), I realised that my skirt was decidedly lopsided! This must be the result of my poor cutting out as it had not yet been physically altered. I showed my finding to Rory who said we would need to even up the hem from the floor.

At home - Thursday 18 January

I stayed at home rather than going to my sewing with Lyn. There were two reasons for this. First, the roads were snowy and icy - and if you don't need to go out, why do it? Second, I do find it awkward to be doing the same garment in two different places with, potentially, three different tutors. So I didn't want to take this dress, and didn't have another project ready. Well, I do have my Chanel jacket but I'll finish that at home. I don't want to start yet another until these are out of the way - I have enough UFOs as it is.

I overlocked both side seams of the skirt. As Rory felt that the skirt could still do with a little room, I simply ran the knife down the edge, so making the seam allowance as small as possible. While pressing it, I found the unevenness of hem again - see photo - this is clearly bad cutting out, sadly.

This doesn't look too bad - but in reality it was much worse

this is the kind of difference in length I was faced with 

I then attached the skirt to the bodice by pinning along the marked seam lines. I put the folds back in but found it incredibly difficult to get them even - I guess this is because my cutting was a bit off. I did my best and tried the skirt on - and got David to mark the shortest point of the skirt. I wore small heels, as I would with this dress and he measured from the floor.

I was going to go on and finally overlock the waistline seam, in which clear elastic is used for stabilisation - but I really don't like how the pleats are lying. I'm heavier than I've been for a while (David also thought the top was a little tight; I agree) so I thought that perhaps when I'd lost a stone or so, the dress would lie better.

At that stage I planned to take the dress to class (Third Wednesday - 25th January) and see if Rory might suggest a better position for the pleats. I hadn't done any top stitching with twin needle as yet as I still didn't have the correct thread colour. I decided to put it aside.

Friday 19th January

I bought the thread. It's a reasonable match. Later in the day, I became quite unwell with a sudden acute UTI, so I didn't do any sewing.

Saturday 20 January

I'm feeling unwell but not the kind of that needs bed rest so decided to take it easy and just think about and look at some of my projects and write this blog post. No actual sewing or having photos taken. 

I reassessed the dress. No, it's not going to work. I don't have photos of the dress to show you and feel too unwell even to think of having some taken. Look at the blue one - this one is tighter and the back inverted pleats much worse. When I looked at the earlier photos, the dress didn't appear to rise at the back - same dress as Rory said to add 8.5 cms to - so this must be due to weight gain. You can guess where the bulk of my weight gain goes!

This is going to be my first wadder of 2018, I fear.

The waistline inverted pleats don't work for me. I am too hippy - as a pear shaped person, my hips are relatively bigger than my waist. I have quite a high hip. The dress fits at the waist, but the pleats on the skirt are pulled apart too quickly and as a result are distorted. They serve to emphasise my large hips rather than just provide the needed space for them. David put it well when he said they point like arrows towards the biggest part of my hips. This was said in a constructive way. And NO!  - I'm not showing a photo of the offending area!

I wondered how I could change this.
  • Perhaps just gathering instead of pleats? I'm not a fan of gathering.
  • Altering my shape ie losing weight, which I want to do, anyway. However, I am sewing clothes for how I am now so that's not an option for this dress and the blue dress had problems with the pleats even when I was lighter.
  • Not continuing with it. This style is not flattering and the colour is not my best. David found it unflattering - style, type of fabric and colour

I certainly wouldn't buy it. So I'm not prepared to put a lot of effort into making something I wouldn't buy and won't wear. You might think there isn't a great deal left to do in this dress so I should finish it but I can use that time for something ultimately more useful.

David has suggested the FLF system for assessing my sewing:
  • F - Fit. It must fit well
  • L - Like. I should like everything I try to make for myself.
  • F - Flattering - even when it's ‘only’ a functional garment.

I like that.

This dress fails all 3 of these criteria.
  • F - it doesn't fit. The bodice and sleeves feel tight. The least said about the skirt, the better!
  • L - I don't like it. This is a combination of fit, fabric, style and colour
  • F - it isn't flattering. This includes the style of the dress - even if it fitted, it wouldn't flatter as the style is just not for me

So - it's official - it's a wadder. I feel quite happy with that decision as I knew I'd never wear it. I wore its predecessor a few times but never felt comfortable in it - and I liked its colour much more. I realise now that it wasn't just being tight through weight gain that was the issue. I just don't like the style. I recall that at the time, I was less than positive about the pattern, at least for my first version - but I tempered my prose as it was a contest. This was my first review:

"This style is not for me. I needed to make too many alterations to the bodice to try to make it fit at my waistline and I therefore presumably lost the originally intended design, though even more changes are required. I have gone ahead and made further alterations to the pattern, with a view to trying again - in the process correcting my faulty drafting of the side seams on the bodice, and turning the wedge at the back into a straight increase to avoid the dress being too high in the centre, which meant that the skirt didn't lie properly. I have also made the sleeves bigger for next time as these were very tight on me at the biceps; I also plan to drop the armscye slightly. My problems were worsened as I washed the dress again after construction to see if that would relax it, as I thought some of my manipulations might have stretched it out of shape (I got it stuck in my sewing machine! More than once.) but I feel there was further shrinkage as the sleeves at the biceps became much tighter than they had been prior to that. 
I do plan to make it for my middle daughter, who fits more clearly into the target demographic group, I feel or perhaps the one I made can be modified to fit her! She is happy with raised waists, short skirts and pull on knit dresses. Mine would be too big, though, I reckon I would need to sew a medium for her but perhaps mine has shrunk to a medium and I would just need to shorten skirt and sleeves. Nice thought!
I can recommend it to others as it is easy to sew, looks easy to wear and looks good on the pattern testers." Overall - 'Pattern okay but did not work for me'

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