Thursday, April 10, 2014

Miss Artemis Seeks the Sun + Project Sewn

Good afternoon, kittens! Today marks the official beginning of spring. It's not the beautifully sunny days or the blooming flowers that usher it in, but something much, much nerdier. The Masters. This weekend, Sam and I are headed down to Austin, in order to indulge in a time-honored Danielson past-time: watching too much television, while eating BBQ and cheering for a tiny white ball. 

For me, a lot of this weekend will also be spent sewing. In addition to several sewing commitments on the docket, I'm in the full throes of preparing for Project Sewn. The designers for the upcoming season were announced earlier this week and I'm honored to be among their ranks. This is such an impressive group! Erin, from Miss Crayola Creepy, wrote a lovely post yesterday about her own decision to compete, which really resonated with me. You see, my excitement about participating was quickly overshadowed by doubtsI mostly sew dresses from patterns, are my skills up to this? What if I get laughed out of the competition, because a button-hole is wonky? What if nobody wants to vote for a plus-sized sewist? What if...What if...

Obviously, that kind of thinking was quickly banished. I've decided, much like Erin, that the key to enjoying this process is staying true to myself. This competition is such a wonderful opportunity, not only for exposure to the sewing world at large, but to challenge my skills. There are a few difficult projects I've had kicking around in my head for eons, but labeled as "someday" things. For Project Sewn, I'm tackling these head-onusing the competition as an excuse to make my dream garments! If I get voted out early, which is a distinct possibility, I'll still have checked off some sewing goals. It's going to be so much fun, no matter what!

With such a full sewing schedule, however, it means leaving a few other projects by the wayside. I had originally planned to spend the spring making a half-dozen easy, comfortable sundresses in preparation for summer. Instead, I'll be working exclusively on prior commitments and Project Sewn pieces. Except, of course, for this dress. Meet Artemis, my platonic sundress: a simple gathered skirt paired with my standard base bodice. 

In Texas, we spend most of the year bracing ourselves for summer. When you're sewing with thoughts of imminent 100-degree days, certain parameters come into focus. Cool, breathable fibers are a must, while form-fitting silhouettes should be used sparingly. The best summer dresses are sleeveless, swishy, and made from the lightest possible cottons. If you want to dress it up, grab a cardigan or blazer for the indoors. Layers are a southern sewist's best friend! 

Those guidelines gave me the Artemis. I used my bodice sloper to create a simple scoop-necked dress, adorned with a wide, gathered skirt. So easy! It's six darts and miles of gathering, finished off with a lapped zipper in the back. Only the bodice is lined, as fully lined dresses can be oppressively hot in August, in a coordinating orange cotton lawn. 

The fabric is a light, floaty cotton voile from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection. It's been in my stash for years, along with its purple colorway cousin, waiting for the right project. The print reminded me of Moorish painted tiles, like ones scattered through Spanish architecture, so buying it was a must. First it was going to be a Colette Jasmine blouse, then a layered skirt, butlet's be honestit had sundress written all over it! The pairing of tangerine and sky blue makes me want to stroll through an open-air farmer's market or sip sangria on a (well air-conditioned) patio. 

Pattern-matching was kind of a battle, but it turned out reasonably well. There are little spots that aren't quite perfectthe side seams, oh heavenly seam ripper, the side seamsbut nothing is too distracting. All-in-all, this dress is just what I wanted: a simple, pretty project before the days of epic sewing begin. There was minimal fuss and a totally delightful result! I'm especially looking forward to wearing this beauty, once my standard summer glow returns. That orange is going to be killer! 

Alas, it's back to the sewing cave for me. My highly anticipated day off will be spent cheering over birdies and muslining a vintage pattern. Wish me luck! Oh, improbably high bust darts, how I adore you...

The Details...

Things I Loved:

  • The ease! This is a three-hour dress, tops. Is there anything better?
  • The fabric! Soooo light and airy. 
  • The bodice! Slopers are such a great bodice base. This one was made a little roomier, with those sweltering summer days in mind, which makes it super comfortable. 

Things I Changed:

  • Nothing! Ah, the beauty of self-drafting.

Things I Will Change, Next Time:

  • Come June, my next month of open sewing, I'm going to make a pleated version of this dress. Bring on the novelty prints!

Tips & Tricks:

  • When gathering wide expanses of fabric, try three rows of basting, instead of two! It allows for more even gathers and control. 

Notions & Fabric:

  • 3 yards - Joel Dewberry voile
  • 1.5 yards - orange cotton lawn lining. 
  • 22'' orange zipper

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