Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tell Me About Your Sewing Machine!

Hello, my dear ones!

First off, thank you so much for the outpouring of support after the Project Sewn results were announced last week. Was I totally bummed for a second? Definitely. Reading all of your awesome comments and e-mails helped brighten things up, however. What's more, I spent a whole weekend in San Antonio, tagging along with my love to an academic conference, without my sewing machine or reliable internet access. Woohoo! A weekend without looming sewing deadlines came as such a relief. Your support throughout this last month has been overwhelming, y'all. Is there any better community than sewing bloggers? I think not. You're the best.

Secondly, the amazingly talented finalists for our lovely season of Project Sewn are up with their outfits today! Go check out the gorgeous creations from Christie, Kelly, and Trine. Then, as ever, vote vote vote!

Third, we come to the topic of today's brief post: sewing machines. Namely, mine and the fact that it's going to die at any second. She's struggling with thick fabrics, she's breaking needles at an alarming pace, and her bobbins just don't wind as tight as they used to. Things go a little slack in one's dotage, you know. We've had a good run, but it's increasingly clear that she's longing for The Farm. Ergo, I need a new machine.

The last time I bought a machine, I opted for cheap and well-reviewed on Amazon. While I loved my Brother dearly, there are some things that started to grate on my nerves over time. With those things in mind, I've created a new machine wishlist:

  • Sturdy. I want to sew denim without thread catastrophes, kittens!
  • Ability to stop stitching with the needle down.
  • Reliable buttonhole function
  • Easy twin-needle use
  • Beautiful, even stitching
  • Cost-effective (Under $650)
Unfortunately, that last one is extra-important. A Bernina, even a refurbished one, just isn't in my current price range. That will have to wait for a big book deal or magic lottery win! Instead, I'm eyeing some particularly interesting mid-range Janomes.

And yet...

And yet...

I have zero idea which one to choose, despite reading all the reviews. Instead, I''m curious what went into your Big Decision. Tell me all your deepest sewing machine thoughts, friends! What kind do you have? Why do you love it with abandon or, conversely, daily curse it into the depths of Hades? What is your dream machine? Tell me all the nitty-gritty, dust-clogged details! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Project Sewn: A Trip to Sweetish Hill

HallÄ! God morgan, friends! Can you believe we're already in the third week of Project Sewn? Time has flown by, no doubt thanks to my recent weekends of manic sewing. Though I had planned to sew ahead in the competition, I'm too prone to flights of sartorial fancy to turn that into a reality. My ideas, they are both dogged and tardy.

This week, we're sewing along with the "Going Global" challenge. The idea is to choose a country as inspiration for an outfit, drawing influence from its culture, food, architecture, or whatever else gets your gears turning.

Now, this is where my political little mind hesitated for a few weeks. My mother refers to me, lovingly, as a "bleeding heart, touchy-feely socialist," which is not an incorrect assessment. To my mind, this challenge could quite easily verge into the dangerous territory of cultural appropriation, rather than the intended cultural appreciation. I wanted to steer clear of such territory, for my own peace of mind. That left me with a few safer alternatives: use something specific to a country, but not its people, like English roses or the Eiffel Tower, or channel a culture I have direct ties to. As you may have realized by the overabundance of yellow and blue in this week's entry, I chose the latter option.

While my mother's line is made up of English planters who came to America pre-revolution, my dad's family was one of the many millions that came through Ellis Island in the 19th century. They left their small village, outside of Gothenburg, Sweden and eventually settled in Iowa. (Note: His mother's side has a very similar story, only originating from Germany and winding up in California, instead. We Americans are such a melting pot!) Like many other American families, we've kept vestiges of this heritage alive in our own traditions. Swedish flags decorate our Christmas tree ever year and meatballs make regular appearances at large family gatherings. What's more, if you're a wee Danielson girl, there is a picture over a mantle somewhere of you in a lavishly embroidered yellow-and-blue dress. My mother, somewhat thankfully, couldn't put her hands on mine for this post. It exists and it is cute/embarrassing, I promise you. (Here, members of the Swedish royal family wear similar versions to my own)

For this week's challenge, I decided to make a modern, womanly version of that exact outfit. My vision was a dress in the same timeless blue and yellow of the Swedish flag, with touches of embroidery and heirloom sewing, all paired with a simple, feminine silhouette. This would be my homage to all those hard-working, hand-sewing Swedish foremothers of mine. 

Using a midweight bright blue linen, I made a base dress from Simplicity 1873 and a classic dirndl skirt. The high neck and slightly puffed sleeves of 1873's Version A fit my vision to a tee--simple, but with a dash of the romantic. Though the skirt of 1873 is already a pleated, full affair, I wanted something a bit more traditional than Cynthia Rowley's asymmetrical mix of box and knife pleats. Instead, I cut a wide dirndl skirt, which I box pleated myself. On something of a whim, I decided to concentrate the pleats toward the sides of the dress, rather than evenly spaced, for a fuller effect. 

I've made this pattern a few times now, though this was my first time using the higher neckline and sleeves. Y'all, these sleeves are my everything. They are so pretty and brilliantly constructed! The fullness comes not from the sleeve cap, as expected, but instead from five darts along the sleeve hem that cinch everything in. The resulting sleeve has a nice fullness that makes one think princess, not linebacker. When you've inherited not only blonde hair, but wide viking shoulders, from your Swedish ancestors, this is a welcome difference. 

Meanwhile, the high neckline would not usually be my choice, but I wanted the detailed embroidery to act almost as a necklace would, pointing interest toward my face rather than my decolletage. Not only did that work out splendidly, but I love the mix of high neckline and puffed sleeves. The whole dress makes me feel a bit like a Disney extra, with talking birds and helpful vermin just one cheery song away.

Let's see. What else can I say about this dress? Oh right, I EMBROIDERED THE HECK OUT OF IT. You see that charming yellow and white motif around the neckline? I did that myself and it took forever. We went to visit Sam's lovely parents last week and I did not stop embroidering. I embroidered in the car. I embroidered on the couch. I embroidered, to disastrous effect, while fetching with Seamus. The pattern is a variation on Sublime Stitching's Double Dutch, which I tinkered with to get the desired Scandinavian flair. 

After embroidering for days upon days, of course, my mother informed me that the embroidery on my own wee Swedish dress was actually just ribbon. That would have saved time, but I like this oh so much better! Hand sewing is soothing in the kind of way I'd always hoped knitting would be. Don't be surprised if I embroider 1000 things now. 

Technique wise, this was laborious but relatively pain-free. The design was made using a mix of stem stitches, split stitches, and french knots, which are the basic tools of the embroidery trade. To prevent buckling of the fabric, I interfaced the neckline before placing the bodice on a hoop. If you're also keen to do this yourself, check out the tutorials from Austin's own Sublime Stitching. Not only do they have awesome modern patterns, but Jenny's tutorials are super helpful if you're a beginner or need a quick refresher! 

Once the embroidery was finished, I turned my attention to the hemline. Usually, a traditional Swedish folk dress is accompanied by a coordinated apron skirt. Since such an addition would be a bit too much for everyday wear, I forewent it in favor of rick-rack. These three lines of yellow and white rick-rack maintained my goal of heirloom sewing, but kept it from being too literal an interpretation. It's such a cute detail, don't you think? We need a rick-rack comeback, sewing friends! 

Anywho! The dress is lined in more blue linen and finished off with a lapped zipper in the center back. The hem was turned with navy blue lace and could use a less timid pressing, if these pictures are any indication. I was terrified the polyester lace would melt, as can all too easily happen. That would have been a nightmare!

I adore this dress, y'all! I'm not sure there's a more Mary piece in my wardrobe. The only problem, of course, is that it's too cute to cover up with a sweater or jacket! So, if I wanted a second piece for this week's Project Sewn, I needed to get creative. 

Enter the ever-beloved bow clutch. Not only are they fabulous, but so easily DIYed. I needed my own version! I bought a length of mustard yellow leather-like fabric from JoAnn's and made it so. Though it looks a bit complicated, the project is just a matter of sewing rectangles in the correct order. I added an outside bow to a basic rectangular clutch, which sits free across the body, so that a cute hand hold is created. To keep up the theme for this week, I finished it off with a bright blue zipper for a bit of contrast. 

On Thursday, I'll actually be back with a quick tutorial for this project. Once everything is measured and cut, it's an amazingly quick bag project. Friends of mine may get entirely too many for birthdays this year! Personally, I now need them in a dozen more colors...

So, there you have it! What do you think of my updated Swedish folk dress, kittens? My poor grandmother had to put up with an emergency embroidery phone call, but I think it was worth it. All that hand-sewing was such a calming, centered sort of creativity. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you've yet to try real thread-work. 

 If you're of a mind, make your way over to Project Sewn to check out the other fabulous projects and vote, vote, vote! Incidentally, the title for this project is taken from one of my favorite places in Austin, Sweetish Hill Bakery, which not only sits at the base of Swedish Hill, but baked our wedding cakes. They also make the best Swedish-style cinnamon rolls in Texas!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Project Sewn: Twice the May Flowers

Good morning, dear ones! It's time for another round of Project Sewn, this week with an emphasis on all things floral. As you can imagine, when I got the news of this challenge, there were whoops of Mary joy heard far and wide. Florals are kind of my thing

The problem with having a thing, of course, is that it makes decisions complicated. Should I make another go-to Liberty shirtdress or perhaps try my hand at Alabama Chanin embellishments? Should I make one piece or two? Should I...? There were too many options! In the end, I circled back to my personal goal for this competition. No matter what happens, make things you really want. So, I picked a piece I've long lusted after: a floral trench coat. 

There's something so unexpectedly chic about a printed coat. The silhouette is classic, but the print lends a bit of whimsy to an otherwise practical basic. As luck would have it, Hancock Fabrics had just the right print for my vision--a bright, multicolored floral rayon blend "linen-look" fabric.

Side note: Blessed be, I've discovered a nearby Hancock Fabrics! The town 30 minutes south of us not only has a Hancock's, but a Hancock's staffed by the fabulous Garment Farmer. When you've lived with only a JoAnn's for six months, there is no more exciting day than visiting a store with actual apparel fabrics and stumbling upon a fellow sewing blogger. Land of pretty cottons, how I've missed you!

Ahem. Back to the coat at hand. In addition to being gorgeous, this blue floral rayon was also conveniently hefty and fairly water impermeable. Fate, quite obviously, knew it would be a trench coat. 

For the coat pattern, I decided on Butterick 5966, a princess-seamed coat, with a wide skirt and collar options. This version of the coat is a reinterpretation of the Victorian tailored dresscoat, with delicately puffed sleeves and that dramatic collar. It's so Dr. Who meets Oscar Wilde! I absolutely adore it. 

Rather interestingly, the coat is finished off with a hidden button fly down the right front. This was my first time inserting a fly and it was surprisingly easy. You know, after I accidentally sewed it shut once. Whoops! I'm going to go ahead and blame this on Butterick's horrid illustrations, however. Big 4 direction pamphlets really need to catch up with their detailed, helpful indie counterparts. 

The rest of the coat, though, really was a breeze. I lined the whole thing in aqua-and-white pinstriped cotton and finished it with white vintage gumball buttons down the front. You can barely see them in these pictures, but they're there and they're adorable!

For modesty's sake, I did need something to wear under the coat. People get arrested for NSFW trench coats in Texas! To the rescue came my trusty Mood Fabrics. Last month, I'd ordered this gorgeous white cotton voile, heavily embroidered along each selvage with a white floral motif. It made the perfect little white dress to show off a colorful statement coat.

Thanks to all that gorgeous embroidery, working with this voile was tricky. The fabric itself is quite light, so it snagged and ripped with the slightest pull, even from its own embroidered parts. To mitigate this, I kept the dress silhouette simple. For the bodice, I chose the darted princess seams of Butterick 5982, then attached it to a wide, gathered dirndl skirt. The dress is lined in white batiste, which provided both coverage and kept the floaty, ethereal quality of the voile.

As a final touch, I cut away the rest of the selvage (about four inches) from the hemline of the dress, so that it finished with those lovely embroidered scallops. It took forever, but it was so worth it! It's special touches like this one, which make me fall in love with a piece.

Twice the florals for Week Two of Project Sewn! Woohoo!

I'm going to be honest, friends. Taking these photos was a bit of nightmare. After we combated gale force winds our first time out, I was unexpectedly thunderhailed upon the second time around. Also, WHITE IS REALLY DIFFICULT TO PHOTOGRAPH. No matter how cute this dress looks in person, the camera refused to pick up all the details. 

Le sigh. I actually had a good cry about these photos last night, in a ridiculous flailing sort of way that only a Ramos Gin Fizz and Sam could cure. It was so silly and probably caused by other stressors. Now, I'm thinking of suggesting a new law to the science community: The more important a photoshoot, the worse the weather in Waco will be. It's always when I have Vision and Plans that a surprise hurricane blows into town. Though this outfit deserves all the fancy things, the only worthwhile shots ended up being in a parking lot in low light. 

That's the way the needle sews, kittens. I joined Project Sewn to push my boundaries, after all, not become a photographer (Which is good!). Though this photoshoot didn't turn out as envisioned, both of the pieces did. I'm going to wear the heck out of these. Even better, today is downright chilly! I would complain about not having a cute, lightweight coat to wear, but that's just been fixed. It's going to be so much fun wearing this little lovely around today.

What's also fun are the other AMAZING outfits in this week's Project Sewn challenge. If you were knocked out last week, prepare your smelling salts. The other contestants absolutely hit the ball out of the park with this challenge. Each and every piece is well-crafted and swoon-worthy! So, hop on over to Project Sewn and vote for your favorite!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thank You!

Good evening, friends! The next Project Sewn round starts tomorrow, which is quite exciting, but I wanted to pause for a moment before it gets started and thank you all. 

Last week was an extraordinarily stressful one for me, with the end of my last semester wrapping up and some family business to attend to, but there was one, shining bright spot. Your support! Every time I logged on the blog, there was another new comment on my Doris suit, with more words of encouragement. It not only gave me faith in my work, but provided some much needed cheer. I'm still shocked to be in Project Sewn, so actually winning the first round blew my socks off, as well. I walked around in a state of amazement all of Friday, mouth fixed with a goofy smile. I couldn't have done it without all of you, so thank you, thank you, thank you

You are the bee's knees. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Project Sewn: "That Touch of Doris"

Good morning, kittens! Are you feeling bright and bushy-tailed? I am, because PROJECT SEWN BEGINS TODAY! Woohoo!!

Ahem. Sorry for the abundance of exclamation points and caps lock, it's just that I've been musing on, then sewing, this outfit for a solid month. It has taken over my brain, causing me to have hour-long conversations with my beloved about the artistic importance of button colors. Though, honestly, that conversation was nothing compared to the great Grace Kelly v. Doris Day debate that raged across our dinner table for a week. 

You see, the first challenge theme for Project Sewn was "Leading Ladies," in which we were meant to channel an iconic Hollywood starlet. As the girl who grew up on AMC, instead of the Disney Channel, this challenge was totally in my wheelhouse. I love classic movies, but what's more, I love classic movie fashion. After much deliberation on whom exactly to chose, I went with one of my personal icons, the great Doris Day

During her film career, Doris Day was the ultimate girl next door: blonde and bubbly, with the voice of an angel. Personally, I have always known her as the woman of a thousand suits. In almost every one of her movies, Doris wore some delightfully matchy-matchy, perfectly tailored ensemble. They came in pink and they came in green. They were always, always, worn with a semi-hilarious hat and an ultra-feminine blouse. 

There was no question about it. For Project Sewn, I would be making a vintage-inspired skirt suit. 

Cue the endless hand-sewing! 

First up, let's talk about this fabric. By a stroke of luck and maternal generosity, I was already in possession of four yards of Linton Tweed. That's right, the people who make the fabric for Chanel

Did your mind just explode? Mine certainly did. My mother ordered this gorgeous red-orange tweed last fall, with the thought of making it into a skirt for herself, before giving it to me in a moment of Christmas-induced weakness. (Thanks again, Mom!) So, not only was I making a retro suit, I was making a retro Chanel suit. This had to be done with reverence and--Oh, heavenly bound buttonholes!--real tailoring techniques. 

After that little fabric miracle, a pattern was chosen. Or, rather, patterns. The jacket is from an original 1964 suit pattern, while the blouse and skirt are both self-drafted pieces. Sewing up this jacket was such a fun, surprising adventure. Though I own quite a few vintage patterns, I've only sewed up a few simple dresses from them, for fear of their notoriously tricky sizing. This jacket pattern, however, fit me perfectly out of the envelope. I'm not sure that's ever actually happened to me with a woven garment, y'all. When I tried on the muslin, I actually had to have Sam exam it carefully, just in case I was seeing things. 

Nope. Not a single change was needed. Amazing!

The really amazing parts of this jacket are all hidden, of course. Y'all, so much work went into the guts of this piece. The whole jacket was first completely underlined, by hand, in white cotton batiste, to lend a bit of support to the tweed and allow me to freely mark the pieces. Then, I inserted flannel sleeve heads, sew-in interfacing, and made bound buttonholes.

OH YES, I BOUND BUTTON HOLES. Would you like to see them? 

BOOM! Y'all, I can't even humble brag about this, because actual adult bragging must be done. I made bound buttonholes and they are completely straight. Holy Ramona and Beezus! In my mind, bound buttonholes have always been the top of the sewing technique pyramid, something to be spoken of in awed, hushed tones. In reality, they aren't remotely that hard. Still, I am proud. Very, very proud. Sam and I may have had multiple celebratory Ramos Gin Fizzes, after their completion. 

Incidentally, my vintage pattern notes treated them like they were no big deal. Actual length of instructions: "Make bound buttonholes." That's it. Vintage sewists were magnificent, courageous creatures. I needed more hand-holding, referring instead to Colette Patterns' excellent tutorial

The next step was attaching the collar, which was a cinch, followed by all the fun finishing flourishes. (Read: the aforementioned endless hand-sewing, while watching Jane Austen adaptations.) The lining, a white-and-black striped cotton voile was catch-stitched in first, then covered with facings, which were then bound in handmade striped bias strips. I am such a sucker for an eye-catching lining and stripes are one of my favorites. There's something so Edwardian menswear about them! Finally, the buttons were decided upon. Originally, I had planned to add covered buttons in the same tweed, but opted at the last minute for these covered black buttons instead. They add just the right touch of contrast, don't you think?

As for the rest of the outfit, both pieces are fairly straight forward. The skirt is a simple pencil skirt, based on my handy-dandy skirt sloper, with a waist facing in lieu of a band. There are four darts in both the front and the back, for a bit of nipping in at the waist. It's underlined in white cotton, lined in the same striped voile as the jacket, then finished off in the back with a lapped zipper. Easy peasy!

The blouse is actually the brainchild of my dear Sam. I had originally planned a simple white bow-neck blouse, for a more understated look, but he convinced me to add a bit more contrast with this polka dotted cotton voile. He was, of course, perfectly right. I can't even believe I'd planned any other blouse! This one is perfect for the suit, with its jaunty coordinated white bow. I love it. Incidentally, this top is just a twist on your standard two-dart bodice pattern. The bust darts have been rotated to the waist, where twin underbust pleats were formed instead. Such an alteration prevents the billows that often happen, when tucking in a blouse. Brilliant, right? The only other major addition were the small kimono sleeves I added on a whim. Doris would've approved of covered shoulders, methinks. (Or, on screen Doris, anyhow. Off screen Doris was reportedly more adventurous and tough than her persona suggested!)

So, there you go! My first outfit for Project Sewn! This suit also fits my personal rules for the challenge of only sewing "dream" projects. I've always wanted to try my hand at fancy tailoring techniques and a candy-colored suit in Chanel tweed will get plenty of wear. It's ideal for the hoity-toity writing conference I attend every summer! I can hardly wait to show it off. For now, I'm going to stare appreciatively at its bound buttonholes and lovely lining. Doing things the fancy way is such fun. I think Miss Doris would be proud, don't you?

Now, I suggest you head on over to Project Sewn, where you can see the other amazing entries by my fellow contestants. Choose which is your favorite, then vote her through to the next round! I can't even tell you how great the entries are for this challenge, y'all. Get ready to be bowled over! 

Fun fact: this suitcase was actually my Grandma Beverly's, when she was a young woman. It even has the multiple Stanford stickers she applied, when going away to college! A huge thank you to my Aunt Grace for passing it down to me, earlier this month. It has taken up a place of honor in my sewing room. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Miss Sally Feels A Bit Selfish

Happy May Day, dear ones! This week is an awfully eventful one in the sewing community, as it's both the beginning of Me-Made-May 2014 and Selfish Sewing Week. Woohoo! Not only am I going to for real real participate in MMM this year, but I'm also a featured stitcher for Selfish Sewing Week, which means my first outfit of May serves a dual purpose. Today, I'm wearing and reviewing the Sally Shirtdress from Serendipity Studio. 

The lovely Rachael Gander, of Imagine Gnats, is hosting Selfish Sewing Week as a way to encourage women to sew for themselves. So often, sewists end up sewing for husbands, wives, children, dogs, instead of focusing on making themselves lovely things! I say "so often," because I am decidedly in the other category. I meant to make my beloved two shirts for his birthday, back in November, which are still lazing about on my cutting table. I would claim dissertation and wedding stress, but somehow all of my dresses were sewn up, so...I'm probably a naturally selfish seamstress. (That being said, don't worry, loved ones of ours. Sam's shirts are first thing on the docket for summer sewing, the good lord willing and the creek don't rise.)

However! Back to the topic at hand. Selfish Sewing Week is not only happening, but involves a mega-giveaway of all sorts of lovely indie patterns from its sponsors. Throughout the week, the featured stitchers are each sewing up one of these patterns, to show how fun selfish sewing can be. That, obviously, is my kind of mission! For my pattern, I chose the Sally Shirtdress, an easy, classic basic for women. It comes with three length options and myriad of suggestions and instructions for embellishment.

I chose the Sally Shirtdress, because of its interesting method of shaping. Instead of separate bodice and skirt pieces, this dress is one solid piece top-to-bottom, with definition added by a series of pleats around the waistline. There are only four pattern pieces--fronts, back, sleeves, and collar--which makes it an efficient project, as well.

For fabric, I used this dreamy vintage cotton chambray, stolen from my mother's stash long ago. This fabric is the perfect chambray--soft, drapey, and beautifully dyed. Even better, I had seven vintage glass buttons also in my stash. They were meant to join into a shirtdress, kittens! So, they did.

Note: Before I talk to construction, there's one thing that must be said. I like this dress a lot. It's a simple, classic silhouette that doesn't use much fabric. That's always a good find! The things you're about to read have no bearing on how much I enjoy the end product. 

All that being said, the construction of this dress made me highly annoyed. Because the Sally dress is not only meant for beginners, but meant to be completely customizeable size-wise, some of the methods involved are not exactly traditional. There was a point, halfway through sewing the front placket, when Sam came in to check on me, because I'd been loudly yelling "This is totally wrong! Why can't we do this the normal way!? WHYYYYY!?" The collar has no stand and the front facing is included in the front pattern piece, so these two things combine for an odd, complicated dance of turning, pressing, clipping, and edge-stitching. It worked, in the end, but it made me miss those extra pattern pieces. I was this close to just drafting a collar stand myself, so that I wouldn't have to reread the extensive directions for the 800th time. 

To be fair, my greatest pet peeve in life is taking an irrational shortcut. I hate "no bake" recipes (so much chilling and-ugh!-Cool Whip) and learning languages by immersion, instead of being told grammar rules, just as I hate "no sew" skirt patterns. If I'm going to spend my time doing something, I want to learn how to do it correctly. It doesn't seem time-saving for people to pat you on the head, tell you it's too hard to learn right now, then make you learn it later. I want the whole story and all the info upfront, dang it! There's a reason my sewing career started with a full dress, instead of a pillowcase. There's also a reason my spirit animal is Hermione Granger. I am, just a little, persnickety. 

Which brings me to the pleats. The pleats are designed so that you decide how wide, how long, and how many of them there should be. The whole dress is sewn together, then after trying it on, you decide how much you would like to take out around the waist. Complicated directions and math problems for figuring out all those pleat dimensions then take place. For a persnickety person, this is like waving a red flag in front of a bull who's having an especially bad bull day, probably involving the color red killing its bull BFF. The anxiety involved in deciding on these pleats was epic. I took one, then two, then three. I moved them up, I moved them down. I drove my dear one insane, by trotting out to our living room every five minutes, asking if it looked better now.  I'm still thinking of adding another one on each side. 

It was...infuriating. On one hand, the idea of custom fitting to each body is genius. Every woman is different, so it makes sense that how her dress fits would be different. On the other hand, some literal guidelines would have been nice. I would have been much happier having original pleats to trace off, baste, then alter as I like. It would have been much, much less harrowing than placing them myself, all the while looking at the math and wondering if I was doing it all correctly. That things were further complicated by my improbable bust-to-waist ratio didn't help. Good God, I missed darts. 

Now, here's the thing. I really, really love how it turned out. It's a flattering shape and obscenely comfortable. If you do have trouble fitting in traditional patterns, the method of construction would work beautifully for getting you a custom-tailored dress. All of my frustrations were a matter of pairing the wrong sewist with the wrong pattern. It happens. We all have things that drive us crazy, even if they seem inconsequential to other people, and this pattern hit on my major one. I would rather things be more complicated, but make sense to my highly strategic brain. It's a personal failing!

This dress, however, will get a ton of wear. I love the way it nips in around my waist, without constricting me there with a seam. It's such a novel style! Plus, this is a lovely little layering piece. I can't wait to wear it with boots and sweaters, this fall. If you're the sort who hates putting collars together or stresses about plackets, this would be a fantastic pattern for you. The instructions, while exhaustive, are also helpful and thorough. The Sally Shirtdress is a good match for anyone who's trepidatious about more complicated dress silhouettes.

Even better, you can totally win Sally and a ton of other great patterns in the Selfish Sewing Week Giveaway! You can also add your own selfish makes to the Kollabora group, while using the hashtags #selfishsewing and #selfishsewingweek to interact with other participants on Instagram and Twitter. 

What are you sewing for yourself right now, darlings? I'm putting the finishing touches on my first Project Sewn outfit, personally.