Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Curvy Sewing Collective Has Arrived!

It's alive!!

No, not Frankenstein's fire-averse monster, but something infinitely more exciting: the Curvy Sewing Collective website. After months of brainstorming and hard work, curvy sewing finally has its very own home on the web.

The project started earlier this year, when Jenny and I were bemoaning the lack of online plus-sized sewing resources. With such a goal in mind, we teamed up with our favorite fellow curvy bloggers, to bring the internet exactly that. We wanted a one-stop place where curvy sewists could find inspiration, fitting help, and connect with other similarly proportioned seamstresses.

Over at the CSC, you'll find all manner of interesting posts regarding plus-sized and curvy sewing. We have pattern reviews, tutorials from expert seamstresses, plenty of sewing inspiration, and even a forum dedicated to the plus-sized sewing community. It can be difficult for curvy seamstresses to find patterns that fit their bodies and tutorials tailored to their needs, which is a gap we hope to fill in the coming months.

That's enough of my chatter over how awesome the CSC is, however. Why not go check it out for yourself? As a celebration of our launch, we're even giving away a copy of Colette's latest pattern to one new reader!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Miss Melinda Fancies a BBQ: Simplicity 1873

Hello, my loves! Sam and I have made it back home, after our meandering road trip out to Georgia. We had an absolute blast visiting with family, eating delicious food, and unplugging from the world. I didn't realize how internet-dependent my morning routine was, until we were without connectivity for a week. The number of times I checked Instagram, only to belatedly realize my phone had no service, was truly embarrassing! Almost as embarrassing as the discovery that I'm allergic to pastoral charm. 

Apparently, living my whole life in a city means that one sniff of hay and one pat of a horse can set my whole system reeling. I spent much of Saturday in a Benadryl-induced coma, after said discovery. The sneezes, they just wouldn't stop! Thankfully, I was still able to finish my Mood project for this month: a striped summer party dress.

I ordered this fabric, an ecru and red cotton by Marc Jacobs, a few months ago from Mood. It was a total impulse purchase, bought for no other reason than I was struck dumb with love for these wide, scarlet stripes. They would make the perfect summer dress! Once the weather heats up, I start yearning for that classic Americana palette of red, white, and blue. (As similarly indicated by my last post.) It's a color scheme that hearkens back to summers spent on sailboats, eating apple pie and soaking up the blazing sun under a glamorous, floppy hat. 

I haven't actually experienced a summer like that, of course. If I tried eating pie on a sailboat, I'd probably slip on an errant baked apple and fall right overboard, floppy hat and all. The yearning for an elegant, traditionally "summer" outfit remains, however. Damn Ralph Lauren and all his aspirational, Ivy League designs! 

So, yeah, I wanted a striped dress. I wanted it desperately.

Luckily, this fabric ended up being perfect for such a project. It's a lovely crisp cotton, almost a poplin in weight and drape, which lent itself really well to the dress I had in mind. I wanted something classic in silhouette, but comfortably swishy and unlined. Though I fully understand all the benefits of lining a garment, I just can't do it for these mid-summer dresses. When the temperatures soar above 90 degrees, I want as few layers as possible! It may be dressmaking sacrilege, but such a sin rests east on my conscience. 

As for the dress itself, this pattern should look familiar to you. It's another iteration of Simplicity 1873, that queen among fit-and-flare patterns. I've made it a half-dozen times already and have absolutely zero plans to stop now. Tried-and-true for the win! 

For this version of 1873, I opted for the high, rounded neck bodice of View A. It's the same bodice I used in my final Project Sewn dress and I absolutely adore wearing that dress. Busty women are told so often that we can't pull off high necklines, but they don't bother me in the least. Society doesn't need to peek at my bubbies all the time and I'm tall enough that it doesn't throw off my torso proportions any, as is the worry implied in that advice. 

Note: Though, even if it did, I come down on the side of not giving a shite. Plus-sized fashion rules do nothing but harsh my sewing buzz. The word "flattering" makes my feminist nature go all wild-eyed and stabby. It intimates that women are nothing but a bucket of flaws to be hidden and camouflaged, so that we can achieve that vaunted status as pretty, decorative object. "Oh dear, this woman has a poochy stomach and extravagant breasts!  Best hide those with fabric magic or turn her toward the wall!" Such claptrap!

Back to the matter at hand, though. This dress! This lovely, stripey confection of a dress!

Instead of attempting to stripe match the bias-cut panels of 1873's usual skirt, I subbed it out for a pleated dirndl. Once again, I concentrated the pleats toward the side seams of the dress. This was both an attempt to give the skirt more swish and leave some of the stripes unbroken down the front of the dress. I spent so much time stripe matching, as I cut out this baby, that it seemed silly to break all the stripes up with pleating! So, I left the center four unbroken, then pleated like a madwoman. The resulting skirt has two box pleats on each front side and two box pleats on each back side, each folded along a stripe edge. 

The whole dress is finished with French seams and self-fabric bias tape. I absolutely adore an exposed bias-tape finish, especially with striped fabric, so that's what I went for at the neckline and armscyes. The resulting barber-pole diagonals are such a cute pop of interest, don't you think? Even if I had lined the dress, I would have been tempted to add that finish. I love it!

So, there we have it: a simple striped dress for those muggy, summer nights. It was the perfect outfit to wear for Uncle Bill's 60th birthday party! Cool, but resiliently crips against the heat. I am going to get so much wear out of this piece, as I do all my unlined cotton dresses. There is no better Texas summer staple, I promise you. Though, this one does have the added advantage of filling that sailboat attire gap in my wardrobe. 

The details...

Things I Loved:
  • The fabric! These stripes just make me so darn happy. It's all too tempting to buy the balsam colorway, as well. 
  • The silhouette! Simplicity 1873 is ever a winner for me.
  • The bias tape finish! 

Things I Changed:
  • 2 inch FBA on the bodice, done many, many moons ago. 
  • Subbed out the skirt for a pleated dirndl.
  • Omitted the lining, in favor of a simpler finish.
  • French-seamed everything possible.
  • Used a traditional zipper, instead of my nemesis, the invisible zip.

Fabric & Notions: