Sunday, January 25, 2015

1000 Shirtdresses: Round-up + Winner

Good afternoon, friends! I hope you're having a lovely weekend. My own has been spent perusing the gorgeous entries into the Autumn of 1000 Shirtdresses! Y'all, we ended up having forty-seven shirtdressess made over the last few months. That's a whole lot of buttons! I've gathered up the official entries below, so that we can all properly gawk at these beautiful garments. Shall we?


Sophie-Lee looks ethereal in her light blue polka dot chambray dress, Lauren drafted (!) her own classic, navy blue dotty shirtdress, and Nicole opted for a chic collarless shirtdress, in this super fun polka dotted rayon. 

Andie is a woman after my own heart in this seasonally-inappropriate nautical shirtdress, with white bands and striped shoulder button tabs, while Beat Girl not only made a shirtdress, but her first ever dress! Even cooler, those dots are actually tiny daisies, when up close.

Marije was our very first entrant, with this gorgeous black-and-white version of McCall's 6696, Caroline is a vision in this vintage-inspired red floral, with a beautifully piped collar, and Chrystal has me swooning over her floral striped shirtdress, with a coordinated yellow collar.

 Sophie-Lee went with vintage re-issue Simplicity 1459 for her second fabulous shirtdress, made up in a largescale floral cotton sateen, Bianca is right at home in a garden, wearing her lovely raspberry ditsy floral, Rhiannon's dramatic red botanical print has me on the look out for copycat fabric, and Alicia is so on-trend for 2015 in this glorious wax print floral Hawthorn.

Bec is channeling the divine wardrobe of Betty Draper in her sweet floral lawn 6696, Emily put a twist on the Colette Pastille dress to create her lovely orange half-shirtdress, Rowena made a beautiful Hawthorn, using bamboo-and-bird print cotton and coordinated cream collar/cuffs, and if Izzy didn't live in Saudi Arabia, she'd be in danger of me stealing this shades-of-pink floral shirtdress from her closet!


 Ruth made a perfectly matched version of the Cami dress, complete with bias-cut sleeve cuffs for a fun bit of visual interest, Marije returned with a beautifully autumnal plaid for her second version of 6696, and Fiona made a cozy, layering version of the Alder dress in blue-and-black buffalo plaid flannel.
Cheryl is super cool in her plaid, sleeveless Alder and fabulous brown boots, Qui made the epitome of a classic shirtdress, in a sweet peach and turquoise plaid, while Debbie made her first ever shirtdress, a fantastic neutral plaid version of McCall's 6600.


Gina is tailored and chic in her gorgeous candy-striped version of M6696, which I'm already plotting to knock off, Tanya was inspired by the period costumes of Call the Midwife, when she made her lovely navy-and-white striped vintage Simplcity, and Nancy is sweetly classic in her blue-and-white striped M6696, proof that the simplest fabrics can also be the prettiest.


 Honey looks so modern and lovely in her bold, graphically printed shirtdress , Melizza's silk ribbon version of the Alder dress is the perfect winter layering piece, CFA13 is absolutely gorgeous in her retro print shirtdress with coordinated buttons, while Amanda is a picture of summery cuteness in a rayon version of much-loved M6696.

Angelica used a textured cotton floral, gifted from her grandmother, to make a light and beautiful Hawthorn dress, Marilla paired a southwestern print Kaufman chambray with her own Maya dress pattern, for the ultimate day dress, and Bianca is a work of art herself in a blue-and-white printed version of M6696.
 Chrystal captured that casual end-of-summer vibe in her gorgeous nautical print shirtdress , Andie stole all of our hearts with her color-blocked, cat-themed newspaper dress, while Linda put a bird on it, with this modern maroon shirtdress in the cutest flock-print fabric.

Lyric is absolutely stunning in her cream-and-khaki botanical print half-shirtdress and chic belt, Kirsten used a Japanese cotton lawn to create a fresh and summery version of Grainline's Alder dress, and Trisha use French seams and heaps of hand-sewing on her elegant and bold crepe de chine shirtdress.


 Becky started off a parade of gorgeous blue shirtdresses, with her classic denim fit-and-flare and super cute gold toe shoes, Jo is as pretty as a picture in her dark indigo Frankenpattern shirtdress, and Cheryl altered the Alder pattern, to make this casually cute chambray popover dress.
 Ida Aida turned her soft denim M6696 into a stand-out dress, with an embroidered collar and waistband, Sylvie is timelessly elegant in her royal blue version of Simplicity 1459, in a tone-on-tone print cotton sateen, CFA13 makes the ideal summer dress, in blue linen with variegated cream buttons.
Caroline reminds us that corduroy can be elegant, in a burgundy M6696, with pops of polka dot contrast fabric, Marianne's beautiful black brocade shirtdress is perfect for a night on the town and sipping festive drinks, and Tanya is all summer elegance in her classic blue shirtdress, with white buttons and top-stitiching. 

Holy smokes, ladies! I'm blown away by these dresses. Thanks so much for joining me in this sewing challenge and braving all those buttonholes. Your dresses are, to a one, beautifully made and absolutely lovely. I know I'll be perusing that Flickr group for more inspiration, in the future! Thank you, again, for sharing your creative talents with me and the other participants.

Now, onto the last question of The Autumn of 1000 Shirtdresses.
Who won the prize package? Well, I assigned numbers chronologically, plugged them into a random number generator and...

Our winner is also our very first entrant, Marije of  Make Think Go! Congratulations, Marije! Send me an e-mail with your mailing address to anidlefancy (at) and I'll send out your goodies! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reminder: 1000 Shirtdresses Deadline!

Hello, friends! I'm sitting here in my office, recovering from a stomach virus and trying to narrow down the prize package for the Autumn of 1000 Shirtdresses winner. Which reminded me to remind you...

If you want to enter a shirtdress, any shirtdress, into the challenge, you still have time! The deadline is tomorrow night, January 22nd, at Midnight (PST). Simply add your photos to the Flickr group and you're entered. There's no need to have a blog post or even a blog. If you've made a shirtdress in the past few months, you're good to go! Our winner will be randomly drawn and announced this weekend. 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Miss Bonnie and the Tale of Two Cotton Jerseys

Good evening, dear ones! Tonight, Sam is making his world-famous spaghetti and has decreed that I must sit on the couch, drink wine, and do something fun. I'm supposed to complete a book proposal by Monday and the first chapter of this particular one is trying, very slowly, to murder me. I've rewritten it four different ways and it just won't gel. So, I'm taking the night off. While I do have a new Tessa Dare book to read and Project Runway: All Stars to watch, I thought I'd prattle about my latest dresses instead. So, sparkling shiraz in hand, let's do this!

Surprise! I'm still sewing knits. The combination of a looming deadline and chilly weather has really kicked this stretch-obsession into overdrive. When writing a page feels like cutting open a vein, a quick, cute sewing project can be the difference between singing Enya and boiling bunnies. Both of these dresses were gloriously quick: 2.5 hours each, from cutting to hem. Our neighborhood rabbits are breathing tiny, adorable sighs of relief. 

Note: The pictures of this dress were taken, when it was 27 degrees outside. They aren't great, admittedly, but they were taken quickly to avoid frostbite. High five for still having all my digits to high five with!

Beyond the fact that these are my most recent projects, there's another reason I paired these dresses together. They're cotton jerseys, from two different suppliers. I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast the two fabrics, as knits can be more difficult to buy online than wovens. Cotton jerseys really run the gamut, when it comes to stretch, recovery, and weight. As such, these are two very different dresses, even using the same fabric type and pattern.

The rose dress was made with organic stretch jersey, in dusty rose, sent to me from Organic Cotton Plus. (Color out of stock, but they have this gorgeous plum!) Fairly heavy, this jersey is 13.25 oz and has 10% spandex content. The blue dress, meanwhile, is made from Girl Charlee's in-house jersey. It's billed as medium weight, at 10 oz and 5% spandex, and was sold as "Paris Green." That color is also sold out (Another lovely plum in this fabric!), which is good because it prevents me from sending a rant-filled, unbearably pretentious e-mail about how Paris Green and turquoise are two completely different colors. Paris Green was the violently poisonous, completely gorgeous deep yellow-green of the Impressionists, while this... this is just perfectly fine turquoise.


Manet does Paris Green!

Mary does turquoise!

Ahem. Sorry, y'all. I just got really, really excited about finding supposedly Paris Green fabric, ordered it, and opened a box of blue jersey. Maybe it's that I was raised by an artist, but that somewhat sickly, deep green has always been one of my favorite hues. We're only now able to recreate it properly with synthetic dyes and my sewing room is painted with one such modern iteration! I'd kill for some fabric in the same color.

Why, yes, that is the nerdiest rant I've indulged in on this blog. Never underestimate my ability to get all riled up over silly things!

Both of these fabrics have sat in my stash for a few months. While I adore wool jerseys, I have mixed emotions about their cotton cousins. They are so, so comfortable, but they can also cling to every lump and bump. I love all my various lumps, but I don't necessarily want them zeroed in on either. However, after my success with sweater knits, I itched to try some more Frankenbonnies! I ordered two more wool jerseys from Mood, but while trying not to badger the postman, these jerseys caught my eye again. How would cotton look in my new favorite pattern? 

Turns out, I like the results quite a bit!  Like my sweater dresses, these are both made with a combination of Blue Ginger Doll patterns. It's the Violet skirt (size 18) paired with Bonnie's bodice (18), which I narrowed at the waist to match Violet's original proportions. Are they clingier pieces? Unquestionably. However, they're sublimely comfortable. The rose dress, specifically, feels like the world's softest pajamas. They also turned out to be two fairly different dresses.

Despite cutting the same size, the rose dress is slightly tighter. The jersey from Organic Cotton Plus has phenomenal recovery, thanks to that high spandex content. It's the springiest jersey I've ever felt, which bodes well for its longevity, but also makes it mold to my body. The bodice that worked so well with sweater knits ended up rippling around the bust. On one hand, it's a knit dress and this happens with knits, on the other hand...curse those wrinkles! Everything else about this dress is beautiful. The weight of the jersey gives the skirt a lovely, swishy drape, and the color is just divine. Dusty rose is one of those colors that I'm ambivalent about on the rack, but love to wear. It makes everything so, well, rosy!

Meanwhile, the turquoise dress fits well, but probably won't retain its shape over time. The knit has a good deal of stretch, but doesn't recover easily. After a day of wearing this, the collar band flops and the elbows bag. Even in these pictures, you can see how any bit of movement makes the band do weird things. That being said, I prefer the bodice fit here. The looser knit means everything skims, rather than clings. Unlike with the rose dress, the lines of my slip are completely invisible and the bodice doesn't pull. Woohoo! I also prefer the slightly lighter weight of this jersey, since it doesn't bunch quite as easily. 

Both dresses were sewn mostly on my serger, with hems sewn and sleeves gathered at my traditional machine. The hems were turned up with Stitch Witchery, then twin-needled in place, to prevent warping. I also added in clear elastic at the waistbands and shoulders, to stave off loosening there. The rose jersey was much easier to construct, because it didn't curl up as drastically as the turquoise. When pinned together it stayed in place, whereas the turquoise required extra vigilance, to make sure all the bits where aligned and not curled under. The seam allowances on BGD's knit patterns are 1/4'', which is super small, so this was more of an issue. 

Neither one of these will replace the sweater dresses in my heart, but they are already getting worn a lot. It's hard to say no to secret pajamas, even if they cling a little bit to the lumps! So, which jersey wins the competition here? I'm honestly not sure. Despite its cling issues, I keep coming back to the rose Organic Cotton Plus fabric. Knowing how it clings now, I would size up the next time around, but it feels so dishy on and was easy to sew. I have my eye on some that plum for myself, for a short sleeved version of the Frankenbonnie. While I really like Girl Charlee's fabric options, despite color confusion, we'll have to see how this dress wears over time. If it exceeds my expectations, I may order from them again, because some of those prints are too cute to resist! 

Either way, my box of Mood sweater knits arrived last night. Bring on the wooly knits! 

Note: The OCP jersey was given to me, in exchange for an honest review, while the Girl Charlee was bought out-of-pocket. I couldn't resist that "Paris Green!"

Thursday, January 8, 2015

1000 Shirtdresses: Update!

Good afternoon, y'all!

I'll probably be back tonight or tomorrow morning, with an outfit post (more Frankenbonnies!), but I wanted to let y'all know as soon as possible about a change with our shirtdress challenge. After talking to quite a few people who were under crunch time with their first (or second or third!) shirtdresses, I've decided to bump the end date back just a bit. Instead of ending on January 10th, the challenge will now end two weeks from today, on January 22nd.

Hopefully, this gives anyone who wants to jump in on the challenge a bit of extra time to fit, sew, and perfect those buttonholes!

Honestly, it also gives me more time to photograph my last two shirtdresses. A plaid and a floral, they're both on the springier side. Unfortunately, winter is hitting us hard in the States right now, and I'd turn blue trying to accessorize and photograph them appropriately for the blog. We're supposed to be up in the fifties again next week, which sounds much more humane!

So: January 22nd. All the Shirtdresses.

Happy sewing!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Miss Bonnie Goes Rogue: BlueGingerDoll Bonnie Sweater (Dresses)

Happy New Year, friends! This past week, I've experienced a fit of obsessive sewing. Upon returning from New Orleans, I made a knit sweater dress for my Mood Sewing Network project. Then, I made another one. And another one. 

Y'all, I've gone through ten yards of clear elastic in less than seven days. All I want to sew right now are warm, stretchy dresses. This makes a certain amount of sense, since they're also all I want to wear right now. Our weather forecast in Waco is grim. There's nothing but cold, drippy weather for the foreseeable future. It makes a girl want to curl up in comfortable clothes, drink piping hot cups of tea, and never leave the house again. 

As a newly stay-at-home writer, that's an option I actually have. If it weren't for sweater dresses, I'd probably wear yoga pants and sweatshirts clear through February. The only thing as cozy as pajamas are deceptively elegant dresses that feel like pajamas. Taking the lovely Naomi's cue, I've decided a closet full of warm, knit dresses is my wardrobe's winter salvation. 

This obsessive bit of sewing was helped along by the arrival of my perfect knit pattern. Or, rather, Frankenpattern. Of course, there are a ton of knit dress patterns on the market. It seems every other independent designer is releasing their take on the simple, stretchy dress. None, however, are quite perfect on me.

Though I initially liked the Lady Skater, neither iteration gets worn very often. They're too clingy for comfort, obviously designed for a woman less extravagantly (ridiculously) curvy than I. The base Moneta bodice really is fantastic, but the wide, gathered skirt is not my favorite look for a sweater dress. I like a little swirl, but minimal bulk. Plus, the Moneta's turned under neckline makes me doubt the longevity of its bodice. 

I could have drafted a neckline band and circle skirt for the Moneta, but such labors were unnecessary. Instead, BlueGingerDoll Patterns saved the day. This past fall, Abby released two knit patterns of her own, Bonnie and Violet. Bonnie is a retro sweater, with neckline variations, puffed sleeves, and two length options, while Violet is a pieced bodice, v-neck dress with sleeve and skirt options. Both are patterns I tested and swooned over. Not only do they each fit my curves well, but they're a cut above the standard, simple knit pattern. Here, there be design details!

While I initially planned on making a Violet for my MSN dress, the fabric didn't cooperate. Though absolutely gorgeous, this charcoal wool and silver lurex sweater knit, was just too chunky for Violet's pieced bodice. All those lovely details would be lost to the knit's fuzzy abandon! Instead, I pulled a Frankenpattern. Could Bonnie's elegant, retro bodice and Violet's circle skirt be my perfect sweater knit dress?

Yes. Yes, actually, it could. This pattern mash-up is my knit dream come true. The FrankenBonnie, or Bonnielet, has all the small things those other patterns were missing:
  • Extra bodice details - Puffed sleeves! Banded neckline! 
  • Bosom-friendly fit - Abby drafts on a D-cup. Hallelujah! 
  • Swishy skirt - Violet's half-circle is the ideal knit skirt shape. It's neither clingy nor bulky, but skims everything beautifully and retains good movement. 

The actual patterns for knit garments are so simple, lacking any pesky bodice darts, so this combination was a breeze to pull off. I narrowed the Bonnie bodice pattern (size 18) by 1.5 inches at the waist, then tapered up along the rib cage to my bust line, to better match Violet's original bodice proportions. Dresses, after all, fit much closer the body than sweaters. Then, I used Bonnie's original sleeves and neckband, and attached the unchanged (size 18) Violet skirt. 

Voila! A perfect knit dress. The sleeves lightly puff, the skirt swirls in a most becoming manner. Nothing, not anything, hugs my lumpier bits. It is ridiculous, I admit, that I took two detailed patterns and combined them into one, much simpler dress. What can I say? Rogue sewing is my jam. 

Insides! Wahbam!
It's always a good sign, when not two minutes after finishing a first dress, you're already cutting out another iteration. After the gray FrankenBonnie turned out so well, I wondered how it would turn out in a traditional wool jersey. Unsurprisingly, it looks even better! The claret colored wool jersey (also from Mood) has greater stretch recovery and is lighter weight, so the bodice fits snugger, hugging my bust admirably. 

Both dresses were sewn almost completely on my serger, save for the gathered sleeve puff and finishing techniques. They're stabilized with clear elastic at the shoulders and waistline, while the neckline is stabilized and finished with that lovely thin band. I used Dritz Stitch Witchery on the hem, then finished it and the sleeves with a twin-needle. So, so easy!

Apart from how freaking cute they are one, my favorite things about these dresses are their construction times. The gray sweater knit took a little over three hours, while the maroon wool jersey took just two. While wovens will always have my loyalty, there's something really fun about finishing a dress, in less time than it takes to watch Lord of the Rings. 

So, there you have it. Two cozy, stretchy dresses of wonder. Throw on tights, a knit slip, and they're like wearing secret pajamas. Don't you love a good Frankenpattern? I have a few more of these babies on my docket, as well as finishing up two more shirtdresses before my January 10th deadline. I'm going to ride this sewing frenzy as far as I can! 2015 has started off with an awfully productive little bang. 

Note: Both fabrics were bought with my monthly allowance from Mood Fabrics, as part of the Mood Sewing Network