Friday, October 7, 2016

Miss Hildy Gets a Promotion: Knipmode 03/2016 + McCall's 7351

Kittens, this was a week

You know the kind. Everything with a plug breaks, deer jump into the road right as you drive by, and you discover that the night shift Emergency Room doctor knows you by name. I. Am. Drained. Give me a fainting couch and a cocktail, because that's all I have the energy to face.  

Well, that and finally blogging about this outfit. Both of these garments are in heavy wardrobe rotation, so it's high time they made an appearance here. They weren't actually meant to go together, per se, but I ironed them at the same time and gave into whimsy. Polka dots in opposite colorways cancel each other out, right? We're going with it. 

Let's talk about this skirt first, as you've seen the shirt pattern (many times) before. This skirt is pattern #9 from the March 2016 issue of Knipmode,* which was filled with on-trend basics for spring. So, naturally, I waited until autumn to make this up. It's almost like there's a nursery rhyme about Marys and their contrarian ways. 

Anyway, this pattern. It's a full, pleated skirt with asymmetrical pleating, a curved waistband, and an invisible zipper side closure. On both the front and the back, there are two knife pleats and an inverted box pleat. Simple enough, right? I didn't even bother translating instructions from Dutch, so confident was I in my skirt skills. I raided my stash, came up with this dishy polka dot stretch twill from Mood, and started sewing this pattern in a straight Size 48.

Foolhardy decision. Look closer, my dears.  

*Note: This pattern is also available as a PDF. If you'd like to know more about how I use Knipmode, from translating to tracing, I recently posted about it on the Curvy Sewing Collective.

See those pleats? They don't look quite the same as the original, do they? There's something amiss. You can almost put your finger on it...


Yes, I sewed the pleats in the wrong directions. Somehow, when marking up the pattern, I ended up with a knife pleat on either side of a center box pleat. It's like my persnickety devotion to symmetry couldn't stand the intended design and hijacked the whole project.  Well played, subconscious. 

By the time I noticed the error, I'd pleated both sides. It was either unpick the whole thing or live with a more (though not fully) symmetrical design. Obviously, I didn't care that much. All I really wanted was a polka dot skirt in a full silhouette. I tried it on, decided it looked fine, and called it a design decision. 

Other than unforseen pleating adventures, this was a quick project. There's a black invisible zipper at the side, a fairly deep hem, and a faced waistband. It really doesn't get simpler than that, does it? I've actually made two further versions of this skirt, with full linings and correct pleat orientations, for more swishy basics. Mood has a great collection of cotton sateens right now, which lend themselves well to such garments. 

Onto the shirt! Have you guessed what pattern this is, yet?

This is another version of McCall's 7351, everyone's new favorite shirtdress. A couple months ago, I made a few alterations and also turned this pattern into my go-to button-down. It's a simple darted top with a classic collar, separate button bands, and a back yoke. 

What's fun about this garment is actually the fabric. This black and white polka dotted shirting is a gorgeous, lightweight lawn picked up from Gail K Fabrics in Atlanta. Back in May, Sam and I took a grand road trip through the Southeast, visiting beloved relatives, attending an academic conference, and frolicking our way through six states. 

The Georgia part of this trip was filled with sewing shenanigans. First up, I was lucky enough to attend the annual Young Designers Sewing Program fashion show, thanks to Sam's amazing Aunt Gail. The Young Designers program is a nonprofit in Athens, which teaches girls how to design and sew their own clothes, along with interviewing skills, college planning, and basic small business practices. Each year, they have a fashion show, where the girls show off all the clothes they've been making, from refashions of wedding dresses to vintage-inspired outfits that look straight from New York. I have never been so awed. Many of these girls were still in elementary school and already working with sergers, knits, and invisible zippers! If you're in the Athens/Atlanta area, this is a great organization to check out. They're always looking for fabric donations, financial backing, and sewists willing to donate their time! 

After Athens, we headed to Atlanta for the conference and some exploring of Sam's old graduate school haunts. There, I had the good luck to run into the gorgeous Sumiko, who is both a brilliant communication scholar and a fellow curvy sewist. We met up for coffee and sewing gossip, then afterwards I headed to the famed Gail K Fabrics. Y'all, this store deserves its reputation. Outside of Britex and Mood, I've never been so overwhelmed by a fabric store. They had walls upon walls of fabric, many stacked all the way to the ceiling. It was a labyrinth of beautiful prints and luxe fibers. In the end, I walked away with this shirting and two Marc Jacobs voiles (sapphire and emerald). It's definitely worth a trip, if you find yourself in Georgia! 

Though polka dot shirtings are fairly thick on the ground, this one is special. It washed up into a gloriously soft, draping cotton that skims over curves and is somehow impervious to wrinkles. Even better, it's printed on grain. On grain! I can't remember the last time I used a polka dot that lined up perfectly with the grain. That alone made it worth the purchase. 

The construction of this shirt was identical to my previous version, apart from the addition of two extra buttons. If you're curious about some more complicated aspects of button-downs, however, I have good news! I recently wrote a post for BERNINA's blog, We All Sew, about how I construct and sew collars. If you've wrestled with turning points and getting collars to curve, the tips I share in "The Secrets of Sewing Perfect Collars" should help out. 

There you have it, not one, but two polka dotted garments. Like I said, both of these pieces have gotten heaps of wear, in recent weeks. The button-down looks killer with skinny jeans and a drapey, bright cardigan, while the skirt dresses up beautifully with Bardot tops and heels. Honestly, though, I do prefer them worn together. There's something about the inversion of the same palette that lends a certain elegance to the humble dot. It's unconventional, but still classic. 

In short, I dig it. Now, where is my fainting couch?

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