Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Socialite Dress for Jamie

As long as we are talking about crafting for friends, I have another project to share!  I am quite proud of this one as it stretched my comfort level, increased my sewing skills and took over a year to come to fruition.

The pattern is Socialite by Anna Maria Horner. The fabric is also by Anna Maria Horner and is called Innocent Crush - Loves Me Loves Me Not. This colorway is called Grape. My friend Jamie was with me when I bought the fabric and pattern for this dress. Right from the start she was excited about this project. She had been eyeing the pattern but deemed it beyond her sewing skills and time. She also felt the fabric was her style but agreed it would work for me, too.

I didn't start the project right away because it took a while to figure out how I wanted to transfer the pattern without cutting the original. I finally decided on exam table paper. You can buy it in a roll, it is pretty thin, affordable and allows for a variety of lengths.  For the record, it works wonderfully and I am happy I did my research before buying a more complicated tracing set up. However, the tracing did end up creating a problem, which I will explain in a minute.

I worked on this dress for a bit and then set it aside and then picked it up and worked a bit more at it. That seems (seams!) to be how I sew. Then, I went on a trip to a cabin last summer and brought this project along. Thanks to the rainy weather, I surged (serged!) ahead, making lots of progress.  That was when and where I discovered something wasn't lining up right in the neck/collar area.

I set it aside and revisited it when I got home and could consult the original pattern. It turns out when I traced one of the collar pieces, I followed the line for a different size.  The small adjustment was throwing off the front and back alignment. Lesson learned: trace slowly and carefully and double check the tracings against the original before you move on. I was able to orchestrate a fix and am happy to say the mistake is pretty much contained within the fudging of a seam allowance. Phew!

As the project was coming together, I tried it on and realized it was a bit snug in the arms.  I forged ahead and finished the last few steps.  During the final fitting, it dawned on me this was Jamie's dress all along! I made the size that fit my measurements, but the end product seems like it was made for someone a wee bit smaller and shorter than I am.  In other words, someone Jamie's size.

It was then that I tucked it away and decided I could hold it for another month or so until Christmas and offer it up as a fun Christmas gift. She had no idea it was coming and seemed quite happy with the gift.  When she tried it on at home, she let me know the pockets were adding bulk and looking unflattering.  I gave her full permission to cut the pockets out and seam up the sides to close up the pocket areas.  She did just that and took it with her to a crafting retreat in California a few weeks ago. Second lesson learned from this project: avoid side pockets in dresses.

The third and final lesson I learned while making this dress is to pay attention to the fabric pattern.  I laid my pattern pieces out in a way that optimized my fabric when I should have centered the dominant print in the fabric to match the center line of the main dress pattern piece.  I don't think the end result worked out too terribly, but I would make a different choice if and when I make this dress again.

I have so many things I would like to sew and have a hard time getting projects going.  I have been trying to identify and address barriers that keep me from sewing more, so maybe I will have another finished project to share before another year passes. Too many crafting interests and too little time is a problem I suspect you might know about, too. What helps you be a productive crafter/sewist?


  1. Cute dress. I would like to make a few sewn items for myself but get distracted by other more portable crafts. I also do much better with deadlines. I need to tell myself what the attainable deadline may be an hold myself to it.

    1. Yes! The portability factor is indeed a part of it. A lot of my crafting time happens when I am with friends...like you! I might benefit from a little self-imposed deadline, too.

  2. About 10+ years ago, I started sewing again. Couldn't find valances that I liked, found material, and enjoyed seeing the finished product. So, I purchased a new sewing machine and a case on wheels. Sadly to say, it is still in the case and why did I buy a case on wheels? Maybe someday. Did you pick up your puppy yet? So excited for you. Can't wait to see the pictures.


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