Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Simplicity 5635 (Not)

Unbelievably, I finished Iris' Fall Wardrobe on August 8, 4 weeks before the start of school. OK, I cheated and bought some of the stuff. But I did make 2 dresses, 2 skirts and one pair of pants.

In July, Iris and I went through her closet and set aside everything that was too small for her to give to her younger cousin. She is pretty cooperative about this semi-annual ritual because she knows that the more she gives away, the more she will receive. ;-)

We started out by looking at the clothes I had stockpiled earlier from clearance sales and thrift stores. I decided what I could realistically make given our schedules. Then I went out to stimulate the economy on the first day of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Can you believe that I came home with only one $15 item, a super-secret accessory for Iris? Everything I liked was sold out in the size and color I wanted.

We were both sad that she didn't have any sleeveless dresses in her current size. I piled a stack of fabrics next to the pattern envelope on the sewing table and told her to select two fabrics. I wasn't surprised that she gravitated to the black/white/yellow poplin. I had bought it last Spring with her in mind.

I showed the skirts in Blue and Black.

The black pants are not terribly exciting. You have seen the same pattern last summer. I was too lazy to trace the next larger size so I just laid last year's (too-small) pattern on the fabric and cut the fabric pieces 1/4" wider and 1" longer.

Simplicity 5635 is a princess-seamed sleeveless shift. That is not exactly Fall wardrobe gear in most parts of the country. However, the sea surface temperature (SST) peaks in the Autumn, producing our warmest days at the beach. So, even if I made the dress in the Spring, the Summer weather would have been too cold for her to wear it. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Here's the front.
Of course, she complained about the patch pocket instead of a side seam pocket.
The inside is fully lined in cotton voile. (BTW, Birgitte is right. Line with silk habotai; it is cost effective and easier to handle.) The voile distorted easily and was slithery to boot. I won't make that mistake again. I ordered more silk habotai PDQ.

I used techniques gleaned from Threads' A Shortcut to Great Linings and Fashion Incubator's Centered Zipper Tutorial.
Because I had stitched the facing & lining to the center back zipper all the way to the bottom, I could not manipulate the dress inside the shoulder and sew around the armhole. I used a technique that Burda and some of the Vogue designer patterns use. Summerset calls that "sewing gymnastics" and shows an easy way around that. Carolyn uses the same easy method and posted pictures in In and Out.

The dress probably could have been finished in half the time, but I wanted to exercise my topology muscles and learn new techniques.
Then I made another dress with fabric Iris and I selected during our trip to Hawaii.
This fabric did not need a lining. Iris is notoriously finicky about scratchy seams. I thought it would be safer to use French seams in the absence of a lining. Besides, the narrower seams make sewing curved pieces easier.
I think I finally got the hang of the Centered Zipper Construction. Thanks, Kathleen!
I inserted patch pockets on the inside of the side front panels. The side seams were finished with a mock flat-fell seam.
Not quite perfect, but she was thrilled that I listened to her.
I can't show you any pictures of the dresses on her because she packed them for her annual trip to visit her aunt in Washington state.
She also played Scuttle (the seagull) in The Little Mermaid last Friday. I finished sewing her costume Tuesday night. Then I boarded an airplane to Pittsburgh on Thursday. For various reasons, a telecon wouldn't have cut it. So I missed another performance.

But I did tour the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Lab and watched them test a pair of robotic boats on Panther Lake. It was really exciting when I put a boat controller (for manual overrides) down while I took a water break. They're robots, right? They should be autonomous.

No, the crash avoidance algorithm is not complete and I let that sucker roam around the pond with another boat that it couldn't "see" yet. Yipes! I bet they never invite me back.


  1. Cute dresses! I'd wear them in a heartbeart. Fall was always the hottest time of year in So Orange County where I grew up. It would finally start getting cooler around Thanksgiving. Here it gets cooler every year on schdule after 21Sep. Like Magic. No sleeveless shift dresses needed here!

  2. Totally cute dresses. I'd wear either one. ;-)

  3. The black/white/yellow one took a dip in the Puget Sound today. Any special washing instructions? :)

  4. Well, don't use high heat. The dress fabric has a little bit of lycra.

  5. Very nice dress and good advice to move on from our commodity zone and learn to do things in a new way.


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