Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Frankendress

Sigh. Ever had a weekend that was so relaxing yet productive that you wished there was at least one more day?  That is this weekend.

Friday night was an early start in downtown Bremerton at the monthly First Friday art walk.  We stopped by several businesses, including one of my favs, the Rockit Roost.  They were having a big fundraising event to kickstart their pub project -- Chuck and Hannah are super and I love their dedication to this town.  I bought a couple of raffle tickets and the most amazing bottle of beer; it seriously tastes like tangerine soda. But the drinking of said libation wasn't until later...

Then it was off to Melissa's birthday party. She had several local bands playing and it was a blast, even though I was wiped out from my week. I hung until after 1 (cause I'm such a rockstar).  All in all it was SO much fun.  I, as the only sober one, was in charge of cake cutting.  I hope it was satisfactory!

Saturday late morning was a lovely bike ride, then shopping.  Dinner was chicken satay on the patio with my delicious beer and the Cure on the internet radio. Then we walked to the Hi Fi for a drink - cider for me of course, met up with some friends and retired to the casa for visiting (and lots of cider drinking).  A perfect day.

And now, dress stuff.

For far too long, the main issue that kept me from really jumping into apparel sewing was my lack of pattern-drafting skills.  Online instructions did me no good (visual, hands-on learner), local classes on drafting were only offered as part of fashion design degrees, etc.  Then I stumbled across a few blogs of some incredibly talented and creative home sewers, who laughed in the face of packaged patterns and boldly blazed paths into the land of mash-ups and alterations.

"Awesome.  I can totally do THAT" I said to myself.  And I was off and running and haven't looked back since.  However, there is a bit of difference in mixing bodice and skirt options and my latest creation...

One of my favorite RTW dresses is this Emily and Fin dress that I bought from Modcloth.  Ah, Modcloth...the reason I give my dresses cutesy names...and the big reason I started sewing for myself.  Gorgeous, but pricey.  Still my favorite place to shop for accessories, but I just can't fully indulge my love of novelty print dresses at RTW prices. But I digress.

This dress ticks every box for me:  fitted bodice, full skirt, scooped back, boat neckline, interesting fabric.  Love at first sight.  I bought it for my 41st birthday, and it was even prettier in person. As I am not going to drop $80+ every time they release an amazing new frock, I wondered if I could make a dress that was inspired by this design (Emily and Fin, you complete me).  I didn't have anything stock like this, but after digging through my pattern stash, I found I had several pieces that would work.

To the laboratory!

First things first, the RTW dress bodice.  It's fabulous; beautifully rounded back, flattering neckline, and fitted at the waist with four sets of darts.  For the front, that's a no-brainer, because that's Simplicity 2444 straight up. 

The back of the bodice took a bit more thought, because I wanted to use existing patterns in my stash.  I had several scooped back options, but I decided to go with Simplicity 1803 to stay in the same pattern line (both are Project Runway).  A quick layout and I confirmed the shoulders would match. The back shoulders were a bit wider set, but that didn't concern me over much.

Done and done.

Now the skirt.  This was an experiment, and my inspiration dress had a stunning skirt that's got about a million tiny knife pleats.  Hell no. Knife pleats can get on the bus to Fuckoffsville with facings.  Enter Butterick 5882 - the 5 gore 1/2 circle skirt. All the fullness, a fraction of the work.

*cue the lighting*

This project went together in just 3 days, from layout to cutting to sewing.  It would have been faster, but I was a terrible mood that week and kept making stupid mistakes that I will not go into here (but it involves a lot of re-sewing).  I did have to trim a bit off the armscye on the back piece, because it was a higher one that 2444, and if I matched the underarm, not only did the waist not line up but everything else would have skewed.  I did this by taking the pattern piece for the back of 2444 and laying it over the dress piece, then just cut the excess off.  Pinked seams, serged hem, bias faced armscye and neckline, 1/4" waist seam, and...

It's alive!  ALIIIIIIIVE!!!!!!

The unexpectedly cool thing is that, because the shoulders on 1803 are wider and slightly off-set, they pull the front of 2444 (which I have already trimmed to the size 4 line because I don't like super high necklines) into the same moderate boat neck of the E&F dress.  But other than the skirts being slightly different, I am thrilled with this project.  The fabric is light, but has enough of a stiff hand to flare on its own, and the colors will transition nicely into fall and winter. 

No flash back view

I will definitely make this again.  The only changes will be to open up the armscye a bit more and remove the extra 1/4" I added to the CB seam (because 2444 is much more fitted in the front, I thought it may be too tight with the back from 1803 as-is).  But even as it stands, this monster's got swagger.


One more pose, just because I like this one
Well, that should do it for this entry.  It is positively glorious outside today, and I have coffee to drink while the breeze blows summer air through the house. I have my next Anna ready to start (September is too close and I have a challenge to meet), and another Frankendress in the planning stages.

Mountains.  Your moment of zen.


  1. Now thats some impressive frankenpatterning!!

    1. Thanks! It was fun to experiment - I have another one almost done.