For the contrasting cuffs/collar, I pick a pink cotton with a grid made of pin-tucks sewn into it. I have very little of that one, so there will be no chance of pattern-matching the grid-lines or anything, but they add texture.
The main dress fabric is a quilting cotton from Moda Fabrics (Morning Glory, designed by Robyn Pandolph, "the quintessential creator of sophisticated floral romance"). Quilting cotton isn't ideal for clothing; it doesn't move or drape very nicely, and tends to wrinkle in the seat. (Okay for little-girls' dresses, though, since its stiffer body makes the skirts stand out, and it's very washable and durable.) On the other hand, its lack of drape makes fit issues more obvious, which is desirable for this project. And the color and print are so lovely, I've been dying to wear it, regardless of wrinkles!
Cost is hard to calculate, because I'm using stash fabrics. I know I got the pink stuff for free, but I paid for the yellow cotton, years ago when a friend from my steampunk group was having a de-stashing sale. I don't remember what I paid... probably under $10. I buy the buttons for the front, at $0.25 each. I buy eight and use seven. My total cost for the buttons is $2. The pink button at the very top is from my stash, and was given to me by my housemate when she was de-stashing her buttons (free!). So:
Total out of pocket at time of sewing? $2.00
Estimated total including fabric? $12.00
At this point I get very absorbed and don't take many pictures. I am very careful with the layout to make sure that the prominent stripes of morning glory match up across the waistline seam, but I have no advice about that except the advice that always applies to pattern-matching: before you cut, visualize where things will end up! As for the order of assembly and the problems I encounter, I take notes, transcribed here:
sew contrast cuffs on sleeves
Those notes don't reflect how much pressing is involved. Anyone who wants to make clothes must learn to love their iron! Every seam gets pressed as sewn, then pressed again in the direction you want it to lie.
And in case you're confused by my notes about the order of assembly for the hem and CF/CB... I don't blame you, since they confuse me as I write them! Here's a picture of the CB kickpleat if the CB seam is sewn before hemming... see the problem? Because that vertical seam is meant to lie flat as sewn, it's impossible, now, to hem the skirt! The front seam, with its faux-overlap to make it look like a shirt-dress, causes the same problem. So the two sides of the skirt need to be hemmed first, then the vertical seam sewn and pressed in place. Figuring this out means doing a lot of un-picking of seams and furrowing of my brow.
I wear it with a nylon tricot slip to make the cotton hang smoothly. It's okay, but not right yet. The biggest changes I need to make are to the fit of the skirt... the Moda cotton shows the problems better than the drapey rayon of the original... or maybe the rub-off created problems that are not in the original, but either way I need to make corrections on my pattern. Here are some comparison shots:
Overall, I think the original fits better, but the wearable muslin is a more flattering color and much more fun to wear. The kick-pleat gives enough room for walking, and the interfacing on the kick-pleat prevents it from crumpling up and sticking out like a previous skirt I made did. (No pictures of that skirt... it was terrible!) It's light and springy.
What's next? Ultimately I want to make this dress in a cotton "barkcloth" I have, with a brown velvet collar. I have the fabrics set aside! But first I need to make the alterations mentioned above, then copy the pattern to paper, walking the seams and squaring corners where needed, putting in proper seam allowances, and all that. I want to learn more about patterns, and doing this one to the best of my ability is part of that! Expect, therefore, two more posts about this... one for the pattern work and another for the final dress.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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