My mind put the pieces of this puzzle together overnight. I had
- wonky armscyes that need to be finished
- a scooped neck needed to be re-scooped and finished
- a short dress that showed my knee brace
- a frumpy dress.
I realized what bugged me the most was the knee brace followed by the general frumpiness. The knee brace is almost a constant for me worn frequently with a sacro support. The price of not dying at an earlier age, is an aging body that needs care and support. While it is me these days, I’d rather not have the brace showing. It leads to lots of depressing conversations. “My knee cap doesn’t track quite right’ turns into hours of listening to others detailed descriptions of their own physical challenges. I don’t always want to participate but my brace will ensure that I do. While I’d like a shorter dress, I think I need to make it long enough to cover the brace. I add 6″ to the length of the pattern and cut 6.5” length of the remaining fabric to make a ruffle.
However I look at it, whatever excuses I make, the armscyes are a disaster. I add tissue to the pattern and restore the original armscyes but I’m not sure the dress’s armscye are fixable. I did seriously consider ribbing. Adding knit ribbing to a woven fabric can be tricky. I would need to make samples. I would need to buy ribbing fabric. I don’t have a black, fine knit ribbing. HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON. OK in the sewing room that means gather up everything and put it out-of-the-way, at least for now.
I choose another fabric, a light weight linen that I had hoped would make summer pants. Not this year. It is not a handkerchief linen and doesn’t have the drape of the rayon. But it is a recurring color in my wardrobe so will work with a number of other garments already sewn. (I’m thinking of the travel I will need to do for those weddings.) I cut the linen on-grain. I’m still not sure that grain was or was not the issue. I know what Peggy Sagers says. God love her, but my personal experience has been that grain matters. I’ve seen too many disaster of my own, my class mates and friends which could be directly traced to the grain.
I cut fabric and immediately run to the ironing board to fuse tape to armscyes and neckline. I mean I cut the front; apply tape. Cut the back; apply tape. I didn’t let the first piece sit until I could cut the second. Did it help? Well, at least with my peace of mind. I stitched the center back seam, bust dart, shoulders; basted the side seams. This version is too tight across the hips.
What??? #1 it should have more than sufficient ease. #2 neither of the previous two versions in rayon had any indication of insufficient ease. Why this one? As far as I can tell neither rayon challis or linen have any stretch. Did the linen actually shrink with a small amount of ironing? As with all fabrics, I prewashed the linen before putting it in the stash. I really hope this did not shrink. I’d hate to go to all this effort and not get to wear the garment even once. I rip out the center back seam and then stitch it at a generous 1/4″ from about mid-back to hem. Do the same for the side seams.
I’m liking this version much better. The armscyes are better, much better. I now have enough ease that the dress skims over my curves and there are no U’s on the sides beneath my underarms. I’m surprised that the hem is not level.
The front is clearly tilted up as well as jutting forward; and that’s even after having added an additional 2″ length to the center front which was curved to join the 6″ added at the side seam to match the even 6″ added to the back. So odd. What am I doing that makes this problem? It wasn’t there on the long dress. No really, the long dress was hemmed 2″ ; looked and felt level. I finish the armscyes and neckline with bias tape in a cream color to match the stripes of the fabric.
I check the hem to be sure it is even when laid on the cutting table and then use bias tape as a hem facing.
I had problems turning up the hem the same depth all around. How much could that have contributed to the uneven hem line?
Still this linen version is not quite right. It’s just a bit frumpy. I consider carefully. I took several pictures trying to decide if I could reduce the frump factor. I think partly it’s an issue of the length–I want that brace covered. Partly it would be my posture and body shape/weight. I look much more like Hagar the Horrible’s wife, Helga, than any other personality I can think of. I decide upon a tie belt placed about empire height. I don’t want the tie to move around. It needs to sit in a narrow range for the effect I want to create. So I add belt loops. But not tiny insignificant loops. I’ve got to have them, may as well make them a feature.
There are 3. One at the center back (above) and one at ease side seam. I made the tie from bias tape and beads.
think I’m satisfied with this:
I mean I’m not going for ‘young starlet’. Not even Jane Fonda although Helen Mirren or Judy Dench nice. Truth is I am a Mid-west senior who still cares and that’s what I want to project. (I think Helga cared.)
I can see myself attending wedding in this dress with maybe this shirt for coverage if the church is too cold or the sun too hot:
Not sure yet what I’m doing with the previous short dress. All the bits and pieces and left overs are hanging in the closet just waiting for me to decide.