Happy July everybody! After two weeks at home, the boys are enjoying summer camp run by the town PE teachers and staffed with local teens, half of which play on the football team. They came home from their first day, yesterday, with skinned knees and dried sweat defining the tips of their hair as well as important updates on which friends are in their group and stories about the cool camp counselors. Remember when nothing was cooler than knowing cool teenagers? Ah, summer. I can already see it taking shape. I didn’t plan to slow down on blogging while they were home with me but the pull to sleep in, read with them, play cards (we are loving War and the game Twisted Fish right now) and swim at the town pool was so strong. I have to assume that I needed a break, too. I did manage to share my boxer shorts but, things were slow around here. Two weeks was long enough, though, and now I am itching to jump back in to sewing, blogging, teaching, sharing and re-immersing myself into this crazy world I made for myself. And, I’m excited to jump back in with a review of the Sundressing book, a giveaway and a lovely, bug-filled, Olive dress.
So, let’s talk about this new book Sundressing : Sew 21 Easy, Breezy Dresses for Women and Girls by Melissa Mora. I should say, from the start, that I am on the Blank Slate Pattern Team run by Melissa Mora (known as Melly Sews) but she didn’t ask me to review her book…her publishers did and I always give you my own opinion. All the same, these seem like important details.
Back to the book. Sundressing is unique and in classic Melly Sews style, it is also educational. The patterns in the book are all for sundresses (as you would guess) for both girls and women and in a variety of adorable styles. What makes this book different from other sewing books is that the only pattern pieces included are for a single front and back bodice for women and one for girls. Each dress pattern then includes instructions on how to create either a circle skirt or a gathered skirt and how to modify the bodice to each individual dress style. Melissa shares her belief that a good fitting bodice is the basis for any dress. Such a smart observation, right? In the parlance of pattern designers, the bodice would be referred to a ‘sloper’ meaning it works as a template that you work off of. At first, I was concerned I wouldn’t like working this way. I’m programmed to want the pattern all laid out for me. After working with it, however, I ended up loving this approach and really appreciate learning how to work with a sloper.
I’m always looking for ways to improve my sewing and my understanding of pattern design. Sundressing is great for both of these goals. By requiring that I modify the bodice to fit the style of dress and create the skirt portion, this book has so much to teach me about dress-making. I decided to make the Olive Dress, which involved altering the bodice as a I mentioned but also working on a circle skirt. Silly me, I was under the impression that a circle skirt was a simple thing! Ha! Consider me schooled! I also resisted circle skirts for years because I was somehow under the impression that the bulk of fabric added to thickness around the waist.
As it turns out, it is just the opposite! It’s just a swarm of wrong things rattling around my brain! Because the fabric bulk builds to the hem, there is actually very little fabric at the waist…as opposed to a gathered skirt, for example. That said, man oh man, circle skirts use so much fabric! Hemming this puppy took what felt like a lifetime. I kept thinking I must be nearly done sewing and I would be only halfway there! So funny.
As the book promised, I was able to create a well-fitted bodice. I think this might be a first for me. I find it so difficult to get a bodice to fit well. I was so pleasantly surprised. And, overall, the whole dress fits well. What a win!
So, now that we have established that I like the book, I learned a ton about the whole ‘fit and flare’ dress style, and made my first well-fitting bodice and circle skirt; we can discuss the elephant in the room. Or, I should say the massive batik-style cricket in the room? Yes, this dress. It kind of works and it’s kind of odd. No?
Well, as it happens I had a bunch of this cricket suiting fabric from Ikea and I used it because this was essentially my working muslin. I also had SO MUCH of this fabric and need lots of fabric to make the circle skirt! I like how the print allowed for a waistline that was defined. But, of course, the hem turned out pretty weird.
It’s not that I dislike this dress but probably, in all honesty, won’t wear it very much. I still wanted to write about it because I learned so much and I want this blog to be about sharing the process not just the pretty pretty outcomes. You know? And, I will absolutely use everything I learned to improve my next dress.
I haven’t had time to make any of the other dresses but already have plans to make a dress for a friend’s daughter like this one and a version of the Parlin (featured here) for myself. Really, this book gave me confidence to alter a bodice and a deeper understanding of how to bring a bodice and a skirt together. Getting to that point is more work than just copying a pattern but so completely worth it. I really want every new thing I make to teach my something but I often get lazy so this crazy, cricket dress was the perfect antidote.
It’s also why I want to giveaway this book! Enter using the Rafflecopter below to win your own copy of Sundressing! If you leave a blog post comment tell me what you prefer from a sewing book…do you like when it stretches your skills?
Contest open until midnight July 12th. US entrants only. Sorry international folks!