The Return of the Mojo

I had a plan.

About a month ago, I decided that I wanted shorts for the summer. Specifically, not denim shorts. More specifically, green, blue, yellow, fuchsia, and coral shorts. So, I bought some twill in all those colors–except coral because I couldn’t find that color, which is really sad because I so wanted that color especially. I also bought Colette’s Iris shorts pattern, because I loved it as soon as I saw it, in addition to McCall’s 5391 because it was 99 cents. Since I bought two yards each of the twill, I realized that I would have enough left over to also make a skirt in each color.

This was my plan: Make four pairs of shorts; make four skirts. Summer wardrobe exponentially expanded.

This is what happened: I made the fuchsia shorts (which gave me major fits–more on that later. Let’s just say I made them up three times.) and the fuchsia skirt. After that, I became entirely burnt out on twill. And, consequently, burnt out on sewing altogether.

Not that I was sick of it, I just had no inspiration. No drive. I was still reading all my favorite sewing blogs and scouring the internets for tutorials. I also kept dreaming of future projects, even thinking about fall and winter clothes. I even bought some fabric (People, it is a sickness!). But, I’ve been excessively tired and haven’t had a lot of time to work on anything. I just couldn’t bring myself to get back to work on those shorts and skirts.

And so, I stepped away from my plan.

This is kind of a big deal. I love my plans. I love making them and following them and knowing exactly what I need to do next. But, sometimes a plan can be stifling.

I set aside my shorts and skirts endeavor and started up a project I was really excited about: a little seersucker sundress (which finally brings me to what I was going to chat about when I started writing. . . ).

I decided to use Simplicity 2209 because I had seen so many lovely creations out there and read some really positive reviews of the pattern. I expected the project to be simple and lovely.

Therefore, I was unprepared for all the madness involved in fitting the bodice.

Issue, the first: The darts.

If you look at the picture on the pattern envelope, it looks as though the darts are only sewn up a couple of inches. Look closely–see what I mean? But, according to the directions, you sew the darts all the way up until just before they would meet at a point. So really, the darts are more like enormous tucks. Which is odd. So, I followed the directions and got. . . the most disturbing dart placement in the history of forever. Baffled, I set out on an interwebs search and became still more confused as every picture I saw seemed to suggest that people were sewing the darts all the way up to a point, like a regular dart. So, I tried that. Also, very, very awkward.

On the right you’ll see the dart left open at the top, per the instructions. On the left, the dart is sewn all the way up. Sweet Fancy Awkwardness.

At this point, I decided it was time to ignore directions and ignore everybody else. It was time to do my own thing. I decided that I would make my version look more like the version on the envelope. (By the way, Lisette does not post, even on their website, a picture of the model wearing the dress without the jacket. What’s up with that???) Basically, I just sewed each dart up about four inches and left the rest open. So, it’s like an upside down pleat–is that a thing? I thought it looked much better than the original version–it looked more intentional.

You can see here the original dart lines as well as my new marks for where to stop for Pete’s sake.

Issue, the second: Gaping at the armhole.

I always have this problem. Usually, I try to fix it by using a smaller size through the shoulder and grading up to the waist. But, oddly, everything fit fairly well–I just had the gaping problem. I turned to my copy of The Perfect Fit which I haven’t used as much as I really could have (and should have) and discovered that I could add a dart at the arm to pinch out gaps. Can we just say, “Revelation!!” I had thought this before, but for some reason, didn’t think such a thing was “allowed.” I know–crazy talk. But, the dart worked like a charm.

These darts are a miracle. I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of the other side as I actually did that side correctly and didn’t have to go back and change it.

Issue, the third: The back.

I’m beginning to think that I might just be swaybacked, in addition to being laughably short waisted. The back looked like I had cut it about seven sizes too big–except it fit at the waist. (I’m sorry I didn’t snap a quick picture before I started conquering it–you may just need to see it to understand the madness.) It wrinkled up underneath the waist, which pushed the waist higher than it should be. Also, the neckline and shoulder seams just. . . floated. It was weird.

My first thought was to make it shorter in the back (the front, by the way, needed no shortening. This, I do not understand, as I generally have to shorten everything), but that only fixed the wrinkling problem. The top of the back was still hovering about an inch above where it should have been. It was at this point, that I decided I needed to go to bed.

Of course, as I fell asleep, all I could think about was how to fix the back. The odd thing was, the front was exactly where it needed to be, the shoulder seam actually resting on my shoulder. It had never occurred to me that the different pieces of the bodice would act almost independently of each other. I would have thought that you could just pull down on the front to make the back behave, but that’s not how it works.

When I woke up the next morning, the first thing I did was slip on that wretched bodice muslin. On a whim, I pinched up the excess at the top rather than trying to pull it down at the bottom.

Suddenly, all problems vanished.

That was all it needed. I just redrew the shoulder seams and the neckline. I also had to raise the back darts 7/8 of an inch. But all those tweaks were totally worth it because now the bodice fits like a glove.

It’s pretty insane how much shorter I had to make the back.

And because I adjusted the back, I also had to adjust the back facing. Definitely almost forgot this step.

Here, you can see the whole bodice pattern. My changes are in red.

And here’s the back. I’m pretty proud of all this work, and people who see the finished garment would never know. So–yes. I’m being braggy.

And just like that, my sewing mojo returned, not with a simple and easy project but with something complicated and detailed. Yes, the process was frustrating and I wanted to punch someone in the face most of the time, but I found that identifying problems and finding ways to fix them (and being fearless about it!) was actually super fun.

I guess this is how I know that I love the craft itself–because it involves problem-solving and piecing things together like a puzzle. Because each piece is born from your own creativity by choosing fabrics and thread colors and lining and extras like buttons or bows. And in the end, it’s a practical craft because you can actually use or wear what you create.  What’s not to love??

So, my friends, I’m spending my Memorial Day finishing up my Dress of Returned Inspiration in spite of having gotten sick over the weekend (SO MAD about this, by the way).

Question: What do you do when you need inspiration?

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2 thoughts on “The Return of the Mojo

  1. I’m so impressed with all the adjustments you had to make! I, too, am short waisted and I suspect I also have a swayback. I’m still a beginner and bought that pattern over the weekend. I think I may need to get a few more projects under my belt before trying this one! Can’t wait to see it completed! – Janette

    • Thanks! I would definitely put myself in the beginner category as well–I would have been completely lost if I hadn’t made the muslin. I wish you great luck with your own dress when you make it! May your adjustments be few 🙂

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