Fitting is an invisible art.
If you read my Muslin Diary posts–if you didn’t, no worries. There was a lot of blather–you know that the struggle to fit Simplicity 1776 was no simple afternoon of muslin-making. It was hours and hours of measuring, marking, cutting, taping, stitching, pressing, wearing, removing, and starting over again stretched out over several weeks (over two months, I think).
Yet, when you look at this dress, you probably don’t see all that work. I know that I never notice when someone’s clothes are particularly well-fitting. I definitely notice if something is too tight or very baggy–but if it fits just right, all I see is the person wearing it. And, of course, color and style and all that. But, aren’t color and style meant to somehow reflect the person within?
So, I guess the purpose for the long-fought fitting battle is two-fold. One, of course, is that I wanted the dress (any garment, really) to be comfortable. I have to be able to move freely. Fighting my clothes all day just adds a level of exhaustion that I don’t need in my life. Plus, when I am comfortable, I am confident.
Two is to make the clothes “invisible.” Not like the “Emperor’s New Clothes” (scandalous!). But, to make sure that what I wear doesn’t detract from me.
It makes me sound “egomaniacal” now that I’ve written it down, but it’s still true.
I do wonder if there are some lovely people out there thinking, “Wait a second–this is the dress she spent months fitting? It’s a shift! It’s easy shapelessness is supposed to be a breeze to whip up!”
Well, that may be true, but when you have bumps and squiggles and proportions that defy logic, you have to work a little harder at “effortlessness” and the invisibility of a fine fit.
Alas, even after all that work, I cannot say that this is perfect. But, I can say that I can easily raise my arms and move them about in ALL directions! I confess that the sleeves are still a bit tight across the tops of my shoulders. And after wearing the dress to work, I realize that it’s not the most comfortable to drive in. Also, it really is too warm and sticky (already!) to be wearing a lined dress. When I planned this dress, it was still winter. I had no idea it would take so long to make! However, I am content to store it away until fall. Rather than feel like I failed my winter wardrobe, I feel like I’ve got a jump on my autumn.
During construction, just after I had inserted the lining to be exact, I tried the dress on and discovered quite a bit of bagginess under the bust at the side seams. It turns out that I did something crazy with my darts and added some unnecessary width. I undid my side seams and removed about 3/4″ from just the front. It’s still a bit baggier than I’d like, but it looks so much better! And I might just be getting used to the whole shift silhouette, which is very new to me.
On it’s first day out, the dress received tons of compliments, which is always nice. Most people at school (did you know I was a teacher now? I can’t remember if I told you) know that I sew, so they automatically ask, “Did you make that?” whenever I’m wearing something they haven’t noticed before.
Question: have you ever had trouble with your zipper when you attach a lining? I’m speaking specifically of finishing the top of the zipper. On one side, the zipper seems to cause the lining to peak out at the top. I’m thinking of either interfacing the lining in the back just to give it more structure to fight against the zipper or cutting facings of the self fabric for the back to sew to the lining or attempting to remove the zipper teeth above the neck seam line. I suppose I could just line the plastic stopper up just underneath the seam, but then the zipper doesn’t quite zip all the way up. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s such a minor thing, really.
Let’s see–construction details. The zipper is interfaced–best thing ever. I’m going to always do this from now on. It just makes the zipper better. All better.
I used a cotton/rayon chambray twill–and let me tell you, if you ever see a listing for this stuff, get it. It is probably one of my very favorite fabrics I’ve ever worked with–top three, even. It’s soft and smooth and has this lovely sheen in person. The dress is lined with aubergine rayon bemberg which is perfectly lovely except when it’s sticky out. The lining was in my stash, so that’s why it’s sort of a random color pick. I used my rolled hem foot to do a narrow hem. It worked really well most of the time. When it screwed up, it was generally due to me rushing and not keeping everything taut and properly folded. But I’m really rather pleased with it overall.
I decided at the last minute to add the pockets. And then I decided to add the flaps and some gold buttons from my grandmother’s button stash. I do love to use up old buttons. The buttons and buttonholes are functional.
I did not know that I liked shift dresses. I assumed that I would feel flabby and shapeless in them. But, I felt great wearing this all day! When I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, I couldn’t help but think, “Man–this dress is amazing!” I have one, possibly two, more versions planned for this summer.
It still needs some tweaking before obtaining official “TNT” status, but I’m fairly confident that it will happily join the ranks of the Magnificent Eleven-ish. . . and there shall be great rejoicing throughout the land.
And now, my lovelies, do tell–what was your greatest sewing victory?