Monday, 17 April 2017

the Very Mild Experimentation series: going without a waist seam

In my last post I mentioned some suspect advice I'd read about green not being a good choice for someone with my colouring, and several people told me that was nonsense. I know it's nonsense (basically any saturated colour works for me, and it's muted tones and pastels I have to be careful with), but it's interesting how these generalisations are presented as fact and can easily get into your head. A little while ago I was searching for styling advice and kept coming across stern-voiced pronouncements on "The ONLY three silhouettes that work for your body type" and completely serious "50 things you should NEVER wear if you're over 30" articles that I genuinely thought had been parodied out of existence. And yes, it is nonsense. Yes, finding personal truth in one of these articles is basically akin to finding insight in a daily horoscope. Yes, it can all fuck off and rot. But it's insidious, all the same, and there are times when I actively need to fight against it.

All of which is to say, I'm taking the first step in my resolution to try some shit out and see what happens, and that first step is a dress without a cinched waist.

The only dresses in my wardrobe without close-fitting waist seams are wrap dresses with waist ties (and my favourite wrap dress pattern does have the close-fitting waist seam). This is cool, since I like my waist, but if I can have a wider range of shapes in my wardrobe then I'd like to. I'm unlikely to ever be the woman in loose-loose silhouettes or enormous slouchy sack dresses, but a slightly more relaxed look every now and again couldn't hurt. I picked Vogue 9196 because it still had plenty of seams and fitting lines, but no waistline and a nice relaxed 60s vibe that I thought I'd like to have a go at.

I am dressed exactly like the pattern envelope in these pictures; I already had the blue ponte and once I saw the illustration I couldn't get it out of my head. No, I didn't have to put the boots on, but why not go full dork, I always say.

As you can see, I do still have shape in this dress. It's not meant to be completely straight up and down and I think I prefer it that way, since most straight shift patterns don't appeal to me in the slightest. When I was taking my introductory class at Sew Over It, the instructor pointed to a sample of their shift dress and told us that was the ideal next step in our dressmaking journey. All eight of us took one look at it and said, "Hahaha, no," and it was never spoken of again. The idea of a relaxed T-shirt dress appeals to me more, but I think that would take a lot of work to get right for my figure. I'm not opposed to trying, though.

Ponte is one of the recommended fabrics for this dress, but it's mainly drafted for wovens and is meant to have a centre back zip. I had to do a lot of weird folding to get the pattern out of one metre of fabric whilst also cutting the back pieces on the fold, but I made the effort knowing I was likely to need the second metre for a second attempt. Which I did; the first dress had several problems. One, the armholes were too high and it looked weird. Two, the back V as drafted was way too deep for me. Three, I hadn't compensated enough for my narrow back and the dress had what I can only describe as a shower curtain quality from behind.

I recut the dress with lower armholes, a different back neckline, and two sizes smaller for the back pieces. I also took a few inches off the hem, because I wanted a 60s dress and the knee-length version had more than a whiff of sack about it.

I love the colour of this dress, and in person I really like the way it looks. In photos the silhouette is jarring to me, probably because I'm so unused to seeing it. It hasn't put me off wearing it, though - it's easy and comfortable and put together, and with opaque tights it's a really nice dress for both dance events and general mooching about. Whether or not I make another one depends on finding the right fabric, but I'm definitely open to it. 

Aaaand some frond fondling to close. I tried to take a photo of me doing that arms down, hands pointing out to the side pose that a lot of sewing bloggers do when they're wearing something vaguely 60s, but in every single frame I had a face totally suffused with inexplicable fury and murder. I have learned my lesson and will not be trying that again.


  1. Love the shape and the colour on you. I do wonder what it would be like in a fabric with a bit more body, now you know the silhouette suits you.

    1. That's a good shout; I'll bear that in mind when I make another!