Monday 15 May 2023

spring sewing: a red velvet Society dress

So, I'm very aware that I posted a spring sewing plan and then just didn't update here for basically the whole of spring. It's not that I haven't been sewing; I've either completed or attempted the majority of my plans. It's just that almost all of them involved new-to-me patterns and my success rate has been very sadly low. I hate the maxi skirt, the trousers are unwearable, I can't get the bodysuit to sit right for photos, the zip broke on the shorts the second time I put them on. It's been really discouraging. (Also I've discovered that despite what it says on the envelope, the slip dress that comes with M6696 does not, in fact, have cup sizes, so I don't know if it's worth bothering with now.) I am in active need of things to wear and nothing is working, and motivation is now in short supply. 

But amongst all this, there has been one single success story. 

And of course it's one of the impractical things. Saying that, I have actually worn this one out already, within 24 hours of finishing it, and while it's obviously very fancy I also didn't feel uncomfortably overdressed in it. Even though it has a massive cowl hood. I think more overtly vintage-looking things like this give me a bit of leeway in this area; the style is specific enough to convey "this is just what I look like" versus "I have seriously misjudged the dress code". Which is not to say I'll be returning to overtly vintage styles generally, but it is useful when you want to go out for dinner on a Thursday night wearing a red velvet dress with a giant hood. 

This is the Society dress from Gertie's Patreon, and it has a view different options: shorter A-line skirt or floor length skirt with godets; short puff sleeves or long bishop sleeves; massive hood or no massive hood. Obviously what I immediately wanted was the most dramatic version possible, but that's a lot of fabric and I didn't know if I was going to like it. So to test it out, I made the A-line skirt and short sleeves. I was not prepared to give up the hood, even for a test (plus I wanted to know how it would sit on me). 

I made a straight size 8, H cup. By shortening the skirt a couple of inches and taking about an inch of width out of the hood, I managed to fit it onto three metres of fabric. Incidentally, I still ended up putting quite a wide hem on this one to get it to sit above the knee and I'm 5'8'' with long thighs, so I think "knee-length skirt" might be a bit of a misnomer. For the most part it fits me very well, though it doesn't quite sit under my bust the way I think it should. I would add a small amount of length to the bodice for any future versions.

I found this to be a fairly simple project in terms of construction, and I did most of it in one afternoon. The instructions as written for almost all of Gertie's knit patterns seem to preclude the use of an overlocker (all seam allowances are directed to be pressed open) but I ignored that because I refuse to return to the tedious days of the zig-zag stitch and did almost all of it on the overlocker except the neck facing. I hemmed the skirt and sleeves and secured the neck facing by hand, and that bit took many hours and was not completed in the same afternoon. 

Something that surprised me was that I didn't end up shortening the sleeves. I almost always do when they come out boob length like this, but when I pinned them up they just looked weird (I think because of the puff at the shoulder) and I ended up doing a very narrow hem to keep as much of the length as possible. The style of the bodice seems to be enough to prevent the Massive Boob Shelf look I usually get. 

I'm really pleased with this dress and hope I can find ways to wear it semi-regularly. I do intend to try the full ridiculous version at some point, and if I were more of a vintage person in general the base dress would be amazing for everyday wear. I keep thinking about trying it, but I know it wouldn't work for me - this dress is me because it's wine-coloured shiny velvet with a massive hood, super glamorous and unnecessary, and a version meant for daywear would just make me feel kind of dowdy. Shame, really, because it's so comfy. But at least now I'm ready for any future parties that require me to come dressed as Vintage Red Riding Hood. 

I'm not sure yet what's happening when it comes to posting the rest of my spring projects. Ideally I would still put them up here in some form because reviews of patterns you didn't entirely get on with are often the most useful ones for other people (and for Future Jen who comes across one of the patterns in two years and wonders why she hasn't made another), but we do run into the age old dilemma known as Putting Pictures of Myself I Don't Like on the Internet, and I'm just not sure I'm in a place for that right now. But we'll see. 

My busy February and March spilled over into April as well, so it's only this past week that I've finally had a bit of breathing time. Next week is also chill and I'm hoping to use it to pair patterns to fabric and find the motivation to try out another pair of trousers. I cannot possibly stress enough how much I need another pair of trousers. What I need to do is bribe myself to properly refit and redraft my trouser block, but I just so fundamentally don't want to do it that the usual bribes (ie fabric, cookies, nail varnish) don't work. To the point that I end up convincing myself I don't even like the bribe thing that much. Sigh. But somehow, some way, there needs to be trousers, and hopefully that will be my next post. Fingers crossed for next week!