Saturday, May 13, 2017

rough seas, they carry me

After succesfully making one dress with buttons, I was excited to try to make another for my Easter dress.  I had some Cotton and Steel canvas that I'd wanted to use for a yoked shift dress, however I changed tack upon conferring with Jenny and Elizabeth and decided to make another Helmi.  Since I couldn't find a shift dress pattern that was exactly what I wanted and I didn't really have time to do a muslin, sticking with the Helmi made a lot of sense.

I cut this one a size smaller than my first because I wanted slightly narrower shoulders and the pattern has so much ease that grading wasn't necessary.  I found it to be incredibly difficult to pattern match with this fabric though I tried.  I struggled to even figure out where the repeat was so ultimately settled for good enough.  This worked out okay on the placket but not as well on the side or waist seams.

I again did a mixture of bias binding and Hong Kong seam finishes, using bias strips from quilting cotton that had fishes on it to coordinate with the waves on the canvas.  I used my new clapper to try to flatten the seams to make sewing with the canvas less cumbersome.

I modified the hem to be a high-low hem.  There's probably a better way to do this, but I just lengthened the side seams to the bottom of the shirttail hem and then borrowed the shaping from the Fen pattern pieces, if that makes sense.  I changed up the construction so that I sewed the hem after sewing the side seams since I wasn't doing the shirttail hem.

Again, I added in-seam pockets.  This time, I used a tutorial from Megan Nielsen that includes suggestions of when to finish the various seams, which my sleep-deprived brain found super useful.  In the tutorial, Megan Nielsen shares her trick for making sure the pockets line up.  While reading it, I thought, "Why wouldn't you just know that they lined up because you'd measured properly?"

And then I sewed one pocket piece at 3.75" below the waist and its matching piece at 4.25" below the waist.

I don't know how I managed to do that, except, well, sleep deprivation.  But I very much felt like my hubris had been my downfall, and that I need to cross stitch a sampler with the motto, "Measure twice; bias bind all your seam finishes once."  I had bound all those seams by the time I realized my error and since no one would know about it except me, I didn't bother fixing it.  And now you all know about it.

I found buttons that I thematically loved for this fabric since they looked like driftwood.  However, they were too large for the concealed placket so I scrapped them for other buttons that were reminiscent of driftwood but not as great.  Because these buttons were still a little large, I left off the top collar button and buttonhole.  I knew that I would never use that button and it got very close to the first button on the placket which looked odd to me.

Despite the pocket debacle, I'm pleased with this dress, love the fabric and am thrilled that I got to make my Easter dress this year.


Pattern: Helmi Tunic Dress by Named Patterns
Fabric: Cotton and Steel Waves Canvas, purchased at Hawthorne Threads; Cotton and Steel Sardinha Neutral Quilting Cotton for bias strips, also purchased at Hawthorne Threads (now sold out)
Thread: Gutermann 248 (blue); random grays and creams when matching bias tape
Buttons: purchased at Piedmont Fabrics
Needles: Universal 80/12 for attaching bias strips to main fabric; Jeans 100/16 for construction seams
Modifications: Added in-seam pockets (using tutorial from Megan Nielsen); replaced shirttail hem with slight high-low hem using Fen dress pattern as guide; bias bound/ Hong Kong finished seams throughout (using this tutorial from JuJu Vail for the Hong Kong finishes); used bias strip facing for skirt hem (using this tutorial from Colette); left off collar button and buttonhole.
Things I'll change next time: Press seam allowance for inner collar stand at a scant 3/8" to make it easier to catch when stitching in the ditch; smaller buttons; maybe a slightly longer skirt if high-low hem used again; place pockets at the same location.

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