Chinese pastoral

February 22, 2010

Pattern: American Pastoral from Built by Wendy: Dresses

Fabric: cotton lawn, 1.25 yards

Other notions: covered buttons

First of all, thank you SO MUCH for all of your wonderfully supportive comments about the wonky star quilt. Y’all are right…I need to wash it (well) and get it quilted. I decided to do a wonky nine-patch block in all the colors used in the stars for the back, so it will be a double-sided quilt. I think that will make me much happier in the end.

Onto the dress…this project marked my first foray into garment sewing, and it was a good one! I bought three yards of this lawn cotton from Gorgeous Fabrics a few weeks ago (as well as a fabric I shouldn’t have bought, which I think is destined to become a quilt back). I love the fabric, which looks exactly like a Liberty print called “Poppy and Honesty.”

The pattern called for ticking and a yoke.  I chose not to sew it with the yoke, which was basically a design element for directional fabrics like ticking, and would have looked odd in this pattern. Here are my notes on various project features:

Sleeves: I gave my sleeves a small cuff and am still debating sewing my leftover buttons onto the edges…my suspicion is that they will disappear because it is a busy fabric and will be a waste of time in the end. I prefer 3/4-length sleeves, and these do not disappoint…although there is a significant amount of excess fabric to be gathered into the sleeve of the XS. I am going to try a new technique, taught to me by my mother, next time I attempt this pattern.  I want to reduce bulk in the shoulders, as these border on puff sleeves…an 80s fashion element I do not want to revive. Ever.

Fabric: I’m happy with the fabric itself, but not in this dress. The dress requires a more structured, heavier, less drapey fabric (hence its original incarnation in ticking), and the lawn is much less structured than I would like. I suspect my fabric choice may have rendered it unsuitable for regular wear.

Fit: I have a feeling fit is going to be a frequent issue for me. I am very petite–my hip measurements are a full 2″ smaller than the smallest measurement given for the XS size.  I had to adjust the length of the pattern by about 4″ and I think that made the fullness in the hip less noticeable.  Luckily, Wendy has given me confidence in adjusting patterns to fit, so I do not think it will be a problem for me to modify for my shape!

Collar: The pattern calls for a mandarin collar, which I made…I love mandarin collars. Sewers, beware: there is an error in the collar directions, but I think even novice sewers could spot it. The pattern calls for you to cut a 1/2″ x 19″ strip for the collar…obviously, that wouldn’t work, and you would end up with a finished collar of 1/8″, at most. I cut a 3″ by 19″ strip and am happy with how it turned out!

Mistakes/ lessons: I interfaced neither the collar nor the button placket, both of which needed it desperately.  I didn’t know about how important interfacing is before I did this (I know, it’s shameful).  My button placket fabric puckered a bit. It’s not noticeable to others, probably, but is to me!

All in all, I would say it was a success and I enjoyed the process so much. Thank you, Wendy Mullin, for giving me a new reason to get up in the morning.

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2 Responses to “Chinese pastoral”

  1. Sara Says:

    This cotton lawn–it’s like goldilocks–for one dress it’s too unstructured, for the other it’s not soft enough. What’s “just right”?

    Is cotton lawn mainly for shirts? To me this looks a bit like a shirt dress so it’s surprising that you feel it didn’t work out. Thanks for sharing though.

    • madebymonet Says:

      I think it’s for shirts without structured details, like the mandarin collar…or perhaps they just really need to be interfaced. I’m learning as I go, and I think I’ll have to stick to tried-and-true dress fabrics for a little while. 🙂


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