I haven’t written a post on this blog since April of 2019. Wow have things changed since then. Not as much personally, but the world. You don’t need me to recap the open wound of 2020, you were there.
In my life, it’s been mostly a quiet year, being careful and safe and trying to keep myself occupied throughout the pandemic and the pathetic, negligent handling by the dumpster fire of our thankfully-outgoing wannabee dictatorship of an administration (a big silver lining of 2020!). Making things is one of the ways I cope with stress. I don’t always—in fact 2020 came on the heels of an incredibly stressful and draining several months last year for me, during which I barely made anything. I didn’t have it in me. Sometimes I create to get away from the stress, which I’ve been doing this year. It gives me a different thing to focus on.
Last year, that didn’t work for me. So after jumping from one kind of stressful period to another—a kitchen remodel last winter (a story for another time)—and then jumping into the pandemic immediately after, I have been full force in creating mode this year. It’s definitely helped manage stress for me. But we’re all different. If that’s not your way that’s just as good, too. It’s hard enough getting through a day right now, just do what you need to do for you. For me it’s meant trying to be occupied as much as I can. In some ways I feel like I’ve been running on steam for a year and a half, but for the last several months, being occupied with my hands has really helped.
Well before all this though, I was sort of trailing off blogging for awhile already, in large part because my computer was old and it all just became a giant slog to try to deal with taking photos and writing, and I just didn’t feel like it. But the reason I got into blogging is actually because I like to write, not because I like taking photos of myself wearing things (I hate that part), and I’ve felt like doing that again lately, and we finally got a new computer, so here I am. I’m not sure how many people even read blogs any more. A lot of folks were falling off blogging at the same time I was. But I’m starting to be in the mood to blog a little bit, maybe. I definitely have at least a few posts in me. No promises though. And if I’m just writing mainly for myself, well hey, so be it.
So since I have you here, you deserve something for reading that long-winded intro, but it’s the only type I do after all, and if you used to read this blog, you’ll know that. So how about a Christmas dress for your troubles? It even has a saga. I mean, I really brought it for you!
For at least a few years now, I try to make some article of clothing for myself for Christmastime, so that I have a few festive things to wear throughout December. Due to the pandemic and needing some extra joy, hell we’ve had our tree and decorations up since early November so I’ve had more time for the festive attire!
This year, I bought some flannel with a lovely poinsettia print. The seller had 4 yards only, so that’s what I got. It’s nice enough but kind of almost slightly an open weave which was problematic in a few areas. Not the nicest stuff, but serviceable for a holiday dress, and warm and cozy. I am really into flannel in winter.
I wanted to use the same bodice I made for a flannel Christmas dress in 2015, this one:
It’s a mashup of Emery by Christine Hanes, and the sleeves of a vintage blouse, Butterick 6223 which I’ve made a few times, like this one. Plus this year’s version used the skirt from Butterick 4002, which is pleated in the front and has plain gores in the back. (I used it for this flannel dress too.)
I love that snow globes dress, in fact I wore it just a few days before I embarked on my flannel poinsettia dress. Which means you’d think I wouldn’t have made a mega mistake, but alas, I did.
When I started this project, I went looking for the pattern pieces. Now I’m a fairly meticulous note-taker, and I (usually) write extensive notes in a sewing journal and some key scribbles on pattern pieces. So I should have been setup to win. I pulled out the pieces I thought I used—after all, they did say “Emery and Butterick 6223 mashup”, which is what the entry in my sewing journal said.
I realized I was going to have to cut the bodice on the cross grain, given the width of the front piece. That was even noted on the pattern piece. Well, I figured it worked once, it would work again. Trouble was brewing, though I didn’t know it yet at the time.
It wasn’t until I tried the nearly finished dress on and it was way too tight, that I realized the cross grain had zero give. I’ve cut other bodices on the cross grain a couple times and they’ve been predictably a tad tight, but this was worse. I should have checked before diving in. So I set about letting out the side seams and front waist darts a bit, to give myself as much extra room in the bust as I could (not really enough, but doable) and in the waist. I did get it wearable in the end, even if it’s a bit on the tight side. Phew!
While I was in the trying-it-on stage still, I did also wonder why the sleeves seemed baggier than I remembered on the other dress, but I kind of tabled that thought while I dealt with, y’know, actually getting it to fit me.
Once that was mostly resolved, I started thinking about the original dress again, and how come it didn’t have this same fit issue since I cut it on the cross grain, too?! And how come the sleeves seemed more fitted than this one, even though I had no notes to that effect?! So I pulled the dress out.
What did I discover? I hadn’t cut it on the cross grain and the sleeves were several inches shorter than my new one! Whaaaa? Well, it started to come back to me when I found the actual pattern pieces I’d used…right next to the ones I thought I’d used.
When I originally had the idea to mashup the patterns five years ago, I realized that the front bodice would only fit on the cross grain. And then… I re-cut pattern pieces with the sleeves short enough to fit on 44″ wide fabric on the straight grain. Because I didn’t want to cut it on the cross grain. And I narrowed the sleeve slightly in the process. Hahahahaha.
You can see the original pattern piece on top of the new one—not the same thing!
Can you see me slamming my head on my sewing table? Yeah. The explanation for why my poinsettia dress didn’t fit the same as the snow globes dress was because they didn’t, in fact, use the same pattern pieces, much like I thought. Oops!
In the end, I have a pretty dress that’s a bit too tight but I’m happy, and it means I actually have the ability to re-create the bodice of the snow globes dress that fit me better, and I’ll probably be doing that again soon!
And I do quite like the dress in spite of its flaws. The cut-on sleeves are neat, even if I didn’t mean to use exactly this version of them. They have 3 darts at the elbow which you can just see in a closeup.
And I love this skirt, the fact that front is flared and pleated and the back just plain is kind of unique, and still gives plenty of swish to the dress with a lot less fabric than, say, a circle skirt, which is what I’d have picked if I had enough fabric (that’s what the snow globes dress has).
I’ll leave you with that. A small sewing saga and a pretty dress. Until we meet again—be it sooner or later—stay safe, social distance, wear a mask, enjoy the holidays as best you can if you celebrate, have empathy for others, and don’t be a selfish prick.