Alice and Ikea

June 24, 2016

I thought I'd have this posted last week, but I have a really good excuse for sharing these photos late. I had eye surgery on June 16. People normally can see well soon, as in by the next day, after LASIK, but I had a complication. It's nothing serious. But my vision is returning slower than usual. The doctors told me I'd improve about a week behind normal. Finally late this week, I thought I could see well enough to edit photos and write without a shitload of typos. Hurray!

I finished this dress after vacation in May. I'd been wanting to make By Hand London's Sophia dress since I bought the pattern more than a year ago. It was one of the last patterns they released in a printed format. (It's still available as a PDF.)

This pattern calls for some serious yardage of fabric, so it easily could have turned into a $100 to $200 project. But Mikey, the fabric master, spotted these cottons and lace at Ikea. I used a little more than 4 yards of the blue cotton, 3 yards of the polka dot overlay, and about half a yard for lining, all less than $5 a yard (at least one was $3 a yard), so it cost me about $30, maybe less, plus a zipper and thread.

I made two muslins out of white cotton (from Ikea) and used the second version as the bodice lining. I cut size 6/10, which fit perfectly along the side seams.

But the bust was a hot mess. I actually had to do a small bust adjustment. I usually almost need a full bust adjustment. I even fiddled with the length of the bust darts to see whether that was the issue. But that just made the darts end poorly (pointy boobs!).

I'd never done a small bust adjustment before, and it's typically done on a dart at the side seam. I really wasn't sure how it was going to work out, but it came together, and my boobs fit much better!

I also decreased the size of the armhole for better coverage and took in the center seam 3/8 inch at the waist grading to no change at the darts.

I added pockets to the side seams of the skirt. That took some serious problem solving with the godet insertion in the middle of the pocket.

Constructing all those godets was actually a lot of fun. But finishing their seams with an overlock stitch took soooooooo long. Pressing those seams took a half-hour alone.

This zipper was evil. First, the pull got crooked on the teeth. And the zipper foot didn't want to slide smoothly over the zipper tape. 

But I am proud of the seam matching. (Took three tries!)

Plus it's just a shitty zipper. I cannot put this dress on by myself. In fact I considered taking a few more pictures after I wore this, but I remembered I couldn't get it all the way up by myself. It's the Unique brand, which I bought at Fabric Recycles. Never again. 

I also had to add a hook and eye. Hate those damn things, but the back looks much better with them in this case.

I couldn't find a blue zipper that matched well enough, so I went with white. It shows a bit, which bothers me, but Mikey said he liked it. 

Modern Makers recently got in an exposed invisible zipper with lace trim. It sounds like a contradiction, but it looks cool. I bought one and thought about using it for this. I'm sure I'll find a pretty use for it.

I figured I'd chop several inches off the skirt because it's such an unusual length. But when I tried to play with shorter versions, it just didn't look right. The godets lost all their charm when I played with a knee-length hem. I see why BHL chose this length.

This skirt would also be lots of fun with a crinoline underneath!

I didn't use any topstitching on this dress because it didn't need it or call for it aesthetically. The only exception was the hem. I think a blind hem would have been a nightmare with that lace, and slipstitching it by hand would have taken days on that big of a skirt. I went with the blue topstitching because it showed just a little.

I really liked this dress. It was comfortable, even on a warm day, despite all that fabric (including a little polyester from the polka dot lace). I wore it to a co-worker's outdoor wedding, which is where we took these pictures. Lots of strangers complimented it. One started to tell me it was the prettiest dress at the wedding, until she realized she needed to qualify her statement with "except the bride's of course!"

After the wedding, Mikey and I went to "Alice Through the Looking Glass." I felt so appropriately dressed in that blue!

I'd like to make variation 2 without connecting the bodice to the pencil skirt. I saw a really cute dress this style on "The Odd Couple" with a lace overlay, and the lace extended a few inches below the skirt underlining.

Next time I use the collar, I'll extend it half an inch in the front, so it meets at the center.

And now for two things I actually made this month!

The skirt is Tulip by Sew Over it. This was a quick, fun, easy make. And I love how it turned out. Better than I pictured actually.

I had a light yellow zipper in my stash, but I stopped by Fabric Recycles because I happened to be nearby and found one just a little brighter. The brand is Conmar and was originally 50 cents, so I guess it's pretty old.

I thought maybe I had installed another nightmare zipper when the zipper got crooked on the teeth. (Two zippers in a row?!?) But I fixed it, and it hasn't had a problem since. Whew.

The cotton fabric is an Anna Maria Horner design. I got it at Fancy Tiger Crafts at the end of vacation. It comes in other fantastic colors, but I bought another fabric with similar colors. I'll use the scraps from this one on accents for a dress I have planned.

I cut this on the crossgrain and love how the stripes land on the pleats and meet at the side and center back seams.

I cut size 10, and my only fit adjustment was sewing the back seam to the edge of the zipper tape, which is a little smaller than the standard 5/8-inch seam allowance. As I was trying the skirt on, I got a little concerned about the waistband sitting too high and the hem hitting a little too short, so I used that center back seam to make it a tiny bit bigger (which makes it sit a little lower).

I love how it ended up. It starts right at my belly button and ends just right, a little above my knees.

I considered adjusting the back darts for next time. At first I thought they looked a little pointy on my butt, but they look fine in these photos. A more relaxed fabric (I think this is technically a quilting cotton) might help that.

I didn't have to add pockets; they were already included in the pattern!

But I did mess with the design a little. I was concerned the pocket would droop with my phone in it, so I extended the bag up to the waistband for support. I left the opening in the same location.

I used leftover scrap from my favorite of Mikey's button-up shirts.

Again, no topstitching except the hem. I tried the blind hem stitch, but it just didn't look good.

I wasn't sure what to do for a top with this skirt. I tried it on with one of my knit tank tops but didn't love the combination. 

I did like the look of Lisa's cropped T-shirt on the pattern cover. It's definitely out of my comfort zone. I'd never worn a crop top before this, but I think it works perfectly with this skirt. And it goes with several other skirts I've made. 

I used Deer&Doe's free Plantain pattern with my modified neckline. I cut it 6 inches short and hemmed it 1 inch. I used a quarter-inch seam allowance at the bust and sleeve but 1-inch seam at the waist. (Then trimmed to quarter-inch and zig-zagged.)

When I first bought this knit of unknown content (feels like cotton) from Fabric Recycles, I thought it was 60 inches wide by about 2 yards. But when I went to cut it, I realized it had more stretch along the long edge. I think it's actually 70 inches wide (unusual but not unheard of) and 1.3 yards long.

Either way, it was cut horribly off grain (probably arrived at the store that way). Knits can be tricky like that. And this one has a kind of diagonal direction to the variations in the blue. I've worn it once, and it doesn't twist, so I think I got the grain correct.

I hemmed the bottom of the shirt and sleeves with a twin needle but zigzagged the topstitching on the sleeves and neckband, which finished the seam allowance at the same time.

This is my new favorite summer outfit. I may be a crop-top convert. It feels so much more comfortable than a shirt tucked in and looks better.

This is the last time you'll see me in my glasses! I go to the eye doctor Monday and am curious what my vision will be by then. Last Monday it was 20/60 in my right eye but still 20/200 in my left. Both have improved a lot since then.

And one last thing: Does anyone have any suggestions for me to provide a way to sign up for e-mail alerts or updates when I've posted new photos? SmugMug doesn't offer this itself and gave me a suggestion for using an RSS feed with Google's feedburner, but this is new territory for me. You can leave a comment below or e-mail me from the link at the top of the page.

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