Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Version of a Sundress

Inspired by Rhonda, I purchased this fabric from Joann's. Rhonda shortened hers a bit and used some lovely ribbon for straps. I knew that the maxi-length wouldn't work for me; I know I would trip on a long dress, just going up the stairs. LOL Also, I wanted a little more coverage at the top, so I thought I could use the piece cut off from shortening the dress above the border to make a slightly fluttery almost-cap "sleeve." (What's that called?)
After serging the raw edges and preshrinking the fabric in the washing machine and dryer, I cut off the bottom border about 1 in. above the top of the border and set it aside. I then held the fabric up to myself and looked in the mirror, pinning it up, auditioning different lengths until I got it just about right (remembering that I would be reattaching the border). I cut about 12 or 14 in. from the new bottom.


Next, I trimmed the bottom edge, slightly curving the back up so that the center back would be about 1 in. shorter than the front—to allow for (ahem) front body contours, which take up more fabric than my (lack of) back body contours. Please note the level hemline. Thank you.

I reattached the border, using French seams to encase the raw edges, which also added a bit of desired weight to the dress bottom. I then trimmed the serged edges to straighten what would be the center back seam. I sewed this seam, again, using French seams to encase the raw edges

So then I had this nice piece of fabric to make the fluttery almost-cap sleeves. My first attempt was a failure; I don’t even remember what I was thinking. So, with not too much fabric left, I got out my Sure-Fit Designs bodice front and back blueprints. I aligned the front and back shoulder seams and from that, created a pattern piece as long and wide as I could, flaring it out at the center (the part that would go over my shoulder). I serged the outer and inner curved edges, pressed under and stitched to finish them.

Then I tried on the sundress, and by trial and error, pinned the sleeves to the bottom of the top ruffle in the front and back until I was happy with the angle and fit. It took me about 100 tries, okay maybe 50. At least 25. I then trimmed and serged the edges and stitched them, right side of the sleeve to wrong side of the sundress, stretching the elastic of the sundress at the same time. I then hand-stitched the top of the blue ruffle to the sleeves.

Sure-Fit Designs is as handy as a pocket, even when I’m not making an actual garment from it! Using the shoulder area of the blueprint helped me to see what shape I should cut to get the look I wanted.

I know we (seamstresses ~ sewers ~ sewists ~ stitchers ~ sewing artisans) like to see everything up close and personal, inside and out. Here's a closeup of the outside of the top, where the sleeve is attached to the ruffle.

And here it is from the inside. If you look really closely, you can see the stitched I used to tack the ruffle down (thread color deep blue same as ruffle).

Here's how the reattached bottom border looks. I slipped a piece of yellow paper under the seam.
Here's the center back French seam.

I am delighted with the result; I am especially pleased with the neckline. And that I kept at it, even after my first attempt at fluttery sleeves was a total fail? I attribute that to how much I like finishing projects! I wore this dress to a party and then a baseball game yesterday, and I think I will get a lot of use out of it.

Are you still making summer clothes (for this year)? Or, if you're "down under," for your upcoming summer?


Blessings and peace...

50 comments:

  1. cute cute dress! Great idea for the sleeves. Wanted to comment that I also loved the fit of your slacks. You know how ana* I am about pants fitting. I've not been on SG for a couple of weeks so haven't commented on anything there. Never want to leave anyone out. Enjoy your new dress and pants.
    Marciae from sew guild

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    1. Hi Marcia, Thanks for visiting and leaving such nice compliments. I am happy about my inspiration for those sleeves and share it in the hopes that others who need some shoulder coverage will adapt it to their needs. The joy of sewing! Oh and thanks about the pants fitting. It has truly been a game changer in my sewing life. I am making another pair of pants, and that I already *know* that they will fit -- well, it's just wonderful! I have the same dilemma about not wanting to leave anyone out and yet unable to keep up! Thanks again.

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  2. That is THE prettiest, most flattering dress I've seen on ANYone this summer. I love the fabric, the cut, the sleeves, everything! It suits you perfectly and again... extremely flattering. Well done, Mom!

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    1. Oh hi, Emily! Thanks for your sweet comments. I am grateful that I know how to sew, even though I am still a beginner. Evidently there's no "aging out" of sewing skill levels LOL. I'm hoping that by next year at this time I'll be an "advanced beginner" -- not that there are really any definitions of those terms. :)

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  3. Sandra! It turned out quite lovely. The color is marvelous on you, the style suits, the sleeves are age appropriate and you stuck with it and have a wonderful garment that you would not have otherwise enjoyed. Glad to hear you used your Blueprint to get the sleeves right too. I'm bearing down on mine. Fourth muslin underway and by golly I think I've got it with this one.
    Lynda

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    1. Lynda, I'm so excited for you! Yes, this is one time that my persistence has paid off, that's for sure! I don't always know when to quit ~~ LOL. I need all the age appropriate I can get! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, especially about your update of your Sure-Fit Designs blueprint. Keep it going!

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  4. You should be delighted with the result. You've done a marvelous job, and you look so pretty in your new dress. All you patience and efforts certainly paid off. Well done!

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    1. Hi Linda, I'm practically typing with one hand, what with all the patting myself on the back I'm doing about this dress! :) Thank you so much for visiting and leaving such lovely compliments. (P.S. Every time I visit your blog and see new fabrics you've bought, I think, yes, I love that one, too!)

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  5. Sandra, it turned out BEAUTIFULLY! I'm so happy that you shared the results!! Very nicely done.

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    1. Theresa, you found this before Janelle forwarded my email to you! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and leave such a nice note. I bet a million dollars you will see me in this sundress sometime this summer!

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  6. Lovely dress..you should be proud of yourself. it's very hard to find a RTW sundress with enough coverage to allow you to wear a bra.

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    1. Hi Anonymous, Oops, somehow my reply went poof! Thank you so much; I completely agree with what you said about coverage. Maybe a clothing manufacturer will take note; stranger things have happened! I appreciate your visiting and leaving my a comment.

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  7. So pretty! And those sleeves are literally called "flutter sleeves". love that dress!

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    1. Hi Jaime, thanks for visiting my little blog and for taking the time to leave your compliment. You were the first person (after Louie) to see me in the dress at your party on Saturday. Oh and thanks for the terminology -- flutter sleeves it is. Thanks again!

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  8. Love, love! The pictures are so lovely, but it is even more gorgeous when you are modeling it in person!! :) Beautiful job, Sandra!!

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    1. Hi Janelle, You are so sweet to stop by and leave such a lovely note. I have learned (okay, am still learning) that the camera doesn't lie, darn it. I've had to learn to sew (and to dress) for the body I have, not the one I might have someday. You'll see me in it again, I am sure. It was so much fun to see you and your kiddos at the party. They crack me up, ya know. :)

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  9. This dress is lovely! I love the sleeves, and the border around the bottom. I agree that it is very difficult to find a sundress with enough coverage. This one is perfect!

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    1. Hi Janis, Thank you, thank you. Yes, I think that this one is a definite WIN! Who knows, maybe stores will start carrying this style -- I really think there is a market for it.

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  10. Love your new summer dress. It shows a perfect amount of skin and is quite classy. Great job for sure.

    Karendee

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    1. Hi Karen, Aw, thanks, you always know just what to say. Truth is that this is the most skin I would want to show in public, and even then, only in a casual setting. Getting the shoulder coverage just right (for me) took a lot of tries. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

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  11. I love the dress and you look perfect in it. Very nice.

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much! I'm planning to wear it again this afternoon.

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  12. I LOVE it!!!! Would you mind if I include your dress in a post I would like to do tomorrow?

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    1. Hi Rhonda, Thanks for visiting and commenting. Okay, as long as you don't include it as a What Not to Wear (LOL), I'd be most honored!

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  13. Sandra...I am so proud of you! This dress is totally you! I love the flutter, flutter sleeves. What a unique way to use the SFd bodice. Obviously you spent considerably 'thought and trial time' on this project and your time was very well spent. You look darling in this. I hope you received beaucoup compliments when you wore it to your functions - you deserve them. You should post a photo of yourself (and dress,of course) on SG. I know everyone would love to see it! Kindly, Glenda

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    1. Hi Glenda, Thanks so much! I am enjoying wearing it -- when I'm going someplace that's not likely to be over-air-conditioned, that is. For goodness' sake, western New York has enough cold weather; we don't need it in the summer, too. Oh, and I was hoping you would see that I used my SFD bodice to help me figure out the flutter sleeves! Thanks again.

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  14. Beautiful, and really well done -what skill you have!

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    1. Hi Janice, You are so sweet to take the time to look at this post and leave such a nice compliment. Really, my sewing skills are what I would call "advanced beginner." I am just happy that I know how to sew simple things. Hope you visit again!

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  15. Smart thinking with that hemline! Dress looks fantastic...J

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    1. Hi Judith, As for retaining the border while shortening it, credit goes to Rhonda (link in the post above). As for reshaping the bottom of the fabric above the border to achieve a straight hemline, thank you! It's something I've known for some time to do, but I don't always remember to make this adjustment for my flat bottom. :) And thank you for visiting, commenting, and for your (just discovered by me) wonderful blog!!!

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  16. AWESOME! I love your summer dress, and I love how SMART you are in figuring all of that out! How come I didn't know you had a blog?

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    1. Hi Joyree, Well, I like to give credit to Rhonda who got me on the right track about how to shorten it while retaining the border. As for the rest, well, thank you for your nice compliment. And why you didn't know I have a blog? Maybe it's because it's not among the top ten (hundred, thousand, million) sewing blogs out there! :) Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  17. I'm very impressed with your sundress,congratulations BUT more so with your SFD pants.When a sewing teacher told me they were the most difficult garment to fit I thought she was exaggerating. How could so few seams be hard to get correct???. Well, after many ,many tryouts I realized she was right ,your success has spurred me on to keep trying for the fit I'm after. How lucky you were to have that time with Glenda.I bought my 1st SFD kit when Glenda visited Australia back in the 80's I think it was & it was very successful. My sewing took back seat for many years but now I've become enthusiastic again of course my shape has changed with the passing years so it's back to the drawing board .
    Cheers Bev

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    1. Hi Bev, Thanks for stopping by and leaving such nice compliments. I totally agree about pants fitting. It certainly has a Level of Difficulty of 10 (out of 10) in my opinion. Yes, I agree, I was truly blessed to take classes with Glenda. I think that the kit is the same as it was years ago -- haha, it's our bodies that change! The good news now is that she has so many helpful videos that she makes available for free to everyone. And she has a pants-fitting (or drafting or making) DVD. I bought it while I was there for the classes, as a refresher for when I needed it, although I haven't viewed it yet. If you run into new challenges and the videos and contacting Glenda aren't enough help, maybe the Pants DVD is an option? Thanks again, Bev. Let me know how it's going, okay?

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  18. Hi Sandra, I dropped by to see your blog. (I came from SFD.) I certainly can say: Nice job on your dress. You were very creative, in that design. It looks great on you. I just hope you don't mind if I 'borrow' the idea when the time comes? After all, isn't that the best form of flattery?
    CarolP

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    1. Hi Carol, Welcome and thanks for visiting. Please borrow the idea; I'll be interested in seeing how you make it your own! Are you using your SFD kit(s)?

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  19. It's a lovely sundress. Well done for persevering!

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    1. Hi Leonie, Thanks for coming to my blog, and thank you for leaving a comment, especially one that acknowledges one of my (usually) fine qualities, perseverance. Sometimes, though, I should, as the Kenny Rogers song goes, "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..." :)

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  20. Your dress is so very pretty! I love the colours in the fabric and what you did with the border print.

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    1. Hi Diana, I hardly know what to say! You are such an accomplished sewist/seamstress (I never know which terms to use), thank you so much for visiting and commenting. If I hadn't seen Rhonda's post and what she did with that fabric, I would never have attempted this. When I saw the fabric in the store, I thought, wow, that is a mighty bright print! LOL

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  21. This is so pretty! Great job on your very even hem!!!

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    1. Hi Roz, You are so sweet to notice my nice, even hem. No skirt or dress that I buy has an even hem (on me). It's one of those things I always notice, too. Of course, now the Mullet Dress (and Skirt) are in fashion, but I'm going to hold firm to my even hemlines! ;)

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  22. Hi Sandra - Interesting that you used a SFD block to test the fit of the dress - it certainly worked well for you. It's a pretty dress - and making something towards the end of the season will mean it's ready for next year as well. I like even hemlines as well, and certainly for a borderprint, they are very effective.

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    1. Hi Sarah Liz, Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by. I think that it was the shoulder covering that sets this apart from other sundresses I've seen (in stores and patterns), and I'm so thrilled that I can use my SFD blueprint to help me. Rhonda (link in the post) made a sundress with ribbon straps, but I need more coverage. I enjoy visiting your blog and have added it to my blog roll. Thanks again!

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  23. I really like your version of this sundress! Like you I need to cover up my shoulders some. It is just perfect and I love the colors.

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    1. Hi Linda, Thank you! Since I made that dress, I've learned a little more about making flutter sleeves, for example, how the circle-ness of the curve determines the flutteriness. So... if I ever figure out how to write about it, I'll post a little tutorial! LOL Thanks again, for visiting, leaving a comment, and for sharing your need for shoulder cover-up!

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  24. Love your dress! Especially like the border print & the ruffle. And looks so nice on you!

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    1. Hi Beverly, Thank you for visiting and leaving such a nice comment. I was a little concerned that the print might be too loud for me, but I've been enjoying wearing it. Lifelong learning, that's me!

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  25. I know I'm a little late to "this party", but I just wanted to comment that I've been reading up on SFD this weekend. I've followed your progress on the SG(?) Forum. The fluttery sleeve addition is fabulous. Isn't it amazing what you can do with a little extra fabric?
    A couple of years ago, for our youngest son's wedding, I found a strapless dress that I was in love with, but I'm definitely not a strapless dress age/shape/kind-a-gal. The bridal shop, on my whim, was able to fashion a pleated wide shoulder strap/hardly a cap sleeve from the shawl for the dress. I was soooo happy with that little addition and much like your lovely summer dress, it really made it something I loved and felt beautiful in. PS, your pants fitting was amazing. I might just have to consider trying to sew for myself again soon after having quit in frustration over fit - like 25 years ago or so....maybe more? Keep sharing your successes!
    Kris

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    1. Hi Kris, Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving this comment. People who work in bridal shop alterations departments are so full of knowledge and wisdom. Not that I would ever have the patience or skills for that work, but it's so nice that they made your strapless dress into one that you loved! You might want to visit the Sure-Fit Designs website and watch some of Glenda's videos. Thanks again!

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