Ready to sew spring dresses (if I had time!)
I am the laziest seamstress ever. Seriously. And I’m easily intimidated by anything I have never tried before. Like zippers and buttonholes. (They honestly don’t look that difficult, I just have never quite learned to do it and thus it is intimidating to me.) Fashioning garments without zippers and buttonholes, as you can imagine, rules out a lot.
Fortunately, it doesn’t rule out a lot of the spring and summer kinds of clothes I love to wear. I’m big on the loose-comfy-dresses-and-skirts thing, and my sewing repertoire reflects that in spades. I’m very gypsy-bohemian-unstructured in my preferred clothing styles, something I don’t get to indulge during the winter when it’s all slacks and sweaters and earth tones…if I learned to sew better maybe I could, but for the moment I’m a bit limited.
I also really dislike using paper patterns–they slip and slide everywhere, and I hate trying to keep track of “match dot A to notch B” kinds of things, and nothing ever matches up right when I try to do it. (Well, that’s not quite true–I can get them to work, but I don’t have any fun doing it, and if I hate doing it, what’s the point? Making my own clothes isn’t that green that it’s worth making myself miserable over it.)
Fortunately I’ve found a few patterns I can make over and over again, and they are really easy to do and have sort of become wardrobe staples. I blogged over the winter about my Easy Flannel Nightgown pattern (not really mine, actually),which is basically a Renaissance-faire-type chemise made out of cozy flannel–make it out of lightweight cotton or linen, shorten the sleeves, and bingo, there’s a spring nightgown. Reduce the amount of fabric in the bodice–maybe only 10-15 inches around larger than your own bust; you’ll still want a little poofiness–and shorten it to waist-length and it’s a very nice non-bulky peasant-type blouse. (Or you could leave it longer, a la chemise, and have a built-in slip for whatever skirt you’re wearing it under!)
And speaking of skirts–full summer skirts are almost no-brainers. Find cute fabric, sew a tube, put some elastic in the top, hem the bottom, and that’s about it. If you want one that’s really full, you may want to look for a circle skirt pattern or try a three-tiered skirt. (These are fun to wear but sort of a pain to make, IMO. For the circle you have to hem on a curve, and the three-tier involves a lot of gathering, which I hate. ) Or you can look here for all kinds of skirt–and other clothing–patterns. Most pretty easy, most without a pinnable paper pattern really needed.
My absolute favorite purchased pattern actually came from my maternity dress days, when I also lived in that optomistic dreamland wherein I thought I’d have time to sew myself some lovely nursing clothes. That never happened. (At some point I did convert a couple nursing t-shirts, which served very well, but that’s as far as it got.) But during that time I bought the Elizabeth Lee Patterns #302–which is a FANTASTIC and versatile easy dress pattern. So far I think I’ve made about 7 of them, all different in some way. I had three maternity dresses from this pattern (angled the front piece out a good bit from the belly), my black “formal” is matte jersey with a wide sash, and I have 3 more just for basic summertime “need to look decent” wear. Plus I was able to easily alter two of the maternity ones back for normal wear. (The third was the one I was wearing when I actually went into labor, and I discovered that I had no desire to ever wear that dress again in any form, because it always threw me back to a fairly uncomfortable afternoon and evening! Besides, it was really really huge, month 8 sized, and would have needed serious alteration.)
This is a fabulous pattern. If you make it out of a knit, you don’t even have to face the sleeves and neck, you just turn under and do a little hem. Two seams up the sides, back ties. Incredibly forgiving to almost any figure shape or size, can be casual or formal completely depending on what fabric you use. I balked at first at the idea of spending $14 on a pattern when Simplicity ones go on sale for $1.99 every couple of months, but I have about 20 conventional $1.99 patterns I’ve never actually even used, and I’ve used the Elizabeth Lee 7 times. You do the math.
Then there’s this one, which I just discovered: the One Hour Dress. It’s available from a whole bunch of places as a downloadable e-book kind of thing, but as far as I’m concerned there’s absolutely no purpose to spend upwards of $15 on it from most of the sites that come up first in the Google searches when you can get it for $5 at Emailed Vintage Patterns. (Cute site! I wish they had more patterns, though…) It’s sort of a simple twenties-style dress, with drop-waist, and almost infinitely variable, and it looks like it’ll be very cute and easy to make. And fairly figure-forgiving, especially if I put a wide sash in exactly the place where my belly would otherwise want to bulge a bit. And my daughter, who actually is tall and thin (as opposed to me, since I’m tall and not-so-thin), would look adorable in one of these…
I honestly have no idea if I’ll have time for any of this…but I really want to try. I’m so sick of winter, and I’m sick of shuffling my fabric hoard around, and I want to make something!