Last night my friends and I had a midwinter Christmas party. We did this last year, and it was a lot of fun (if rather stressful, as one of the cooks… I’d never cooked a roast dinner for so many people before) so of course we repeated it, and I cooked again. But this time we-the-cooks were a lot more onto it, and had a better idea of the times it would take for everything to cook (and especially for the chicken to thaw. That was the big debacle of last year – a chicken takes an awful lot longer than you think to defrost). So everything was going swimmingly – until I realised the only Christmassy clothes I owned I wore last year. And to be honest probably no one would have noticed, but I’d have known.
Well, it just so happened that I had a dress under construction that was vaguely wintery. Indeed, it was almost finished. So at 4.30pm, 2 hours before the party started, I decided I HAD to finish the dress in time to wear it. Which proves something I’ve suspected before – I’m not good at doing only one thing, and I’m not good at not being stressed. If everything is going swimmingly, I will add in something else to worry about. Good life choices, right?
So this is the dress.
It makes me think of snowflakes, and catching them on your sleeve (disclaimer: I have done this approximately twice in my life. My home city snows once a decade, and my current city once a year. Don’t judge me if snowflakes aren’t actually like that). That is, of course, why it’s called the Snow Queen. In fact, I was telling my friend that I wore it because it’s sort of like snowflakes, and he stared at it for a minute before going “OH, I thought it WAS snowflakes.” So here’s a close-up of the fabric to prove that it is in fact a floral pattern:
Moving on to construction. This is another New Look pattern, but it’s my sister’s so I don’t have the pattern number with me. It’s a basic darted bodice, with a pleated skirt. It’s also the first time in a while that I’ve made anything actually according to pattern – neither frankenpatterning it up nor drafting part of it myself.
I didn’t make any fitting adjustments to this. I was going to let out the side seams just a little – I’ve found with previous New Look patterns that they’re just half an inch too small at the waist in size 14 – but I forgot, and it turned out to fit me perfectly (I’m going to make my sister post it to me. You can’t pass up a dress that fits perfectly with no alterations). Maybe a little tight for wearing warm things underneath, which is what I normally do in winter, but the fabric’s fairly lightweight so it’ll be perfect when it comes around to summer. I’m aiming for a versatile summer-winter wardrobe, so lots of layering in winter and the same dresses minus the layers in summer, because honestly who wants to give up half their gorgeous clothes for half the year?
(I really like my back. I need more low-backed dresses, because I am such a fan of shoulderblades/backs. I have had a mixed relationship with it in the past, and for years wouldn’t show it off because when I was 13 a somewhat unpleasant girl in my class told me it was weird and spotted. But I’ve gotten over that embarrassment, and incidentally also over the spots, and now I just need patterns with low backs – I don’t trust myself to draft a nice back.)
I tried out a few new techniques in making this. The last dress I made, I had some trouble with darts nippling, so I poked around on the internet and found a few tips to stop that. The one I used was a trick I believe comes from Katie of Papercut Patterns, where you turn around at the top of the dart and sew back down the dart halfway, before finishing off. It worked perfectly on the two front darts, though there’s still a little bobble at the tips of the darts coming in from the side. They’re in a way less awkward position though…
(see Tilly and the Buttons for a few tips – this is where I found the one I used. I also used tip 4 for speed – it doesn’t change the dart itself, but meant I didn’t have to trace the dart onto my fabric, which was difficult because I couldn’t see the pencils on the fabric).
I also tried sewing in the sleeves on the flat, before sewing up the side seams. I was a little dubious about that – I think I’ve found it easier to ease the sleeve in when it’s in the round, so I might not do it again.
And I sewed a lapped zipper. It’s the first zip I’ve done in ages that hasn’t been handstitched, because the first one I ever did was with a machine and that failed miserably. My mum’s sewing machine just hates zips, and mine doesn’t have a zipper foot (though it does have a few feet I could get the same effect with). I used Lladybird‘s recent lapped zipper tutorial. I think it worked pretty well, although it gapes a little at the waist when I’m not wearing a ribbon/belt.
I didn’t finish any of the seams, because I sewed a lot of this up at home over my break, so I didn’t have my pinking shears with me, and honestly at the moment most other finishing methods take way longer than I want to give to this. I did line it, though, so the seams are hidden and look pretty.
The best part? This dress cost me all of $0.50. The fabric was given to me by my nana, the lining from my mum’s stash, and the zip was bought from an op shop.
And the fit makes me super happy.
The worst? Probably the lack of finishing on the seams.