My Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - front view - indie sewing pattern

At long last, here is my Winifred Dress, which I’ve been sporadically working on since March and finally finished in May! I really meant to complete this Bluegingerdoll Pattern ages ago but I had to work on my hubby’s Newcastle Cardigan, plus it took me a while to get my Winifred pattern adjustments just right for my broad shoulders. This pattern has kimono sleeves. If you’re interested in ordering the pattern, you can buy the paper pattern here or the PDF version here. [UPDATE as of 7 December 2016: You can buy the paper pattern on Craftsy here or the PDF here. The Bluegingerdoll site is no longer working.]

[Full disclosure: I was lucky to get this pattern for free from Abby, the designer. However, I am not being paid to make the dress or write about it. She generously donated this pattern for a giveaway held at the Bay Area Sewists April meetup (I’m the organizer for the group.)]

There are only four pattern pieces for this dress: front, back, collar, and belt, which are printed on a very large sheet of white opaque paper that’s similar in weight to copy paper. And it’s a HUGE piece of paper as you can see below. I put my yardstick next to it so you have a sense of just how large  it is.

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress paper pattern - indie sewing pattern

Choosing a size was a little confusing because of the listed measurements – Size 12 had a bust of 39 inches (97 cm) and waist of 38 inches (96 cm). Huh?  Just ignore the waist measurement and focus on the bust. This dress has elastic at the back. Maybe without the elastic, that’s what the waist measurement is.

I picked size 12 and I traced the front, back and collar. I decided to leave off the belt piece because I didn’t want a belt that attached at the side seams. I wanted to make a fabric-covered belt buckle, which would not fare too well in the wash. So I wanted it to be a separate piece. (You can read about my fabric-covered belt buckle here.)

I generally need a small bust adjustment for bodices so I followed the Winifred Dress sewalong SBA instructions provided by the lovely and talented Heather B. But I was being lazy and didn’t want to make muslin of the dress in size 12 as is. So I took a guess and took it in 1/2 inch but it turns out that was too much. It was too tight at the waist – though you really can’t tell from this blurry iPhone photo those waist darts are about to bust – and I really needed more ease in the shoulder and upper arm. I discovered that it’s tricky trying to make shoulder adjustments to kimono sleeves. I wasn’t sure how and where I should add more ease.

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - small bust adjustment - indie sewing pattern

So I made another muslin – this time making a smaller SBA – 1/4 inch and dropping the underarm seam about a 1/2 inch but the shoulder still wasn’t right and adding width in the armpit area didn’t really do much for my shoulder problem. But at least the SBA was fine. The waist darts on this dress are pretty cool – they look like pleats, don’t they?

Blueginerdoll Winifred Dress - indie sewing pattern - mockup #2

So I took a good hard look at my shoulders and realized that I needed more room at the very end of my shoulders. I made some pretty drastic pattern adjustments. Below is the top part of the pattern piece for the front of the dress: the rectangle sticking out is the collar, just to the left of that is the shoulder seam. Where the collar meets the shoulder, I used the line for size 14 and then I went all the way to size 18 at the shoulder point  and then gradually went down to size 16. I traced along the size 16 line along the upper sleeve but used size 12 from the underarm to the hem of the sleeve. Also I realized that the collar width looked good in my muslin but it would be too narrow once I sewed it up. So I added an additional 5/8″ to the collar – you can sort of see that line below. if you make your collar wider, don’t forget to add this width to the undercollar pattern piece, too.

Bluegingerdoll Dress - pattern adjustment at shoulder

My third muslin was made from four yards of this cotton woven fabric that I got for $2/yard a couple of years ago from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Shoulders fit much better now!

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - front view - indie sewing pattern

Oh, and I added pockets to this dress. I started out with the Emery Dress pocket pattern, made it a little longer and then realized that the pocket would only be attached to the side seams of the dress, not the side seams and waist of the bodice. The Emery Dress has a bodice and the skirt is attached to the bodice – thus the pocket is attached to the waist seam and the skirt side seam. (You can read about my Emery Dress here.)

Emery Dress pocket pattern - modified for Winifred Dress

So then I trimmed the top of the pocket like so:

Emery Dress pocket pattern - modified for Winifred Dress

Then I sewed each pocket piece to each side of the dress. When I was ready to sew the side seams, I just sewed around the pocket pieces and then the remainder of the side seams below. See my pocket!

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - pocket added - indie sewing pattern

One place where I had a bit of trouble was the sewing the back collar pieces together. It was a bit fiddly and the instructions were sparse. But if you use a lot of pins to ease it in place, you should be fine. Oh, and be sure to use a smaller seam allowance when you join the center back seams of the under collar. Look at the marking on the collar piece. It’s not 5/8″ but more like 1/4″.

Winifred Dress - collar back

There’s elastic in the back, which is not my favorite look so I liked the idea of having a belt to cover that up.

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - back view - indie sewing pattern

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - front view - indie sewing pattern

Fabric-covered belt buckle

I like a longer hem on a dress – mid-calf. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric to do that.  The pattern is designed to be knee-length and I had exactly enough fabric to make it that length. I confess my legs felt really exposed wearing this dress. I usually wear boots with any knee-length skirt. But after wearing this for a day, I felt more comfortable in it. Hey, this version ended up being a wearable muslin! If I make it again, I think I will add a little more ease to the waist. My waist is smaller than what it’s supposed to be – at least for my shoulders. So when I put the dress on, it’s a tight squeeze getting it past my shoulders.

Here are a few more photos. The sun was really beaming down that day so I walked over to a spot with more shade and took these photos with my camera on a timer.

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - front view - indie sewing pattern

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - back view - indie sewing pattern

Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress - front view - indie sewing pattern

Have you made the Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress? What pattern adjustments did you make?

Winifred Dress by Bluegingerdoll patterns - a casual dress with front darts and elastic at back waist

The Anna Dress – Celebrating Sewing Indie Month!

 

By Hand London Anna Dress - border print fabric

Wooooheeee! I finished the Anna Dress late last night – or should I say early this morning? Yes, it really was down to the wire. This is my entry for Dressed to the Nines. My husband thought I was a crazy person because I was still sewing at 3 am. I told him, I’m trying to finish this dress for Sewing Indie Month!

I never stay up that late on a work night but I made an exception because I really wanted to complete something to celebrate Sewing Indie Month. Mari of Seamster Patterns did such an amazing job creating and organizing this month-long online sewing party, I just had to buckle down and get it done – though it took me a while to get there!

****UPDATE! My dress made the short list for the Dressed to the Nines category of Sewing Indie Month! You can vote here for my dress at Lilacs & Lace blog, until Friday, June 13.

I completely forgot about mentioning the fact that Laura Mae of great blog Lilacs & Lace is hosting the Dressed to the Nines category of Sewing Indie Month. (Forgive me but I’ve been a bit sleep deprived from making this dress!) She has great tutorials and a lot more on her blog, which features sewn and knitted vintage and vintage-inspired garments. 

You have until Friday, June 13 to cast your vote!!*******

I initially wanted to make the lovely Beatrice Dress by Sew Chic Patterns. In early May I visited all the websites of the participating designers and bought this pattern and the Anna Dress from By Hand London. The Beatrice Dress paper pattern arrived the week of May 5. Fast delivery!

Sew Chic Beatrice Dress

I love the pockets on it and the beautiful neckline. After I traced the pattern and made a muslin of the bodice, I knew I would need to do a small bust adjustment.

Sew Chic Patterns - Beatrice bodice

However, I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it because the bodice only has a waist dart, no side dart. I placed the Beatrice front bodice piece  next to my Emery Dress pattern bodice piece and could see that I needed to come in a little bit but how to do that?

Beatrice Dress front bodice pattern piece - csews.com

I’ve only done an SBA on a bodice with a side bust dart and a waist dart (the Emery Dress sewing pattern by Christine Hayes, also a Sewing Indie designer participant! You can see my Emery Dress here.) I followed the SBA instructions provided with the Emery Dress sewalong.

I posted photos on my Instagram account (@csews) and got advice from many helpful folks along the way. Brooke of Custom Style suggested that I add a side dart by cutting and rotating dart manipulation to reduce the spread of the vertical one. And Maddie of Madalynne told me to redraw dart legs to it points to bust point and ends about a 1/2 inch before it.

In the meantime I also emailed Sew Chic Patterns – and then I tried what Brooke suggested. But I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Beatrice Dress - bodice dart manipulation

And it still didn’t fit right. Then lo and behold, Laura of Sew Chic replied to my email over the weekend! How’s that for customer service? She told me I did not need a line to the side, all I needed to do was to cut through the dart to the apex and then from the apex to the shoulder seam and overlap closing the dart – and true the shoulder. And she even sent me a PDF with additional info. Oh, yay. So simple. So I did it.

Beatrice Dress pattern adjustment - SBA - csews.com

And it worked! Bagginess gone and it was so easy to do! Thank you Laura!

Beatrice bodice fits - csews.com

It took me three muslins to get to this point, meanwhile, it was the last week of May – and I hadn’t done any fitting of the skirt part of this fitted pattern. I also did a wide shoulder adjustment to the bodice. I have pretty broad shoulders. This means that the ease in Big Four patterns is perfect for my shoulders. Heheh. I used to wonder, what are folks talking about the ease being super huge on Big Four patterns? I haven’t had to adjust shoulders or arms on Big Four patterns. 😉

Next I attached the sleeves only to discover that the sleeve felt a little tight in the fleshy area between the bewb (spelling courtesy of Leila of Three Dresses) and the arm. Oh, dear – more pattern adjustments? Um, yeah, plus I haven’t been to the gym in five months so that area is fleshier than usual. (sigh)

Once again I asked for advice on IG and emailed Laura at Sew Chic again. I got advice from all but then decided I didn’t have enough time to do a good job. Time was running out so I had to switch gears and decided to go to the Anna Dress, which I thought I had a shot at completing because it wasn’t as fitted as Beatrice.  Anna has just four waist pleats in front, not darts, and two back darts at the waist. So I got started on Anna and discovered that the pleats went up too high, darn it!

Anna Dress bodice - needs an SBA - csews.com

Then I lowered the pleats about an inch and discovered that I needed to do an SBA – oh, noooooooo!!!

Anna Dress - bodice pleats lowered

It doesn’t look too bad in this photo but when I glanced at my profile from the side, uh, the bust area looked like a balloon with half the air taken out. Not. Good.

On to muslin no. 3! I took the SBA tip from Sew Chic’s Laura and applied it to the Anna bodice – slicing from the middle of the first two pleats to the apex of my bewb (you can kind of see the pink highlighter in that spot) and then from the apex all the way to the center of the shoulder seam line. I moved the pattern over 1/2 inch. I didn’t redraw the pleats because I didn’t know how/where I would do that and whether that would affect the matching of the front seams. The middle pleat seam lined up with one of the skirt seams. So I just left it where it was and crossed my fingers, hoping that I could ease my way into matching those seam lines.

Anna Dress pattern - SBA - csews.com

And it fit sooooo much better! Yay!

Anna Dress bodice - with SBA

I used a bed sheet from Goodwill to make that muslin. And now I was ready to cut my fashion fabric.

I got this unusual directional print at Britex Fabrics remnant sale a couple of years ago. It’s cotton with a touch of lycra and imported from Italy. The lighting isn’t so great on the photo but it’s 58 inches wide and the print goes from large size “squares” at the selvedges to small in the middle. The rectangular shapes are either black or charcoal grey and the lighter color squares in the middle are sort of beige.

Border print from Britex Fabrics

I only had a little over two yards so I thought of alternating the skirt panels with  charcoal grey or something. So I went back to Britex (lucky me, I work within walking distance so I could drop by during  lunch) and looked at some lightweight cotton solids but nothing was in the right shade of grey. The saleslady suggested we look at prints but nothing worked well with this busy print. Then she told me that they still had that fabric in stock.

“Really?” I asked. Well, getting more fabric seemed to be the best option. So I paid full price for two more yards (ahem – $39.95/yard ). I don’t usually spend that much on a single piece of fabric but I had a good feeling about it.

I decided to make Variation 2 with the V-neck,which seemed like a better fit with this directional print. And I decided to create my own length. I didn’t want a floor-length Anna because when I wear maxi skirts I tend to trip on the hem going up stairs. So I wanted more of a tea length – somewhere in between the knees and the ankles. A nontrippable length.

I just added 10 inches to the midi-length line on the skirt pattern pieces and drew a line there, which I called “CS length.” I traced out the maxi length in case I should change my mind and I just folded up the pattern at my CS length line and cut my skirt pieces out. I decided to lay my pieces out so that the smaller part of the print starts at the waist and then gets bigger at the bottom. This meant that I was placing my pattern pieces perpendicular to the grainline instead of parallel like you typically do.

The tricky part was deciding which way the print would go on the bodice pieces. The print is really large – about four inches wide, which I thought wouldn’t be too flattering across the shoulders. So I decided to go from large to small from my right side to the left. I also made sure that the pattern began shifting to the smallest squares past the center of the bodice. I’ve got the pattern piece here face down. This was so I could see where the right half would begin and end. The front bodice piece is cut on the fold so I wanted to choose exactly where that center fold would land. The bodice pieces were laid out on grain.

Anna Dress bodice fabric placement - csews.com

Then I began to sew the front pleats, which you iron on the wrong side so that the pleats are centered over the seam. To make it easier to do that I inserted a chopstick in pleat, which helped me center the fabric over the seam and then I ironed the pleats.

Inserting chopstick in pleat

For the back pieces, I had the larger part of the print on the same side as the front. I cut the two back bodice pieces separately. Below I’ve cut the left back side of the bodice and I’m placing the pattern piece for the right back side. I deliberately did not line up the right side. I moved the pattern piece about an inch higher than the bottom of the left bodice piece. Before I cut my fabric I had already decided that I wasn’t going to match anything at the seam lines on this fabric – not without driving myself completely bonkers anyway – so I wanted to be way off as opposed to slightly off, which would have made it look like I tried (and failed) to match the print.

By Hand London - Anna Dress - back bodice

And here’s what the completed back looks like at the waist – check out those matching seam lines! The center seam is my installed invisible zipper – everything lined up. Yay!

Anna Dress - back bodice seams - csews.com

And here’s the front – the two center pleats line up with the seam lines of the center skirt panel. I was a bit concerned that the SBA would affect the pleat placement. But when I pinned the bodice to the waist, I was able to ease the skirt so that the pleats lined up with center seam line. (Whew!)

Anna Dress front pleats - csews.com

And here are a few more view of the Anna Dress!

Back view of By Hand London - Anna Dress

And here are some more photos of the dress, which I really love. This is a very lightweight and drapey fabric. And it was really breezy today so in most of my photos the skirt is drifting in the breeze.

By Hand London - Anna Dress - csews.com

Oh, and a note on accessories. I’m wearing a vintage hat, which I got at a great boutique in Oakland called All Things Vintage. Nearly every time I got there I get a new hat! This one is made out of straw and velvet. The underside of the brim is black velvet as well as the hat band. I’m also wearing a vintage bracelet – it’s striped (black and ivory) and Bandolino pumps I got at DSW several weeks ago.

This photo was taken when the wind died down for two seconds. I think it’s one of the few photos where the skirt isn’t blowing against my legs. You can really see the drape of the fabric here.

By Hand London Anna Dress - border print fabric

The photos were all taken with my digital camera on a timer. Hey, I accidentally discovered the multiple shot feature in my camera earlier this year and now I use that along with the timer. So much easier!

By Hand London Anna Dress - border print fabric

Thank you for visiting! And don’t forget to visit Lilacs & Lace on Monday to vote for your favorite outfit in the Dressed to the Nines sewalong contest! You have until June 13 to cast your vote!

Anna Dress - Front view - csews.com