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

Making a Dress from the Book: BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern

Construction Details A
Clockwise from top left: Muslin of bodice, pinning darts in fashion fabric and lining, pinning fashion fabric and lining at neckline, attaching neck and armhole facings to lining

In December I bought the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern at a sewing event at Britex Fabrics and I had also interviewed the author, Jamie Lau. Naturally, I had to make something from the book! And when BurdaStyle announced a sewing contest using a pattern from the book, I had some incentive to get going. But first I had to think about what to make and wrote here about my initial criteria and what I was considering. After I looked over the fabric in my stash, I knew that making a dress from the book would be my best option.

At first I thought I would use the pattern for the Jamie Shift Dress because I had some great wool crepe that I could color block. But it would have taken me a lot more time (and muslins!) to adjust the pattern so it would be more flattering to my curvy figure.

So I finally decided to use the master pattern for the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress. It’s from the chapter that features fashions from the 1950s, an era when dresses had full skirts and women wore crinolines.

Audrey Hepburn in the 1957 film Funny Face

This pattern has a square neckline but I decided to give it more of a boat neck, which is a style I really like. That neckline always makes me think of Audrey Hepburn and the dress she wore in the 1957 film Funny Face, which also stars Fred Astaire who plays a fashion photographer.

To change the neckline of the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress, I traced the neckline of the Jamie Shift Dress but made it wider at the shoulders.

I made one muslin of the bodice but once I tried it on I realized I made it too wide. It didn’t look right and my bra straps showed. So I traced out another pattern but only made it about an inch wider than the Jamie neckline — much better!

My other adjustment to the bodice was that I decided to line it. The pattern uses facings. So using my muslin, I cut out the bodice twice – once from my fashion fabric, which I got from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco, and a second time from my lining fabric (a lovely Bemberg rayon lining from Britex).

I pinned and sewed the front and back darts on all the pieces and then I pinned the neck and armhole facings to my lining front and back. My fashion fabric has a soft hand and I wanted it to give it a little more stiffness around the sleeves. I used a very lightweight interfacing on the facings.

Next I attached front and back at the shoulders of the lining version and the fashion fabric. To put the two pieces together, I followed the clear instructions in the tutorial “How to Line a Sleeveless Dress,” which I found on the blog Blithe Stitches. Though my dress wasn’t exactly sleeveless and it also had a side zipper, the directions still worked for me.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing more about how I finished lining the bodice, dealing with the side invisible zipper, and additional construction details.

In the meantime, you can see more photos of the dress on my BurdaStyle project page and you can vote for my dress here. My  dress is one of 20 finalists in the contest! So please check out the contest entries and if you’re a member you can cast your vote. It’s free to join!

 

Q&A with Designer Christine Haynes

Derby Dress pattern (photo by Bob Lake)

This month Christine Haynes launched her new pattern line, which kicks off with two lovely patterns for summer weather: Derby Dress and Chelsea Dress.

You can order them on her website ChristineHaynes.com on this page and soon you will be able to buy them in shops around the country. After they ship, Christine will put a store list on her site so everyone knows where to find them locally.

I interviewed her via email earlier this month.

How long have you been working on the patterns and what made you decide to embark on this project?
I have been working on this since the fall of last year. I knew I didn’t want to do another book right now, but really wanted to continue releasing designs into the world. I decided last summer to do a Kickstarter campaign and when it was funded in the fall, I got going on it!

How much money did you raise via Kickstarter?
I raised just over $6,500 through Kickstarter, which is almost enough to pay for all the expenses to launch the first two patterns.

Christine Haynes

How long did you give yourself to raise the money?
I selected the maximum time limit, which was 60 days.

Did you think you’d be able to meet your goal when you decided to use Kickstarter?
Honestly, I had no idea if I’d be able to raise my goal or not! I thought I could, but there was an element of doubt from launch to funding, 24/7.

In your book Chic and Simple Sewing, there are no zippers or buttons on any of the clothes featured in the book. Will any of your upcoming patterns have any buttons or zippers?
Absolutely! My book was really all about removing the fear of sewing garments for beginners, so I didn’t want them worrying about fit and difficult details like darts and such. But these patterns are for levels beyond absolute beginners, so in the first two patterns there are details like facings, collars, princess seams, buttons, gathering, and more! But don’t worry, they aren’t super difficult. [Update: The book is now out of print. You may be able to find used copies on Amazon.]

Chelsea Dress pattern (photo by Bob Lake)

What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create a line of sewing patterns?
Have a clear vision, more money than you think for funding it, and take your time to get it right! I am a bit frustrated that it’s taking longer than I thought it would, but I want them done right!

What inspires your designs?
I am really inspired by the 1950s and 1960s, but I never want to look like I’m wearing a costume. It’s a very fine line! I try to go away every year to just be, exist, and live. This allows me to do a lot of observation and clears my head from the clutter of daily life. It’s my most clear time to sketch and think of new designs.