Umm. Yea. By "on the horizon" I apparently meant, "destined to happen this week."
What happened was this. Months ago, I bought this dress pattern on Ebay: Vogue 2750, designed by Lauren Sara. Like, almost as soon as I knew I was pregnant. It's a pattern for a knit fabric (like tee-shirt fabric or something) so I started looking, causally, for knits. But they were all ugly. And since I knew that this dress was going to require a substantial amount of fabric, I refused to buy ugly fabric. (A good idea on principle, in fact.)
But then I found Gorgeous Fabrics, source of many terrifically lovely knit fabrics at reasonable prices. I promptly fell in love with about 30% of their stock. And as this was around Christmas list time, I asked Mom to buy me 4 yards of one of the fabrics. (it's no longer on the site, so I can't post a link. But trust me, it's gorgeous. Just like the website promised.) And bless her heart, Mom bought me 4 yards of fabric.
So this lovely pattern and this beautiful fabric have both been sitting in my stash for MONTHS now, and I've been wanting to make them come together they way they are supposed to, but just hadn't found the time. Until Saturday, that is.
I don't know why - it's probably something to do with needing to make living room curtains and, um, do some real work that is well overdue. But suddenly, on Saturday in the late afternoon, I decided I just had to have this dress made for the baby shower that friends were throwing me on Sunday. This became an overwhelming imperative in my brain, and I decided to go with it.
I started about 5 pm cutting out the pattern tissue and tissue fitting. Had finished cutting out the fabric (made more challenging by the addition of kitties who love to pounce pattern tissue pieces) by 9 pm. I spent about 3 hours putting together the bodice and sleeves and then called it a night.
In the morning I started sewing again at 10 am, setting in the second sleeve and putting together the skirt. And by 1:35 I was wearing a hemmed, basically finished dress. Which was good, because I had to leave for the baby shower at 1:45. :-) By "basically finished" I mean "wearable." The waist seam wasn't double-stitched (it had been stitched once, but not a second time, to keep it from fraying), and the required button in the lining was replaced by a safety pin for the first outing. And, of course, I hadn't pressed the hems. But it was definitely wearable, and I really enjoyed having it on during the shower.
This was my first time sewing with a knit fabric, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. And I really like the pattern, and I plan to cut down the dress so that it's not a maternity dress once I can wear regular clothes again. The fabric is too pretty for a one-time dress, and winter dresses are something my wardrobe lacks pretty substantially. As long as I can figure out how to nurse in this dress, I'm hoping that it will become a standard part of my wardrobe. I will even make more (and just redraft the skirt pattern to be smaller and less generous in the hem).
Overall I found that it went together really easily, except for a fairly major error on my part. I made the top backwards! It's self-lined, so it looks identical inside and outside, and I made it the wrong way round. This meant that in the stage where I attached the bodice to the skirt I had some major fiddling to do to make everything fit together. My side seams don't match--by like 2 inches on each side! But it's not too visible, I think. And better than picking everything apart and putting it back together!
Of course, I never actually make a pattern just the way the designer tells me to. That would be much too easy. So I made a couple of fairly minor changes:
I added a pocket to the right side seam, after reinforcing the pocket squares with lightweight fusible interfacing. I do not believe in dresses that don't have pockets. Adding the pocket was pretty easy; I just sewed it onto both skirt panels before sewing the side seam.
I also top-stitched everything, especially on the bodice and sleeves, to catch the seams down and make them less ravelly. I followed the pattern directions about double-stitching and trimming the seams, but top-stitching just makes them a bit more secure, I think. I forgot to bind the waist seam and just double-stitched it like everything else.
I added a hook and eye at the bust after the dress's initial outing (to my baby shower). The neckline is REALLY low cut and with a slippery knit fabric I decided I wanted a bit more security!
After wearing the dress to the shower, where it got several compliments from people who didn't know I'd finished it twenty minutes beforehand (yay!), I'm going to make the following changes to any future incarnations (and perhaps even to this one).
Next time I'll avoid the whole sewing-it-backwards thing by cutting out the lining in a different fabric, no matter what the pattern says. My poor preggo brain doesn't need any help to get confused. !
I'll also put pockets in both side seams. One pocket is good, but two would be better.
I'll abandon the waist ties in favor of contrast ribbon ties. As it is the dress is a little undifferentiated. (yes, I know, my body is a little undifferentiated at the moment, too, but a pretty pink ribbon would still be a welcome detail).
I'll give up on the button idea in the bodice. The pattern calls for you to sew a button into the lining and a loop to hook one side of the bodice together. Then you put the second waist tie in the side seam rather than on the end of the bodice. But the button on my dress is practically in the center of my back and it pulls the fabric funny. It would be better to put both ties on the end of the fabric and make a slit or a button-hole for the tie to thread through; this would give more flexibility in the tying and sizing. That might be confusing for you readers, but it makes sense to me. It basically just boils down to "I'll make the dress a true wrap, in the style of proper wrap dresses."
I may try making it as a top rather than a dress next time - just shortening the skirt so that it's tunic length rather than dress length.
Btw, I've posted a review of this pattern on PatternReview.com. That site is a great resource for information on sewing patterns of all sorts. I hardly ever buy a pattern any more before checking it out on PR. I'm trying to review patterns as I use them, but so far I've only got two reviews up. Not too surprisingly, my username over there is "alilizbeth".
So, onto the relevant construction details.
Total time: about 12 hours from start to finish. Next time it will be way faster because I don't have to cut out the pieces from tissue.
Total fabric: about 3 yards, 60" wide. The pattern calls for 3 3/8, but since I'm so short I always need less than they say.
Total cost: I spent $8 to buy the pattern on eBay - it's out of print - and Mom spent about $45 on the fabric including shipping, I think. (When I saw the fabric it was on sale, in fact, but still at $10/yard full price it wasn't unreasonably expensive.)