Black Dress

black dress collageIntroduction and Materials

I think I finished this dress, which I had been working on sporadically for about a year, back in February. I started out with a free PDF pattern from Crafterhours. I don’t remember what the black ponte de roma was made out of.


I used the pattern and followed its instructions to make a muslin out of muslin. (I should have used a knit fabric similar to the final fabric, but that’s what I had. I liked the way the muslin fit, though that did not transfer to the final dress.) I adjusted the muslin on my body and tried to transfer the changes to the pattern. Along with making those adjustments, I also split the bodice back in half. It had originally been one piece, where you lined the center up with the fold, but instead, I added a seam allowance and cut two pieces. That way, I could add a zipper in the back.

I also added pockets to the dress using this process. I made a second muslin using the adjusted pattern. Instead of inserting a zipper in the back, I sewed lines where the zipper would go and pinned the back opening, with help from my mother. I got confused while putting the fabric together and sewed one of the pockets inside out at this point. I made a mental note to put the pockets in properly for the actual dress.

I found that I did not have quite enough fabric to make the dress, even if I arranged the pattern pieces in the most economical manner. I only had one yard. So I made the skirt a few inches shorter (it ended up knee length when I had meant for it to end right below the knee). A tiny bit of a corner of the top of the bodice pattern was left hanging off the fabric, but I figured it was okay because it was a very small portion of the seam allowance.

I made the dress following the instructions that came with the pattern for the most part, adding in the pockets made of the same fabric. When sewing the back seam, I didn’t sew the bodice or the top part of the skirt in order to leave room for the invisible zipper. I didn’t realize that I would need to leave the neckline raw in order to fold the top over the zipper tape. I had already folded it over and hemmed it according to the pattern instructions. In order to add the zipper, I unpicked that part of the seam and re-sewed it afterwards.

Result and Reflections

black dress finishedI already said that there was a difference between the woven muslin fabric I used and the knit fabric I used to make the final dress. I think I actually would have liked the dress better in a woven fabric similar to the muslin, if I could get it to fit right. I tried on the dress, and the fit wasn’t perfect, but at that point I wanted to be done.

After I was almost finished with the dress, I realized that the wrong side of the fabric was on the outside. Which I’m confused about, because I thought it was a ponte de roma which is the same on both sides? The sides on my fabric look similar, but there is a slight difference. I don’t know. I finished making the dress because it’s not too noticeable.

I made my pockets just the right size, but when I placed them on the actual dress, I put them too low (I thought I had marked the spot correctly :./ ). The invisible zipper is the first one I’ve put in. As you may be able to see in the photo below, the zipper puckers on the fabric. I think it has something to do with the fabric being a knit, but I don’t know what I could do to avoid this.

black dress zipper backI have worn the dress twice. The fabric is kind of soft but it seems to pick up dust really easily. It’s not the nice dress I had imagined (I even got the invisible zipper!), and with the fitting issues, puckering zipper, and the fabric itself, it’s super casual. Worse than casual. There’s a pucker in the back.

When I fit the muslin, I didn’t have any technique to it. I just tried what I thought might work. I would like to learn about pattern making and fitting. I got some of the books that Maddie of Madalynne recommended. I am planning to spend more time on some of the technical posts on Madalynne. While I was making the dress, I noticed how the bodice front and bodice back wouldn’t line up around the neck hole and armholes. I would like to know how to make those fixes, as well as draft a well-fitting bodice sloper.



scarfI made the circle scarf sometime last year. The gray and white striped knit is leftover fabric from a failed attempt at making a shirt. I think the blue knit is leftover fabric from a failed attempt at making another shirt. The other fabric I used was muslin.

I cut rectangles out, put them together, and sewed them. I didn’t use an organized process to do it. I came up with the idea while looking at the fabric and trying to figure out what I could do with it, with inspiration from online sources, so I was excited to finish it. After patching the pieces together, I had a large rectangle. I folded that rectangle the long way, right sides together, and sewed it into a tube. I wanted to create a circular tube of fabric, so I closed as much as I could with the sewing machine. Then, tucking the ends of the fabric under, and trying to hide the thread, I finished sewing the seam by hand.

I wore the circle scarf a couple of times, and now that I think about it, I’m not sure what made me decide that undoing the circle-ness of the scarf was a good idea.

Anyway, I did it, and now I have whatever you call a regular scarf. A regular scarf? The edges are unfinished so I might have to do something about that.

Reflections on Summer, Memories, and Infinite Supplies

summer things collageMemories and The Moment

I picked a few one-sided worksheets from the nutrition unit in 8th grade F.C.S. and annotated them with silly comments. I wrote my letter on the back. They wrote back saying they enjoyed the notes and they had thrown theirs away long ago.  I had put mine away in a box with the rest of my school stuff. I found them again about a year and a half later when I was going through the box and trying to find things to throw away. When the idea for the letters came to my mind, I don’t think I was glad that I had kept them so I could look at my notes again. I was excited that I had found treasure that I could share with friends for laughs.

Many of the other one-sided school worksheets went into my forever-growing scratch paper supply. The sheets that already had both sides used went into the recycling bin. After a while it was easy to see that keeping them did not serve a purpose. But for some other things, others say to hold onto.

I’ve heard people say, keep your journals. Keep things to remind you of the memories. And I would love to play the stories again. The more I hear opinions that insist on the value of keeping (so many) certain treasures, the more I wonder if I will regret letting myself forever forget a detail. But what’s gone is gone, and what’s done is done, and maybe all the time needed to keep track of all that everything can be dedicated to actually living.

I remember a writing teacher emphasizing this point: Never throw away any of your drafts, ever. Never? Ever. As much as that was drilled into me, I have not obeyed it. My writing process is a stray word vomit dump. My first drafts tend to be very difficult to read and a mess. I usually keep some of the later, readable versions, as well as some of my notes, so I can reference them if I decide to take another direction with the work. Instead of agonizing over not being able to look back at the beginning stages of my writing process (which can give me a headache anyway), maybe I can focus on my current writing, and there so much to write and be inspired by.

I don’t like obnoxious selfie poses or how the way the Snapchats self-destruct in a few seconds makes people think they can send any pictures they want. At first, I thought Snapchat was just a tween fad. One day, I read a Time magazine piece about Snapchat and it gave me another perspective on the messaging app. Someone said something about sharing fleeting moments of silliness with your friends. I didn’t really have an epiphany after reading that, but now I like how the pictures self-destruct in a few seconds. People can share a moment at that moment, and do whatever the opposite of hoarding pictures is called (except for screenshotting which ruins that part).

School’s Out, Now It’s Summer

While recycling many school papers at the end of the school year can play a role in eliminating clutter, I add many of those papers to an already infinite scrap paper supply. The paper supply hangs out with a crafts supply that includes random objects that may or may not someday be re-purposed. And then there’s the clothing I tried to re-purpose but sort of ruined, that I might be able to fix or do something with someday, but for now it hangs out uselessly.

I have a lot of sewing and crafts clutter. Maybe I can use some of that. Not because I’m trying to beat the clutter, but because I would like to try some of the projects I have in mind. Something makes me believe unpicking the seam of a t-shirt is worth time that would be wasted on “funny” Youtube videos (which I don’t actually watch. So even if I didn’t have any t-shirts to deconstruct, I wouldn’t waste my time on videos of people doing weird and/or painful things. A more likely drain of my time would be reading about lots of things like sewing but never using any of that knowledge. But I thought the Youtube videos phrase would sound more poetic and I kind of wanted to write a long parenthetical thought. So here.)

What will make me look back on this summer and say I spent it well? That it was a great summer? In the past I thought I needed to experience something epic, but I don’t think anymore that it works that way. There’s no way I’m going to accomplish everything I have in mind to sew/write/make/do. That would be amazing. But if I can do some of that, learn, grow, and see beauty in the perhaps ordinary process, maybe I will spend my time well.