Sunday, August 10, 2014

Polly Drop Waist Maxi Dress: PASS

Last spring I acquired a beautiful Hawaiian floral print that flows like a waterfall and feels absolutely delightful. On an impulse, I also picked up this sheer polyester border print that is itchy and sweaty when you hold it close. Apparently, I bought it so I could try out a maxi dress pattern before cutting into my cherished Hawaiian print.

My original plan was to extend the Polly Top to the floor, but I lost my nerve once I laid out the pattern pieces. I just wasn't sure I'd wear a column shaped dress without more shaping. I set my (enormous!) pattern pieces aside and started to improvise.

Since the print runs along the selvedge, I turned the yardage sideways. Then I measured up from the floor to my waist, added a few inches, marked the fabric, and cut. I made a deep hem at the bottom, folded the piece in half, and sewed up one side.

I cut the Polly Top out of the remaining fabric. It wasn't enough for a full-length top, but that was fine. I assembled the top as usual, omitting the hem and leaving the finishing for last.

Now I had an assembled bodice and a big, rectangular skirt. The waist opening of the skirt was at least twice my waist measurement. The next step was to take in the skirt and attach it to the bodice. I tried gathering (by zigzag stitching over a piece of yarn, SO EASY), but it was a terrible look for my backside. Instead, I folded deep pleats and basted them in place. I slid on the bodice, pulled up the skirt, and marked the spot where the two should attach.

Either fashion is changing or I'm going through a phase, because I thought this drop waist look was pretty cool. I sewed the skirt and bodice together and pulled the assembled dress on over my head. And then scratched my head, because now the dress was too long. Huh?

Oh, well. I pinched the top of the shoulders to bring up the hem and neckline, marked with pins, and made new shoulder seams at the marks. Then I finished the neckline and armholes with bias tape and swished around the yard.

The fit is very, very loose. This is perfect for the material, leaves plenty of room for a slip, and makes me feel glam. However, it's not the most flattering look from the side and the length is comically difficult to maneuver on a bike.

Although I'll wear this dress for these last weeks of summer, a Polly Hawaiian print maxi is a no-go. I'll have to make a new plan for that fabric. Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reversible Polly Top: PASS

The summer heat and Oonapalooza arrived together in July. To celebrate, I sewed up the Polly Top from By Hand London. For those who missed it, Oonapalooza was the Sewcialsts theme last month. It called upon sewers to emulate Oona, one of the best sewing bloggers around, by trying something daring and fun.

Though the fabric is sedate, the Polly Top pattern is daring for me. The front contrast panel and lack of darts made me worried I would look like an overweight Care Bear. "Should I make a muslin?" I wondered. "heck, no!" said the Oona on my shoulder. "you've got mad stash. just cut into it and GO!"

I decided to go all out and make this top reversible, using the Polly dress tutorial for guidance. One side is gray linen, the other is gray cotton voile and a lovely cotton print from Pink Castle Fabrics. It came together fairly quickly, though I could use more practice sewing curves. I had to pick out the front seams more than once.

I'm pleased with this shirt, inside and out. The contrast panel doesn't look like a costume. There is enough shaping to avoid fitting like a tent. Like with most low cut shirts, I need to wear a close fitting camisole underneath if I don't want to flash my entire torso when I bend over. Which undermines the cooling properties of a loose top in natural fibers, but is better than wearing only high necklines.

Now that my top and Oonapalooza are finished, I'm not sure what to do next. I had planned to extend the Polly Top into a maxi, but think the fit might be too baggy on that scale. I asked the Oona on my shoulder about it, but she had already left to have cocktails and sew something fabulous.