Dressing up

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I rarely have a reason to wear a dress.  My job as a librarian meant  I was often crawling around on my knees to reach low book shelves, and we aren’t dress-up-and-go-out-on-the-town people.  But every once in a while, an occasion comes along that calls for a dress.

I have, unfortunately, “outgrown” all my dresses, as I discovered the last time I pulled one out to wear.  (Translation: I gained a lot of weight.) The neglected couple of dresses in the far end of the closet no longer fit.  As it was a last minute event, it was sort of a scramble to come up with something to wear.

So, I’ve made a dress: the Lara dress, from Style Arc.

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The pattern came as a downloadable pdf, which means a lot of pieces of printer paper have to be taped together to create the pattern.  A simple process, but time consuming.  My kitchen peninsula worked well as a taping surface.

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It is a fairly simple design, so not a lot of pattern parts.  I simplified it even more by making bias tape for the neckline facing. And I had the perfect color zipper in my stash which saved a trip to the store.

The directions were extremely minimal.  The guide for how to tape together the pattern pages was longer than the sewing directions.  Exhibit A:  the total instructions for putting in the zipper came in step 7: “Insert zip.”  That one took some Googling and a YouTube video.  But the pattern really doesn’t have much on the way of tricky bits, so minimal was enough for all the other parts of the process.

I made a couple other modifications.  I changed the neckline to deepen the scoop in the front (one reason for the bias tape switch as then I didn’t have to make matching changes to the interfacing pieces).  I also brought in the sides of the neckline a bit to avoid bra straps showing when I wear it.

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I used as much of the fabric length as possible, making it about 4 inches longer than the original called for.  I’m long waisted and didn’t want it to be above my knees. I’d have made it even longer but there wasn’t more fabric to add in without sacrificing the sleeves.  You can see in the pic below how little was left for the sleeve layout.

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The zipper gave me some trouble, not because of the process, but because I kept doing stupid things.  A bobbin ran out in the middle of the top stitching which interrupted the line.  At one point I’d turned off the machine and forgot to reset the needle position when I turned it back on, breaking a needle against the zipper foot.  My top stitching effort was wobbly and had to be redone on one side.  There was cursing.

It always amazing me how easy it is to make a simple thing hard.  I manage that a lot.  But in a couple of hours, I had a new dress.

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On the hanger, I have to admit that it looks a lot like my many tunics. But it is different, really!  A zipper!  Neck line darts!  Longer!  And . . . well, other than that, it is very similar.  But a dress!  Definitely not a tunic!  (Exclamation points add conviction, right?)

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See – clearly a dress, not a tunic.

As a review, I would say that I’d definitely make this pattern again.  I’d probably bring in the sides of the neckline yet another inch or so and add even more length.  The dress is comfortable and easy to move around in.  I love the weight of the cotton\linen blend.  It is from the Robert Kaufman company, the Forage collection.

I enjoyed this dress project enough that I ordered another pattern to download to make a second one.  The fabric is in the mail and I have already begun taping.

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I’m back in the classroom this upcoming school year, so dresses may be able to be a part of my wardrobe again.  No floor crawling required to teach history.  I hope.