Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Pseudo-Complicated Front Knot Dress

And here I am popping my face into Blogland again...hi there!

 I've been awful about keeping up with this blog - excuses excuses, yes I know, but it's just gotten so BUSY around here. In the last three months I've submitted and defended my thesis (yay! glad to have gotten that behind me!), gone back to 'real' work yet again, and taken another postgraduate exam (it so doesn't end there), the results of which are still unknown. And of course there are always my two little munchkins at home whom I can never spend too much time with!

I wish I didn't need to sleep.

As far as sewing goes, it's not been too difficult snatching bits of sewing time here and there. The babies sleep occasionally, and since my left brain often shuts down some time before my eyes shut down, I'm rather partial to little bursts of late-night sewing. It's blogging that's the issue - it takes a surprising amount of effort to actually get a post up! *whine whine whine*

First things first.

Many thanks to Cation Designs for the Liebster Blog Award! You are too kind :)

The origins of the Award are murky but the general consensus is that it originated in Germany ('Liebster' means favorite or dearest) to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. According to award rules I'm to pass it on to five more blogs of note. But because I'm a brat, and a busy one at that, I don't follow too many blogs. And eh, most of those on my reader have way more than 200 followers. So I'm only passing this on to:

1. Far at Memoryseed - she was my very first friend at Burdastyle when the virtual sewing community was still new and strange to me (ok while no longer 'new', it's still 'strange' in many ways).

2. J at Making Mum - my favourite non-sewing blog. She's a mama extraordinaire who cooks up a storm, scraps, and photographs.

And with the housekeeping done I can talk about my new dress.

 Behold the pseudo-complicated wonder of Burda 03/2012 #108B!

I was totally cheapskate and waited for the pdf pattern rather than buying the mag, since it was the only thing I wanted to make from that issue. I realise that I actually prefer pdf patterns to the traditional tissue ones - sure, you have to cut and stick the printed ones up, but since my vintage patterns always need grading, and I'm loathe to cut into the multi-size modern ones, I always end up tracing the traditional ones out onto more tissue. No time saved there. And I enjoy the heft of printed-out patterns - they keep better and sit better on the fabric.

Is that just me?

The dress was really quite simple to make. I wanted the border of the voile to form the neckline, so I chopped the front piece into two right in the middle at the knot. After that it was easy to lay the neckline of the bodice and the hemline of the skirt on the border.

And since the pattern was originally for tall girls, I chopped 5 inches off the hem (yes I'm THAT short, stop rubbing it in!), and also made the armhole shorter? smaller? how do you say it? by 3/8 inch. Because I don't like armholes that show the top bits of my underwear. But that last alteration turned out to be unnecessary.

I didn't like the way the fabric slides up and down the knot hole in the middle. Ordinarily that wouldn't be an issue with this pattern, but because I'd made the bodice and skirt from two pieces, the midline seam didn't look too pretty peeping out of the hole. So I sewed the gap and the fabric shut. Unfortunately I must have done it weirdly, because the fabric does this strange bunching-up thing that makes me look unnecessarily pregnant. I'll have to rip and repeat.

 Of course I was also a total boob-head and forgot that the Burda patterns have NO SEAM ALLOWANCES, and of course I forgot to add any on my fabric. So after I did the yell-and-stamp-around-the-room-and-tug-at-my-hair thing, I sewed the thinnest 0.5cm hem I dared - two rows of stitching for strength and thank you SO much Mum for my serger!

 It turned out not too badly, although just the weensiest bit tight around the chest. Maybe I'll re-sew the gap in the front and give the dress to my sister. Then I'll have an excuse to make another for myself muahahaha! 

While the embroidered border is certainly very sweet and all, do you think it's a little too girly? I'm not much of a girly-girl, and a picture like this just looks a little wrong, somehow (yes that's my bra-strap - stop lookin'! don't you wear one too):

I have the option of folding the scallopy bits in, to tone down the Girl Effect. Though that also ups the Cleavage Effect (rather obvious in this pic), and I do work in a conservative environment. Which is the two evils is lesser - the Girl Effect, or the Cleavage Effect?

Adjustments: I cut size 38 and chopped up the front dress piece into two at the slit so I had separate bodice and skirt pieces. Shortened hem by 5in and took up armholes by 3/8in (last was unnecessary).

I ended up doing strange things with the lining. The front bodice had to be lined, obviously, since the embroidery had little holes in it and I didn't want to put my boob-skin on public display. Since the lawn is a little sheer, I also started out by lining the skirt. But the extra layer of fabric wreaks havoc with the knot front - bunches and poufs out crazily, and generally makes me look ultra-pregnant. I cut away the lining at the front skirt, but was loathe to not line the back. So I ended up with a weird contralateral half slip - front bodice and back skirt lining!  

A $12/yard cotton-blend lawn with a lovely embroidered hem. It has just the right amount of body to keep its shape while still flowing nicely enough to cover up all my horrid lumps. I managed to squeeze this dress out of 1.5 yards of it - there was really nothing left over!


  1. Now am I seeing leopard shoes? I think the grr factor adds an edge that offsets being too girly, I like it!

    1. Thank you! They're from ASOS, and I so knew they would be uncomfortable before I bought them, but I couldn't resist!

      I was desperate today...I couldn't think of what else I could do to not look so icky and sweet!

  2. I think the scalloped edge is one of my favorite details about the dress...please don't take it away! And I don't think it is too much for a conservative workplace either. Also, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's forgotten seam allowances when making Burda patterns!

    1. I'll have to wear fierce other stuff if I'm going to show the scallops :)

      My sis is the only one pleased with my silly mistake - free dress for her!

  3. Deborah, I love love love your dress! So cute. Been wondering where you are, and you came back to blogland with a bang of a dress!

    And keep the scalloped part! Once a while you'd want something girly. And it isn't too much at all IMO. Pretty and you look great in it.

    Really, congrats on your award, and i'm honored that you thought of me - i gladly accept it. :)

    1. Thanks! You're always so sweet :)

      I'll need a new haircut if I'm to do girly properly - maybe it's worth a shot!

  4. LOL! I'm pretty girly, but I do like it to have a bit of an edge. To be honest, though, it doesn't strike me as overly sweet. Cute and pretty, definitely, but not over-the-top (mind you I was just sewing really twee girly dresses, so my "tastebuds" might be a little off right now...) I think the scallops are too awesome to hide, myself.

    Definitely with some fierce accessories. I suppose your climate isn't quite right for big kick-ass boots, which is what I usually add to twee dresses... :)

    1. Yeh it's a pity about the boots. I love the look of a good boot! In the folly of youth I actually used to own a pair, which of course seldom saw the light of day in our silly weather!

      Twee! Love that word!

  5. Love! Very nicely done. The dress did look quite complicated but you've executed it perfectly!

    1. That's what I like about it - it looks super cheem (the pattern's even labelled 'Advanced'), but actually is a breeze to put together!

  6. Nice work and congratulations on the thesis, I just passed mine (though I'll have to wait till October for the convocation XP) it must be a load off your mind.

  7. Sorry for being late, we were travelling! :) Thanks for the award my dear! And I love the dress, you look great in it!

  8. The dress is lovely. But those shoes!! OMG!!