‘Flowers Out In the Cold’ – Pullover UFO Dress and Mini Apron

Here is a project which is a happy relief to have it finished.  I saved it from languishing in my “Unfinished Objects” (UFO) pile and now have yet another interesting self-made dress to wear.  It’s just perfect for bringing a bit of spring with me when I wear it in chilly weather! Then, I whipped up a cute little something extra out of the bits of scraps leftover for a happy, easy bonus project.

THE FACTS:

FABRIC: 100% cotton gauze in a predominantly pink floral design, 4 something yards @ 99 cents a yd.;  100% solid magenta purple cotton quilting fabric for both dress body lining and the contrast neck with cuffs;  100% polyester cling-free scraps were used for sleeve linings

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NOTIONS: All I needed was 2 spools of thread and a bit of interfacing – all from on hand!

PATTERN: Simplicity #3557, year 2007, for the dress; and Simplicity #2748, for the mini apron

TIME TO COMPLETE: Too long!!!  I spent a number of hours in the Fall of 2010 to cut out the floral cotton.  Then, several more hours were spent in mid-October 2012 just to figure out what I had done and cut out the pattern pieces for the lining/contrast cotton.  Finally, in late October ’12, I took many hours to finish the dress.  After a little more time in January 2013, eventually it was perfected and I was happy.  So, in total,…at least 12 hours?  It’s so hard to count time on UFO’s.

The see-through cotton gauze fabric was probably not the best for this pattern (since it required a substantial lining) but, when it was so soft and so cheap, what seamstress could resist?!  I think this dress would have had better drape with a rayon or chiffon-like fabric. The more I sew, the more I learn.

This is the “toes out in the cold” picture!
I’m wearing Charilie Stone shoes’ “Athina” suede sandals and also showing off my dress’ lining.

However, I am quite glad to be able to finally wear this dress for TWO big reasons.  Firstly, it is nice to have a fall, winter, and spring dress that is not a dark color, like many conventional winter RTW clothes.  Something about wearing flowers cheers me up a bit at a time of year when everything outside looks dead or dormant and dreary.  Secondly, this was the very first sewing project that launched me back into making garments (and other interesting things) after a several year hiatus of only sticking to altering, tailoring, and crafting small projects. 

Lacking full motivation, I did put this dress off to the side before its final completion. Thus, my “Happy in the Navy” Sundress ended up becoming ‘my first finished’ dress project since I’ve been sewing more frequently (spring of 2012) and sharing what I create here on my blog.  In my mind, my flowered pullover dress is still ‘the first’.  Now I am actually glad I didn’t complete this posts’ dress back when I started it in 2010 because I probably would have been disappointed with it. Luckily, my navy sundress was a ‘wow, I LOVE this’ project to start me out. 

Simplicity #3557 was not exactly a hard-to-make pattern. It was in fact really simple with no big tricks, easy to understand, and straightforward.  But, I do have a problem with the pattern saying “easy-to-sew”.  To me, ‘easy-to-sew’ means it is not only easy to understand how it goes together, but also comes together in a flash. ‘ Easy to understand’ can be different for every seamstress, but this pattern had so many long seams, and it was almost at my limit as a tiresome and time-consuming dress.  All the gores, and there were a lot, had to be stitched together, the seams stitched to finish the edges, then I top-stitched the seams down.  All this stitching quickly ate up 2 spools of thread, and it was oddly hard to find a color thread to match.  Isn’t that how it goes…

The cool contrast neckline is the saving grace to this dress, in my opinion. Otherwise the pattern would end up just blase due to the busy print!  Following the directions to make the neckline produced a very stable, sturdy support for the rest of the bodice. It was very fun being so precise with curves and points besides being a different technique to do. This was the best part of my project. My corners turned out just as precise as I wanted them to be!

As a pullover dress with no closures, the ease was generous. I assumed that was needed to get into the dress – for the most part, I was correct.  The side ties help pull the waist and bust in a bit, but even the large bell sleeves added to what I saw as a Mumu-like appearance.  I eventually sewed the sleeves slimmer by several inches, and this alone helped immensely towards making my dress’ appearance ‘lose some weight’.

What worked wonders for this dress was a small addition I made to bring in the fit, yet still keep this a pullover. I sewed down a strip of bias tape on the inside, at the bodice seam in the center back between the center panel. Then, I ran an even smaller piece of elastic through that channel and tacked it down inside the bias strip.  Wow..perfect fix!  I hope you can see a little of what I did in the picture at left.  I can still slip the dress on over my head, but it looks much slimmer, and the gathers pull the dress back for me while being a cute detail from behind.  There is still too much extra skirt fabric, especially below the back gathers, but I top stitched all my seams, so…(as Tempest from Sew Weekly says) “done is beautiful”!

As a side note, the only reason I lined the sleeves in a different material is for the basic reason of simply running out of fabric.  I actually like the sleeves being lined in poly lining – this way they’re lighter in weight than the rest of the dress.  My ‘make-do’ step turned into a nice design element that no one but me (and all of you) will ever know…

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I hardly had much of any scraps leftover, but it was just enough to make yet another mini apron.  Simplicity 2748 was unfolded again.  This mini apron pattern was already used in my post for the “Polka Dot Challenge: 3 for the Price of One”.  A different view was made this time, one that is a shrunken version of a vintage style.

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The mini ‘shoulder’ ruffles were so frustrating, tedious, and nearly impossible for my machine to handle.  I had to make several attempts at the ruffles before my machine make a decent looking tiny stitch.  X-shaped back ties were also small work to get to come out right.  Here again, the finished product makes my efforts worthwhile 🙂

We took my dress pictures on a blustery day, with a cold front blowing in after some crazy warm days. It is nice to have a chance to get outside and run around, yet 70 something degree warm temps one day that turn into 20 something degree cold weather does too much havoc on the body.  (Yes – in my state, we can have all the seasons’ weather in one week. It’s quite crazy!)  Yet, it means I don’t have to always bundle up in winter but also wear semi-lightweight, in-between garments like this posts’ pretty floral dress!

Do you have a favorite ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ seasonal print, like my taste for a floral in the wintertime?

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