Tuesday, 15 January 2013

everyday dress revisited

Remember this?

And this? I called these everyday dresses because I had made the pattern up to meet Amy's desire for a dress she could wear everyday.

I blogged about them back when I made them in 2009. They have been worn by Amy continuously since then. That's over 3 years! This week I made her hand these and a few other dresses down - they were ridiculously small on her and really, they'd done their service. But it made me realise I haven't made Amy a summer dress since 2010, and nothing that's ever been worn as much as these two.

I promised her a new dress if she'd divest herself of the ones that she rarely or never wears, or wears despite their obvious outgrownness. Basically, all of her dresses! I figured the everyday dresses had been so popular with her because they were great hot day dresses - made of light fabric, loose and airy, but with enough shape to feel like dresses, not sacks. This seems to be important for her - she wants something that comes in at the waist. And I've decided that extra thought in the selection of fabrics and styles pays off in the wearing so I'm hoping lightening will strike twice here!

Redrafting an old favourite
I pulled out my hopelessly poorly annotated made up pattern from 2009 and set about upsizing it for a much bigger Amy. This was totally a guesstimate.

Lovely linen getting ready to be a new dress for amy.
Amy did some stash diving and with a bit of prompting by me chose this totally gorgeous light weight linen I had been keeping for a few years with exactly this kind of project in mind.  The hand drawn flowers are greyish navy and red with pale grey leaves, a combo I would happily wear myself, but with only a metre (I seem to recall it was a remnant or very expensive, or both) it was definitely not a candidate for something for me.

everyday dresseveryday dress
everyday dresseveryday dress

As it was I used every scrap of the piece to make her dress, even making it shorter than I had intended to get all my pattern pieces in. As it turns out I had overestimated the length so it was no problem to have cut it shorter.

Aside from the length, there was nothing at all that needed adjusting in the finished dress - hooray! I made it quite roomy so she will get at least another couple of summers out of it (and plenty of breeze on hot days), since I figure the fabric is sophisticated enough to last her into the tween years.

She loves it! We will be taking it out for a road test on Thursday when we do the la de da thing and go to the theatre to see a bunch of opera singers perform sleeping beauty on a 39o day. Perfect.

edited to add:
When I posted the original dress in 2009 I got a lot of requests for patterns but I don't intend to make a pattern of this dress for sale. My experiences with selling patterns hasn't been great. Because I have a day job, and I am not looking to build a business selling patterns, I do it all on a very small scale. This means that my time investment is pretty high to design, test, draw up, write instructions etc, but the number of sales is low. I don't have a shopping cart set up or a plan printer available so each sale requires at least a few individual emails. I don't charge a lot for my patterns because I'm not a professional and I'm only making them to respond to people who ask - I don't want to ask a lot of $ for them! But I make pretty much no profit on each pattern I sell and the amount of time an individual sale takes out of my life just makes it not worthwhile.

This was all very stark to me when I sold one of my bag patterns and the purchaser proceeded to email me repeatedly asking for confirmation that she was doing each step right as she sewed. In each email she assured me that there was nothing wrong with the pattern, she was sure she was just having mental blanks. In the main I answered each question with yes, that's right, a couple of times I was really stumped with how to respond to something I thought was pretty self explanatory but I did my best. I was not at all rude in any email but after almost a dozen emails over a weekend I mentioned to her that I had found in my teaching that classes were a great way of expanding sewing skills, and it was much easier to ask a teacher to demonstrate a technique than to explain it over email. I wasn't selling her a class in particular (I don't think she was anywhere local to me) but she responding by saying in essence how dare I question her sewing skills, that I had a responsibility to 'support' my patterns and she was outraged by my suggestion.

I thought a lot about how I felt about this and something became pretty much instantly clear to me. I didn't want to do this anymore. I wasn't making and selling patterns for a job, I was trying to share the things I'd made with the people who read my blog. I didn't want to be some rude, clipped business woman saying to 'customers', listen lady if you'd bought this pattern commercially it would have cost you twice as much as you've spent with me, you'd have absolutely no one to call for clarification, sympathy, help or otherwise so sorry, no I won't waste half an hour trying really hard to frame an appropriate response to you. Neither did I was to spend a whole lot of my time for the 'love' of the business, responding kindly and patiently to each question when I would rather be off making, realising that far from making a profit, the amount of time dealing with people was rapidly turning a loss. I didn't like either option.

So I withdrew all my patterns from sale right there and then. I didn't have a tanty about it, I just realised this wasn't for me. I know some people have bought, used and loved the patterns I've made in the past, but it just wasn't fun or profitable for me.

I am happy to share though, so below are three photos of the pattern pieces I used to make the dress, with loads of measurements written on them. Please don't send me loads of emails asking me to explain them.

The first photo is the sleeve. The long straight edge is the turned hem for threading the elastic through. The two diagonal sides are the raglan joins to the main dress, marked B from back and F for front. The curved edge is the shoulder. Cut 2, making sure you cut mirror images (ie cut them together through two layers of fabric, right sides facing).

The second and third are the bodice piece. I've broken the dress body into two photos so I could get the details clear. This piece is cut on the fold., and you cut two, one following the outline of the sheet, the other cut along the lower neck curve marked front. The blue outline you can make out is the size seven I started with.

To make it up
  1. I sewed all the raglan seams and top stitched them
  2. I sewed the side seams
  3. I turned the sleeve hems and sewed the elastic into loops 25cm long elastic and sewed the hems
  4. I turned the bottom hem and sewed it
  5. I made a casing about 5cm wide and roughly the length of the neck opening
  6. I hemmed the short ends, folded it in half right sides and sewed it to the neck edge with opening centre front (Amy doesn't want a bow or ties here but the opening allows that)
  7. I threaded a 70cm piece of elastic through the casing.
  8. I made a piece of binding using a 25mm bias binding tool that was a bit over a metre long - it wasn't cut on the bias because I didn't have enough fabric
  9. I got Amy to try the dress on with a piece of elastic tied around the waist and used chalk to mark the placement of the waist. I got this wrong on the previous dresses by just doing the waist in a straight line, rather than dipping front and back to mirror the curve of the hem
  10. I sewed the binding over the chalk line, stitching top and bottom, and leaving an opening at the side (again you could do centre front on a plain fabric to add a bow or tie), then threaded the elastic


trash said...

Ace dress. And gorgeous girlie. Good work on both.

travellersyarn said...

What a great dress - has all the features that I like. Shoulders covered, and it looks really comfortable. Any chance that you could publish your notes (or a pattern!). I think that my girls are exactly Amy's size...
P.S. I love her haircut!

travellersyarn said...

What a great dress - has all the features that I like. Shoulders covered, and it looks really comfortable. Any chance that you could publish your notes (or a pattern!). I think that my girls are exactly Amy's size...
P.S. I love her haircut!

bloglessanna said...

I'm too wondering if there is any chance of a pattern? I still make your girls skirt regularly! My two little ladies would love a dress like this. So much nicer and more practical than the commercial patterns. Please, pretty please :)

sooz said...

Anna and Ingrid - I've edited the post to show you how to make the pattern for yourself.

bloglessanna said...

Thank-you thank-you thank-you. I really appreciate the time you've taken to share your pattern. Now my challenge will be to try a spot of grading :)

formandreform said...

Really love the dress, and thanks so much for sharing your pattern! It's so going on my sewing list - Zara will be thrilled. xx

Julie said...

Excellent dress. I can totally understand your reasons for withdrawing your patterns from any type of commercial venture. As soon as money is involved, even a modest amount, the dynamic changes entirely. Your photos and explanations are all very clear and I'm going to give this one a go so thanks for so generously sharing it.

Ren said...

Great instructions. This dress reminds me of the dresses I used to wear when I was little in Indonesia. Very comfy. Heck, I'd wear them now, if I could.

Sorry about the bad pattern-selling experience, Sooz.