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Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
I’m still alive* and sewing, I promise!
Most recently (aka last week), I made myself a Sewaholic Cambie Dress.
I know that anyone who has read sewing blogs for the past few years has probably seen one or fifty versions of this dress. Honestly, I’ve seen so many – and while I’ve always liked them – I just sort of filed the information away thinking that maybe someday I’d try the pattern for myself.
Well, that “someday” finally came and I ordered a couple of patterns from Sewaholic Patterns to see how they fit my body. Here’s my Cambie:
I made it in a brightly colored large-weave cotton with 2% spandex piqué fabric. I love textured fabrics, especially when they are a solid color!
The color of this fabric is incredibly hard to photograph! It really messes with the white balance on cameras. I’ve discovered that digital cameras want to read anything with a mix of green and blue as bright turquoise with all the green removed. (Must be that whole Orion slave girl makeup issue on film.) The fabric is definitely green but it has a drop of blue in it – a color somewhere in the zomp and Persian green range in this article about the color spring green on Wikipedia.
Anyway, I think I’ve come pretty close to color-correcting these photos to match real life.
I made a mockup of only the bodice to check the fit. (I knew both skirt options would fit just fine without adjustments.)
The only changes I made to the pattern were so minimal they’re almost not worth mentioning. I scooped out the underarm a little (it was awfully high and straight), smoothed the neckline curves slightly, and shortened the front shoulder straps by a full inch (apparently a commonly needed alteration for this pattern), as you can see in the mockup photo above.
I also decided to make a neckline facing instead of fully lining the dress. I chose to do this because my fabric was rather thick & didn’t need one, and I didn’t want to lose the comfort of its slight stretch.
Speaking of hard to photograph colors, this fabric is also hard to color-match with thread! I never did find a perfect match. Good thing there’s no topstitching needed with this design! I ended up using emerald green (too green!) thread on my serger and a teal (too blue!) thread to stitch everything together.
I made View A with the A-line skirt. I really like the full gathered skirt version too and will probably make one in View B at some point.
All the above photos show how I wore my new dress to church on Sunday. I went with neutral wedges and a simple necklace to make it all about the dress the first time. But I know I’m going to have lots of fun pairing it with other accessories later!
I particularly like it with the yellow shoes and narrow belt:
In the end, I was surprised how dressy this fabric actually is. (I probably shouldn’t be, considering piqué has long been associated with white tie.) I’ve always thought of piqué as somewhat casual because it’s cotton and usually used for summer dresses. But this larger weave has a shimmer to it as the light hits the texture.
You may have noticed that Wensley likes to photo bomb my blog pictures. So to conclude, here’s a goofy shot of me imitating him jumping at the back door during the shoot:
* After a bunch of costuming jobs, I came back to find that WordPress had messed with some of the settings for inserting photographs, making their newest “upgrade” more of a downgrade. Incredibly frustrating and un-motivating when it comes to blogging! So while I waited for them to get their act straightened out, I spent my time sewing a lot of things for myself. And now I have a backlog of things to blog.
(Warning: Major geekery ahead.)
Personal log, Stardate: 67158.4
Captain Mari Miller of the USS Disparate Disciplines contacted me via subspace with a request to test another one of her new sewing patterns. (See my last test for her Avocado Hoodie in this post.)
I’m honored for my blog to be the last stop in her Blog Hop for the Dandelion Dress & Top.
The previous stops have been as follows:
I started with a mockup of the sweetheart neckline top to check the basic fit. I’m pretty close to being an exact size 0 according to the pattern’s measurement chart, so I cut everything at that size.
The main alteration I needed to make was dropping the underarm seam just a bit because it felt a little high to me. (I’m picky about my armseye fit, and I will avoid wearing something if I feel like it gives me an underarm wedgey.)
The unusual style lines make this pattern perfect for color blocking, and I wanted to make sure I showed them off.
I decided to make two versions – a solid color sweetheart top (B2) and a color-blocked sweetheart dress (B1).
The pattern recommends using a woven fabric (aka non-stretch) but I wanted to see how it would work with a thicker t-shirt fabric (I was hoping the darts would fit me a bit better in something with some stretch), so I cut up a men’s 4X tee.
I eliminated the pattern’s center back seam and cut the back on a fold since the fabric had stretch. I also added a few inches to the length of the top.
The end result was a TOS inspired shirt with a black rib-knit edged neck. Unfortunately, the darts were still too pointy and not quite right on me.
Then I made the dress – TNG style, because Leila inspired me with her skant from a few months ago.
I made my dress out of a drapey polyester suiting fabric that came in both red and black. (Yes, I know, expendable crewman. I’ll just avoid any away missions while wearing it.)
I stitched the triangular side panels in as I do when sewing inset points and completely left out the darts.
After everything was assembled, I discovered that I needed to alter the back neck a little because it was gapping. (One of the disadvantages of fitting yourself – it’s hard to catch those back issues in the first mockup or two when you can’t really see your back!) So I reshaped the seam connecting to the back sleeve.
I fussed and tweaked for a long time with the front bust. Ultimately, I decided I needed the tiniest of darts, and put one in that was less than half the width printed on the pattern. (I could probably eliminate them altogether if I messed with the pattern some more.)
I had fun taking photos in my new Dandelion skant. And now I actually have a Halloween costume this year because of my Star Trek inspired dress!
I kind of want to make this dress in a less geeky color-blocked version, but I haven’t found the right fabrics yet. (I’m thinking bright green & grey, or orange & grey.)
To show that it can be styled a little less Trek-like, I paired it with some pointed pumps and a necklace. Behold the power of photo editing software (even in my amateur hands):
In conclusion, I think the silhouette and style lines of this pattern are wonderfully interesting, and once the fit is perfected, it’s magic. Both the dress and the top are super comfortable.
I enjoyed sewing this because the pieces were so different from normal. The instructions were easy to follow and because of its unusual construction, I would be sewing along, and suddenly, I would be finished! It was sort of strange not being able to anticipate the end.
The only real difficulty lies in the fact that it can’t be altered in the standard simple ways if it doesn’t fit exactly right – there is no side-seam to take in, etc.
Everyone who wants a fun and different construction challenge should definitely give this pattern a try!
Buy your own copy – here’s the link!
And make it so sew!
=/\= Personal log, supplemental: My husband loves my new light-duty uniform and says I could pass for a secretary on a starbase.
My coworker sent me a mesmerizing video about the making of a Dior dress for a couture fashion show. I can’t stop watching it! I’ve shared it on Twitter a couple times already but everyone should see it, so I’m also posting it here on my blog.
If you’ve ever wondered why fashion is expensive, just try to count the number of different people who have a hand in making this gorgeous dress!
And even if you don’t particularly like the style, you can’t help but be amazed by the amount of work and engineering that goes into such a build! Those pleats! (And those heels! Want!)