January 26, 2012

I beat it!

That Sew Weekly challenge almost got the best of me, but I persevered and ended up with a cute dress that I can wear for at least another couple of weeks. Of course, I'll have to wear it every day to make it worth the time and frustration it caused me, but that's cool. Or maybe if I just wear it to actually give birth in, that will be enough to really up the ante on its value?

Here's the original Make This Look post that inspired my creation: The Garden Tour Dress. As I mentioned before, I had the fabric on hand and I even had the pattern, but I got derailed by the alterations that were needed to make that look fit my big ol' belly. I found a different pattern and pushed through it though, and I'm quite pleased with the final result.

So hooray! It's finished, and imagine my surprise when I opened up The Sew Weekly this morning and saw myself looking back:

Well, I mean if you want to get technical, I guess I'm gazing off into the distance more than I'm really "looking back", but you get my drift. And on the left? My fellow contributor Najah, who was inspired by the same Modcloth dress to make her own "Birdless Garden Tour" dress. Mena made it too, and of course hers actually looks just like the dress from Modcloth, down to the exact fabric! She takes her Make This Look seriously.

But anyway- back to my dress. Like I said, I ended up going with a different pattern than the one that Mena originally recommended, but only after going through A LOT of swedish tracing paper making bodice muslins trying to get Butterick 5030 to work. I even tried drafting a completely new pattern from scratch, using the general shape of 5030 and some half-assed attempts at draping on Millie, but it was no use. Between my fuller-than-usual pregnant bustline, the darts in the bodice, and my own ineptitude at fitting, I just ended up with a hot mess. Over and over. I ordered Fit For Real People, but for some crazy reason it's like the only book on Amazon that's not available for immediate shipping. And since I didn't have 7-10 days to wait and I wasn't about to give up, I decided to try a different approach.

Enter Simplicity 2145. It's a Project Runway pattern with a bodice shape that's close enough to the pleated look of the inspiration dress, and it's empire waisted. Perfect for fitting the only indentation left on my pregnant figure- the valley between the bust and the belly. Once I confirmed the size with one last quick muslin, things went smoothly from that point on and my dress really started to come together.

I even got all crazy ambitious and decided to skip the bodice facings and make a full lining for my dress instead. That meant making up the whole thing again in my lining fabric, but since the fabric I found was the perfect color (and with polka dots!) I just couldn't resist.

Isn't it pretty? There's just something so finished feeling about a lined garment. No icky raw edges peeking out, and it's silky smooth against the skin. Love it! As a couple of Sew Weekly commenters suggested, it might even be possible to wear this dress inside out and get two looks in one. I think I'll wait until after baby comes to attempt that look though, so I don't look quite so large and glistening with my body wrapped in all that shiny material at this size.

It's going to take a bit of work, but after baby arrives (maybe WAY after baby arrives), I do plan to open a couple of seams and take this dress back down to a regular non-maternity size. It should be easy enough, as the only thing I did was cut the front skirt section in a larger size than the rest of the dress and gather in the excess. The pattern actually calls for darts across the skirt front, which is super cute and a look that I like, but the darts pulled really funny over my belly so the gathers work better right now. Post-partum, I think I'll just have to open the side seams and remove the excess width from the skirt front, then add those darts back in and stitch the skirt panel back in. I think it should be a fairly simple process that will extend the life of this dress beyond this moment of pregnancy madness.

Of course, I could save it for a future pregnancy, but if hubby gets his way, Thing 2 will be the final addition to our little clan anyway. Plus, I think I would rather get some use out of it sooner than later, given the blood, sweat and tears that I poured into making it work.

As usual, official Pattern Review review to follow, in case anyone is interested in more detailed information about how I did what I did and what I think about the pattern. Spoiler alert: I like it. And also strayed from the original quite heavily, so my review may or may not be worth anything to someone who wants to recreate the pattern as intended. But whatever. I'll share my two cents anyway because I just can't help myself. The review will show up in the nifty little Pattern Review widget thingy that I've added to my sidebar when it's all done. Stay posted!