Have you listened to the latest episode of Seamwork Radio? It’s a fantastic interview with Felicia Semple. The interview makes for a good introduction to the philosophy of making that Felicia has been developing and documenting in the ongoing project that is The Craft Sessions — the retreat and the blog. In a nutshell, The Craft Sessions is everyday creativity at its best: making as a cure for perfectionism, art as part of life. Joyful and naturally brilliant because the constraints Felicia imposes on herself are realistic and familiar to anyone who takes their budget seriously.
Among my favorites is this post about cutting fabric to minimize waste, this post about creative play, and basically all the thoughtful posts in the Stash Less series as well as the Simple Sewing 101 series, which is full of great tips and encouragement for new sewists and for those turned off by the challenges of fitting.
Simple sewing is exactly what I often miss out on when I try to think about how I could “make the most” of a fabric or a pattern. Here is how it goes: making the most of a fabric in my imagination becomes a quest to pair it with a pattern that will showcase its properties (often I end up imagining it should be a new-to-me pattern). Making the most of a pattern, as you may guess, revolves around the idea that I should buy new fabric. It all involves fitting and muslining that hasn’t happened. That all involves time.
When I rebel against these tendencies, I finally get something to wear, like this Adelaide dress that could have been made up earlier.
This burnt orange rayon/linen was beginning to burn a hole in my stash. The buttons were a lucky thrift find from several years ago. I already had matching thread, and a fat quarter of orange polka-dotted cotton just waiting to be cut into bias tape (that one was a souvenir from a weekend getaway). I had the pattern — printed and cut for a while now. It was all there, I just couldn’t make up my mind.
I’m glad I finally did. I dove in without a muslin, but did my usual baste-fitting (fit basting? basting seams to fit?) to figure out if I needed to make any changes.
I had to cut the armholes lower because they were seriously digging into my armpits (if you are thinking of downloading the pattern, I believe that was one of the corrections to the new version!). Surprisingly for me, I didn’t have to make a forward shoulder adjustment — the shoulder seam falls on the original right where I need it. And does it even matter that much on sleeveless pieces, I wonder?…
That was it for design changes. Those fish-eye darts on the back gave me a pretty pleasing fit. And you know what that means: no worries about sway back adjustments, yay!
But I made a few other minor changes. I went with buttons from my stash rather than investing in snaps and equipment for setting them in. After messing up two belt loops in my insanely fraying fabric, I decided not to mess about with trying to turn them but folded them with raw edges overlapping in the middle and sewed over than overlap with a twin needle to secure it. (The belt, having a larger circumferences, turned nicely, so I stuck with the pattern there.) I liked the length of the dress before hemming, so I decided to use more of my special bias tape to hem it. Oh, and I added pockets.
The lack of pockets is the one serious drawback of this pattern, in my opinion. It’s obviously justified by the “3 hour” label that Seamwork gave it. My version of the dress took me much more than three hours but I’d say it still counts as a fairly easy and straightforward sew. And there’s no way I’m sacrificing pockets if I can help it.
I like Seamwork‘s geographic design names. I’ve never been to Australia, so Adelaide and Felicia’s Craft Sessions retreat (near Melbourne, I believe) are more a matter of imagined geography than a travel plan. Still, that imagined Australia stands for “where sewing gets done,” so that’s a good trip to the sewing machine at least.
Any thoughts on the pattern, sewing, or Australia?