The Amelia dress

I think I’m finally back in the swing of things. Next time I go away on vacation, I’m definitely scheduling a day off after I get home — I think that would have helped me settle in so much quicker.

And look, I made a dress! It’s the Amelia dress from Green Bee Patterns (it’s about halfway down the page on their site). The dress got a little washed out in the photo, unfortunately. I have a couple that show the dress better, but I have this problem where anytime I’m having my picture taken I sort of reflexively seize up and make a weird face or slouch or flail around just as the shutter clicks. It’s like my superpower or something. So it turned out this was the only one I was willing to show you :)

Amelia dress

I had a few, um, adventures making it. I haven’t done a lot of garment sewing before. I’ve made a handful of tops like this one, but all of them relied pretty heavily elastic casings for fit. I’d never sewn a dart or put in an invisible zipper or a handful of other things I learned to do during this project.

So I had to do some unpicking here and there, like when I accidentally skipped a step and sewed up the side seams of the skirt without putting the pockets in first. And the zipper still isn’t right. I really need to undo it and put it in right — it puckers a little bit toward the bottom, and it’s a little bit misaligned at the top. Not enough that someone else would necessarily notice it, but it’s bugging me enough to want to fix it.

One of the adventures was with putting in the zipper. I was so sure I had a low-shank zipper foot. I didn’t actually use it when I made all those boxy bags a while back — I just used my zigzag foot since I’m a rebel that way. Or was too lazy to look for the zipper foot, one or the other. But I had this invisible zipper to put in, and I knew the zigzag foot wasn’t going to cut it. I’d heard terrible things about that janky-looking plastic Coats & Clark invisible zipper foot (and don’t have a good one), but I’d found a tutorial on putting in an invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot, so that was my plan.

But when I looked, I couldn’t find it. I found a high-shank zipper foot, but I don’t have a high-shank machine. (It came in a box of bits from an auction with one of the sewing machines.) I was determined to finish this dress in time to take it with me on vacation, so ordering one online was right out, and nobody locally sells much in the way of presser feet, it turns out. I thought for sure that Joann’s would have that C&C plastic invisible zipper foot, but no. I was working, so I sent Don out on the mission to Joann’s, and they were incredibly rude to him. They ignored him when he first tried to get help, got all snotty and told him to just order it off their web site, and tried to sell him a straight stitch foot which they claimed would work just fine. And none of the couple of independent shops I know of had what I needed.

I had no plans to let lack of the right tools defeat me, so I read some more tutorials and started hand-picking the zipper. I couldn’t find any information on how to do this with an invisible zipper, so I just used the regular zipper instructions but put the stitches right next to the zipper coil.

If I’d kept on with that, I probably wouldn’t need to re-do the zipper now, but it was fairly slow going, so I made one last search. And there it was, in a box I’d looked in twice already — my low-shank zipper foot. I dithered about it for a while, since I was already halfway through hand-sewing the zipper, but then I found a problem in my hand stitching that I was going to have to rip back to fix, and that decided it. I pulled it out and machine-sewed the zipper. Which was fast, but definitely imperfect, so I want to do it over.

I think when I make this pattern again I’m going to either use a regular zipper and hand-pick it so it’s more hidden or else learn to do a lapped zipper. I’m not in a hurry to try sewing an invisible zipper again anytime soon apart from fixing this one.

I have some sort of fit issue that I need to work out, too. Not a major one, but I’ve got a wrinkly bit in the area above the bust, and if I lean far forward the sleeve digs into my arm a bit, but I’ll experiment next time and get it sorted out one way or another. I might make an actual muslin so I can mess around with the fit without worrying about the result being unwearable. (That was the whole point of making this one in inexpensive fabric, but then I decided that I absolutely had to take this one with me, so I didn’t want to experiment too much.)

Even with the fit issues unfixed, this dress is incredibly comfy. I love it and will definitely make it again, probably very soon. And despite my somewhat flawed execution of it, I learned a lot making it and feel much more confident now about making clothing.

Next thing I want to tackle is something from my bag of incredibly unflattering hippie skirts. I have all these skirts in great materials, but they look terrible on me and I never wear them anymore — very full skirts with elastic and/or drawstring waists that make me look like I don’t have an actual waist, and they’re a lot longer than what I like these days. I’ve been wanting to remake them into something more flattering for ages, but I didn’t feel confident about trying before, and now I definitely do.