Shift dresses

I give up.

Time to face reality: I can't wear shift dresses.

My early attempts at sewing clothing consisted of a lot of enthusiasm and almost no sense of reality.  I knew that I didn't have an average body type, in fashion-industry terms.  I've cried enough trying to buy pants to no longer have any delusions that I'll ever have long, slender, legs.  Somehow, though, it took a while for that to translate into, you know, dresses.

Learning to sew has put an end to the clothes-shopping hysteria.  I don't have to fight with clothes any more, and that means I don't have to be at odds with my body type (I have Tyrannosaurus rex thighs), and it even means I can forgive the fashion industry.  They're working on averaged measurements; like everyone else in the world, they can't please everybody all of the time.  

The first dress I made was Simplicity 2275 (1948), which was a terrible idea for a first dress.  One, I picked a unidirectional print so cutting it was harder than it would have been had I chosen a solid or a nondirectional print.  Two, I insisted on putting piping in the seams.  I'd never done piping and all I can say is thank goodness I had the presence of mind to use the zipper foot.  Three, it had curved seams and tucks, two things I'd also never done before.  I had no concept of fitting at the pattern level, and I completely ignored the seam allowance.  I think I sewed the whole thing with 1/4-inch seam allowances; there were gaps everywhere.  I tacked them by hand and wore it anyway.  Alas, I don't have any pictures and I later donated it to the high school drama department.  I recently got a similar fabric, though, to recreate it now that I know what I'm doing.

After that, I did a 180 and chose a shift dress.  I don't have the pattern any more and can't recall what it was, but it was similar to this in general shape (it was a modern pattern).  It went together easily; it had better have, since it only had a front, a back, and a sleeve cap.  It didn't fit that well and evolved over time into the flapper dress, which I used over and over again, although I usually avoided the butt issue but cutting it off at the waist and adding a gathered skirt.

This is a "thing" that it took me a long time and a lot of input from Amber Jean to grasp: There are always trade-offs. 

Everyone loves a simple pattern.  There are whole Flickr groups dedicated to the Wiksten Tova dress/top and tank, and to many other simplified, almost-guaranteed-success patterns.  However, if you Google them and look at enough examples, you start to see that a lot of them don't actually fit that well.  I see lots of pull lines from bust to armpit, especially (that the dress is too tight across the chest).

The downside of a simplified pattern is that there are fewer opportunities for alteration.  If you don't have darts and waist seams and stuff, you don't have anywhere to go when you need fitting help.

I've learned that I have to compromise.  Easy is good up to a point, but then I need fit, and I am willing to work for it.

I was admiring the BurdaStyle 119 Romance Dress today.  It's adorable, it's vaguely 1930's and also vaguely 1970's (the 1970's copied a lot from the 1930's and 1940's), and it looks just like the kind of thing in which we'd all like to live in Houston in the summer:

(From BurdaStyle.  Sorry, BurdaStyle.)

The line drawing looks like this:

Front and back.


I appreciate that they included pockets, but there is no shaping.  I'm not built like the chick in the picture, which is fine, but which also means that there is no way that is going to look anything on me like it does on her.  Furthermore, there isn't much I can do to it to make it look like that on me.  That's not a complaint: It's just a thing.  I was never going to look like Brooke Shields in jeans, either, and that obviously didn't scar me too badly.  (I could whup this girl in the New Look body type, anyway.)

It's cheap, though, because it's a download, and I'm half-tempted to get it just to see what I can do with it.  I really don't need it; I have probably 25 patterns that could be used to fudge a similar dress, and I would have to do so much alteration to make this fit--raise neckline, lower waistline, see if there is any possible way to rotate a little bust dart-age into those yoke seams--that I'm not sure there would be any point beyond doing it for the sake of experimentation.

I think to make it fit really well I'd have to cut it off at the waist, lengthen the "bodice" and make room for a little bit of underbust gathering, and then create a skirt to be sewn on at a waist seam.  I'd also split the back into two pieces and flare the "skirt" half more.  Basically, I'd re-cut the entire thing.  I might as well start with a different pattern altogether.

I do have this 1947 Grit nightgown pattern that is really not that different.  I haven't made it because I can't imagine sleeping with a sash around my waist.



Its very nice to see and looking cute.
Shift Dresses