Not All Who Wander-er Are Lost

February 19, 2015

I’m honored to be today’s stop on the Wanderer Fabric Tour to promote April Rhodes’ new fabric collection! I know, I’ve been doing a lot of fabric tours lately but I can’t help it. I love them!! For about two weeks I had been pondering what to sew, knowing I wanted to make some kind of shirt dress, but I couldn’t decide on a pattern. I thought I had narrowed it down to the perfect one, Simplicity 2365, but after I messed up a narrow shoulder adjustment on my muslin I got frustrated and scrapped the whole project. Flash forward to Monday night when I had the genius idea (sarcasm) to design my own dress pattern and attempt to fit it/finalize it in roughly three days (hence the blog silence this week). WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I went back and forth in my own head about how terrible of an idea this was, but how proud I’d be if I could pull it off, until the Vulcan half of my brain was drowned out with sounds of “La la la lalalalalalala can’t heeaarrrrr yooouuuu!!” and I just went for it.


Before I dive into the logistics of this dress, let me first talk about the fabric. If you’re a garment sewer who loves cotton, and you’ve never tried Art Gallery Fabrics, I dare say you’re doing yourself a disservice (in my humble opinion). I’ve bought Art Gallery Fabrics before, so when April asked if I’d like to participate in her Wanderer Tour I already knew the kind of amazingness that was about to be gifted to me. Don’t get me wrong, I live for those heirloom weight quilting cottons (i.e. Cotton & Steel quality) but it’s also nice to switch it up and sew with a cotton that feels entirely different. Art Gallery Fabrics are finely spun with a high thread count which results in a “quilting” cotton that feels like a crisp mens dress shirt, more on par with a lighter cotton poplin. They’re not kidding when they say Feel The Difference!


I picked the Sacred Seeds print in Brittle, which is a really beautiful honey mustard color with a simple scatter print. As soon as I saw the color in person I knew I had to pair it with this amazing lace from Organic Cotton Plus. I had planned to use the lace as part of my next OCP review project, but it was just too perfect not to use with April’s print. It compliments the little V designs so well! I actually planned to add some lace across the shoulder area too, but I had already started binding the neck and arms by the time I remembered I wanted to do that. Oh well, I’ll try that next time!


Now, let’s talk about this dress. It’s not perfect. I have a few kinks to work out for my next version, but for conjuring it up out of thin air (in three days time!) I’m so ridiculously proud of it. I’m trying to ignore the fact that I cut the front bodice print upside down (I know, you probably wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t tell you), my bust darts are too high, and my neckline looks a little “wing it and hope for the best” (yeah that’s not the same shape it was when I started sewing) BUT! The FIT!!


After struggling to fit my back, neck, and shoulders for practically an eternity, I’m very happy with how this dress feels on. It might be slightly over-fit across the shoulder blades actually, but it’s nothing I can’t adjust for next time. What I’m most thrilled about is the fact that this is a really excellent first attempt at a true TNT pattern, (No, seriously this time!!) not to mention it’s a perfectly wearable/lovable dress as is.


The driving force of this dress, aside from the gorgeous fabric, was addressing my personal comfort. I wanted to keep the front loose (to avoid aggravating my acid reflux, which often happens when garments sit right on my natural waist) but also include some kind of shaping at the back. Elastic shirring was my solution for that which, if I do choose to wear a tight belt, will keep the extra fabric nice and tidy at the back. Though I will admit, without a belt the overall effect is a bit “business in the front and party in the back” but I’m okay with that, haha!


I will most likely wear this dress with leggings which is why I kept the length pretty short (I’m wearing stockings today so I can show off the lace!). I skipped the sleeves so I can just layer, or not layer, as seasonally appropriate. And pockets! I need pockets but I’m not really a huge fan of the side seam variety so I went with front pockets instead. I’m boycotting zippers, for no reason, but wanted some buttons, simply because I like them. That’s the beauty of pretending you’re a fabric wizard! You can literally just make stuff up as the mood strikes and POOF! Dream dress in the making…


I didn’t draft this pattern from scratch (I’m kind of horrible at that), but instead borrowed parts from three or four of my favorite past makes and re-drew the pieces so they all fit together like they were meant to. This whole process was no easy feat, even though the dress looks simple enough. I lost track of the hours I spent standing at my kitchen island trying to work it all out like a jigsaw puzzle.


As I said, I went back and forth several times trying to decide which pattern to pair with this fabric, even starting to trace/cut out the tissue only to change my mind and pack it all back up. I don’t recommend trying to invent your own pattern just days before a deadline, but sometimes you need to throw caution to the wind when it feels like the right thing to do. In the end I think I found the right answer and I have a really awesome (though slightly haphazard) dress as a result. That just goes to show that not all who wander-er are lost. Har har 😉


Well that’s enough rambling from me, check out the other awesome makers on the Wanderer Tour! (This is the reason I say yes to fabric tours. It’s so neat to see how everyone uses the same fabrics so differently!)

2/15: Nicole –
2/16: Holly –
2/17: Shannon –
2/18: Becca –
2/19: Rochelle –
2/20: Kate –
2/21: Amber –
2/22: Caroline –
2/23: John –
2/24: Maureen – maureencracknellhandmade
2/25: Delia –
2/26: Kelly –
2/27: Christopher –
2/28: Jen –

And, if you’d like to win 20 HALF YARD CUTS of April’s new collection, be sure to check out the giveaway details on her blog post, here!

Have you ever sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics before (or attempted something slightly crazy on a deadline!)?