Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Franken-dress #1: A Maternity/Non-maternity Mash Up

Picking up where I left off on Saturday, one strategy for creating a maternity wardrobe that is fun, has style and doesn't bore me is to take a basic pattern - my Megan Nielsen ruched maternity skirt (MN1008) - and give it the ol' frankenpattern treatment.

Another of my other strategies is to look beyond maternity patterns. I noticed early on that McCalls has a "Suitable for Maternity" section on-line rather than maternity-specific patterns. Inspired by this idea, if not the actual patterns listed there, I created a pinterest board drawing from all different pattern companies. I've already sewn a bunch of not maternity patterns with minor alterations to make them maternity appropriate.

V1314 Tracy Reese with a little more room in the middle, V8977 Very Easy Vogue with a dipped front hem and Ralph Pink Hareem pants (also in black) with extra waist room

For a franken-dress series based on the Megan Nielsen skirt, I figured that just about any top or dress that has an empire/below the bust seam or could easily be altered to have one would do. So, for my first go-round, I picked Jalie 2804, the very popular Empire Crossover Top.

Jalie 2804 - MN1008 Frankendress!

And a crazy loud print fabric. I think this is a winning combo! I should add that Jalie - in addition to including maternity variations in some of their patterns - also lists regular patterns under the maternity header when suitable. Go Jalie!

Top first: I cut the front pieces as drafted and, for the back, simply merged the top of the Jalie into the skirt to create one pattern piece.  From there I only needed to change the construction order slightly.

There is a lot to love about Jalie patterns and this one is no exception. They include a large number of sizes (27 women and girls sizes) in the one envelope, the instructions are solid but concise and their construction methods are straightforward and effective. The neckline on the top lays flat and secure against my sternum - again, go Jalie!

I made a few minor changes for fit and style considerations along the way. I omitted the modesty panel on the grounds that this dress could be suitable for nursing if I left it out. To make it less low cut and because the size I cut was a little big on me, I overlapped the front crossover a bit more. Finally, I left off the optional shoulder ties since I think they would have made the dress look more casual than I wanted.
For the bottom:  I made a number of changes to my MN ruched maternity skirt prototype that I am very happy with.

Gratuitous happy bump shot.

My first version was very fitted. This worked out just fine in very stretchy black jersey, which slims and camouflages, but in any other color I felt that the skirt might be uncomfortably close fitting, potentially unflattering and get too tight before the end of pregnancy. So, I added 2" to the center front and 1" to the center back. I also added a bit of length in the middle so that I could extend the ruching by a total of 2", which hits at a more flattering location IMHO. 

Much improved ruching; sad wavy hem.

I'm really pleased with my little frankendress pattern, except for one big glaring flaw: the fabric.  I love its loudness and how soft it is, but this jersey created all kinds of problems.  First, it took me forever to actually cut this dress. I struggled to get the fabric on grain and then realized the print is off grain. So I tried to cut it with the print rather than the grain.

Next, the hem is wavy. Folks, I hemmed this dratted thing three times! Three times! It's much improved as it is now, but it's a sad, sad day when Steam-A-Seam Lite fails to produce a nice hem! I can only blame the fabric for this one. It looks good enough to wear and the print does a lot to hide this flaw, but in the photo above you can see the sorry truth.

Last - and this is the one that means the dress will have an even more limited shelf life than my belly dictates - it's already pilling pretty badly after just one wear.

Pilling by the end of the first day! Gaaahhhh!

Fortunately, I have a clothes shaver and the busy print will help distract from the pilling. I really like this dress and will wear it until I feel like it really doesn't look good, but I'm disappointed about this fabric fail. Perhaps when it's no longer fit for public consumption, I'll wear it around the house and to bed. It really is that soft and comfy.

On the bright side, I can't help but think that my little wardrobe project is off to a great start and this is proof that my strategy will work!  So, a big victory despite a fabric flop.

Last shot of me in this happy colored dress!  More versions of my franken-experiment in the coming days!


Clio said...

You can think of this one as the muslin and make more out of better fabric. There is an industry term for such fabric - sleazy - really I'm not kidding - it's the real term.

Clio said...

Don't worry that it will have a limited shelf life. You'll find yourself sufficiently sick of all your clothes by the time you're done with being pregnant that you'll happily burn them in a pyre at the bottom of the garden! It looks great though and one of the great things about being pregnant is skin tight dresses - no worry about showing a wobbly belly!

Clio said...

yeah, you cannot tell from the photos that the fabric is a fail. all i see is bright, gorgeous color and a fitted, stylish and comfortable mommy make.

Clio said...

HA HA HA - I sewed a sleazy maternity dress. LOL

Clio said...

Yeah, that's what I've hears. So, it's a wearable muslin until it starts looking too bad to wear.

Exactly!! I am letting my wobbly belly run free!

Clio said...

Thanks! Hopefully it will hold up a bit better than I expect....

Clio said...

What a shame about the fabric because those colours really suit you. I hope you get a few wears out of it despite the pilling.

Clio said...

Me too! It's all my favorite colors!

Clio said...

So sad about the fabric... It really is annoying when it starts pilling after the first wash (and even more depressing when it pills after the pre-wash - why would I want to waste time sewing that but I've already spent money on it grrrr).

The dress, however, looks amazing! The fit and colors are really fantastic on you - much better than maternity clothes you could find in a store, I'm sure. Looks great!

Clio said...

At least pregnancy is short, so it doesn't have to last all that long!

Clio said...

Ohhhh, what a disappointment that the fabric is already pilling! The colors are FABULOUS with your skin tone and hair.

Clio said...

Thanks! I love wearing reds and orange. So, at least now I know I should add more of this color to my wardrobe, even if this dress doesn't survive.

Clio said...

This is a fabulous dress! It's a shame about the fabric. Hopefully it will hold up long enough for you to get some wear out of it!

Clio said...

that looks great - go Momma, go Momma