Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What the Frock am I Doing?!?!?!

I've learned to embrace indecision as a vital part of my creative process. A nice way of saying this is: I'm "flexible" with sewing goals and plans. I just can't commit to a SWAP or coordinated wardrobe plan. I'm ok with this.

Last Saturday, I cut and basted the lining of my planned black sheath dress with leather piping (Vogue 1237 - Tom & Linda Platt). I was planning to use the lining to tweak the fit. At the moment, there are about 2 dozen pins marking everywhere it needs to be taken in (the entire top half, front and back) and everywhere it needs to be let out (the entire bottom half, front and back). Oh yeah, and it's too short (even with 2" extra that I added). And the neckline is higher than I'd like. More than just tweaking will be required. So, I decided that I should pause and do some therapeutic baking. The only place the dress actually fit was the waist. And with enough cookies, I'm sure I could remedy that.

So, here's what I'm wondering: how much alteration is too much?  I'm sure with enough work I could make this dress fit, but will it be worth all the effort? Do you tend to stick with a pattern or do you allow yourself to say "next" and move on?

On Sunday, as I avoided working on the dress, I was reminded of this pattern from BurdaStyle, also a sheath dress.

Burdastyle 07-2011-131

I've only seen one or two versions of this dress. Maybe the weird shrug thing turned people off to it, but it looks like a great dress to me. And the shoulder princess seam should, in theory, help with my narrow shoulder fitting issues. And this got me thinking about all my Burda projects - they've all fit me really well with much less altering than any Big Four pattern I've used. By Monday morning I was contemplating shifting my efforts to this dress.

Then I mentioned color blocking and, by Monday night, I found myself clicking "purchase" to a cart full of double knits. But I was still feeling on the fence about having two of the same dress, so I dug through my patterns and came up with this:

Butterick 5559 - Maggie London

I think this dress could also be a multi-hued masterpiece. But will I have similar fitting issues to the current black dress and fewer seams to help solve them? Should I go with the Burda Cover Dress, which I already know fits great (um, not to mention that I've already got the pattern traced and altered)?

So you see, I'm having a moment of creative indecision and have no idea what frock to sew next out of the four contenders. Do I go ahead with the black sheath with leather trim project  - Tom & Linda Platt Dress vs Burda 07-2011-131  OR do I pause and do the color block project - Burda Cover dress vs Maggie London.  Color blocking probably has a shelf life, while a black sheath doesn't. And then there are the fitting issues to consider.  

Anyway, I'm eager for your thoughts on fitting and on sticking with a project. Once you pick a pattern do you stick with it even if it will be an alteration struggle? And do you give yourself room, creatively, to change your mind or go in a different direction? Or am I the only one who allows myself to change course or simmer until a decision seems clear?


Karin said...

Hmm, don't know what to tell ya. I don't mind a little tweaking, but I don't want to essentially re-draft the pattern. There are so many nice patterns out there that I often think, why bother?
I tend to get a better fit from Burda as well. I think having all the sizes on the pattern sheet helps. With Vogue, they cut the sizes in half. If you are "in the middle" it means that your measurements could easily be in two different pattern envelops! For that reason I never buy any big4 princess seam sheaths, no matter how tempting. Knowing that their pattern will fit my torso, but not my hips (unless I want to buy two of the same pattern) means that I tend to stick with styles that have a waist seam, or at best a gathered skirt.

Reethi said...

Funny - I just wrote a post on pretty much exactly the same thing. I hear you! (I would personally finish the dress on the table, even though I might never wear it, but that's only because I've too many UFOs, and am trying to cut down...)

Kimbersew said...

Weaseling out of things is what separates us from the other animals- except of course the weasel.*
If you could come up with your perfect black sheath dress- in whatever way keeps you from tearing your hair out- you will be miles closer to making real any dress you can imagine. I understand this to be the benefit of slopers. Have I made any for myself? no- but I do understand. Some people draft designs directly from their slopers and their brains (know-how + imagination) and create perfect garments. Other folks still use commercial patterns, but work their slopers to compare the two and translate that difference into alterations. It seems like the more alterations you regularly need to do in order to use the big 4 patterns, the more helpful a personal sloper could be. You probably already know all this, but it seems to me that being stuck in this dilemma is exactly the point where a good sloper would keep you rolling. If the Burda sheath fits you well straight out of the envelope, then that could be your sloper right there. And it would make a lovely black classic. (Do you have more lining?)
And THEN with a basic fitting patterns in hand, you can fly ahead with the color-blocking Butterick (are those all separate pattern pieces really?) or compare finished measurements and smartly weasel out of the project before it becomes a time-suck or a UFO.
PS I LOOVE the image of a 4 yo. you thoughtfully smashing your tea set! Love it!
*credit to the Simpsons

sewistafashionista said...

I notice the fit on my hardest to fit area, for me it would be my shoulders/neckline/bust area for a top or dress. I do two tweaks and if the fit is still utterly miserable I scrap the pattern. A bit heartless, yes, but I have found that there is a point of no return with some patterns. So I guess I am flexible.

Mikhaela Reid said...

I vote Maggie London color block!

puu said...

i usually stick with it. of course, that means it often sits in a UFO pile for months on end...but eventually i tend to come back to it and work on other things in the interim.

poppykettle said...

Depends on how much you love the thing you're trying to alter. If you're not over the moon about it, ditch it. I've done that with a few patterns that just didn't work for me and I haven't thought twice about it.

I've got that burda dress on the cutting table at the moment! The dress is awesome but I won't be touching the other 'thing'. But as I've got so many things on the go right now, it could be a while until I finish with it. I'll be hanging around to see if you do it or not!

Tanit-Isis said...

I've noticed that my list of fitting issues is a)a bit exhausting when tackling new patterns, and b)keeps getting longer, sigh. I do (when I'm being good) a lot of comparison with the patterns I've already worked out. This can be hard with more complex and unusual patterns, though. I have found my adjustments to be fairly consistent across all the pattern companies I've tried, but I know others who have found that they fit a particular draft (say, vogue or Burda) with minimal alteration, so tend to stick with that company. :)

Clio said...

Karin - Exactly! I'm with you "in the middle". Sometimes I've had success by cutting a generous seam allowance and letting the bottom half out. With Burda, I do one size above the waist and the other below.

Kimbersews - Yeah. It may be time for a sloper. And more fun has never been had with a tea set. LOL - I still remember how thrilling the smash was!

Tanit - Yeah. My list keeps getting longer too.

It seems like all of us wrestle with this issue, huh? If this dress fit great on top, I'd just go for it. But altering everywhere but the waist seems excessive.

Anonymous said...

I'll put in my two cents for Burda 07-2011-131. I made this dress for my holiday office party using a poly-satin (white background with large black and "Barbie" pink stylized flowers. It came out very nice. I did not use the sleeve "flaps", nor did I make the ridiculous cape.

I made my usual adjustments and it fits great. Go for it!
Diane Drexel at hotmail

Clio said...

OOh, there seems to be some love for the Burda sheath - thanks Diane and Poppy! And for the Butterick. I actually haven't checked whether it's separate pattern pieces and my guess would be no (looks more like pintucks). But as long as the tuck lines are well marked, it should be easy to separate into pieces (in theory).

Juliette Esper said...

Hi There, Actually I have seen this particular Butterick dress made by a Burdastyle friend of mine and it looked fabulous! As for the Burda dress- it is a great one, and even the weird thing on top if made from a sheer smth, could work amazingly

Juliette's Sewing and Style Den

BeckyMc said...

The Maggy London dress is NOT separate pieces. All those "sections" are created with tucks. There are darts hidden under the tucks, too. I did an FBA on mine and it was not simple. I love my dress. It is very flattering.
To color block all those sections a different color you would need to cut it apart and add seam allowances, and allow for the hidden darts. Probably simple, but it makes my head hurt to think about it.

T. Sedai said...

Pardon the ramble, I found lots of things to discuss on this post....

I say if it is going to be too much work to alter the pattern and there isn't anything particularly special about it that you are just in love with, ditch it and move on to the next. I don't think it counts as a UFO unless the fancy fabric is cut out and waiting to be sewn.

I have also found that I do more alterations with Big4 than with Burda, though I have to do a swayback alteration regardless of brand. Burda usually fits my shoulders and bust no problem, whereas I am forever doing FBAs and broad shoulder adjustments with the Big4.

I am also planning to make that Burda dress - probably not for a few months yet, but it is definitely on my sewing plans for this year, and I already have the fabric. It looks like it has potential to be a great TNT once fitting kinks are worked out.

As for the Butterick dress - it is definitely pin tucks. I haven't made it, but it was one of the first patterns I bought, so I looked at the designs and instructions when I got it. I think that color blocking wouldn't be too hard, though it would require a little bit of extra planning. Also, I have heard that this pattern is really really short, so just be prepared for that.

Also, I don't know if you have seen the new February Burda yet, but there looks to be a lot of interesting color blocking options in there too, if you decide to go that route.

And no, you aren't the only one who changes your mind mid-project. Usually I stick with something through the muslin phase, and decide from there what needs to be done. Either I make the alterations and proceed or I decide the style isn't want I wanted or there are too many fit problems and I would rather try something else. Once the real fabric is cut out I usually doggedly stick to a project though, even if it goes south, because I don't like having UFOs lying about.

tigergirl said...

Your orange Burda dress is fabulous. I am always amazed that people get away with so few adjustments to their patterns - I always seem to end up adjusting EVERYTHING. Imagine my surprise if I ever make a pattern that only needs two adjustments, for me that seems like a myth.