Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Shopping in My Own Closet

I made a pact with myself this summer that anything new that I made had to be a) from my stash, b) from a remnant at Joann fabrics that cost less than $10 or c) from my own wardrobe. 

I've made a few things,  both clothing and quilts and I've abided by that rule to the fullest extent of the law, but today, I am extremely thrilled with  myself.  Not only did I upcycle something I already own, I actually managed to draft a pattern from a dress I already had and I am pretty sure it's what I want, with maybe some slight tweaks the next time around.

I wear a lot of dresses and skirts until the cold weather hits, and if you check out my instagram, you'll see that I'm still parading those flowered numbers from the 90s that just won't fall apart and die a natural death.  I think I'm helping to bring back prints in general since everything I owned in the 90s had something on it :)

I bought this polka dot dress a long time ago and I've always like it except for the really high neckline.  The armholes have always been a little more snug than I like, but because it's rayon, they usually stretch enough throughout the day.  I've always thought I should just figure out how to make this style, just with a lower neckline.

Looking through my closet, I discovered this long skirt that I bought ages ago and took in.  It had a  few darts, a seam from my crazy version of taking in and a zipper.  I realized that these long skirts I have are actually the right length to make shift dresses like I want.  That's such a weird little fact that I don't think a lot of people could make work.  Yet another reason being short has benefits.

I ripped out all of the seams, darts and waistband because I wanted to make sure I had the most fabric possible.  I left in the zipper, thinking it might be a necessary addition. 

I also managed to make the waistband into the bindings for both armholes so I was more than a little impressed with myself.  Another weird little thing.  My waist is equal to twice my underarm girth.  hmmm.

I drew out the outline on some paper and then I created what I thought should be a new neckline.  I know nothing about drafting patterns, and my math skills are pretty weak when it comes to things like this, but I went about pretending that if I added a half inch around each arm and the new neckline, that would give me what I want for sizing, plus room to bind and turn under the binding.

Other times when I've tried to draft a pattern from something I own or a variation of a pattern I've used, I can go to a pattern that has a feature I like and try to copy it.  I don't currently have a pattern that has a neckline that mimics what I was looking for, so I had to wing it.

I also had to put in darts. One of the things I like about the polka dot dress is the darts.  I feel like they are in  the right place for me and given my sister's insistence that I have a full bust, I think more of my tops should have darts. 

If you have no idea what darts do, they  managed to give room for curves so the fabric sits nicely instead of hanging or stretching too much.  That's why darts are often in shorts, pants and skirts.  They allow the curve of the butt to fit into them without making everything baggy.  Darts in a top allow the bust to fit in without making the whole shirt fit like a potato sack.

What little I know about darts has been from the multitude of Chitown Chinos I've made.  Oh and because one time I watched a video about how to resize your darts.  

So basically, I am expert because I saw it online.

When I get creative like this, I have NO TIME to sit and watch videos because I am a frantic lunatic when I start putting an idea to work, so I have to rely on my memory which is usually hazy and I end up making something up.  I followed the dart line on the polka dot dress and made myself really happy when I remembered that using a dart would mean changing the bottom of the armhole if I wasn't careful, so I did something about it.

I will not tell anyone what I did because pattern creators would kill me  because there was no good science behind it.

The sewing gods were definitely on my side and it came together mostly as I wanted.  When I looked at something I've made that still doesn't have the exact fit I want, I figure the store bought version wasn't quite right either and I still wear it, so wearing my own still not quite right version isn't any different.

I will never need to open the zipper because it easily goes over my head but it was easier to leave it than to take it out.

I like the new neckline but I have to adjust something for future versions because it pushes the straps out a little further on my shoulder than I'd like.  Someone probably can tell me where I could adjust my pattern to make them sit in about 1/2 inch away from my armpit.  Not quite as far in as the polka dot version but not quite as far out as my new version.

Someone also won't be able to resist telling me I should do a swayback adjustment, but that's for some future day when I figure out how exactly to find the spot where it needs to be altered.  I've seen how to do it and I get the general idea but I feel like I need another person to mark it for me when I'm wearing it.  Maybe that will happen in my  next frantic moment of creativity.

The new version is slightly looser than the polka dot, which I meant to do, but I definitely lost some of the shape so I would take it in under the arm because I do like how the polka dot one looks through there.  Plus, the darts take care of that full bust of mine, so taking in the sides wouldn't be super tight.

I laid it out so the hem of the skirt would be the hem of the dress and it worked out!

One of the weird things about the polka dot dress is that it has long slits up the sides.  I've often though of shortening it so it didn't have the slits but I've been lazy.  The skirt wasn't quite long enough to make the new dress the length of the polka dot one, but the new length is just fine with me!

I have 2 more skirts in my closet that are about this long, so I think I will try another one with some kind of change to the neckline to get those straps in a little more. 

I am not madly attached to any of these old skirts, so if I make a HUGE mistake, I don't feel like I've wasted anything.  They had their lives as skirts and a second life as a dress is a bonus.  And there's obviously been some reason I haven't given them away before now.   It just never occurred to me that a skirt might work as a dress!