This took forever

It really did feel like it! I started this dress way back in February, intending for it to be part of the Sewcialists’ Denim month. Clearly, I should not try to sew clothes for challenges with deadlines during my current life stage. It took me over 3 months to make this thing.

This is Simplicity 8830, a shirtdress and tunic designed by Mimi G. I’ve been wanting a simple chambray dress that could be styled in different ways for awhile, and genuinely needed something new and nursing-friendly that I could wear to church. (You know, a long time ago when we could actually go places and be around people.) I thought the fit on this one would be pretty forgiving while my body is still trying to figure out where it wants to settle after this last pregnancy.

Things started off well on this one. I genuinely enjoy projects that have a lot of nice details, so I was having fun with all of the topstitching. I did initially change a few things on purpose. Aside from my usual inch added on the sleeves, I borrowed the yoke instructions and sleeve tab from the Itch to Stitch Mila shirt that I made right before this, so that I could enclose the yoke with my contrast fabric and give the sleeves a good roll when I want them to. I also decided to do bias bound seams on the sleeves for that same reason. I used a scrap of blue floral quilt cotton for the binding, the inside of the collar/ pocket flaps/ yoke facing, the in seam pockets, the facing for the epaulets, and had enough bias binding left to make a narrow faced hem. It was part design decision, but I really ran out of the stashed chambray that I’d chosen, and so I had very little fabric left over from either piece!

I did run into an issue with the fitting. It took some serious thought to choose a size to sew, because the ease given was ridiculous. My current measurements for the big 4 put me in an 18, but I sized down to a 16 so I wouldn’t end up with 8″ of ease around my chest. I really wish that the pattern had given the finished hip measurement as well as the bust. After I sewed the side seams and tried it on to figure out the button placement, it barely pinned together over my hips! I had just enough in my chambray scraps to cut two wedges out, which I inserted from just above the side pockets to the hem to give it a little more of an A line shape. That didn’t show up that great in any of my pictures, but I wanted that to blend in, so mission accomplished?

I do remember having to add a similar wedge in the last time I made a woven McCall’s pattern, so I guess grading up a size or two in my hips is going to have to be my thing now. But seriously, I could have avoided that whole process if they’d just given that one extra finished measurement.

A closer up of the contrast fabric, in the hem.

Aside from the fitting, this dress suffered from a severe loss of sewing motivation. I was working through all of those topstitching details when the world started shutting down, and once the hip issue showed up, my sewing slowed to a snail’s pace. Part of it was just the usual kid stuff, like the baby is teething and not always easy to get to sleep. But I thought that, without my usual 1-2 rehearsals during the week, I’d be sewing more. That hasn’t been the case.

It took me several weeks to realize that making this dress, as well as the baby dress that I’ve been hand- embellishing on the side, was suddenly making me sad. I don’t know when I’ll actually get to wear it, because I don’t feel like I’m in a place right now where I can dress up, even in a casual piece like this, to just stay home. My life at home is messy, with baby spit-up and purees, and a sticky-handed toddler. (I guess he’s kind of a preschooler now, since he turned 3 recently.) There’s been lots of extra baking, since bread supplies aren’t reliable and homemade bread is a comforting thing. My older boy wants to do crafts and science experiments often, which is good, but still messy. And there hasn’t been anything that I normally dress nicer for, like church activities or music lessons. So I’ve mostly been living in graphic tees and jeans/ stretchy pants. I couldn’t even be bothered to dress for Me Made May this year, since there is only so many ways one can style already-pilling gray Hudson pants.

I think that I’m having a little bit of a sewing identity crisis. I know that we’ll get back to going to church, hopefully sooner rather than later, because streaming services for months has turned out to be a sad substitute. What is more questionable is my music life. I’ve read reports on how vocal groups probably won’t be able to meet again until a cure or vaccine is found, and the flute is very similar in air production. Plus, unlike all of the other wind instruments, you blow across the mouthpiece instead of in, so it’s the most difficult wind instrument to contain. So I don’t know what this means for my community orchestra. I don’t know if my teaching will recover, since my student count had already taken a huge hit during my last pregnancy due to students graduating or just being too overwhelmed with school activities. (Oh, the irony.) So all that I had was two students left, and Zoom lessons weren’t great for either situation for various reasons. We had already decided to continue homeschooling in the fall, since preschool with my oldest has been working out well. So I’m wondering, if I’m “just” a stay at home mom now, what do I sew?

I’m doing an experiment during May that I hope will help. And I know that better fitting jeans are a wardrobe hole. But I may need to seriously rethink how I’m going to use my fabrics now.

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