Redemption! Not the most exciting garment but but this simple dress redeemed me from the sewing debacle I endured with my last sewing excursion. Coming out of Covid had me craving nicer clothing to wear at home. No more fleeces. No more letting comfort reign supreme without the slightest regard to style. No more wearing clothing I wouldn't be caught dead in beyond my front door. I want clothing that is comfortable, feminine, and would look like I gave &*$(#@ if I decided to run to the market or Post Office and bump into friends. I wanted to look pretty at home and pretty going out. I don't want to look like I just came from yoga class. I respect that others may feel differently but enough feel like I do that the NY Times did a big article on it in it's fashion section about a month or so ago. I want dresses.
To honor all those who have gone before, the likes of Lucille Ball and even my own Mom, and all the women who wore cotton "house dresses" with snaps up the front to quickly get in and out of or to whip open on a moment's notice for a nursing babe, and for all the women, again like my Mom, who surrounded me back in the day, I wear my best bandana, a la Lucy. While my Mom would have used it to cover up criss crossed bobby pins that secured spirals of thick black Irish tresses, mine is merely hiding a bit of gel and wet, washed locks. But I like my bandanas too and wear them a lot and to honor the "house dress".
In my opinion, the house dress should:
* Not be tight around any part of the body, particularly the waist
* Should be easy to get in and out of
* Should be an easy to maintain fabric
* Should never give off a slovenly vibe and be able to get you from home to public view nicely
* Should be out of natural fabrics and never sweaty or sticky
* Should be very comfortable to wear
* Can be accessorized and "upstyled" if need be.
Simplicity 8856 fit the bill perfectly for me, but first the fabric!
For fabric I used my most favorite fabric after linen: Kauffman's Essex Linen yarn dyed linen blend. The weft is linen and the warp is cotton and I use this fabric repeatedly. It is linen if it could be perfect and the addition of the cotton makes it so. it reacts like denim in that it does not wrinkle up and if it does any wrinkles just seem to fall away. You can wear it all day and look great for the duration. It is comfortable, breathable, easily washable and easy to sew. I have made more garments out of this fabric and literally have two large stacks of it in my stash. It is my go to. It is perfect for house dresses, washes beautifully and would need very little if any ironing right out of the dryer. If you do iron, it responds beautifully with no fuss as you will see in my photos.
Simplicity 8856 is one I grabbed off the stand at the store. What you don't get from the picture above is that it is available in this one envelope in sizes for children and women up to size 24 which they call XL. It has deep pockets and is not gathered all around as the front bodice has a flat center panel extending all the way to the hem. I liked how the volume was reduced by this. There is a lot of volume in this skirt. I took two inches from the side front pieces each and another two inches out of the back panel.
I have found that when I do this type of skirt with the raised waist it can very poufy and billowey. I topstitch down my seam allowances toward the bodice which you might be able to pick up in this pic. I also, upon completion, go back and press down the top inch or so of the gathering, otherwise all that gathering can swallow me right up, petite hint there, sewists.
Another change I made to this pattern to accomadate fit was to add darts, small ones. In the past two years I've made two garments with raised waists like this one. I have found that they do something interesting that you need to watch for. If you wear a B cup or smaller, the garment seems to hang from your shoulders, It will look loose and be comfy and that is generally the intended look. If you are larger than the B cup of the pattern, the garment will hang off the tip off your boobs and is just not that flattering. when I put together the bodice of this dress, I pinched out a couple of small darts under the breasts. That pulled in the bodice enough to look much more flattering and like the dress was hanging from my shoulders more. I decided to put the short darts in and you can see them here before pressing. No regrets and I recommend with these loose bodice dresses which are all over right now.
This was a very easy construction and one beginners could succeed at. I had no issues with the directions and pattern either. All was clear. The closure is simple. All of my seams are stitched together, serge finished and pressed open. The directions have you turn them under in the area of the back slit. With serged edges there was no need for that so I just pressed them open.
I loved the little loop for the button, vintage, which I made from a bias tube and my fast turn tube set.
There is so much conflict in the sewing world over bias binding versus facings. There is a lot of HATE for facings. Personally, I make the judgement on each individual garment and have no quarrel with either. Here, I followed the pattern and did the facing. Sorry, sewists, but it is hard to complain about a well installed facing. Done right, it stays put and you don't know it's there. Now I had my issues at one time but with the wisdom of Nancy Zieman pushing me on I think I've mastered this one. If you would like to master your facings evermore, click here for Nancy's method; Here
I didn't want to overload this dress with topstitching. I didn't want it to look like jeans remade so I kept the TSing down to just the pockets and hem. I love my topstitching. I only say it that way because I am not sure that every one is aware that the heinous "stretch stitch" that jumps over itself three times and should never ever be used on a knit (per experts Linda Lee and Nancy Zieman both) makes the most wonderful, thick topstitching that you can see here on the pockets. This is at a 3.0 length. Use if for TSing, NOT KNITS!
I also veered a bit from the patterns style wise with the sleeves. I sewed in the required hem but folded it up about an inch. I had machine stitched the hem in but then hand tacked the cuff in so it wouldn't turn down, turquoise arrow. The red arrow points to the small dart which is not in the right spot as I am lifting up the skirt in this cropped pic. The original sleeve hem was not at the best length for me. The pattern also comes 3/4 length which is what I will do if I make another.
Find your bandanas. Get out your patterns and make yourself some house dresses! I hope to make more, Let's make Lucy and Ethel proud!!!! ........................Bunny