one-piece wardrobe

Frankendress V8994 + V9212

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The Pattern: A combination of vintage V9212 and V8994
The Fabric: Dark Navy Linen purchased at the Stoffmarkt Holland (traveling fabric market) for a pre-cut 1.7m/15 euro
The Size: 6 in V9212, 8 in V8994
Similarities in both patterns:
they’re both pullovers, so no zipper.
they both have center front and center back seams.
they both have a tent/flare shape.
they are both dartless.
Borrowed from V8994:
the neckline
Borrowed from V9212:
the pockets
the skirt shape/width
Self-drafted:
neckline/armhole facing
extended skirt to floor length
hem-facing
darts/pleats

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As probably none of you know, I didn’t actually own a full-length mirror in Germany until a few days ago. John moved here in early February, and he came with very little furniture (but an entire welding shop of tools), while I’ve been doing a back-and-forth from here to the states until things get settled. We’ve slowly been accumulating the necessities during this visit, so I now have a sewing machine, cutting table, and, ironically, a full sewing studio that doubles as a dining room. (Seriously, most nights we eat dinner in the sewing room!)

What does this have to do with the Frankendress, you ask? Well, two things:
1) Our lack of furniture is letting me take photos of seasonally-inappropriate clothing in the warmth of the indoors.
2) It’s pretty difficult to draft a pattern and know what it looks like outside of your head without a mirror. Actually, it’s pretty difficult to sew clothing that flatters without a mirror, period. There is no trying on and adjusting as you sew, there is only full speed ahead.

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Life-without-mirror was a pretty peaceful time, where I imagined my Frankendress to look a lot like this on me. I even nicknamed it the Japanese Mama dress in my head (because contrary to what we may think, that baggy linen look has been rocked by Japanese Mamas since at least the 1990s, and I have the pattern books to prove it).

In life-without-mirror, my Frankendress looked chic but effortless; a casual, dark, flowing gown to throw on and throw a dinner party in, with no cares as to what food-thing might possibly stain it—it’s so dark and flowing it’s impervious to stains. I’d cook with wooden spoons and serve things in imperfect ceramic bowls. This was to be the dress I’d wear obsessively around the house and pretend I hadn’t worn 3 days straight when I went to the super market. It would wrinkle in the wash, fade around the stitches, and in 30 years I’d wear it while painting abstracts on giant canvasses in my free time.

It’s been a few days now of life-with-mirror, and I have to say my enthusiasm for this linen dress has deflated. I had it almost completed several weeks ago, but left the bottom hem unfinished for when I could gauge the right length by, you know, looking at myself in a mirror. And when I was finally able to, I realized that the dress swallowed me whole. It was ill-fitting, it was unflattering, it probably didn’t even deserve a blog post (even though I already had one written and, still, here I am re-writing it).

I thought about chopping it into a mini-tent, at which point you’d at least see my legs and know my body didn’t consist of a shapeless blob, but the pockets hung a little too low to be a true mini. I thought about taking in the sides, but I had already finished all my interior seams (including Emily’s French in-seam pocket technique). So, standing in front of the mirror and really hoping I wouldn’t have to repurpose 1.7m of beautiful chopped up navy linen, I pinned and tucked until I realized the solution was, duh, darts.

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I added pretty large darts to the front and back that open to pleats so as to not take away volume from the skirt, and were still small enough to allow me to take this dress off over my head. The process was pretty anxiety inducing, as evidenced by my going downstairs for a piece of chocolate in between every dart pinned and the following step of sewing. And I have to say the result is… pretty okay I guess? I can definitely see a different body type rocking this dress beautifully (and in fact I can think of a handle of people IRL that it would look great on!), but I’m not entirely convinced this is a flattering look on me.

Anyway, let’s bench my ramblings on how I eat my feelings and what this dress could have been. For those of you who are here for the sewing and not to hear about my squashed dreams, a brief rundown on what this dress actually is:

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I decided to keep the dress unlined, and instead, drafted a 1.5” facing to match the width of the straps. This took a bit longer than expected because the front facing is actually 4 separate parts stitched together, and figuring the appropriate place to split the facing was a challenge.

I also drafted a bottom hem facing instead of a rolled or folded hem since I wanted to add a bit of weight to the bottom to keep it hanging a bit closer my body. Additionally, I interfaced both the facing and the skirt at the hem to add a bit of structure, as kind of a makeshift horsehair braiding.

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For the main body fabric, I used a weighty, dark navy linen I picked up from a fabric market here in Germany, but ran a bit short so the interior is faced with an indigo linen from Fabric Depot. I also used the indigo linen for the back neckline detail, the bottom hem facing, and the pocket lining, but unsurprisingly, I ran out of the indigo linen too before cutting both pairs of pockets. I moved on to a black silk lining that I had impulsively packed back in Portland.

I guess it’s pretty fair to call this a Frankendress considering it employed 3 different remnants of fabric and interfacing-turned-horsehair-braid. Would I make it again? The answer is a pretty obvious no. Am I glad I made it? Probably. I’m sure there’s a lesson about pattern drafting in there somewhere. And I’ve already started dreaming up a way to actually make this a wearable (for me) piece, but at this point, I’m ready to stop fiddling with it and move on to other projects. (I’m not even going to get into the obvious issues with the darts in the nipple area. -insert laugh/cry emoji here-)

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