Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easter Dress from Weekend Sewing

 This may be the best photo I've managed of the dress I made for Abigail for Easter. I used the flower girl pattern from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.

 I've been holding off on a review of this book because I just couldn't decide how to approach it. It's a beautiful book. I caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye at Sams one day. I had never heard of it, and didn't realize at the time that it was all the rage on the sewing blogs. Everyone was raving about it. All the projects look so yummy. I wanted to try almost everything I saw.

 I started out by making a head scarf. That went well (although my hubby didn't like it), and I enjoy wearing it around the house. It's a perfect "I have a 2 year old and didn't wash my hair today" scarf or a "I didn't sleep last night and forgot to brush my hair" scarf. I think it's great for new moms.

 It was spring and getting close to Easter, so I thought a great project would be making an Easter dress for Abigail. The flower girl dress looked perfect and simple, so I thought I'd try it. That's where my nightmare began.

The patterns are printed on two large sheets of paper, front and bag. Each individual pattern is printed in a different color and the patterns overlap. So instead of cutting out the pattern and pinning it to the fabric, you trace the pattern using tracing paper and a tracing wheel. I'm sure that's not a big deal to experienced sewers, but I wasn't expecting it. It just seems really complicated. Plus the patterns are stuck to the inside covers with those glue strip things instead of a pocket like in Amy Butler's books. I really prefer the pocket. I also prefer spiral binding to hardcover for a craft/sewing book, but I think CK Media may have spoiled me in that regard.

The flower girl pattern lists the fabric choices as silk shantung, cotton lawn, or linen. It then indicates that the possibilities are endless. Since I was making this for an active two year old and it wasn't for a wedding, I didn't feel the need to go with a fancy fabric. (I'm not entirely sure what silk shantung is, and I can't find cotton lawn in fabric stores in Kentucky.) We looked through the springy fabrics at JoAnns, and decided on this cute lavender daisy seersucker. As I went through the process, I began to curse the seersucker choice, thinking that was the problem.

This was the first item of clothing I had made in over 13 years, the last being a pair of pajama pants I made using a Simplicity pattern. I have only ever lined handbags, but the bodice on this dress is lined. I didn't think it would be a big deal, but it ended up being a huge deal because the instructions in the book were incomplete. I read through them over and over and thought I was missing something or that maybe I should even quit sewing. I thought I must be stupid because I couldn't figure out where I was going wrong. Then I saw on Soulemama's blog that she made the same dress but had to adapt some instructions that were missing and I realized that a more experienced seamstress would realize the problem.

I recently found an errata list on the flikr group Projects from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing. It was so gratifying to find this group and learn that I was not the only one who was frustrated with the book. I want so badly to make the projects but now I don't trust the instructions. For example, when I finished making the lining on the dress, I looked for the part that told me how to sew the outside of the dress closed, but this step is left out completely. It might not have been bad if I'd ever made a project like this before but I had no idea what to do next.

I also learned too late that the patterns are on the small side. The book states that the patterns are large, so I made the size 2 for my two year old. My daughter at the time was about 22 lbs. For those of you who haven't had toddlers around, this is approximately the size of a normal one year old. So I felt that a size 2 dress was sufficient. It turned out that the size 2 bodice was so small that if I finished the straps the way the instructions called for, I would not be able to get the dress over her head. I'm not sure if it's possible to put the dress over a child's head with the way the straps are intended. So I sought out hand-sewn snaps, and sewed them onto the spaghetti-width straps.

I ended up finishing this dress at about 2am Easter morning, and I left it out for the Easter Bunny to put into Abigail's basket. She seemed thrilled with it when she found it that morning, but I've only managed to get her to wear it twice. Apparently calling it an "Easter dress" makes it only usable on Easter day. Point noted.

This really is a lovely book, and is great for inspiration. I'll look through the errata that I found on flikr and see if I feel confident enough to tackle another pattern. My last complaint about the book is that so many of the fabric choices are for fabrics I've never heard of (and store employees haven't heard of either). I'm not confident enough yet to order large quantities of fabric online. And given the problems with the directions, I'm hesitant to sew a pattern that calls for fabric that sells for $20-30 a yard. Double gauze sounds lovely, but it's only available from Japan, and that involves high prices and large shipping costs. Perhaps someday I'll be that confident in my abilities (or in these patterns).

I really really want to like this book. Maybe the publisher will decide to correct the mistakes and do a new print run.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Please feel free to correct me or give me hints. Like I said, I really really want to like it.

1 comment:

EliteDresses said...

Its really a good post.Thanks for this........