My Staples dress is done! It’s really cute. I will definitely wear it once I cut off some extra threads and trim/press inside seam (and get my legs waxed). I was concerned that the dress would be a little too short for me. so I decided to add a solid colour hem. I lucked out at the fabric store and found some green lawn that matched the colour of the dress. After discussing it with Megan, I added about 8 inches of the solid green to the bottom of the dress, to give it a colour block effect. While I like the printed material, the contrast with the solid colour makes a big impact. A little less “sewing project 101” and more “fun summer dress”. My idea was to cut a strip of the green and add it to the bottom of the dress. However, Megan set me straight and walked me through the steps. She also made sure the front and back pieces of the solid colour were the same size – I would have gotten there eventually, but with Megan’s help, I didn’t fall too far behind the rest of the class (having properly calculated the amount of material required for the dress, the other ladies didn’t need to fiddle with the length). Left to my own devices, I would have sewn the two pieces together so the seam was on the inside, but Megan suggested an outside seam to enhance the colour blocking. It was easy to do and a useful technique for future use. I sewed and pinned the bias edgings onto the neck and arm holes without incidence. Once again, I found the Bernina very easy to sew with, particularly in terms of sewing straight(ish). When I’m sewing with my Kenmore, I tend to go slowly to ensure I maintain the requisite seam allowance. Even though I was rushing to keep up with everyone else, my outside seams are straight and tidy. Adding the shirring was super simple. The trick to getting it to bunch up nicely is to back-stitch at the beginning and end, so the elastic thread doesn’t slip. I added a second row of shirring to give the waist a bit more definition, which had the added effect of improving the fit of the top of the dress.Since it doesn’t have a zipper or buttons, the top needs to be fairly loose so you can pull the dress over your head. There’s a big difference between “loose” and “baggy” – with only a single row of shirring, the dress looked a bit more “paper bag princess” than I liked. (note to self: in the future, patterns will likely need to be adjusted to take into account my narrow shoulders, slumpy shoulders and small bust).
The dress got a thumbs up from my mother (the Queen of Seams). Ever the sewer, she turned the dress inside out and examined the construction. She pointed out a couple of minor issues, like the fact that I didn’t iron out the side seams before I attached the arm holes binding and my binding isn’t folded the same width all the way around on the inside of the neck. The little imperfections don’t bother me – it makes the dress mine (pretty bold talk coming from a perfectionist!). It’s also the first garment I’ve ever made without my mother’s supervision – sad, but also explains why I haven’t sewn much since I left home. Through the process of making the Staples dress, I’ve discovered that my mother’s sewing machine casts a long shadow and I’ve been letting it follow me around for years. I realize now that I’ve learned a lot from watching my mother sew over the years, but there’s no rule that says I have to use her techniques. I was never so taken with sewing that I bothered exploring how I could make it my own. So now, at the age of 55, I’m finally figuring it out. I’m still not sure if I love sewing enough to seriously take it up. I do know that if I want to get better at sewing, I need to practice (i.e. make stuff). To sum up, the Staples dress is an easy beginner project. The pattern directions are well-written and easy to follow. Even better, the pattern is fairly forgiving – witness my pocket mishap. If you’re at all nervous about sewing, I highly recommend taking a class to make the dress. While I probably could have sewn it on my own, having an instructor on hand to explain the pattern and trouble shoot for me, helped boost my confidence level about sewing. I’m already planning on making another Staples dress, using a light-weight purple rayon. Megan is teaching another class later this summer, featuring the Wiksten tank. I’m thinking it would look cute in this pink polka-dot fabric I picked up on sale recently. The world is my (sewing) oyster.