A wiggle dress years in the making


Have you ever had a garment on your mental "to sew" list so long that the very thought of sewing it becomes a chore? Shouldn't that dress already be hanging in the closet?  I've thought about sewing it so many times that it should have a corporeal form at this point. "Ta Da, I magiced this dress into to my wardrobe with my mind. It's amazing!!!!" - is what I'd like to be able to say. Instead I have to mutter, "Where did my scissors disappear to for the 40th time?  Oh they're under my butt...once again. Guess I have to make this dress now." *Heavy Sigh*
This might only be a problem for those of us who suffer/embrace the "Ooooo something shiny!" form of sewing planning. Once a pattern loses its shiny new patina it turns into work instead of fun. Those of you who are serious planners will have to let me know if you get tired of old plans eventually. Maybe you have a stronger work ethic towards the sewing list than I. If my sewing list isn't an open ended one like FESA then I'm more likely to sew something completely unplanned. I don't play by anyone's rules, not even my own. ;)

Enough about plans, let's get to the point of this post, the Gertie Wiggle dress from her first book. When I saw her green sample of this pattern it was love at first sight and I immediately preordered the book. Sometimes you know a pattern is going to look good on you just by looking at a photograph. When my copy arrived excitement was running so high that I did a very stupid thing when starting this project. I failed to consult the size chart for the patterns. Who knows what I was thinking at the time. More likely no thinking was actually involved in the decision, "I'm usually a 14 in patterns so I'll trace that one."
Spoiler, my measurements correspond with the size 8 in the Gertie book ,so my size 14 muslin was wrong in every possible way. Not only was it too big in the circumference, the torso and height seemed to be for a much taller/longer torsoed person than me.  The last thing I felt like doing was starting from scratch and tracing a new size.  Instead I moved on to the Shirtwaist dress pattern which turned into a nightmare of fitting alterations. That was enough to make me gun shy and the book went back to the bookshelf not to be opened again for quite a while.
Clearly those sewing traumas weren't enough to put me completely off the wiggle dress pattern. After letting it marinate for 2 years I finally traced the correct size 8 and muslined it up. To my surprise the dress fit almost perfectly straight from the "envelope." Who would have thunk it? In the end this was a super easy pattern to sew up with great results.

I did find two drafting errors on the size 8
- The front torso is 3/4" longer than the back.  I double checked the trace lines 3 times to make sure that the problem wasn't me blending different sizes. Nope, that sucker does not match up if you walk the seam line. My solution was to remove this extra length in the front so that the seam lines did match. I was lucky that this torso length also matched my body.

- The slash lines for the gussets are not the same length on the front and back. The slash lines on the back are longer and seem to fit the gusset size better. I made the front slash lines the same length and this worked fine for me.

So yeah, I'm still a little iffy about the drafting of patterns in the book. On this dress it was just some easy to fix errors that didn't impact my sewing enjoyment. Still that doesn't make me feel super confident about trying a different pattern. Will it be an easy to adjust project or will it end with me futilely trying to adjust the pattern for a completely different body type than what it was drafted for?  Who knows! To be honest I might just stick with Gertie's Butterick line, since they seem to have the standard Big 4 issues that I know how to handle. (Feel free to laugh at me when I sew another pattern from this book.)

The Wiggle Dress from "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing."

Fabrics used
Black cotton/linen? with a silver metallic lace design screen printed on top.

Pattern changes/alterations
- The height of the neckline is very choke inducing. I lowered mine about 5/8".

- Like on my Joan dress I put on the muslin and liked the length of the unhemmed sleeves and skirt.  1 1/4" of additional length was added to both the sleeves and the skirt.

- As previously mentioned I pinched out 3/4" on the front bodice only as it was drafted longer.

- Front gusset slash line was lengthened by a 1/4"

- The only thing tricky about sewing the pattern is putting in the sleeve gussets. Since I had two Advance 9441's under my belt I figured it wouldn't be all that tricky this time. Wrong. The gusset seam lines are drawn differently on the two patterns.  On the Gertie wiggle dress the seam lines are much straighter and closer together. I found this a lot harder to sew than the large and curved lines of the Advance pattern. (Photo comparison -Wiggle dress on the left, Advance 9441 on the right.)
Obviously I persevered and managed to sew all 4 gussets without giant puckers or leaving holes near the points. There was just a little more cursing at the sewing machine than usual.

- Just wanted to note that with the gussets the kimono sleeves are very close fitting. My upper arms just fit in there so you "may" need a width adjustment if that's an area where you carry weight.

- Confession, I did not reinforce these particular gussets.  My fabric felt sturdy enough to get along without extra organza added.

Husband Comment
"It looks nice on you and I like the baseball sleeve.  Hey is that fabric cracking?"

My Final Thoughts
Despite my continued reservations about the patterns in "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing," I'm glad that this pattern got sewn up. After all it was my fault the first time for not consulting the size chart and muslining a wildly inappropriate size. If you have a similar figure to mine, you'll find it an easy pattern to fit and not much harder to sew. Just get those gussets under your belt and the rest is smooth sailing.  This pattern is certainly a sexy number but it's also surprisingly comfortable to wear.  I feel like it has just the right amount of ease to show off your curves while still letting you move around like a normal person.  So if you like to gamble a bit with your sewing then this pattern might be for you. Just don't gamble with good fabric, muslin, muslin, muslin.  I SEE YOU IGNORING ME! :P Oh well, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.  See you guys next month with hopefully the last of my FESA list finished. I might have to stay up late to get that beret knit. Do you think Froggie would knit it for extra cookies?

Just going for a stroll - The Joan Dress


Hello all my sewing friends. Fall weather has finally found us in PA and I alternate between sighing with happiness and freaking out that I don't have enough warm clothing. Why haven't I been sewing wool clothing since August?  Didn't Past me know that Future me wanted some new wool dresses to shimmy around in before old man winter arrived? I hear her whining about sewing wool in 90 degree heat and all I can do is frown sternly at her lack of commitment to Sparkle Motion  Fall wardrobes.
In truth I can't blame Past Heather too much because planning has never been a strong point for any Heather, no matter what time continuum she's currently in. All we can do it put our forehead to the side of the sewing machine, sew like the wind and hope the weather holds. Which is pretty much all I did last week with the exception of getting some teeth filled, making my kid do homework and cooking meals for the family.  There's currently ironing strewn across the floor in the main part of the house and the bathroom hasn't seen the back of a sponge in two weeks.  Listen, some things need to be sacified for fashion.
On the flip side, procrastination does pay off when it comes to the release of new Fall patterns. If I'd been sewing in August who knows what this shiny piece of wool might have become.  Instead it was still sleeping in the wool box at the time Sew Over It released their newest pattern The Joan Dress. When it popped up on their instagram feed it was an immediate "Add to the mental buy list." I probably would have bought it right away if it wasn't for the surprise dental bill my teeth earned me this month.  I'm sure my cake consumption has nothing to do with those new cavities, nothing! The tooth fairy gave me a special dietary clearance and everything.

I was going to be a good girl and wait till next month to buy this pattern when an email from Pattern Review popped into my inbox. Would I like a copy of the Joan Dress pattern to blog about?  Are you guys reading my mind because I've currently staring at it with longing in my web browser. Yes, yes, please hook me up.  So Deepika emailed me a digital copy and I banged the dress out in a week.  What can I say, this baby was easy to put together, including that sassy collar.
Unlike my last Sew Over It project I didn't make any major changes to the pattern. This garment only has fitting adjustments and the sleeves/hem were lengthened a tad.  Am I the only one that puts unhemmed muslins on and suddenly decides the final garment needs to be the same length? It's like once my brain has seen the garment at that length there's no going back to the drafted hem allowance.  On this dress that meant adding 5/8" of length to the sleeves and 2" of length to the skirt. Oh and I did make one more change, I reduced the kick pleat high by about 5".  It literally started right under my backside and while I do like extra walking room, no one needs to see the much of the back of my legs.

Fitting notes - This pattern has a lot of darts in it which usually makes fitting easier for me. For example my wide upper back adjustment creates a shoulder dart. In this case the pattern already has a dart there, so I only need to make the dart bigger when adding the extra width. For the most part I plugged in all my standard fitting adjustments and the dress fit great. There were two areas where I had to make extra adjustments, the bodice length and the sleeve width.  The bodice length must be on the short side because I actually have a short torso and usually have to reduce the length of bodices. On this dress I lengthened it a 1/4" and probably should have gone for a full 1/2".  Something I only really noticed when trying to keep a belt on that seam while taking pictures.  As for the arms, those of you which sender ones will probably be fine with the sleeve width.  But if you carry a bit of fluff on your upper arms like I do you might need to split the sleeve open to add extra width for bending your arms.  On my dress I added a 1/2" along the whole sleeve width. I have this problem with some designers and not others, so it's more of a "second tier" adjustment for me.  You'll see all the alterations listed in the regular place in the review if you're interested.

Warning non-sewing tangent ahead:
Gillian's better pictures project has given me a bit of a kick in the butt when it comes to my photo routine. This year it's felt like I've been going to the same 3 places and doing all my standard poses. Not that there's anything wrong with that, especially if you have to knock some blog photos out in a limited amount of time. Still I was in the mood to do something different this week and had a bit of fun choosing a new location in my favorite park. (The one that houses the white door patio and the rock wall. )  Over on this side of the park there is another lovely historic building which would be a great backdrop if it wasn't in full sun all morning. Drat.  But this Sunday I noticed the walking path next to it had a fair amount of tree cover.  Only problem, all that sunlight in the background messes with the camera's foreground brightness setting and I was coming out all dark.  Nooo what's a girl who doesn't really know anything about photography to do?  Answer - Mess around with random camera settings and accidentally stumble on a solution.  I shoot with a Canon Rebel T5i and here's the settings that were used. After setting the camera to Creative Audio mode I hit the camera button so I can see the "backdrop" in my view finder. Then I hit the Q button to get the additional option menus.
I change Flash firing to "Off", Background to "Max blurred", Ambience based shots to "Brighter" and finally Effect to "Medium." All other settings were left at their default locations. This brightened up the foreground so that you could actually see me against the backlit background. Now if you're someone who does know someone who does know something about photography and has a better way to do this then fill me in. I would love to know.

(P.S. I thought some of you might like a photo of the dress without the hat and gloves to get an idea of how it would look in a more modern wardrobe.)

The Joan Dress from Sew Over It.  PR offers all the Sew Over it Patterns as digital downloads and if you're a PR member, which I am, you can get a nice little 10% discount.  I often go that route when it comes to UK based patterns so that the "Paying for shipping money" can become "buying fabric money."

I sewed a 12/14 combo but easily could have sewn a straight 12. I found the lower half to be plenty roomy.

Fabrics used
All fabrics were rather old purchases that have been lurking in my stash.
Gray/metallic silver/lycra wool suiting, originally from Emmaonesock.com
Poly acetate lining, origially from GorgeousFabrics.com

Pattern changes/alterations
1. Lengthened bodice 1/4".

2. Dropped front dart 1" and increased back dart intake by 1".

3. Added standard 1/2" wide upper back adjustment.

4. Dropped armholes 1/2".

5. Made 1/2" forward shoulder adjustment to the bodice shoulder and the sleeve cap

6. Split the sleeve down the middle and widened it by 1/2"

7.  Lengthened skirt by 2".

8. Increased back skirt dart by 1" to match the bodice.

9. Cut down kick pleat length by 5".

- The lycra and metallic content of the fabric made pressing a bit of a challenge especially in the collar area.
I got around this by spritzing the collar with water, then folding it over and holding it with small binder clips. The collar was left to dry overnight and then removed the clips. Essentially I wet set that sucker.

- Instead of hemming the skirt and lining as one I kept them separate. This was more of a personal preference in construction issue. Doing it the way described in the directions will give you a prettier finish on the kick pleat.

- The metallic fibers in the wool really seem to show A Lot of drag lines.  Other than the bodice length I do think the fit of this garment is correct and most of the lines are just from posing. I did put a non-stretch lining in a stretch woven shell which could be a source of some of the problems. Need to add some stretch linings to the stash in the future.

Husband Comment
"You look like you should be in a black and white movie. Swinging your curves around the pool hall...or maybe courthouse."

My Final Thoughts
I'm grandfather clausing this pattern into my FESA list since it wasn't released when the list was drafted. Otherwise I would have put this on the top of the Fall sewing list. Something about Fall weather just makes me want to sew sexy wiggle dresses. Meow!
Pattern Review provided me this pattern free of charge for a blog post. Which means you got to see it this month instead of in November because I was making this baby no matter what. 
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