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Is it a dress? Or a lozenge?

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If I’m not knitting, what have I been up to? Sewing, mostly. I assure you, there is a post or two in the works detailing the needlessly complicated and philosophically ladden sewing backstory. For now, suffice it to say that I mostly know what I am doing but am still adjusting to sewing without my mum around as a safety net.

For my birthday last fall I received the new Colette Sewing Handbook, which then proceeded to taunt me mercilessly through the end of a busy semester. Christmas Break finally arrived, and while visiting my parents, I put together my first attempt at one of the patterns from the book.

The book, which I highly recommend to new and clueless sewers, contains five patterns, each associated with a chapter highlighting a particular sewing skill. I decided to make the Pastille Dress, a sheath dress with an adorable neckline and petite cap sleeves. The Pastille Dress is associated with the chapter discussing fit, which gave me hope. Well aware of my typical difficulties in finding an off-the-rack sheath dress that actually fits, I made a muslin first, made a sway-back adjustment, and ended up with this.

Pastille Dress

Why yes, I have propped my camera up in my medicine cabinet. Where else would I put it?

As you can see, it fits fairly well. You can’t tell from the picture, but the fabric is a brushed cotton twill and quite possibly the softest and most comfy dress fabric ever. This picture does, however, hint at the largest problem I had with this pattern. The little cap sleeves look a bit ridiculous. The full ridiculousness is revealed if you look at the dress from pretty much any angle other than straight on.

Pastille Dress

Not Impressed.

From the back, and with the benefit of hindsight I can identify the problem: I have proportionately broad shoulders and a narrow back. In easing out the excess fabric I found gaping in the back in my muslin, I exacerbated the broad shoulder problem and pulled the sleeve caps even closer together. Of course when I finished sewing the dress, I thought I had just sewn the sleeve caps wrong.

Pastille Dress

What made me think cap sleeves were a good idea?

As it stands, I won’t be wearing the dress because I feel a bit like a football player or a refugee from a shoulder-pad factory with the little floating wings. However, it will be eminently wearable and completely adorable once I make it into a more standard sleeveless dress. I’m still mulling over how to do that neatly.

Of course, these difficulties were a challenge and I like the neckline, so I wasn’t satisfied with stopping there. There are two more Pastille Dress experiments to come!

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About autumnyarn

I am a graduate student who sews and knits to satisfy the creative urge, makes clothing to keep the creativity useful, and writes about it to de-stress.

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