Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dresses, dresses, dresses

I am desperate to make a dress for my new job. DESPERATE. I don't really know where this is coming from because, as I said in my last post, it's not like I ever wore that purple polka dot dress out in public and it was the only dress in my wardrobe for YEARS before I cut it up. The last dress I can remember wearing was a little red dress from Debenhams that I wore to a company Christmas party in about 1998 and I sold on eBay in about 2006. So dresses: not a major part of my wardrobe.

Pepperberry dress, £75
The main reason I don't own any dresses is that my figure is not made for RTW dresses: because BOOBS, I take two different sizes, and I find most RTW just doesn't fit in any way shape or form. If it fits over the hips, it's too small at the bust, and vice versa. But now I'm starting to make my own clothes, well, it's a whole new world of possibility that has opened up! And since it's new I had NO IDEA where to start.

One of the most useful resources actually turned out to be Pepperberry. They design for women with large busts, so they have the most complete set of flattering dresses for people with large busts.
Pepperberry sheer hem dress, £75

Handily, Pepperberry divide their dresses up by body shapes. According to their system, I have a "straight" figure: big bust, hardly any waist definition, slightly narrower hips than shoulders (which I know gets a lot more pronounced at lower weights). I went to look at the dresses for straight figures and oh my, SO PRETTY.

I'm really drawn to their empire and high waistline dresses, and to a lesser extent to dresses that are pretty tailored sheath dresses. Fortunately, this turns out to be a good match for me. As always, I am really NOT drawn to the price. Pepperberry quality is not BAD, but it's not great either. You're paying for the specificity of the design, and it's a great marketing strategy because god knows most people in these sort of bra sizes can't get a dress that fits anywhere else. But ugh, £75 on a single dress for the office? No.

M&S dress, £39.50

So then I looked at places that were more affordable. I love this M&S dress, and at £40 it's a better price range for me. However, I don't like the neckline or the length (M&S size for "average" British women -- 5'5" -- and I am 5'8") and bitter experience tells me that either the dress would strain horribly over the bust or I'd have to size up to the point where the hips and waist were huge in order for it to work for me.

The answer is, of course: SEWING. My answer to everything is SEWING at the moment, of course. But still, it's the best of both worlds. I'll get the fit I would from Pepperberry (hopefully) and the price I would from M&S (or less), and out of it will come A DRESS.

I consulted the wise ladies of the internet (Wise Ladies, ILU <3) and also read a whole bunch of unfortunately normative "how to dress your figure type" articles (prescriptions of beauty that start with "the most slimming...", I absolutely do not love you, no hearts at all).

Here is what I've come up with as my check list for a pattern:
  • Open-necked: so either V neck or scoop neck or some variation that shows skin in the area between my bust and my throat. On the other hand, it has to be decently high because I have a horror of showing cleavage in the workplace.
  • High waisted: empire line or high waist being optimal.
  • I want sleeves because it's intended for winter, so either short sleeves + looks good with a cardigan or 3/4 sleeves probably.
  • Either a pencil skirt or a skirt with some fullness but not a HUGE amount of fullness.
Then I dug through my (towering) pattern stash (and, um, also ordered a couple of others /o\)

Ottobre 5/2011
This is from Ottobre 5/2011. There's actually another page of 2 dresses that have other interchangeable bits like sleeves and skirts and whatnot. I like (I think) the neckline on the dress on the right (though it's maybe a bit low?), and the sleeves from one of the other two.

I do love PR patterns, I have a LOT.

It remains to be seen how "amazing" this is.

I ordered these two Simplicity patterns while the half price sale was on. The advantage of 2217 is that it comes with A-D cup sizes, which should make my life easier, and 1880 has recently been the subject of a sew-along at A Fashionable Stitch, so there's a ton of information on making it out there. I would make the yellow one on the pattern cover, only, absolutely not in yellow. D:

Then I thought: maybe I should start simpler? I have one vintage pattern that I have not scanned the cover in for yet that is basically a little high waisted dress with a slightly gathered skirt. Unfortunately, I bought it off eBay not realizing it was a half-size and therefore intended for petites, and I don't know what I'd need to do to fix that. Or there is something like this dress in the newest issue of Ottobre:

Ottobre 2012-5-1
I don't love the length because it's meant to be worn with leggings and I'm not a big leggings wearer (I think I own a pair, somewhere? maybe?) but that's easily fixed I think. It's rated as 2 dots by Ottobre (their helpful system is 1-3 dots, not explained anywhere in the entire magazine) but it doesn't LOOK that complicated. It only has a very few pattern pieces: bodice, skirt, facings. Compare that to either of the Simplicity patterns and it sounds VERY easy. I worry that it's not fitted enough and will therefore look very frumpy, but I feel like I could TRY it and it would be relatively painless.

Burda 2012-10-137 (Plus size)
Burda 2012-10-108B
And then there are these two dresses, which are apparently in this month's Burda (due to arrive next week, probably). I have no idea how complicated either of them is, but wow, PRETTY (although I hate the neckline on the pink one, sorry Burda).

There are other contenders. There are SEVERAL other contenders, if I'm honest. I have too many patterns. I did choose the fabric I want the final thing to be in, I think? So that's kind of a starting point. And I keep thinking "maybe I could make MORE THAN ONE dress" which, whoa, stop this giddy whirl.

So, that is what is consuming my thoughts at the moment. Actually consuming my crafty time? Trying to figure out how to line/interline Simplicity 3881.

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