Cold winter mornings are a great time to catch up on the sewing backlog; the chill winds make getting out on my bike a LOT less attractive. Here is a Wiksten Tova in a dressy fabric from Denyse Schmidt (“Ansonia”), a combination that immediately suggested itself when I first saw the gorgeous fabric at the store. This is my third Tova (first last Feb and second last April), and I can see the difference a year of a-project-a-month has made.
Of course the outfit itself came together quickly because I had gone through the moves a few times before, but there were other notable changes that improved the dressmaking experience:
1. Checking the fit on the basic form before finishing with collars, cuffs, hems; baste-then-sew. I’ve learnt that most dresses for my size will generally need to be taken in a lot at the waist (usually 2in side seam!). This is hard (sometimes deal-breakingly so) to do if a) you’ve already sewed the hem b) you’ve put in yoke panels etc., in a skirt. It’s better to make the rough first construction with just the main seams basted. Stop, check the fit. Fix if needed. When happy, sew with regular stitch. Finally add yokes, hems, etc., Removing basting stitches is much faster work with long basting stitches. I’ve seen the “baste-then-sew” instruction in some manufacturer’s (Buttericks e.g.) but not in others.
For simpler constructions like the Tova, I didn’t find the need to check fit on a separately-sewn muslin, but perhaps for a zippered skirt, I will.
2. Grouping tasks by type of sewing involved: The Tova had a bunch of places where slip stitch is required: inside the collar, inside the sleeve cuff. So this time I just did all the parts requiring the sewing machine, and left all the “slip stitch” section for another time when it would be me and my needle. Makes for less back-n-forth between different tasks.
Both the above mean you don’t just follow the pattern step-by-step, but rather step back and evaluate the process and reorganize accordingly. This type of re-planning and re-organizing accompanies gaining some experience in other DIY skills, such as cooking.
The one mistake I did make involved making a dress of the wrong length. I had intended to make something roughly knee-length, to serve as part of an Indian salwar kameez pair. For some reason, my traced pattern had the front at tunic length, and the back at dress length. I didn’t realize until I got to sewing side seams that the back was much longer than the front!
Keeping patterns of different sizes in separate envelopes would be a start. Paying attention would also be a good thing. As I had already made the complicated insert on the front panel, I chose just to make the back shorter and run with that.
But in general, very happy with the result. The fabric is gorgeous and the Tova will do nicely for evenings out. Next project on the list: another knit tunic. The winter wardrobe is catching up!