Please pardon my messy, half-dry hair in these pictures. I've been struggling to get photos of my new sewing projects through the winter time, so these ones that I squeezed in before Mr Rat and I went to church will have to do---otherwise I might end up another with another month gone by and no posts here on the blog. Despite the photos of it being less than ideal, I am pleased with how this dress turned out. I used one of Simplicity's current releases, S8945, which I bought late last year before I decided to go on a pattern fast for 2020 as one of my new year's sewing goals. The pattern interested me primarily for its sleeve and shoulder shape, which struck me as being reminiscent of an 1830s dress silhouette. Here is a 1830s fashion plate, and you can tell me if you see a resemblance also in the dropped shoulder, puffed sleeve and full skirt:
I made some adjustments to the pattern to make it a little more historically inspired (and more to my liking): I drafted a new neckline and facing following the curve of the neck and ignoring the way the pattern dips down in the front. I also left off the waistline ties and added a full, gathered, dirndl skirt instead of the a-line or narrow skirt included in the pattern.
I sewed a size 10 this time, which is closest to my true measurements. In the past I've usually sized down to an 8, but since I've been going running and lifting weights for almost two years now with my husband, my body shape has shifted slightly and I find my true size to have a more comfortable amount of ease now. I think going up one size did result in the bust darts being slightly too wide for me, so next time I will use the darts for the smaller sizes. Otherwise, I think that the fit is good, and I think the bodice is actually more fitted than the pattern envelope suggests.
Some notes about sewing construction and details: I used a bit of bias tape to act as a stay for the waist-line of the dress by sewing it into the waist seam on the inside. I interfaced the edges of the fabric along the zipper and sewed in the zipper by hand, which I find gives me the neatest and flattest result. The fabric is from a queen sized brown cotton-poly blend sheet that I found at the thrift store for $4. It has a lot of crisp body, which makes the sleeves stand out well on their own without any extra padding beneath.
In these photos I am wearing a vintage blouse that was a Christmas gift underneath my new dress, so the collar of the blouse shows over the plain jewel neckline of the dress. I think it gives my outfit an even more historically inspired, or "history-bounding" look. I am also wearing some tiger-eye earrings that I have had for many years and a tiger-eye bracelet that I made myself. I'm not wearing any shoes because it was before church and I hadn't put on my snow boots for our walk over there yet. But I did wrap myself up in my homemade shawl to give you a sense of what I really looked like through the day, because I don't spend much time not bundled in a shawl or a sweater at this time of year.
I hope that you are all staying warm (or staying cool, for those of you reading from the southern hemisphere). Those of you who have been following along on Instagram as well as here might already know that my beloved Gia passed away right after Christmas. My husband and I were (and still are) grief-stricken. She was my companion and best friend for 12 1/2 years. It is hard to face the world without her. I miss her intensely every day.
Since we found our home so empty after our loss, we decided to adopt a dog again. Two weeks ago we found Cougar through a local animal foster care group and adopted him into our family. He is a 5 year old golden Labrador mix. He is sweet and affectionate and sometimes reminds me of Gia but is firmly and definitely his own dog---funny, fond of kissing, in need of leash training, but altogether a good boy who we are growing fonder and fonder of. Gia is still the sweetest, gentlest dog in the world to me, and I will love her always and immensely. But my heart is expanding to make room for this new friend.
Here is a photo of Cougar and me in the studio:
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.