Sunday, February 10, 2013

I did it! The Tiramisu Dress.

Well, I did it! I finished The Perfect Nursing Dress, aka the Tiramisu Dress, yesterday!

Tiramisu Dress


And it turned out pretty great, if I may say so!

As you've probably heard if you are a follower of sewing blogs like I am, the Tiramisu Dress does not have conventional sizes. Instead, you choose your size based on your high bust measurement, cup size, and waist measurement. And the size range is wide - the pattern accommodates high bust measurements of 30" to 50" and going up to a D cup. This is genius. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I don't enjoy conventional sizes, which seem really arbitrary and, especially when one's size is fluctuating after having a baby, often a bit depressing. It is so liberating to cut out a pattern size based on measurements without a ton of societal baggage and body-image crap associated with it. Love. It.


So I measured myself and cut the dress out in my size, which was a 35D. As recommended, I put the bodice together first and tried it on.


One problem with knit patterns, I'm learning, is that knit fabrics vary so much in their drape, weight, and stretchiness. This rayon knit is lovely and drapey. It's also heavy and really stretchy.

I am also petite. Not in the "tiny all over" sense but in the "somewhat short of torso" sense.
 
At this point, I tried to fool myself into thinking the bodice fit pretty well, even though, in hindsight, I can see that the bust is a bit too low. But any self-delusion had to come to an end when I sewed on the skirt and tried it on again. The weight of the skirt pulled the bust down even further, with a most unflattering (droopy boobs, anyone?) effect. Clearly, I needed a shorter bodice piece, and a narrower waistband.

The problem was, the obvious place to take out torso length was the shoulders, which I had reinforced with interfacing, sewn, serged, and topstitched, with neck and arm bindings serged on as well. No way I was going to be able to unpick that!

I put it aside for a few days. Sometimes when I hit a sewing snag (hehe), it helps to take a break to brainstorm for a day or two.

Yesterday I got brave, and just hacked the bodice off of the waistband.  Then I used the pattern piece to recut the bust gather line. Then I sewed the pieces back together with regular seam allowances. This is called "totally flying by the seat of your pants" and it is not a precise way to alter a pattern. I would guess that I removed about an inch and a quarter from the bodice length? (ETA: It turns out that what I did was what the pattern designer refers to as an "underbust tune up" and is actually a recommended and fully sanctioned procedure, rather than me being wild and crazy, as I had previously thought. And I thought I was so edgy! Haha!)

Then I shortened the back torso in the same haphazard, nonprecise way. But you gotta love knits. They are so forgiving!

I did up the side seams and practically held my breath ... success! The bodice shortening worked great! All of the bust gathers are in the right place now and the waistband is just the right length for my frame. (I did end up taking it in on the sides a little bit - as the patterns instructions mention, this is drafted as a relatively loose fitting dress, and my fabric is extra stretchy to boot, so I took an inch or so off the waist.)

I thought I might have to shorten the length of the dress a bit, but with the changes I made to the upper part of the dress, the length is pretty perfect. Since this is such a drapey jersey, I just left the hem raw, and it looks great.

Tiramisu Dress

I love this dress. I am so happy with how it turned out. It is soft and super comfortable. The neckline is flattering but not too low-cut. The half-circle skirt is so soft and swishy. I feel reasonably polished and put-together in it, but it is still great for nursing and totally machine washable. And it has pockets!

Next time I make this dress (and I think there will be a next time) in a super stretchy knit, I will probably cut a smaller cup size, knowing that it will stretch to accommodate my shape. In a less stretchy knit, I actually think the 35D would be the perfect size. I will definitely shorten the waistband regardless so that it hits me in the right place.

This was also my first major project with my serger, and I used it throughout. Since this was my first time making the dress, I was afraid of cutting off my seam allowances, so I did most of the seams on my sewing machine and used the serger to finish the edges. I sewed the bindings on directly with the serger though - what a breeze! (Until you're considering ripping out the seams - then it's not a breeze anymore.)

Maggie tested out its nurse-ability yesterday, and found the dress to be satisfactory, but the sound of the Photobooth program on my computer to be SUPER ANNOYING. This is her "what the heck is that sound?" face. And that's my "I'm about to crack up at my baby's annoyed face" face.


It really is the Perfect Nursing Dress, people! (And I'm thinking it's pretty great even if you're not currently nursing.)


17 comments:

  1. You look amazing in this - great colours for you. Glad you were brave and made the changes - goes from being 'ok' to being fab!
    Love Maggie's face :-)

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    1. Yes, I'm so glad I took the time to go back and do it right. At the moment, I was annoyed and deflated, but after a couple days, ready to do battle with the dress. :-) So it goes. It's all about the process, right?

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  2. It looks so great on you! Good nursing clothing can be hard to come by.

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    1. Ain't that the truth! I don't like most "nursing clothing" that is designed for nursing (specifically, I hate anything that has multiple layers of fabric - I feel like it's so bulky, hot, and uncomfortable). So most of my nursing clothes are just regular clothes that work for nursing. Surplice neckline dresses and tops are such an easy option, so this is going to get a lot of use!

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  3. Wonderful dress! So glad you've found a pattern you really like and can get repeated use from. And the last photo is so funny!

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    1. Yeah, I love it! I wear this style of dress a lot - it's a flattering cut on a variety of body types - so I will certainly make more. I love that last photo too. I don't know what it is about babies' angry and annoyed faces ... but I love them! So freaking adorable.

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  4. Well you did it: you discovered the PERFECT PATTERN for you: it's the adult woman equivalent of the Baby Butt Pants. You look great! Good for you for using the serger. My mother gave me a serger and it scares me.

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    1. Well, I'm glad I decided on this pattern, because I really don't think "big butt" pants would be flattering on me? Hehe.

      The serger is kind of scary! I have to admit! But I'm learning. I'm not going to let this little machine defeat me, even if it does have BLADES and FOUR THREADS, and like, knobs that I totally don't understand and stuff. :-)

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    2. i think some of the best advice i got on my serger was watch the knives not the needles. Once you get the threading thing down it really is a piece of cake.

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  5. Well done, the dress looks fantastic. Very comfy, stylish and practical.

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  6. Ha! That last picture of Maggie nursing (or taking a break from nursing) cracks me up!
    I don't know how I missed all the buzz about this dress (I just stumbled upon it yesterday on Pinterest). I'm definitely intrigued though. Into the "to be made" pile it goes!

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  7. this dress is perfect! love the fabric and pattern, especially the wrap neckline. please make 100 more in 100 different prints. and one for me :)

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  8. Inder, you pretty much nailed all of the reasons that I don't sew for myself. ;) Awesome work. I'm glad you persevered and even have something beautiful to show for it. Now that you've worked out the kinks you'll be good to go when you make your next version.

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  9. So it turns out that what I did was actually an "underbust tune-up" which is completely sanctioned by the pattern designer! Ha! http://sewingcake.com/tiramisu-30-minutes-a-day-sewalong-5/

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