Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Wear an Infinity Dress Modestly

I think I may have just made my all time favorite dress.

It's fun and twirly, slinky and sexy, flatters my body, and I can wear it about a million different ways.

Plus, it has pockets.

And it was about the fastest dress I have ever sewn.

Infinity dresses have been around for a while, but they tend to show off a lot of skin.

Last year I saw this tutorial on Pinterest and I was hooked. It was so smart to extend the waistband into a bandeau top, I  eventually just had to make myself one.

To make this dress you'll need five measurements, some large pieces of paper (wrapping paper of newspaper work well), and anywhere from a yard to two yards of good stretch fabric in a nice pattern or color.

My sewing  tutorial doesn't have any pictures, so feel free to hop on over to the original for the instructions

You can do these measurements yourself, but they'll probably be more accurate if you con a friend into helping you out.

(A) Natural waist

(B) Natural waist the the finished length of the skirt

(C) Natural waist to the top hem

(D) Center of the chest to the side seam, going over the fullest part of the bust

(E) Height

There are plenty of instructions for making a circle skirt out there, but I recommend going to this web app, which will do all of the math for you.  My dress has a 1/2 circle skirt, because I think it has plenty of twirl and conserves fabric, but you can do any type of skirt really.

Follow the instructions to make yourself a pattern piece, but remember that you're going to want to have two side seams in order to put pockets in.

Trace your hand liberally on the pattern making paper and then trim up the pocket piece.  You want to use the angle of the skirt pattern to determine the angle of the top of the pocket. You can also pretty up the bottom if you want, but it's probably not necessary.

This is also when I figured out where a good placement for the pockets would be on the skirt and marked the pattern

Make yourself a rectangle that is 1/2 (A) by (C) be sure to give yourself seam allowances of about 1/4 inch.  If you desire to finish the top edge take that into account as well.

You can make a pattern piece of the straps if you want, but I found it was easier just to measure the fabric before cutting and behaving accordingly.  The straps need to be one and a half times your height and as wide as your breast measurement  (1.5 * (E)) by (D).

So to review, you have a tracing of your hand, a circle skirt pattern piece with two side seams, two rectangles that make up the bandeau top, and two really really long and awkward straps.

Cut out your fabric and pin the pocket pieces to the skirt (right sides facing). Then sew them on.

Now pin your two  pocket/skirt pieces together so that the right sides face together again, the pockets should be  sticking out.  Sew the two sides together, going around the edge of the pocket. This website has a good tutorial on in seam pockets.

Now, arrange the two strap pieces so that they overlap by about five inches.  You can sew them together, or just baste them at this point.

Trying to match the centers, pin the conjoined ends of the straps to the top of the skirt and sew it into place.

Now sew the two top pieces into a tube and sew that tube to the top of the skirt, sandwiching the straps between the two layers.

You should now have a dress with two weirdo straps coming out of the belly.

You can finish the edges if you want, but I didn't.  I really like the light and airy raw edge look, and knit fabrics shouldn't unravel anyways.

Welcome to happiness. Happiness with pockets.

This dress is already much more modest that the typical infinity dress, but I wanted to take it a step further because as a member of the LDS church I've covenanted to wear garments and be a little more modest than most people.

I've achieved this in three ways so far.

The first way was to simply wrap the dress in such a way that it covered all of me.

Flip the straps over your shoulders, keeping them flat.

 Cross the straps high on your back,  keeping them flat again,

One at a time, layer the straps over your breasts, this high angle keeps your upper back covered.

You can now start layering the rest of the straps across your belly, it doesn't matter if they bunch up now, but it might look a little thick.

I like to tie my dress in the back, but you can also do this in the front.

As you might be able to see in the picture this did leave little pinpricks in-between the adjacent "x's" that we were making,  I solved this by pinning the straps into place where necessary. I wore this look our anniversary date.

I didn't want to be locked into essentially one way of wearing the infinity dress, so when I wore the dress again later that week I pulled out the big guns.

I wore a T-shirt.

Now I know that I lot of people don't like this style. My husband even told me that he thinks women look like insecure preteen girls when they put a shirt under a strappy dress, but it can work if you do it correctly.

First, choose the right shirt.  It shouldn't be a thick, unflattering camp shirt,  it should be flattering on you and made of approximately the same material as your infinity dress.

Second, choose a good color. Avoid white where possible because white is the color of those infamous preteens. (Although that does go with everything in it's own way).  My dress is a nice, warm plum color, so this beige shirt contrasted the dress, while still being complementary to the overall look.

There are major benefits to going with a t-shirt rather than a bolero (the other type of add-on sleeves pictured above.)

First, a bolero will shift around and make you readjust all night long, even when you safety pin it into place. I hate having to worry about my bra-straps and other assorted goods while having a date-night.

A shirt will not move. you can dance, you can climb trees, you can have fun for the entire night without once worrying about whether or not your system of pins, pulleys, and other various hardware is going to stay in place.

Secondly a bolero alters the look of the dress, while an undershirt preserves it.  Your dress could have an elegant set of straps or a sexy halter top, but the second you slap a bolero on that baby it just becomes a dress with sleeves on it.

With a t- shirt you can still see the intended style when you where a well chosen t-shirt, and the dress still carries that elegance or sexiness with it.

I like wearing t-shirts under my sleeveless dresses so much that I'm actually planning on making myself a bunch of demi-tees for this express purpose. I'll even post a pattern draft for all of you lovely people.

But first I think I'm going to make myself this dress about a thousand times over.

What do you think? Bolero, t- shirt, or sleeved dress?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cloth Diapers, Sourdough, and Keeping Busy

Gwendolyn will be eight months old next week. She loves to pull herself up into a standing position, and enjoys yanking the books off of our shelf. She has even started to try and follow us into other rooms of the house. This is as adorable as you are imagining.

She is generally happy and curious about life. She is smart, and determined, and an all-around easy baby.

It's been hard. 

Part of what has been hard is the fact that I am labeled differently in the eyes of others.  Before, I was a cute, short girl of dubious age range. Now I'm a mom of dubious age holding a baby, and I get weird looks sometimes. These new sort of looks make me feel anxious, although I imagine I'll  be able to get used to it. 

It's actually worse at church.  Sometimes I feel so anxious that I just can't stay past sacrament. There would be tears and possibly panic.  

Josh and I recently moved to  Salt Lake City and our ward has a much broader age range.  Instead of being all newlyweds we have a large population of men and women over sixty.

Apparently, there's nothing the elderly love more than a fat, happy baby.  Every Sunday it's a series of comments about Gwendolyn. 

         She's cute, and happy, and a joy to sit behind.

         And she's so big, and you're so small, I bet no one has ever made this jokey observation before.

It wouldn't be too bad, except that Gwendolyn is the only reason anyone ever talks to me, and she's all that we talk about.

They only see me as a mom, and it's as if I can't be anything else for the next eighteen years.

Anyways, I've been stressed, and occasionally overwhelmed.  This box other people are trying to put me has me feeling socially claustrophobic. And the fact that I'm not as free to do as many things anymore occasionally makes me feel stuck.

Even if the things I'm staying home from didn't necessarily interest me.

So, anyways, I've been trying to keep busy with projects.

I made my own sourdough starter following these instructions on a vegan website.*  At first, I was super nervous about the bread tasting sour.  Which seems like a weird thing to be nervous about when it comes to sourdough, but that's just gross.

The good news is that when I baked some you couldn't even tell that it was sourdough. I really liked keeping the starter, but eventually it fell out of use and I didn't think it was worth resurrecting.

I embroidered the corner of a flour sack towel to cover rising dough with and wrap my bread up with.

I started cloth diapering two or three times.

I read a book about how to spindle and considered trying to make my own yarn.

I sewed myself a skirt, and started a blanket.

I applied to sew from home for somebody else's business, but didn't get a call back.

I got a small group together to apply for a community garden near my house, but then couldn't rouse myself to do more than the first step.

Interests have come and gone faster than is feasibly reasonable. 

But, I'm trying to keep busy.  And I'm going to be okay.

*I used a different recipe for the bread

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Peasant Wrap Skirt Pattern

Lately, I've been feeling really awkward when I leave the house with my baby. I think it's because the juxtaposition of my youthful appearance with the fact that I'm pushing a stroller makes me feel like I'm being judged for having had a baby.

I think I'm going to try and move my style in a different direction for a bit. I'll probably bench my graphic tees for a few weeks and try to dress with a bit more... Elegance? I'm not sure exactly, mostly I'm just going to find clothes that don't make me feel out of place.

So, I was looking for inspiration on Pinterest when I found this skirt.  The seller on Etsy doesn't appear to selling them anymore, although even if she was I couldn't afford forty bucks for a single skirt. Instead, I whipped up a quick pattern to make my own version with.

This pattern is basically just a peasant version of this circle wrap skirt here.  If you look at that pattern, you'll see that it's basically a skirt, with two diminishing pieces on either end.

For this skirt you'll need to measure the length of the finished piece as well as the sport you want the skirt to sit.  I came up with 29 inches by 31 inches. I decided that I wanted  my skirt to have five tiers, so I drafted the following pattern

Let's assume that A is the waistline, and B is 1/5 the length of the finished product.

I added in 1/4 inch seam allowances throughout, as well as an additional inch to the top of the top tier. I didn't add any hem allowance, because I planned on using my serger to finish the edge and then leaving it.

I cut two of each piece.

I used three full yards of a  45 inch wide linen "gauze" fabric that was crinkly.  I thought that the effect would lend itself well to the finished product and I am satisfied with how it turned out.

Construction was pretty easy; I simply put all the tiers together on the main body, then put together the two wings, and then attached the wings to the main body.   You could also put together all the matching tiers, and then attach the tiers together, whatever is easier for you.

I serged both the top and bottom edges.

Without finishing the 1/4 length ends looked pretty silly, eventually I decided to bring the lower corner up to my waistline  and folding over the extra triangle of fabric.  You could also gather the unfinished edge, or trim the lower corner so as to not add any extra width to your skirt.

I folded over the top inch of the skirt and sewed it in place.  This gives the waistband more strength, and should prevent the wrong kind of stretching.

Originally, I planned on holding all the layers together with a button or two,  but the buttons that were small enough so as to not be gaudy didn't really feel like they would be strong enough.  So, I ended up improvising a tie out of a small scrap of fabric. 

Then I tried the skirt on and marked where I would need to put buttonholes.  My sewing machine has a buttonhole function so this last step was super quick and easy.

Altogether, the skirt took three days of naps, three yards of fabric and about twenty dollars.   If I were you, I would err on getting too much fabric, because I thought I would have extra when I ended up barely having enough.

The skirt is super comfortable, and I feel pretty when I wear it.

Let me know if you have any questions,  and please send me pictures if you end up making this wonderful skirt.