First off, totally fine.  Had surgery this (yesterday, now—er, three days ago in the. . .) morning, and am hobbling about relatively well.  Answers to all manner of communication forthcoming, including finishing up answering comments to the last post.  I am just breaking the rules all the time, reader.

On to the post: I like doing experiments.  Nooooooo.  Yeeeeessssss.  At the end of last year, I decided that I would keep ten patterns (plus patterns for UFOs) around the house, and then edit down my selection of fabrics to suit those ten patterns.  Everything else was sent to live in New York with Mummy Seam Ripped, because there obviously isn’t enough fabric up there, anyway.  The one mistake I made was making a really internship-centric list of fabrics and patterns, because, due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to give up my really fancy and hard-won internship, I didn’t need all of my envisioned tweed skirts and silk blouses.  So, a lot of the patterns and fabrics languished because I am a frock girl through and through, but I made some pretty interesting (or interesting-to-me) decisions that I think might be worth sharing in a more in-depth post.  Usually, I marry fabric to pattern and absolutely, positively refuse to compromise on the original vision.  Recently?  Not so much.  It’s been illuminating.  Did you know that you could diverge from your original plans?  That’s a thing you can do, reader.  I know.

To start with, in addition to the eight staid separates and sheaths for work, I kept S1609 and a McCall woven wrap dress I can’t be bothered to look up, and patterns for which I had UFOs: Colette’s Beignet, Hawthorne, and Zinnia, M6696, plus a Belladone.  Instead of requesting that my mother just send me down patterns, I ended up buying just a couple off of Amazon and from Finch.  Namely, McCall 6931, Simplicity 1689, and the Grainline Alder and Linden patterns.

Phew.  After writing that all out, it doesn’t seem as if I was all that limited.  Truth be told, I wasn’t.  And yet.  I got used to having upwards of fifty (tiny compared to other pattern stashes, I know) patterns hanging around at any given time.  I’d wake up and think, “I really should make an S2215, shouldn’t I?”  And then not have the pattern.  Or the fabric.  Or any way to just hop in the car to go to Jo-Ann to get the two of them, mostly because I neither have a car nor know how to drive nor live within ten miles of a Jo-Ann.  (Though, there is a Hancock’s in Alexandria.  I repeat, there is a Hancock’s in Alexandria.  Field trip leaves from my house at 08h00.  Get it together, ladies.  This is not a drill!)  The patterns I did buy, I cut open and made immediately.

I’ve had an otherwise stressful semester, so productivity has gone down; however, I no longer feel damned (damned, I tell you!) by my two-to-three-yard cuts of fabric.  With 2 yards of fabric, you can make a dress, reader!  That never occurred to me.  1.5 could very well be a skirt, if you cut it the right way.  I think my penchant for full skirts blinded me to the possibility of an economical use of fabric, besides blouses (which I’ve decided give me no joy).

In any event, that experiment is done, and now I’m itching to start a new one.  I did just panic-purchase a trillion yards of cotton, because I had one piece left under my bed (don’t judge me), so my spring-summer plan might be to simply settle all of my UFOs (all of which need one or more of the following: armhole binding, buttonholes, buttons, hems, waistband stitch-in-the-ditch.  Fancy that, my least favorite sewing tasks!) and to sew through my new cotton boon.  To boot, I’m trying to make no more than five shirtwaist dresses.  I know, right?  This is madness!  Here is my UFO tentative plan and my learning outcome goals:

1. Finish the Alder and fix and/or finish all shirtwaist dresses.  Learning outcome: Conquer the collars and waistbands.

For some strange reason, those fold-under-and-sew tricks never, ever, ever work for me.  Not with pinning, not with basting, not with my walking foot, not with modified presser foot pressure, or even with modified patience.  Never.  Surely, there is a reason behind this, and this summer I’m going to get to the bottom of it.  To that end, I have to finish the Alder whose collar I’ve unpicked seven times, and also finish up my three unfinished 6696s (hems, buttonholes, armhole facing, buttons), and my Hawthorne.  You will probably never see them modeled photo-shoot style, so I figured I’d show them to you on Trixie.  You’re welcome.

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2. Gussy up the Belladone.  Decision-making!  I’m a fairly decisive person when it comes to school and work, but with hobbies I just waffle myself into incompletion.

It that my wonky stay-stitching?  Yowza.  Well, that’s gonna get fixed.  Also, I have to decide where to put the remaining piping.  I’ve got piping all over the back and on the pockets (which I rather regret), so I’m debating the neckline and armholes.

The skirt is not attached, because I didn't love the way it was lining up.  Piping around the neck?  Armholes?
The skirt is not attached, because I didn’t love the way it was lining up. Piping around the neck? Armholes?

3. General laziness and/or disgust.

BHL Anna Nanette Lepore fabric

I am the only person in Bloglandia who hates her Anna.  My waist is higher than Trixie’s, and I’ve had to lengthen the waist by an inch.  Though my thickish linen-blend did cause some waistline unevenness, this photo not level, and I think a good press would solve a lot of problems.  The floral placement might be what got me.

Christine Haynes Emery


I love this dress.  It fits better on me than it does on Trixie.  It literally just needs a hem and to have its lining attached to the zipper.  Why the delay?  I thought it was a little too 1950s when I tried it on.


24 thoughts on “ne-cess-it-y”

  1. Where did you get the fabric for your Belladone? It’s so cute without being too cutesy. I really like the Belladone even though I haven’t quite mastered the fit in the back. I keep meaning to make another one and after seeing yours I just might kick it to the top of my sewing to-do list.

    I’m always amazed when people have these organized sewing plans and they know exactly which fabric to use for a specific pattern. I’ve tried doing that and I rarely carry out the plan. Maybe one item turns out as I had originally planned, but usually things get mixed around.

    I enjoyed seeing your works in progress. You have some great prints and I don’t think the blue floral one is placed poorly. I think it gives the dress an interesting asymmetrical look.

    1. Oh, unfortunately, it is from Fabric Mart, from (I think) last May. I love the Belladone, and encourage you to take another whack at it.

      I buy fabric with specific patterns in mind, always always always, and it takes me forever to give up the ghost and acknowledge poor fabric-pattern matching, or my own zaniness.

      Thanks for the encouraging words on the UFOs. To steal from your last post, they do spark joy. But, you know, what doesn’t? (Okay, I just thought of a long list. Never mind.)

  2. Oh no! What happened to the internship?

    The fabric on the last dress is lovely. (And of course the dress is too.) It looks like you are thisclose to having a complete dresses wardrobe.

    1. The French department barred me from taking my proficiency exam last semester (when my neck wouldn’t be on the guillotine, and I would have a shot at taking it again, in the event of failure), and required me to add a sixth class to my load this semester. Three months of battle ensued, and it turns out I gave up the internship for nothing. Heavy sigh. At least I get to take my make-or-break exam two weeks before graduation. That’s good, no?

      Thanks. I don’t really know what separates are. Are trousers just funny skirts? Are skirts just incomplete dresses?

  3. Ah, yes, the Hancock’s in Alexandria. You should totally go. It’s about a 5-minute cab ride from the Huntington Metro stop on the Yellow line. Every time I go back home (I’m a native of NoVa) I make sure to pop in there and check out their excellent selection of wool. Real wool. Like, non-blended. Although they carry blended, too. And it’s usually on a major sale cut around the holidays. The JoAnn’s where I live now in Connecticut can’t compare, even though it’s 3 times the size.
    Your sewing plan sounds very therapeutic. Good luck on finishing up your UFOs! I still have a BurdaStyle Heidi cut out and lurking somewhere–it’s been a UFO for 4 years. Yours are super-cute. I love the fabric you used for your Anna: tropical fabulousness.

    1. I never knew Hancock’s was such a rich and wonderful place. Once I can walk again (rather than hobble with a brace and crutches), I definitely have to stop by. Wools? Wools?!

      I used to go to the Jo-Ann on Boston Road in Connecticut (so specific—I lived in New Haven and it was down weird highway thing). It was so cavernously big. Intimidatingly so, really.

      Your blog! I just started reading it, since I only know you from our five minutes of conversation in July, and I find it delightful. UFOs are fun. I don’t think that they’re the boogeyman, the way that a lot of other people do. Sometimes you get burned out. [inhale] And that’s okay. I need to find a place to wear that Anna. Grocery shopping? Yes!

      1. LOL! Well, it’s a small Hancock, but it has some very definite pluses that JoAnn can’t match. I’ve been to the JoAnn on Boston Road–it’s like a mega-JoAnn. I just walk around dazed by all the needle crafts I haven’t attempted yet…. Last time I walked out with a set of crochet needles. I have never wanted to crochet before.
        Yeah–you wear that dress grocery shopping! You’ll be stylin’.
        Oh, my blog… I haven’t touched it recently because I haven’t completed another historical item yet. But I live in hope.

  4. Myrna G ( recently did a tutorial about collars and collar stands. It seemed logical – but still didn’t convince me to try it!
    I’ve avoided anything button front (blouses or dresses) from RTW for so many years that I just can’t picture sewing them at all – even if I could manage to do a proper FBA so the buttons don’t pull so badly that it looks like my breasts are trying to claw thier way out of captivity.
    I haven’t had a sewing space for about 6 months (living in a rental house). But we take possession of our new place tomorrow, and I am setting up a sewing room ASAP! I ordered a bunch of patterns during the most recent sale – I don’t remember which ones specifically, and I refuse to look at my order online so that I can enjoy the surprise.
    I’m glad the surgery was uneventful. I’m sure hobbling will transition to full fledged frolicking soon!

    1. That collar stand tutorial! It would solve all of my wonky inner-collar issues. Bless you, bird mommy.

      Have you tried A Fashionable Stitch’s buttonhole placement tip plus horizontal buttonholes? Those two tend to minimize the pulling. I have to do an FBA, but I don’t reckon by bee is that eff (it’s usually a one-and-a-half- or two-inch FBA).

      I’m so jealous that you’re going to have a proper sewing space. I don’t know how people do it. I’m so excited for you!

      The surgery was uneventful. I get a video next week (yippee!).


    Where did you find that? Please tell me you bought online recently and it’s still available.

    You’re not alone on Anna. I thought I loved it. I made up a muslin of the bodice for my wedding dress. It did not work out. I felt like no matter how I pressed the pleats, I had weird bust puckers? They were not noticeable in photos, so maybe that’s just the style and everyone’s looks that way? I want to try again, because I love the look of many I’ve seen online. But if it looks like I’m permanently cold, I’m not thinking it’ll work for me….

    1. I have to sheepishly admit that it was from one of Fabric Mart’s epic $4/yd sales last year. I know. I have shame. Shall post all of my purchases on Instagram from now on.

      I liked my muslined Anna. I really did. But when she came together. . .woof. It’s sad, because I really love that fabric. I think Mood still has some, but I’m reticent to consider this batch “wasted.” I might try to get a pencil skirt out of it, if i continue to hate the skirt.

  6. Hancock Fabrics is gone gone gone from Seattle and Co; I just drove to the one ten miles away to discover I was there on the last day of their store closing sale. Luckily no one buys Vogue Patterns there, and at $3 apiece I’ll be selling them out of the trunk of my car for coffee money for a few months.

    Why do you need a stand collar? What is this M6696? (oh, yes) It’s been popular on the blogosphere, this has a lot of useful links:

    1. You lucky duck! I never have that much luck at the sales. Vogues for days.

      Thanks for the link! I need to get my collar act together, as I love that pattern far too much to give her up.

  7. Man, that’s a lot of UFO’s! But I think it will be SO worth it to get those suckers finished up and in the closet! 🙂

    Sorry to hear about the internship, hope you’ve got something else lined out.

    1. Meh. I’ve got a job for after graduation, so I’m good. It was a bump in the road.

      Yeah. I love UFOs, actually. Well, love-hate, really. I really need to walk away from projects when I’m tired, or when they get frustrating, but I have to stop diving head-first into other ones, without at least looking into the UFO pile to see if one of them sparks my interest.

  8. Woah…that’s a lot of very pretty dresses, Charlotte. You are very busy…and a perfectionist. I like it! Nice fabric and dress pairings. I especially love the sewing class dress and the one in the large paisley print.

  9. How did I miss all of your posts in March? Okay, maybe I was avoiding all forms of social media except for Instagram, and even that was getting a bit neglected. I’ve crawled out from under my rock and here I find you have been busy posting! Yay!
    So, that would be the Hancocks at which I was assistant manager whilst pregnant with Ashley! Crazy world, I know. That was so long ago that I sometimes forget. It was also in my crazy print buying days and I purchased a rather large yardage of white with red perfume bottles print. I gave it away years ago when I realized I would never wear it. I still buy childish prints thinking I will use it for my children, and yet I never do. Now they are practically grown! Anyway, you can tell that I just watched your vlog about your fabric.
    I am torn over the Anna pattern. I love it on so many people but I don’t know that it would work for me, and besides, who wants to do all that work if it doesn’t just fit straight up?
    That blue/green/white plaid dress is so beautiful! I have loved it since you first had pictures hinting about it. Gah! I wish I had that fabric!
    As for the final dress in your post, it is beautiful. Who cares if it is too 1950s? It is beautiful and I do hope you will finish and wear it. 🙂

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