Done and Done: The Chambray Cactus Jessica

Full disclosure: I am typing this in the dark, at 10:30 Monday night while my daughter sleeps just a fee feet away. All in the name of consistency, dear readers, and keeoing to a regular blogging schedule. Really, it’s just #momlife and basically being a nomad in the summer.

I bought this fabric a couple of weeks ago while in Germany. I told myself I wanted to be more judicious in my stash building and make sure I was buying fabric in weights/textures/colours I actually liked to wear. This basically means buying flowy rayons ot soft knits in grey/black/white/ and pastel pink and blue. I also wanted to steer myself away from novelty prints and toward more grown-up motifs (or just solids). I was mostly successful, but then I found the cactus-print chambray and it met nearly all of my criteria (it hit everything but “grown-up” on my list) and I fell in love.

I knew there was no way I could wait until next summer to slice into this beauty, but also knew that I would have to make it into something quick or I’d lose my chance to wear such a summery print. I also had exactly a week at home before leaving for anothet trip and there is nothing like a vacation to light a fire under your sewing machine.

I wanted so badly to wear this fabric on a date in the summer but also to school during the hot month of September, but realized the only way to make this happen was to make a faux dress out of matching separates. I planned to make the Jessica Dress by Mimi G as a separate skirt and crop top and would make a separate collared shirt I could either tuck into my skirt or tie at my waist.

I tried the skirt first because if it didn’t work as an individual garment, I’d just go back to making it as a dress. I should have known this wouldn’t be a quick sew, simply because I was doing it on a timeline.

My first issue was I didn’t really have the right coloured thread. My general rule is, “when in doubt, go with the darker colour,” but that was not the right decision this time. I realized this after top-stitching the hem and button band, but by that point, I wasn’t going to take it all apart because I really, really wanted to bring this dress on my trip.

I had also run out of my favourite interfacing and there is a solid chance I used washout interfacing. I really need to organize and label my interfacing. The kicker is I definitely needed buttons so I had to go to the fabric store anyway. The lesson here is to check that you have all the materials you need before getting started.

I made up the skirt and tried it on. Something about the way the gathers reated on my hips stuck out funny and it did not look as good when suspended from a bodice. I kind of anticipated this, so it wasn’t too dissapointing. I ripped off that waistband and started to work on the bodice.

As I started sewing, a small screw plopped down on my presser foot. I couldn’t figure out where it had come from, so I kept sewing. You know the wire part that you string your thread through just before you put it through the needle? That’s where the screw came from. And I found out two stitches later when that, too, plopped down on my sewing. I took about 10 minutes trying to get it back in there, but couldn’t find a screwdriver small enough.

I decided to try sewing without it until my husband got home and could help me. It worked fine. I forgot to ask my husband to help. Those two pieces are still sitting on my table. I’m sure I’m committing some kind of sewing sin, but I was sewing on a deadline, people!

After that, things went pretty okay until I was halfway done the buttonholes. I was mid-buttonhole when I ran out of bobbin, but is always a pain. I got the bobbin rrady to wind, pressed down the pedal, and started ripping out the half-completed buttonhole. When my machine stopped winding early, I looked up to discover that I didn’t wind around the bobbin, but around the post. So I ripped all that off and tried again.

This time I checked to make sure I was winding properly before continuing to rip out my semi-buttonhole. This time, when i looked up, it was to a nice, full bobbin and an empty spool. Here, I had to stop and figure out my options. I had been to the fabric store the day before and couldn’t get there again before my trip. I could rip out the five complete buttonholes and re-do them all in a different colour. Or I could unwind half my bobbin back onto the spool and pray that it would be enough to finish the remaining buttonholes.

Everything seemed to be going okay until I did the hole closest to where the bodice and skirt meet. Of course there is an insane amount of bulk at that point and my poor little buttonholer couldn’t figure it out and stopped to turn around about a quarter inch too early. Normally, this out not throw my into a tail spin, but I was working with very, very little thread. I ripped it out and re-did it, but it still skipped in the middle, leaving gaps one does not want in a buttonhole. I ripped it out one more time and hoped for the best. This final time, I managed to get away with only one small gap and I just doused it in Fray-Check because there was no way I was doing it again.

I finished the dress on time, but it is definitely not my best work. It’s definitely wearable, but I do wish I had given myself more time to make it. I am, however, also happy that I did finish when I did because I feel like this is going to be my dress of the summer.

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