You Win Some, You Lose Some

Hey guys, I’m bacccccccckkkkkk!

I hope you all enjoyed the husbeast’s post last week? The boy did good, yah?

It was nice to sit back and chill while he took care of the blog for a week (and by ‘sit back and chill’, I obvs mean get more sewing done). I’m looking forward to sewing all the things this weekend too, because it’s a public holiday here in the UK which means I get to trade a day of working for a day of sewing – whooooop! ??????

This week, I present to you my latest Seamwork Catarina dress. But I’m not really all that excited for it. This dress is a combination of things that * should* work together in theory, but the end result just doesn’t wow me in the way I thought it would. In short – it’s just meh, basically.

My very first Catarina gets worn all the time – and I love it. It was made with a viscose remnant that I scored off eBay for about nine quid, and I usually wear it without the belt – it has an elasticated waist, to help pull it in.

Seamwork Catarina dress in aztec print viscose challis

The second one I made, from the coolest Opening Ceremony silk (which I was proper excited to find a remnant of) doesn’t please me like I feel it should either. I don’t think it’s flattering on me – it’s those gathers. Sometimes gathers work on me, sometimes they don’t – I think it’s very fabric-dependent. As the silk is quite sheer, I had to line the skirt, which means there’s an extra layer of fabric under those gathers… and I don’t think that helps with how it looks on me. Full gathers and my hips do not go together like peas and carrots. More like peas and candy floss. Mmm, YUM.

Seamwork Catarina dress in Opening Ceremony geometric silk

I’m not usually into refashioning, but I genuinely might consider reclaiming the fabric from that dress and sewing something else with it. I have recently done that with my very first Pauline Alice cami dress – made WAY before I had this blog – which was made from some gorgeous Liberty fabric which you can’t get hold of anymore (called ‘The Atrium’, if anyone’s interested). I’ve butchered the dress and reclaimed what I can, there’s not too much there so I think it will become a Scout Tee – we’ll see.

Despite my rocky relationship with gathers, I am actually currently midway through sewing three (THREE! ??) items that have gathers – the Hinterland Dress (by Sew Liberated), the Wonderland Skirt (by Lily Sage and Co), and the 70s Dress (by Trend Patterns). I’m not sure what’s drawing me to these gathers. This is very unlike me. What if they all look hideous on me? Will I ever learn? Probably not. (The Wonderland Skirt is almost complete and I’m pleased to report that the gathers – thankfully – don’t look too dodge).

I’m considering making the Hinterland Dress with the waist ties, so I can always wrap these over the gathers to flatten them if need be, or I might just add some elastic to the inside of the waist. I’m not sure yet. I’m half wondering if I should stay away from the waist tie, as I don’t wear the belts with my Catarinas ? The ties are sewn in at the sides, so it’s not like I can just not wear them if I don’t want to – they are there for keeps, or not at all.

The Wonderland skirt gathers I’m hoping are going to be OK because they aren’t at the waist, they are at the mid-thigh, and the 70s dress… well I don’t want to talk about that. There’s just SO. MUCH. GATHERING. So so much. I’m not even going to think about how to iron/wear this dress when I eventually finish it, because even in construction the rayon I’m using is creasing like a bastard.

Anyways – this Catarina. I think there’s just a series of unfortunate events working against it. Firstly – the fabric. I got this gorgeous print from a little shop near Warren Street station, it’s the same print as the scuba I used for my Kielo Dress (which I LOVE ?):

That Kielo dress is made with scuba though, and this Catarina is made with a satin which I got for £1 per metre. ONE POUND PER METRE. Yas ? Buttttt… it’s not fantastic quality (what did I expect, for £1 per metre?! ??‍♀️). I’m not even sure I’d call it ‘good’ quality. I have beef with polyester, because plastic, but I’ll admit I was lured in by the print (OH, THE COLOURS). In reality it’s a shiny-shiny polyester satin ?

My original plan was to use this fabric – I think I’ve got about 5 meters of it ? – for coat lining, but that’s a lot of coat linings, innit. So I thought I’d give it a chance at seeing the outside world with the Catarina… but it turns out I should have stuck to the original plan ?

At the time of photographing the dress, I was carrying a few extra pounds and wasn’t really loving how I looked right then. Couple that with the shiny-shiny fabric, the summer sun making it almost blinding, and the not-so-flattering gathers against my already enlarged stomach, and I was left very underwhelmed with how the dress looked on me (basically like I was five months pregnant). I think it’s the belt – it highlights my stomach, and that’s not a good thing. I prefer my original Catarina without the belt, but that one has elastic around the waistline and this one doesn’t, so if I’m serious about wearing this one again then I might have to install the elastic. Just so it’s not too much of a shapeless sack on me. Despite most of the pictures being, *cough*, a bit aesthetically un-pleasing, the husbeast-slash-official-photographer did manage to get a shot of my hair looking awesome AF:

I’m willing to (maybe) give the dress a second chance – the sun isn’t so harsh these days now (autumn is FINALLY on the way I think – it was cold enough for a sweater last night and wearing one made me really happy) and I’ve since managed to drop a few pounds so I might put the dress back on and re-evaluate. Maybe.

The Catarina is actually a really lovely, really easy sew. The bodice is lined, and it’s really simple to line the skirt as well if you want to – it’s just gathered rectangles. Saying that – to this day I’m still confused as to why they have you cut the front skirt on the fold, but the back skirt in two pieces and then sew a seam at centre back. It’s not like they do it to save fabric – you could literally just bump your pattern piece an inch or so to the side and cut on the fold ??‍♀️ I DOES NOT UNDERSTANDZ.

Another gripe with the belt is that when I tie it, it naturally gets tied at the narrowest part of my waist, which is a few inches higher than the waist on this dress (super obvs in the photo below).

I need to shorten the bodice on this dress, or take the straps up a chunk, to align the two waists. Rather than just cutting corners and hoiking up the straps (which might make it look funny, thinking about it) I should really just alter the bodice. Or just make a pledge to ditch the belts. Or just stop making these dresses as that’s now two crap ones in a row.

I can’t get over the fact that this dress just looks too much like…. a maternity dress. Like it was made to fit a huge baby bump. And when you put on weight like I do, and it goes straight to your stomach, this dress becomes oh-so-unflattering. In some of these shots I actually look pregnant. And the layer of gathers just makes my hips look EVEN wider, especially from the back. Eeesh. Wide load comin’ through, back up people.

So yeah, I’m not raving over this make. But y’know, you win some you lose some. I’m cool.

In other news, my trip to New York is rapidly approaching, and slowly but surely the makes that are going with me to be photographed (for ze blog, natch) are getting ticked off the list! Some items have had to be culled though, because basically I seriously overestimated how many things I could get sewn before we went. We’ve entered a half marathon for when we’re there, but I’m currently injured with a hip problem and haven’t been able to run for almost three weeks… so er, yeah that might not go so well ? In my desperation to recover I’ve taken up yoga (WE’VE taken up yoga, because I’ve forced the husbeast to do it with me, obvs) AND I’ve bought a hula hoop as well.. something I haven’t done since primary school but I hear is good for loosening up hips. The only place with enough space is the back garden… so the neighbours are gonna think I’ve lost the plot probs. Ah well. There’s worse things in life eh.

Trying to keep my chin up though, because even though I can’t run, I can at least still sew and that’s pretty much the only thing keeping me sane. My heart goes out to BusterSew with his broken wrist… hope that’s healing super fast! ??

I know I’m not the only one that’s started on their Autumn sewing, so come on guys – tell me what’s on your AW18 sewing list so that I can drool over the designs (and make my sewing list EVEN LONGER ???)

Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… I tried my hand at a new shirt pattern for the husband, and here’s what happened ✂️ Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!??


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  1. Helen Jackson
    August 26, 2018 / 7:21 am

    Thanks Sarah for your blog, it’s surprising how patterns can change with different fabrics, the amount of stuff I have ‘filed’ away as it didn’t turn out how I thought it would

    • Sarah
      August 28, 2018 / 5:11 pm

      Ha ha, I love that – ‘filed’ ?? I sometimes get a finished garment that just totally doesn’t look how I thought it would – I try to figure out why, so that I don’t make the same design/fabric choice again ?

  2. August 26, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    I agree, the fabric changes everything! I’ve got four jumpers/ tops made from the same pattern and only two of them fit over my plastercast ?‍♂️
    I hope you’re better in time to run in NY ? you’re lucky you can still sew ??

    • Sarah
      August 29, 2018 / 7:06 am

      It’s weird isn’t it, how the fabric makes SUCH a difference. As a rookie sewist, I would just assume that fabric is fabric ??‍♀️? drape? Weave? Knit/woven? Nah, it’s all fabric ? ahh I really hope I can run, no improvements just yet though… and I’m the most impatient person in the world ?
      Sending get well vibes your way ????

  3. barbara
    August 26, 2018 / 6:27 pm

    i know pregnant and you’re not.

    • Sarah
      August 29, 2018 / 7:06 am

      Haha, maybe just like a couple months in this pic?! ?

  4. August 27, 2018 / 10:14 am

    It doesn’t look that bad to me, but pictures don’t tell everything of course!

    I’m currently sewing like mad for my upcoming West Coast roadtrip, after noticing that the only pair of jeans that still fit me are becoming transparent in the butt area. I have two weeks to sew skinny jeans and a few tops, and just got an illustration job for right after that trip so that will need some time as well!

    • Sarah
      August 29, 2018 / 7:08 am

      Ahh thank you ? I think the shiny shiny look to the fabric, and the polyester feel doesn’t help my feeling for the dress. I’ll stick to coat linings in future ?
      Oooooh a West coast road trip ? that sounds amazing!!! ???? hope the sewing is going well for you, I’m aiming to tackle my Safrans this weekend!

  5. August 27, 2018 / 1:57 pm

    I def understand how it is to see a garment one way in your head and then the difficulty of trying to shake that vision when the reality is different. I sincerely hope that with a little time away from this dress, you can come back to it and see it for how it actually appears on you–super colorful and fun, with a flirty style and nod to retro! I think for such a casual style of dress, the shiny satin elevates it into something more exciting than a run of the mill sundress. I say “WOW!”

    • Sarah
      August 29, 2018 / 7:10 am

      Thank you! Yeah, I can’t help feeling meh over the whole thing. I do love the colours of the fabric, which I think is why I was expecting to love the dress. I’m not sure if it’s more of a party dress than an everyday dress… perhaps one day I’ll find it’s rightful place and purpose ??‍♀️

  6. August 28, 2018 / 10:30 am

    I agree that your dress really doesn’t look as bad as it seems to in your mind – in fact it looks really pretty on you! I loved that print on you in the Kielo and it’s equally flattering in this Catarina. That’s the show stealer really – the fabric print with your colouring 🙂 I’ve given up on gathers PERIOD. They just never look nice on me no matter where they appear – at the waist is a definite NO, at the back yoke NO, at the hips I DOUBT IT, at the neck, shoulders NO. So no gathers. I’ve committed myself that if there are gathers on a pattern it gets translated into pleats and that’s that.

    I’m in jumper heaven these days (“dungaree dress” you call them in the UK although the ones I’m making are nothing like the dungarees you see at Tilly for example – they are more like the York by Helen’s Closet) and having fun with different patterns. My last 2 were in a very light/see-through black with white stripe linen, in which neither turned out the way I expected but that’s okay. They are still wearable – thank heavens since that linen was frighteningly spendy (Italian, designer, you know $$$) Now I’m eyeing some hefty and drapey silk that I bought last year from the Sewing Workshop which was also rather $$$ for a different pattern which is more similar to the York but a few extra bells and whistles. My Favourite Things ’90’s Jumper (no longer available). I’ll find the right pattern yet and when I do I’m going to make up a slew of them. I have these jumpers with Tee’s under them all over my Pinterest board and have been meaning to make myself some for a couple of years at least. For some mysterious reason, now is the time. The second installment of this possibly year-long plan :))) is a series of Tees with matching leggings to wear under THE JUMPERS.

    • Sarah
      August 29, 2018 / 7:17 am

      Thanks Kathleen! I do love the Kielo, it’s one of my favourites, so I think that’s why I set the bar high with this satin version of the same fabric ??‍♀️ ah well. Maybe I’ll come back to it next year.
      Gathers are a funny thing, aren’t they! I never really thought about them until I started sewing, now I’m not sure whether they are my friend or enemy ? I feel like if I had to choose, I might pick fathers over pleats – pleats remind me too much of school skirts!!
      Ah, so it’s like a pinafore dress! I know what you mean, I LOVE wearing those over tops in the winter. I’m currently making the Hinterland dress which I’m intending to be a jumper dress. Tried googling the 90s jumper to see what it was like but couldn’t find an image ☹️
      Aha, yes if you make the jumpers you have to make the stuff to go underneath as well! I’m with you in spirit on this journey ??????

  7. August 30, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    I don’t think all those problems you’re listing with that dress are that noticeable to other people, and you could totally wear this dress if you wanted – it’s cool and it looks fine. However, you obviously aren’t comfortable in it and that plays a big part. The one problem I agree with you on is the belt not lining up with the waist of the dress. That would drive me MAD. But again it’s something that only sewer types and weird intense people would notice!

    I don’t really sew by season because I’m not that organised, and also tend to sew by whim. I’m currently making a coat though for autumn. In fact it’s all your fault! I’ve never made a coat before but I read some of your coat sews and it didn’t seem that traumatic so I thought it was time to give it a go! I don’t blog any more (I’m lazy!) but I put a pic on Twitter if you want to see:

    It’s The Coat by Avid Seamstress. You’d be fine with the pattern as an experienced sewer, and I’ve not had any problems that couldn’t be solved, but I wouldn’t recommend it to people generally – some of the instructions are terrible and I’ve been fortunate that I had enough sewing experience to see myself through. I’ve just got hand-stitching left now, for the hem and pockets (I want to stitch them to the coat insides so they don’t flap about). And epic amounts of pressing to do ? Do you do much handstitching in your makes? I saw that you cross-stitch so I’m guessing you are handy with a needle!

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