Sew Something Special: February 2020

I’m back with my second installment of my year-long pledge to sew something with special fabric every month! There are a few goals to this: to buy fewer but nicer fabrics, to #sewtheprecious, and to make clothes I’ll love for a long time to come! My first project was a bit hit, so how would my second stand up?

Thank goodness, it turned out well! I used the Style Arc Lacey dress, which is a boxy loose shape with some interesting style lines in the bodice. I wanted something that would show off the panels on this fabric, and be a forgiving fit for years to come.

And here’s the fabric I used: the Merchant and Mills Hopscotch Block Print! I can’t remember if mine was so crisply navy and white when I got it, but after two pre-washes it is definitely indigo and light indigo. That’s ok though. I saw someone wearing the black and white version of this fabric across the room at the Hamilton Frocktails, and immediately fell in love! I couldn’t find it in Canada to I splurged in January to buy it for £10/m. I bought 4m, payed shipping, and then customs fees. Let’s just say that by then end it was about $33/m! OUCH!

This fabric is special to me in one extra way though – it is block printed in Jaipur, a city in India where I studied for several months in University. I was there as part of a semester abroad with my university, which included two Canadian professors and 25 students, with a focus on International Development. We did homestay for a few months in Jaipur, took some classes at the university, and toured local NGOs related to health, microfinance, gender equality, and so on. One really memorable trip was to a factory that made fair-trade block print fabric (amazing process, horrifying rivers of dye going straight into the river). I love to imagine that perhaps this fabric came from that same factory, 17 years later!

Here I am in India – we were dressed by our host families in Rajasthani finery for our going away party, and in front of the Taj Mahal I’m wearing a fair trade salwar kameez that I bought at the same factory workshop! I know the sewing community talks a lot about cultural appropriation, but my experience actually living in India was that traditional fabrics were culturally- and weather-appropriate.

Side note: Can we talk about how annoying film cameras were? I’m blinking in both photos, but you only get that one shot and you don’t know til months later that it was bad!

Back to my dress! Even with 4m, I had to do some planning of the placement. As always, I didn’t overthink it – do we really even count this as planning? I start with the most important piece (in this case the central bodice), then skirts, and then sleeve (which are one piece, over the shoulder with no seam) and finally the skirt. If there isn’t enough fabric by the end, then it’s time for Secret Seams! I’ve saved all my scraps and i’m hoping I can make a tank top out of it.

I’ve heard a few people say that this pattern runs big, but I followed the size chart and i think it’s just right for me. I did make a few changes though:

  • narrowed the neckline .5″ on each side
  • shortened the sleeves 1″
  • shortened the back bodice 1″, because the skirt tilted forward in my muslin

Interestingly, I didn’t change the length at all, so tall folks be warned! I’m 5’2″.

Can I take you on one more trip down memory lane?

7″ and 8 years later, it’s basically a boxy version of the same style dress!

I sewed the muslin in the same thrifted poly that I used for one of my first dresses in 2012! I’d been sewing for just over a month when I made this Colette Peony dress. Click that link if you want to be reminded how I started blogging on Tumblr! Both pictures remind me that I don’t like solid fabric, and it’s even worse with a sheen. It shows every wrinkle and pull-line.

So far, I’m really enjoying this project. I love having a deadline which prevents me from overthinking things forever – I finished this one on the last day of February, thanks to the leap year. I’ve sewn two wovens though, and it’s really time for a knit! I’m heading to Detroit over March break, and hoping some fabric jumps out at me there.

How are your sewing goals and projects going? Can it really be March already???

13 thoughts on “Sew Something Special: February 2020

  1. Really enjoying this project of yours, it’s inspiring me to make an effort, to make muslins if necessary, and not to leave my precious languishing in boxes. Thanks 😊


  2. You are such a world traveller! Also, it’s hilarious that you are still wearing the same styles. I can say the same for myself – except I’m really not doing the vintage anymore because you have to be a twig to get into those ye olde clothes. Goes to show that, when something works, refinement is all we need to keep it current.


  3. That fabric is fantastic! And your comment about film cameras made me laugh. The major downside of learning to sew in my younger years is that I have almost no pictures of anything that I sewed back then, because I always felt like I needed to save the film when I had it!


  4. Beautiful! Your layout is great, it looks like this fabric was custom printed just for this dress. Also, I’m excited about your happy porch – what a fun way to add color to photos (and daily life in the winter)!


  5. So cute! I love it! The fabric is amazing, and I think the dress turned out so well. I’ve been itching to get back to sewing but I’ve been so busy the past few months. When I do I’m totally inspired to #sewtheprecious though!


  6. I love this! Great dress made out of great fabric obviously, but I love the connection with your time in India.

    I’m in Malawi for the next six months and it kills me I don’t have a sewing machine out here to work up the cool fabric with (like you I find using the local clothing the most culturally and climacticly appropriate way to dress when working in remote villages). I hope I have your experience of things circling back down the line@


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