Monday, July 4, 2011

The 'Hey baby, it's hot inside' dress

Weekend sewing project number one is done:  it's a Claire Cami dress.   I must say, I was inspired by Patty's gorgeous versions of this dress, but I wasn't really sure whether it would look good on me, given its high waist.   So right out of the gate, I lowered it two inches, and I really love the result!  The waist is still high: it's close to my narrowest point, just above the place I'd like to think of as my waist.  It's super comfortable, and while it's too casual for work, it'll be great to wear on weekends.

 This dress is really fun to sew, once you get past cutting out all the flippin' pieces!  The assembly is all super simple, and there's really not much fitting to do, so it's great for novices.  Based on the stated measurements, I cut from XXS tapering to XS for the bodice, XS for the waist, and XS tapering to S for the skirt.  But the cut is quite forgiving, and I probably could have made the whole thing XXS with no issues.  The XXS bodice is a tiny bit loose, so on the next version (which is already underway) I took a tiny bit out of the center front and center back -- not too much, though, because it's gotta pull on over my head.

I used the included facings for the bodice ... ugh, I still hate facings, unless they are the kind you sew down completely.  I turned under the  1/4 inch of the facing edges and stitched, rather than finish them with the serger.  For version two, I'm doing a full lining, and skipping the interfacing for neck and armholes.  I'll wear 'em both then and decide which works better.   I finished the inside waistband the way I'd do a skirt yoke, which is not how the pattern directions instructed.  As I recall, their way would be faster and easier, but my way looks cleaner inside.

I'm naming it "Baby, it's hot inside" because the main fabric came from somebody's "Baby Essentials" line and because one of our two air conditioners is broken ... with highs near 100F (37C) here, parts of the house are pretty darn hot!    I got the main fabric from JoAnn's clearance section not too long ago, and don't think the fabric looks overly "baby" with the taupe, tan and yellow dots in the mix.  The contrasting fabric is leftover from this dress:  too bad I could not cut it straight for the life of me.

The finish on the hem is bias binding made from the main fabric, and for some reason I kept falling off the edge of the binding as I tried to attach it, or I'd catch the front and not the back.  I had to go back and fix so many spots, picking out the mistakes was going to take forever.  So I decided to turn them into a feature -- I motored around and around the edge of the dress sewing purposely wavy seams until I ran out of bobbin thread.   It was kind of cathartic!

For the waist tie, I made what amounts to a wide bias binding and sewed it together.  I was in no mood to turn a yard-long tube.  I wanted to have a finished dress already.

Anyhow, I heartily recommend this pattern, especially if you have orphaned bits of quilting fabric lying around.  (Though I think it would be cool to try a lawn or rayon version of this, too.)   It's a lot of fun to dream up fabric combinations, and I have several more planned, some of which feature fabrics I bought many moons ago, in lengths a little too short to be useful.  But I can cut the main parts of this dress from a little less than two yards, and could use even less by making the bottom band bigger.

I have two more days off from work, so I will certainly finish the next Claire Cami today.  My sewing room still has air conditioning, but the rooms where the bed and the computer are don't.   Talk about an incentive to keep on sewing!


  1. What a cute dress! I'm not a fan of facings either but have you tried cutting them from a contrasting fabric (like the purple here) and sewing them to the outside of the bodice. You can the topstich them down for a finished look. It looks really cute at both the neckline and arms. It would look nice on this dress but not sure if it would lay flat with the sweetheart neckline.

  2. Brilliant fix on your hemline. It totally works with the fabric and style. Love the purple contrast on this and the whole dress is super cute. I can just imagine how nice it would feel in 100 degree heat.

  3. Oooh pretty. I think i must definitely hunt down this pattern!

  4. Chris -- the thing that is bugging me most about the facing is actually that the front piece does not follow the shape of the neckline at the bottom. It's just squared off, and the corners want to curl up. I bet if I recut it, I could do either facings on the outside, as you say, or even sew them down completely on the inside and be much happier.

    Kat -- this is a great pattern, but warning, it can be addictive. :)