Right before heading to the TNNA summer tradeshow, I finished sewing my first Adelaide Dress from Seamwork Magazine, and I wore it on the first day of the show! I proudly marched over to the Knitter’s Pride booth to show it off, because I purchased this fabric while on the trip to India to see Knitter’s Pride’s factory.
The fabric is a thin lightweight cotton, so this dress was perfect for the 94° day in DC, though it is so thin that I needed to buy a new white slip to wear under. I aligned the pattern so that the same lighter band goes up the very middle of the back, too. The directions for the dress and the sewing of it were incredibly straightforward—not once did I have to run to Google for help with terminology! Could be that I’ve gotten better at this, could just be that the directions were so clear. I cut a size 12 because I wanted some extra room in the bust and waist, and I’m happy with the result because there is no pulling across the bust at all.
Hammering on the snaps was by far my favorite part. I went to Snap Source‘s site and ordered 20 size 14 snaps along with the Snap Setter for that size, and they arrived very quickly. I’d been concerned when reading the website that size 14 snaps (“Suggested uses: Infant wear, doll clothing”) would be flimsy, but that’s what the pattern called for so I didn’t question it. Plus that size has a lot more color options, and if I were committing to the setter in that size I figured it was more versatile. I shouldn’t have been concerned: the snaps are so solid I find it hard to snap and unsnap them! (Luckily I can just pull the dress over my head.) I got white snaps, which you can just barely make out—sorry, no close-ups because Caro, Pam, and I were hot and I was in a rush—and only messed up one of them! I accidentally put the connection piece upside down on one. That snap was ruined in the process but the fabric wasn’t, so it was easy to just affix a new one.
I made the bias binding for inside the neck and armholes from white cotton batiste in my stash, and I made a TON of it so hopefully future garments will go more quickly than this one! The Seamwork estimated time for this is 3 hours. It took me far longer with that long break to make bias binding! But I don’t mind one bit, and I feel certain future versions (there will be future versions) will not take me nearly as long.
Big thanks to Caro for taking these pictures for me.
This was a discouraging post to write, because it marks the last garment I sewed before my sewing machine crapped out on me. It had been fussing at me for a while, giving an error for phantom reasons. I could often clear the glitch with a few hand-cranks and it would work for a short while more before beeping madly at me again. But while topstitching the belt—the longest continuous seam in the entire garment!—it got angrier than ever before, and I honestly doubted I’d be able to get through it without hand-cranking the entire thing. I took the machine into a repair shop, and I was told the day we took these pictures that the motherboard was shot and not worth replacing in my inexpensive machine (the Brother CS-6000i; it was about 6 years old with moderate use). So I’m sewing machine shopping! I have my eye on a few machines but still need to get somewhere to try them out. Suggestions?
Cambie has been in my stash of patterns for ages. Actually, I think I bought the paper pattern at Fancy Tiger Crafts when I was in Colorado more than a year and a half ago. I bought fabric for it last summer (a lightweight cotton; got it at Joann’s). I bought a zipper in the fall. And no progress was made until a week before I intended to wear it, when I unfolded the tissue and set to. In general I had no real troubles; I didn’t make a muslin because I wanted it done fast and because you can’t truly assess the fit until the whole thing is done, and I really didn’t want to sew an entire muslin. But it was my first time doing a garment with a lining, and it was definitely my first time ever ever sewing a zipper. Oh, and it was an invisible zipper. As a result, I paused several times to Google for help and discovered that a lot of others who have made this dress are accomplished enough that they barely talk about some of the details that I wanted guidance for. So, I figured I’d write up everything I searched (though it reveals me as the complete novice I am), in the hopes that it’ll help someone else.
“tracing tissue pattern onto freezer paper”
So I’d heard of people doing this but hadn’t done it before. I set the tissue pattern down on my table and placed a piece of freezer paper over and I could NOT see through it to trace the lines, so I googled to see if people do something special. No result I found talked about how to do it because apparently it was so easy. And it was, duh: my table is dark so that obscured the lines; I put another piece of freezer paper underneath and it got much easier. I did not use the freezer paper to stick to the fabric; I used it just because it’s sturdy. Tracing was a breeze, but time consuming.
“understitch pocket openings”
OK this is super easy but it took a few results to find one that summarized it cleanly enough. All it is is sewing the “inside part” to the seam allowance in a stitch right against the original seam line. (They say this helps keep the inside part from rolling to the front. I’m unclear why the pattern doesn’t call for you to understitch the entire top edge, and I’m debating just doing it anyway, but this was for the pocket opening.) This video gets right to the point and shows it very clearly—it’s super straightforward, but I appreciated being able to see it.
“cambie dress interfacing waistband”
So my interfacing tells you to cut the interfacing piece 1/4 smaller than the piece all the way around. I wasn’t sure if it mattered if I did that or not. Ultimately I decided not to bother cutting it smaller because it was easier to just match it, and it gets cut off anyway in the serger. That, I suppose, is an argument for cutting the interfacing smaller so there’s less waste, but whatever.
“cambie dress waistband”
My next question was how come I cut 2 pieces of the waistband out of the main fabric when you only need one for main dress. But oh! I’m a smart cookie and I realized that it doesn’t tell you to cut a piece of waistband out of the lining fabric. So you must use the main fabric piece in the lining—logically, it’s a more sturdy fabric just like an interfaced piece of main fabric is sturdier than the dress. Then I found a lot of blog posts that showed the insides of their dresses and I could actually see that they used the main fabric for the lining’s waistband. Mystery solved.
“threading a brother 1034d serger”
This is not about the Cambie dress, but my serger’s threads got all out of wack while it was sitting on a shelf, so when I went to use it… I couldn’t. I had to re-thread it entirely, and I always forget the steps. I’ve used this video before and it continues to be the most helpful. I was cranky about having to re-thread it and I considered just finishing my seams with a zigzag stitch, but I’m really glad that I sucked it up and just got the serger working. I realized what was the point in having it if I didn’t use it!? Plus it gives me such comfort to know that the seams are well finished.
“sewing invisible zipper”
I had never sewn a zipper before—though I’ve read in several books and on blog posts the steps, so I had the gist—and I’m glad I searched “invisible” zipper, because I learned that there is a foot for invisible zippers! I don’t have one of those so this video was helpful but not exactly applicable; this video for using a normal zipper foot totally did the trick for me! I definitely could have pressed the zipper out flatter and gotten the needle closer to the teeth, but hey, there will be a next time.
“cambie dress lining”
I knew the creator of the Cambie had blogged about sewing the lining to the zipper, and I followed it closely. I find it so funny, though, how all mentions of the bottom of the zipper are kind of glossed over in that tutorial and other sites that talk about sewing a lining to a zipper. It’s an awkward area, and I wondered how to tackle it—the answer seems to be: just as best as you can. So I did that, and it’s not visible, so it seems to have worked!
Looking at all this, it is clear I was really clueless about sewing this dress, and I suppose I was, but look! It’s done! It fits okay!
The top of the bodice could probably benefit from a little taking in, but there is no way I was taking out the lining in order to make this adjustment. Also I think that I need to figure out how to cut different sizes for different parts of a pattern. I cut the size based on my bust measurements, and oddly the bust seems too big and the waistband slightly snug? I don’t really know how that works, but I guess I don’t want as much ease in the bust as the finished dress measurements give. I was suspicious of this when I picked a size but I went with it. I don’t really regret it.
When I sewed down the straps I deliberately pulled them down far and the bodice up high to keep it as flat as possible, but that made the armpits way too tight. I could wear it, but I knew I’d be uncomfortable, so I took that out and dropped the strap just a touch more. Not a lot—the sweetheart neckline would have gaped drastically if I’d dropped it to where it probably “should” sit—but this helped a lot.
I hemmed it to just above my knee, as I feel that with my short height (5 feet 4 inches) that just-below-my-knee length is awkward. This meant chopping 4 inches off the main fabric at the hem. I hemmed the lining so that it ends close to the seam on the main fabric, so that I could tack the lining to the seams if I wanted, but I did not blindstitch the lining to the waistband. I’m unclear why doing that would be useful, and I also think I might go back to understitch the top edge of the bodice. Still considering that. I didn’t take pictures of the dress turned inside out but I assure you it looks fantastic. The lining is a white cotton batiste.
I love the pockets, and I’m proud that it doesn’t look totally homemade. The zipper matching up gives me a secret thrill every time I pull it up. And it’s cute! I wore it to my cousin’s rehearsal dinner in Savannah last weekend, so we were able to get these shots with some live oaks in nearby Chippewa Square. At one point, a cousin of mine walked up and stuck her hand in my pocket and complimented the cuteness of my dress—and she didn’t know already that I had sewn it (though I’d told everyone else). SUCCESS.
Now that I’ve started sewing my own clothing (ha, look at me, talking like I’m making a whole new wardrobe already) I’ve been thinking a lot about fit. When I shop for clothing in retail stores, I try items on to see how they look, but I don’t think about how they fit. I realized, in making a Washi Dress, that I don’t know how to really assess how something fits yet. But I like to think this one looks pretty good on! (All photos by Caro Sheridan; the last photo by our host, Phil!)
I didn’t make a muslin of the Washi—my bust measurement went fine with one of the existing sizes, and I knew the skirt was forgiving enough to not matter. It came together fast once I got the shirring to work (which, upon further reading, I’ve learned I did not do correctly, but it functions fine, so I’ll just be improving my technique for the future. In case you are wondering, the problem is that the elastic is wobbly on the back, which means I didn’t have it properly under tension. I’ll be playing with that once I get more elastic.). I went with a tank instead of sleeves and made white bias binding out of Kona Snow for the armholes. (Now I wonder if I should’ve used that for the neckline too, but I’m not doing it now.) I tried it on once it was all assembled, modeled it for my boyfriend and a friend, and asked if I needed to change anything. They said it looked fine.
But does it FIT fine? I’m not convinced it does. The bodice should probably come lower. The bust darts don’t make the bodice shape to me in any real way. The neckline gaps just a bit (maybe partly because my “featherweight” interfacing was too heavy in combination with the cotton, lightweight though it is, or maybe because I forgot to clip the curves). I know there’s room for improvement if I take this one on again.
Wearing it while tromping around Star Valley Flowers‘ farm in Wisconsin, however, I discovered it is a great garment for wearing. It’s comfortable, breezy, and the fullness of the skirt means it requires absolutely zero effort at all. If I add a white cardigan, I’ll happily wear this to work and show off my handiwork. But I won’t make this dress again without significant revisions. This field of sunflowers are actually part of Driftless Organics‘ farm, across the street—we couldn’t resist them!