We spent yesterday on Mary Jane.
The ski hill kind, not the smoking kind. Winter Park Ski Resort is broken up into seven “territories.” The Mary Jane territory is infamous for big moguls, tree skiing, and burning leg muscles. We skied hard, making the most of an awesome day on the mountain, but today… let’s just say that I’ve been doing a lot of sitting.
Things I’ve done while sitting:
- Drink coffee
- Almost finish Sara’s hat
- Complain about how sore I am
- Finally put button holes in my Alder Shirt Dress
Last spring, almost a year ago, I crossed my fingers, took a deep breath and tackled the Alder Shirt dress, sans ruffle. I’m a big fan of the simple silhouette, back yoke, button down placket, and classic collar, but those design elements also made me pretty nervous about the sewing. I followed the Alder sew-along that Grainline studio has on their blog, and boy was it a life saver! The instructions are clear, well organized, and thorough, so the dress went together much more easily than I anticipated.
When we are skiing, G often reminds me that I can ski anything (this lesson is most often reiterated when I find myself staring down that narrow, tree-lined, mogul filled run) as long as I take my time. So goes the sewing of a many step garment – I can do anything, I just need to take it one bit at a time. Now, I won’t pretend it all went perfectly smoothly. My issues had nothing to do with the pattern – it was all operator error.
Operator Error 1 – Something went wonky with the button band length. I’m guessing I just cut out the wrong length pattern piece, because when I put it together that band was definitely an inch short. Of course, I didn’t have enough extra fabric to recut it, so I attached the band anyway, did some very precise eyeballing, and trimmed the entire hemline to match.
Operator Error 2: The collar was a trick. Jen, of Grainline Studio, does a really excellent job of laying out the order of operations, and explaining (there are even videos) the collar assembly clearly. Even so, I was less than precise when it came to the inside stitching on the collar stand, and the curve at the front of the collar stand. On the front curve, I’m not sure if it was the weight of the Robert Kaufman Yarn Dyed Essex I was using that made it tricky or if I just didn’t sew accurately (highly likely). Regardless, I decided to call it close enough, and was left with only the buttonholes and buttons to contend with…
Eleven months later, I finally got around to them. I do have an excuse – I sewed this dress using my Grandmother’s beloved tank of an Elna sewing machine. A wonderful machine for me to hammer away on, but buttonholes involved a lot of turning of cranks and complicated finagling, which still left them looking wretched. In the last couple of months I bit the bullet and bought a new machine – a Bernina 350B (I adore it). When I upgraded, the buttonhole features were a major selling point, but the idea of putting holes into a garment that had taken so much time to finish? Scary. Turns out there was no need for the nerves – I practiced on a scrap, did some careful measuring, and my machine did all of the work. Slick.
Operator Error 3: Well… except for the buttonhole on the collar stand. My button hole foot quit moving half way through the second long side. Instead of stopping I just laid on the pedal a bit harder – because going faster and ignoring the problem always works.
Half an hour later I had managed to seam rip that sucker out, and made the executive decision that a buttonhole on the collar was unnecessary this time.
Next stop, actually cutting the holes and sewing on the buttons. I can’t wait to add this dress to the wardrobe rotation – boots, tights, and a cardigan for winter weather, and sandals come spring/summer months. I will definitely be pulling this pattern out again… as soon as I can stand up.