Pattern C, “Dress with Front Tuck” from Happy Homemade Sew Chic is about as simple as a dress can be. There’s a front, a back, a patch pocket and three facings. All the instructions fit on one page. Our Hippie Doomsday Cult likes to keep things simple:
Since this is my first garment from this book, I try to follow the instructions slavishly (I am nothing if not an obedient hippie) but in sewing this dress, I found a few must-do changes.
First, you will need a facing at least one inch wide (2.5 cm) or you’ll have no end of trouble sewing and pressing. Only 3/4 of an inch (>2 cm) won’t cut it. So go against the sewing manual cult leadership and make that change, OK? I won’t tell.
Second, the instructions for pockets call for you to sew a zigzag around the edges, then press and fold in. That’s also daft. I’ll show you a better technique.
Finally, none of the garments in this book include measurements for height. (!) That’s enough of a misstep to shake my cult belief to the core. I mean, what the hey? These patterns, like any pattern, ought to work off of a standard height, with lines for lengthening or shortening as needed. Any decent pattern ought to offer finished measurements, or measurements from nape to floor, or something to go on.
I am going to assume that all these patterns were made to a standard height, but the author, Yoshiko Tsukiori, is keeping that a secret for some reason. Since this book published in Japan, where the average woman stands 5 feet 2 inches (158 cm), I am going to guess that the patterns are made to fit that height. The average American woman is 5’4″ (163 cm) and I am 5’6″ (168 cm). I will need to lengthen all of these garments a bit for my height.
But this first garment, Dress with Front Tuck, I will make as-described, as a working muslin (a prototype made of cheap fabric), to test this theory. The book recommends about 2 2/3 yards (2.4 meters) of broadcloth – a stiff, densely woven cotton, like what you’d find in a good men’s dress shirt. For my muslin, I am using a quilting cotton printed with red poppies, from my stash. The drape is similar to a broadcloth, and if the muslin turns out OK, I can wear the thing. If not, no big loss.
But I would be a bad sewist (and a bad cult member) if I did not give the Lecture About Sewing Garments with Quilting Cotton. Nothing says “C- in Home Ec” like a garment sewn with the wrong fabric. Quilting cottons typically are not great choices for clothing because of the drape, texture and lack of stretch. They’re simply not made to be worn. Plus, the prints tend to disappoint – they’re often not on grain, and charming prints for quilts tend to cloy in clothes.
I am using this because I have it on hand and am doing a prototype, to check for style, fit and length. If I like the dress, I will make it in proper broadcloth. (PS – would you please admire my pattern-matching skills? Can you see the pocket? Didn’t think so!)