Friday, October 25, 2013

Domino Staple Dress

I am determined to master garment sewing, no matter how long it takes. However, I’ve run across a few bumps in the road along the way. Last Fall, I make my first garment: a Wiksten tank dress. After that, I kept using the pattern again and again and again. As much as I love it, I really wanted to branch out and tried two different Colette patterns (Laurel and Taffy). Alas, I was stymied by fit issues and never got past the muslin stage on either of them. Instead of giving up, I decided I needed professional help.

In order to improve my garment sewing skills before I attempted a very fitted pattern again, I signed up for the Intro to Apparel | The Staple Dress at Drygoods Design. The dress is loose and forgiving, but called for the use of elastic thread and a serger, neither of which I had used before. It seemed a good next step in my sewing journey. Before the class, I washed my fabric (Waterfront Park by Violet Craft Domino Dot Navy), took my measurements, and traced the pattern onto freezer paper, which turned out to be a very good idea.

Did you know that Drygoods Design’s studio provides sewing machines (and a serger!) for you to use during classes? I didn’t, so the first night I ended up lugging my beloved Elna across half of Ballard, and arrived late to the class. Thankfully, my fellow students were still tracing their patterns, so I wasn’t behind! I spent a lovely two evenings sewing and soaking up Julienne’s tricks and tips. I think my favorite was that you can align the pocket pattern to the dress pattern before you cut it out, to reduce the number of seams you have to sew.

Sadly, the class ended before my dress was finished, and the elastic thread wasn’t cooperating. Luckily, the interwebs came to the rescue, and I was able to fix the problem. For my machine, I have to hand wind the bobbin assertively, leave it on the default stitch length, and apply generous amounts of water and ironing after stitching. (Due to an unfortunate encounter with a cat who thought the ironing board was her territory, my iron’s steam feature no longer functions. Otherwise, I would apply generous amounts of steam.)

What I love about this dress:
  • Pockets!
  • It’s easy if you’re comfortable with sergers and elastic thread.
  • It has a high-low hem.
  • It’s flattering (and not fitted).
  • The sleeves are part of the main pattern piece.
  • Did I mention it has pockets?

What I don’t love about this dress:
  • The quilting cotton I used is too bulky for this pattern. I should have used actual apparel fabric.
  • If I don’t wear a belt, the dress slides off my shoulder when I put my cell phone in my pocket.

All in all, this class did what I hoped it would do. At the end, I was left with a new garment, new skills, and increased confidence. Not bad for just two evenings!


  1. Not bad at all! I am so proud of you and your "I CAN do this" attitude! Your skills are adding up, sweet girl! And the dress is darling on you!

  2. Wow, you look great! Such a cute dress.

  3. Such an adorable dress. That class is on my wish list! So glad to see you got a lot out of it.

  4. Thanks! Good to know about the quilting cotton.