Granny gowns are so sweet and comfy, but they take a lot of fabric. Quilting cotton is certainly a good option, but well-wearing opaque quilting cotton usually runs around $8-10.00 per yard and I might need five yards, making for a $50.00 granny gown!
So I put off purchasing project fabric, and purchasing gowns in general. Until the situation became desperate. I had one summer gown. It was August in Cincinnati. What was I to wear when my gown was in the wash?
“Nothing at all!,” was my husband’s advice.
Husband’s idea rejected since DD still sometimes calls out in the night, and the dog certainly has to pee every morning. Such tasks cannot be respectably accomplished in the buff.
I bought Martensson’s book over five years ago and I have made Gown A before. Sewn many years ago, it is showing wear though it has outlasted several store-bought summer nightgowns. During a past period of sewing virtue I traced and cut out all of the master patterns and then put them in file folders by category. (Because if all at once I have to trace the pattern, cut the pattern, cut the material and sew – it doesn’t get sewn. I poop out. So much for my sewing stamina.)
Then three things converged:
- The patterns were already cut.
- I needed summer gowns.
- I had tons of calico, yards and yards, bought for cheap in the sale bin at my local thrift.
The patterns offered are very functional. When I see department store lingerie I often love the designs, but frankly many of those gorgeous gowns are playing more to a fantasy Mae West-eats-bons-bons sort of lifestyle, rather than to my own more prosaic pack-lunches-get-people-breakfast lifestyle. The gowns offered in the lingerie book are very practical. Booty and boobies will be covered. As long as you don’t use sheer fabric!
If you have sewn little girl’s dresses that often have front yokes, you will think these patterns are a breeze and that experience will serve you well. The instructions give full detail on attaching the skirt to a full yoke, but not to a divided yoke. The reader is told to follow the instructions for a single layer yoke, but you can’t. There are seams in the way. I will post later on how to get around a divided yoke with these gown patterns.
Though the author does as much she can to help a beginning sewer, if you have only sewn pillows, this book will seem very hard. But if you have sewn a few shirts, tank tops even, you will have a much better handle on the construction techniques used.
Some Assembly Required:
I assembled the yokes front and back, attached at shoulders, put in my buttonholes and laid aside per the instructions.
Then I deviated from the instructions by creating and attaching the ruffles to the back and front skirts separately. I then matched my seams at the ruffle and sewed up the side seams. I did it this way since the ruffle seam match was more important to me than the fabric meeting just so at the armpit.
One seam might be a half-inch off from the other at the armpit. I cut it to smooth out the arch.
I cut some bias from muslin and bound the lower armhole.
I gathered each side of the skirt and attached it to its correct yoke piece.
I have two rolls of calico, each about eight yards in length, which found at my local thrift from someone’s cast off quilting project I presume. Each roll sold for about $3.00, combine that with a storewide 20% off sale, and you can see why I bought the calico. It was much more subdued that I normally use in my quilting, and certainly not a color or design that springs to mind for fashion sewing, at first I imagined that I would use it for practice muslins. When I got it home I took a better look and realized that though it was a very old-fashioned print, the cotton itself is very high quality and it would be a shame to not use it for something “real”.
It is pretty cut and dry. There isn’t anything I can think of to finetune this pattern.
Will I Sew it Again:
This basic pattern is used in several gown variations throughout the book. I am going through and making each type of gown, at least until my material runs out.
Advice to Others:
The instructions will take you so far and then say, “go to page . . .” for the rest. Experienced sewers will probably ignore the instructions altogether, but if you want to follow them, it might be a good idea to bookmark the pages you will need.
Overall Style Grade: B, the styles offered are very basic, maybe even downright plain to younger eyes. Up-to-date embellishments are provided by the sewer herself.
Results Grade: A, Gathering is the hardest thing you will do. Without a serger you might want to do an enclosed seam on the sides, but every other seam is either encased within the yoke or can be handled through binding or plain hemming. It is easily achievable to get good results.
Next Post: Friday, September 17, 2010: My First Update on the 2010 Fall/Winter Stash Bash