Cambie #4: The Instruction/Conference Dress

I have a confession: this dress and blog post have been complete for about two weeks now, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to take pictures. Oops.

Anyway, say hello to Cambie #4! Or, a dress I can wear to places other than cons. I made this dress as part of my garment challenge. I wanted something practical, comfortable, and versatile that I could wear to work. The Cambie is one of my favorite dress patterns, so it was a clear winner for my first garment of the new year.

Front view. Oh dear glob, I need a haircut.
Front view. Oh dear glob, I need a haircut.
Side view. I love me some pockets.
Side view. I love me some pockets. Not sure what’s going on with my face. Pretty sure my BF is king of the awkward shots.

The Basics: 

Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie, view A.

Fabric: 2 yds of grey Italian grey wool suiting blend from my newest fabric obsession, Golden D’or.

Alterations: Added 1″ to the bodice, opted for the square neckline variation, took out the front darts, understitched the bodice, and some minor tweaking for fit.

Time: 10ish hours. I finished the inside seams of the shell with a Hong Kong finish and also had some funky fitting issues.

Notions: Invisible zipper, bias tape used on the lining.

Make it again? Yes, after I get through a few other patterns. I’m thinking a pretty cotton sateen for my next go.

Favorite parts: Pretty sleeves, slash pockets, flattering design.

Other thoughts: WARNING: wall of text ahead.

I have some mixed thoughts about this dress. Now that it’s done, I like it, but it almost became a UFO (unfinished object) on several occasions.

The fabric is what really inspired this dress. I saw it on my first trip to Golden D’or in January. I bought it intending to make a pair of Juniper trousers, but then quickly changed my mind when I realized I could squeeze a Cambie and a pencil skirt out of my yardage. Score!

Since this fabric is a wool blend, I decided to err on the side of caution and use Eucalan in case of shrinkage. Problem was, my only local distributor was closed, so I had to wait a week for Amazon before I could even pre-treat my fabric. Ok, no big deal. I decided I’d use the time to make a muslin of the skirt since the A-line skirt is much more fitted than the gathered skirt.

Fast forward a week. Once I started cutting, I discovered that some of my pattern pieces were missing, so I had to redraft those based on previous Cambies. My biggest problem cropped up when I tried to attach the bodice to the skirt. My hip measurements are a size 10 in Cambie land (for reference, my bust is a size 16), but I forgot to allow for differences in darts and seam placement. Sigh. The easiest way to fix that mistake was to take out the front darts. I left the unmatched back darts in the back since I wear cardigans a lot at work (see: lazy).

It's a bit hard to see, but those darts in the back are off by about 1/2". Also, STUPID HAIR.
It’s a bit hard to see, but those darts in the back are off by about 1/2″. Also, STUPID HAIR. HELP ME HAIR GODS.

I had some trouble with the sleeves as well, partly because the sleeve lining is one of the pieces I had to redraft. I wound up taking about an inch off of them, which also helped with some weird drooping around the neckline.

Speaking of the neckline, I understitched the lining since I didn’t have quite enough fabric for a facing. At least, not with the pencil skirt from hell.

I guess this dress also *could* count for my new skills challenge, since I actually tried out my blind hem foot on this beastie. I think it turned out pretty well. I did the hem on the lining first so that it wouldn’t be visible if I messed up too much.

Still, all trouble aside, I think it turned out okay. I’m glad I stuck it out and finished. My sewing mojo has been really off lately, so finishing feels like a big accomplishment right now.

I mentioned that my work wardrobe is sadly lacking. My workplace dress is fairly casual, but I think this piece will be great for when I have to give presentations/instruction sessions and attend conferences. I still think it’s funny that I became a librarian partially out of severe introversion, but I do a metric crap ton of public speaking every semester.

Tl;dr I screwed up, but at least it’s passable and I know what to fix next time.

Also, I desperately need a real camera. Phone and iPad shots just aren’t cutting it anymore. Any suggestions?

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