Going for a Test Drive: Sewaholic Cambie

Last month I was on a top-secret sewing mission. Not as rigorously top-secret as Sidney Bristow going undercover in a Balkan mob but I can dream. (In college I harbored fantasies of working for the CIA… I think I read Harriet the Spy too many times as a kid.) It was a fun mission nonetheless–I had the pleasure of being a super spy tester for Sewaholic’s new pattern, the Cambie dress.

So far I’ve only made the Lonsdale dress, but it fit so well that I’ve really looked forward to trying other Sewaholic patterns, and I leapt at the chance to try this out.

My first impulse was to get all rocknroll on the dress, possibly contrast with all the femininity in some kind of animal print. Then Derek talked me into the hat. I HAD to design the dress around the hat.

It was the week before Easter, and I was reminiscing over all the wonderful Easter Sunday church clothes my mother made for us girls. And dreaming of sipping mint juleps on a lovely Sunday afternoon in the garden.

My friend Stephanie and I decided to make a day of playing dress-up and took off to the East Side to catch some light and street shots. “Everyone dresses pretty funky over there, no one will really think we’re out of place,” she assured me.

Hehe, we were not exactly invisible. There is something about girls in their summer clothes… That and the fact that we were running around with all this camera equipment. I think our waiter at the restaurant afterward thought we were doing a magazine editorial, because he asked for credit. (Thank you, Paul!) A lovely elderly gentleman stopped us while we were sitting on a bench and exclaimed, “You young ladies are so pretty. Y’all remind me of summers in Mississippi. Those dresses… those dresses are like the ones the ladies and my mama all wore on Sunday afternoons. Takes me back. Brings a smile to my face.” (Insert a big fat Texas drawl in there, and you will hear the essence of Southern graciousness.)

Just so Y’ALL can see what she was wearing.

It was so much fun to have a friend behind the camera because, gee, I’m actually laughing and dancing in most of them! She’d just seen a flamenco performance the night before so I was taking cues.

So, details, details. This dress is actually my second version! I made another out of a simple cotton jacquard so that I could give honest tester feedback by following the testing instructions, with one of the recommended fabrics. I put some photos up on Flickr so you can get an idea of what it looks like with the waistband and in a more structured fabric.

Fabric: Absolutely delicious, couldn’t-stop-stalking cotton/silk voile with a delicate watercolor floral. So soft to the touch. Despite this being a sheer fabric, the voile was actually a dream to sew. It unravelled like a beast, though, so I needed to work fast to finish the seams. The lining is a nude silk habotai.

(I should probably mention that Tasia didn’t recommend sheer fabrics for the a-line version… but I didn’t mind a bit of pocket show-through. It sorta blends.)

Pattern & Fit Changes: My muslin fit almost perfectly, but I wanted to take out some of the width around the hips. On both front and back pieces I took redrew the side seams about 1/2″ in from hem up to the hipline, and graded back out to 0 the waist. This took out 2 inches total from the hip and hem width. Some of you may notice that the pockets of the a-line skirt version and the waistband are almost identical to those on the Lonsdale. I almost took the waistband out of the Lonsdale and wanted to try doing so on this dress. This was actually a very simple modification. To keep the length and the waistline in the right spot, I lengthened both the bodice and skirt waistline by 1/2″, re-shaped the darts, and walked the pieces together to be sure the waist seams matched.

Anyone thinking of making this? I’m convinced this pattern will make a lot of happy dresses and makers, especially for those of you who like a bit of frou. I’m pretty happy because I think I’ve just found myself a good starting block, tnt, what have you… I’m already dreaming of a strapless version with a few bodice changes….

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