Monday, August 31, 2015

Kwik Sew Two-for-One: Bookish Inspirations

My "Book Dress" -- you can vote for me at

PatternReview has a regular series of monthly contests; this month's was the "Inspired By A Book" contest. As a librarian, how could I NOT enter this one?

I went back and forth with ideas, but finally decided on using the idea of a physical book as my inspiration. Rereading a favourite author, Ray Bradbury, made me think about the importance books play in civilization. There's a scene in Fahrenheit 451 in which a woman refuses to abandon her books when the Firemen come to burn her house down -- she'd rather not live without them. As Montag (our hero) encounters her:

"Come on, woman!"

The woman knelt among the books, touching the drenched leather and cardboard, reading the gilt titles with her fingers while her eyes accused Montag.

"You can't ever have my books," she said.

The idea of physical books vs. ebooks is also a constant refrain in my job -- I love both, in different settings. But the book as object is what inspired my idea for this dress.

Because I really wanted this to work, I first made a (hopefully) wearable muslin from a grey printed sheet and some leftover grey cotton from last summer's sewing. 

I'm very glad I did, because KwikSew 4098 is one messed-up pattern. The sizing was way off from what I expect from KwikSew. The finished measurement for the Large waistband, for instance, was indicated at 37". It was close to 34" in reality. Even with that, the Large skirt didn't quite fit itself to the waistband either, so I did a lot of last minute fixing and trimming and restitching of seams to get it all together nicely. My fault for not measuring all the pieces before cutting, so I'm glad it was a first go, not my good marbled fabric! 

I added trim to the grey dress, to try out the idea of piping my final make. Thanks to Facebook groups Monthly Stitch & MAGAM for their advice -- I decided to place the trim against the patterned fabric. It turned out very pretty, I think.

Then I added sleeves -- I chose two patterns, McCalls 6503 and Kwik Sew 4068 (both patterns with a sleeveless & sleeve view) and tried out each sleeve style. I ended up going with the other KwikSew for the grey muslin, and leaving it ungathered as I liked the bell shape. But for the final dress, the McCalls' narrower shape worked better. 

When I made the grey muslin I realized that I was going to need a big sway-back adjustment. I've never had to use one before, but adjusted the pattern to take a wedge 1/2" in length at the sides but nearly 1" in the middle. It seems to have worked nicely on the finished Book Dress, but I have to redo the original grey one.

I used a centre back zip in the grey, as called for in the pattern, simply because I couldn't find an invisible zip in the right colour. It worked okay, but was another reminder that I like invisible zips better, and so that's what I used in the final Book Dress. 

So I was super happy that I did a trial run on this one, and with a few unpickings & resewings, the grey one will be wearable as well. I tried out the cute patch pockets on the grey and really like them, but went with side seam pockets on the final make as I didn't want to interrupt the regular pattern of the marbling. 

Cute patch pockets

I don't think I'll use this particular pattern again, I had so many problems with sizing. Lots of redoing got the dress to the wearable and fitting stage, thankfully. But having to put in a zip three times is not my idea of fun. Still, I ended up with two very nice dresses so I am grateful for that, and the final Book Dress was exactly what I'd imagined in the first place.

closeup of bodice

closeup of back -- the piping is *nearly* perfect.

I match my marigolds!

So this is a two-for-one pattern in many ways -- I made two dresses from the same pattern, meaning I had 2 full weeks of cursing and jabbing myself with pins and washing blood out of fabric and having to do everything twice (hey, another two!) For some reason, this pattern was a massively complicated affair -- besides the sizing issues, there seemed to be something going wrong with nearly everything at some point. I'm so glad I had TWO reasons to continue.

I've entered the Book Dress into the PatternReview contest (and hey, you can soon vote for me there if you like) and this is also my project for the Monthly Stitch August theme, Two is the Magic Number! 


  1. What fantastic inspiration! Ray Bradbury's book is classic and your dress embodies that. Splendid. Now I am trying to decide what my book inspiration would be...too many!

    1. I just couldn't decide -- I also have SO MANY ideas for bookish inspiration.

  2. Both dresses look lovely on you. I am so glad you persisted. I am glad to know about the PatterReview contest; I haven't visited for a while, but surely will go vote! As an English teacher and fashion history buff, I am constantly inspired by whatever book I am reading when I sew....

    1. Thanks! If I hadn't had the contest deadline to push me I don't know if I would have persisted :) Glad I did though!

  3. The dress is so perfect on you!!! Good luck with the contest.

    1. Aw, thanks! It was just fun to push myself to participate.

  4. I love both dresses. I had thought of entering the PR contest with a Miss Jean Brodie inspired outfit but felt it didn't really fit into my plans (either sewing or wearing). I will be voting for your outfit.

  5. I love both dresses. I had thought of entering the PR contest with a Miss Jean Brodie inspired outfit but felt it didn't really fit into my plans (either sewing or wearing). I will be voting for your outfit.


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