Friday, November 20, 2020

A Factory Dress for the Literary Sewing Circle

Today is the final day of the "official" Literary Sewing Circle for the fall of 2020. However, I know that quite a few people had delays in getting their hands on the book this time around, so please know that you can still read the book, check out all the posts in this series and comment on them anytime, and if you do make a project, feel free to leave a link in the comments of the wrap-up post. If you are reading this far in the future, sharing your thoughts on the book is still very welcome! 

On to my own project for this round, inspired by The Night Watchman. I read this book first in the spring when it was newly released, and then again for the blog series, and I also listened to the audio version (read by the author, Louise Erdrich) while sewing. So I feel like I am really familiar with this novel and all the many characters who I came to really care about. 

I had many ideas for projects, but ended up going with one that mixed together a few elements of the book. I was taken by the idea of the jewel bearing plant, but couldn't find a good gemstone print to work with (my first idea). So I decided I'd make the Factory Dress by Merchant & Mills, as my nod to Pixie's workplace.

I also chose this bright blue linen from my stash; there are many references to blue in this book, from Pixie's blue coat that she's so proud of, to the family name of Juggie and Bernadette Blue. Wood Mountain's borrowed boxing robe is also blue, and Millie's glorious mission dress is a mix of blue, green & gold.

So all together this is a mix of inspirations, and a project I finally chose from among the many, many ideas I was working with. I'd still like to make something inspired by Thomas' wonderful penmanship, too! 

Now for the sewing details. 

This is a loose fitting dress, so I was careful to search for other makes on Instagram to get a feel for the ease and fit in other's projects before deciding on how I wanted to make mine. This helped give me a sense of the size to cut and any adjustments I might need before cutting. I think I've got it just about right for my sensibilities. 

It wasn't a very difficult dress; the construction is quite logical and well laid out, although the collar did give me some issues with a few puckers near the back shoulders. I don't think I clipped the collar seam well enough before adding the facing. I might go back and add a few clips into the final seam and press again to see it that smooths it out a bit. It's a tiny thing but something to note for next time. 

I wasn't sure if I should add the pocket to the bodice as it's not useful, but decided that it added to the style and so was needed visually. I like how it turned out! 

Otherwise a pretty quick sew. Sleeves are attached flat, the skirt is pleated not gathered so is easy to attach, and overall this was a speedy and enjoyable project. Since I used a looser weave linen, I did finish all the edges of all the pieces before construction, and that was probably the lengthiest element of the entire project. I love the clear blue, and think I might try this as a blouse next, as I really like the fit of the bodice. 

I hope you enjoyed The Night Watchman if you were reading along! Keep your eyes on this space for the next round of the Literary Sewing Circle, anticipated to begin in February or early March 2021.


  1. Cute dress and I love that shade of blue on you!

    1. Thanks! I wasn't sure if this different silhouette would work for me, but I like it -- the blue certainly helps :)

  2. Gorgeous blue color, perfect for your skin tone. Interesting dress pattern and looks good on you!

    1. Thanks Linda! I really like this linen, and am relieved and pleased that the pattern works for me.

  3. Sooo... I haven't worked with any loose weave stuff because of my FORE (Fear of Raveling Edges), so if you get a chance, I'd love it if you could talk more about how you finished those edges before putting the pieces together? Sorry if that's a dumb question, I'm still such a sewing noob!

    1. Never a dumb question about sewing, Meg! I tend to finish my seams simply, with pinking shears whenever possible. Nice and quick and doesn't use extra thread :) But this linen was too ravelly. I tested the pinked edge on some scraps but it wouldn't cut cleanly and just frayed out again. So I used the overedge foot & stitch on my regular sewing machine to sew along all the pattern edges before putting the pieces together. You have be a little careful not to go too fast and stretch out the pieces but it gives a nice finish. Although it uses a lot more thread!


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