Style 2708: My Moby Dick Of A Dress

The dress represents for me my overall madness for sewing. Madness in a good way and sometimes in a “black heart I stab at thee” madness. That kind of craziness that comes over you and you drive yourself mad trying to figure it out and you’re just stuck in this endless insanity. Usually I have the good sense to bail, but this one, ah, she was different….

2708 Jill caseI bought this pattern back in the 90’s and have always been a big fan of the shirt waist dress. Very popular in the 40’s and 50’s and every other year or so we see it back in various styles. Michael Kors had something along these lines for Spring 2015. All very lady like and really, hands down my favorite look. I think the style of dress is dress at it’s best.

If you like to look through vintage sewing patterns from the 40’s you’ll see this style in many incarnations, some housework casual others lunch with the ladies chic. There are hundreds of patterns new and old that have a similar look. But, for whatever reason I HAD to have this one work. There are a few I have worked on with varying results but always longed for my white whale of a dress: Style 2708. Pattern envelope 2708 Jill case

The dress is easy to make, but looking good, not so easy.  I made the dress straight out of the package at a size 12. I, being naive and new to the murky waters of fit I thought that the dress would fit because the measurements on the package told me such. And, you guessed it, the fit was horrible . So, I put the dress and pattern away and revisited it every so often when I would hear its siren call to me: “Try one more time”. All in all I made 9 alterations to the pattern and at least four dresses in various fabrics. At some point a year or two ago when I was going through my patterns I almost got rid of it. I hadn’t tried to make the dress in quite some time and was really ready to just harpoon it in the face and be done with it. I tried every pattern company as  substitutes, but they just didn’t do it for me. I tried one more time and this is the result. I slayed it. Near perfect (except those damn sleeves).

2708 Jill case

Changes I made 

  • SBA
  • Went down a size (helpful)
  • Narrow chest adjustment
  • Raised the bodice 2″


  • Lengthened the front/back and side skirt pieces
  • Added 1″ to the underarm
  • Added 1″ to the sleeve pieces

Sleeve 2708

  • Took the side seams in (then took them out when I gained some weight)
  • Moved the buttons holes over about 3/8″ and decreased width between buttons
  • Took 4″ off the sleeve
Style 2708

Purple dress the armscye has been raised. Cream dress is the original. Still could do more.

Dress 2708 Style

Original , first attempt.

What I learned 

  • If you love a pattern buy 2. I bought 2 and I’m so glad I did. After practically destroying one I luckily found another uncut version in my stash. I now have a copy on Swedish tracking paper.
  • Save your muslins. All of them. I only saved the first one, so after not working on the dress for quite some time I wasn’t sure where I left off.  I had to basically start all over. Or at the least take notes.
  • Some times it’s the pattern. The dress is kind of weird.
  • The gathers at the bust and where they hit at the bodice, if they aren’t perfect you look like you have saggy boobs.
  • The 3 piece sleeves are wack and there is way too much ease on the front and back of the sleeve. You can see it even in the line drawing. I think the ease is there to accommodate for the shoulder pad but it’s just way too much.
  • The armholes are gigantic even with a small shoulder pad.

What the future holds

  • I have another one cut out in a rayon crepe. I think I’ll like the drape much more.
  • I now am using this dress as a sloper/block sort of thing
  • Experiment with cap sleeves
  • Sleeveless version with facings/lining
  • Converting gathers to darts
  • Want to take a great fitting sleeve/armscye from another pattern and transfer it over to the sloper and see if I can’t make traditional, better fitting sleeves/armcyes etc.
  • I want to make 5 and wear them every day of the work week!
  • Make different collars
  • Maybe take the neck in or whatever that would be. The neck area looks a little big but it could be the stiff fabric.
  • Double gauze for another version

Any other ideas? 

I’m so glad I rode this one out and didn’t abandon the whole thing. Most of the issues are in the bodice area and then those blasted sleeves, all of which my limited fitting skills early on just could not handle.

And, that is my Moby Dick of a dress. Very happy I ‘stuck’ with it.

Do you have any white whales in your sewing archive, projects that keep calling you back? Success, failures, madness? Do tell!

Cultural Approbation vs. Cultural Appreciation & MFA’s Kimono Wednesday

I recently was asked on Instagram about the Kimono Wedensdays that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston was holding earlier this summer. Museum attendees could try on a kimono similar to the one in Claude Monet’s La Japonaise . On the Instagram post there was a question of “is this fun or racist”. I immediately replied sounds like fun! Turns out a lot of people thought the event was “yellow face” and extremely offensive. As I explored the controversy I was kept up late night exploring my feelings about race, cultural appropriation and the Internet as a extremely unfriendly place for race discussions. Continue reading

McCalls Sewing Pattern 7131 – Warning: Culottes Ahead!

Ah, culottes. AKA gauchos, knee breeches, skorts or my favorite, bifurcated skirt. Whatever name you call them there are few garments that cause such passionate debate. There are two camps, those that love ’em and those that don’t.

McCalls 7131

McCalls 7131

I happen to love culottes or I wouldn’t be wasting my sewing time by making them. So, here they are in all their glory, plus a quick review. I especially like these since they are so voluminous and skirt like. I do want to make a more trouser like pair for fall with less volume.

  • McCalls 7131 has three different length options. I choose D. I’m 5’7 and I made a 1/2″ hem to give you some perspective.
  • Cut the size 10 as the fit is generous, I ended up taking in the elastic by 2 inches.
  • Pattern is super easy and I love the flat front waist band.
  • I opted not to use the 1/4″ elastic but instead used a 2″ wide elastic band.
  • I took up the crotch length to fit my personal measurements.
  • Next time I think I would make an adjustment to decrease the amount of fabric on the back waistband.
  • The fabric is from JoAnn’s, a poly silky.
  • You can’t really see it but it has nice soft pleating in the front and lovely scoop  pockets.

And, that is all there really is. I posted a video on Instagram to show the flow of the garment. Warning: I just rolled out of bed and took these photos (hence the headless shots) in the video I’m looking a bit worn. But, wearing these just makes me want to kick my heels up!

On to the Awkward Modeling portion of the show.

Mccalls 7131

McCalls 7131 from Denver Sews

FULL 7131

SIDE 2 7131

Mmmm. Pockets.

And, I dare you not to do this at least once in your culottes.

Mccalls 7131 from Jilly at Denver Sews


Simplicity 1810 Completed

I made this dress over the weekend. It is similar to Vogue 8645 I made last year. This is a very easy pattern to sew.

Simplicity 1810 Jill Case Denver Sews Here are the changes I made to the pattern.

  •  I lengthed it by about four inches. I cut out the size XS.
  • I did not use the facing pieces but instead put in bias binding along the neck line. I made matching bias binding for the arm holes.
  • The arm holes seemed unusually high for me so I dropped them by about 1/2″.
  • I did not sew on the ties, but made one in the chartruse in the photo and then I also made a matching belt too.
  • I like the option of not having the ties attached.
  • I used a silky from JoAnn Fabrics.
  • It has the great fortune to make my bust look bigger. Win all around.

Swing or tent dresses are always popular in summer, it’s like wearing a slip. The next time I make this I most likely will put in pockets.

1810 (1)


Blogging and the Pursuit of Happiness – Or, Why Bother?

 Has anyone noticed the tumble weeds blowing around Denver Sews? 


Well, for those that have been wondering we’ve had a few things come up. For one Kitty, who really was the whip cracker of the group, she kept us all on task and kept us moving forward. Kitty had family and friends to tend to and I think the joy of blogging and sewing kind of ran out for the time being. For Jamie work this time of year amps up for her and Lynn had a daughter going off to Japan and family and work obligations.  But, she’s posted the first post in a long time!

As for myself, my spouse lost his job, my mother-in-law was evicted from her apartment and had to move into what is essentially our porch and, she has Alzheimer’s which makes the whole thing like a crazy real life Beckett play. Plus, I write up to 5 blog posts/newsletters a week on sewing for work. Even if I had the time the desire has just not been there. Continue reading

Zip and Clip Bag – A Perfect Bag for a Night Out


I’ve been looking for a pattern for a small hipster or cross-body bag that could securely hold my phone, a credit card, some cash and maybe something else like a camera or some ladies’ accoutrements, shall we say. Most hipster or cross-body bags I’ve seen have been too big or without many secure pockets, but this Zip & Clip bag I found on Craftsy is just perfect! The pattern is by Lisa Amundsen whose website is Continue reading

The Magic of Tidying Up – Getting Rid of Stuff #konmari Style

If you follow me on Instagram I have posted photos of my journey to a better more organized life. I’ve read organizing books and made attempts here and there to de-clutter and get my sh!t in proverbial order with little luck. I found Marie Kondo’s book at B&N during their New Year – New You promotions they do every year. Immediately, it resonated with me so I brought it home and read it cover to cover.


This is not my closet. Image from


First off Marie Kondo is from Japan and some of the things that she talks about may seem really peculiar to westerners but like any self-help book you need to take what works and ditch what doesn’t or maybe tweak it a bit here and there.

What I really liked was her organizing by category rather than room. Brilliant. Rolling your clothes, I’m not quite so sure about that, so I’m testing rolling vs. laying flat to see what works. Talking to your clothes and possessions? Weird, but I talk to myself in an Australian accent when I sew alone so not too uncomfortable for me. My kids would walk by and ask who I was talking to and when I said my underwear or my box of hats, they backed away slowly and I never saw them again for the day.

She said it can take 5-6 months which I thought was laughable, until I started and ya, it’s going to take that long. I’m hoping to get the most done by June in time for my big blow out garage sale.

Here are a few more observations I’ve had. I’m still far from done with the house. So far I’m the only one of the family to do it.  In her book she says that family members will naturally join in. But, my family is part pig and can live in the utmost disgusting surroundings.  I’ve done a test and just didn’t do any cleaning whatsoever; didn’t notice a thing. It’s really gross.

It a lot of cases people on Instagram will take ‘before’ photos, and in many cases my ‘before’ was just way too embarrassing.  Some of my before’s just don’t even show the half of it.

The categories that I’ve finished so far are:

  • Toiletries/Linens
  • Books
  • Clothes

Clothes has been by far the biggest,longest most rewarding category. She suggests doing this first, which I did not. I wanted to wait until the change of seasons so I could bring all my clothes out and not have to unload/load/unload all over again when spring/summer came.

This took over 12 hours for me. And, towards the end I was  like – No joy here, get rid of it. Or the opposite – Ya, whatever. It brings me joy, yippee, next. I would recommend breaks to refresh. And, at some point I forgot to ask each item “Do you bring me joy” ( I spoke in a German accent here), and just thought of how I would wear it. It’s important to really ask, because sometimes you’ll like it or wear it, but does it really make your heart sing and do you really feel spectacular in it. Then it’s a keeper. We all have those clothes in our closets that we truly do love, that make us look good, that we feel good in and so forth. Those are the keepers! It said that of all the clothes we have we only wear 20%. Wow!

Finished work.

Click for a bigger view.

I did wear something the next day that I chose as a keeper and when I wore it I didn’t like it. It was wrinkled, too big, old and so on. When I got home I started another bag for charity. It’s an ongoing process I think for awhile at least. Keep in mind her No Lounge Wear rule too. It  was a trap I was falling into towards the end.

I would recommend taking time and maybe breaking the clothes category into sections, depending on your closet it can be a huge task. But, so worth it. I still need to do my shoes and lingerie. But, I really needed a break on this so I’ve stopped for awhile.

There were some things that I had made that needed alterations and in some cases I just chucked them because it caused me way to much stress thinking of altering the darn thing. Out it goes. And, those that I did alter really do bring me joy, I love the fabric or whatever it is, and that I will do the work to make it ‘right’ so I’ll wear it. If not, out it goes.

As far hanging clothes I love padded satin hangers, but you’ll notice they take up a lot of space. I removed those and replaced with plastic and wood. I like the ‘click-clack’ sound plastic hangers make, I feel like I’m in my own boutique.

I am keeping the padded hangers for the sweaters I wear in fall and winter. Many items in the wardrobe are folded, and group by color or long sleeved, short sleeve etc. I like the idea of rolling, but we’ll see how it goes.

I also like hanging my jeans. I may not wear a pair all day or wear more than once before washing. I like hanging them over folding or rolling.


With toiletries I think it’s less about keeping things that bring you ‘joy’ and more about organizing and ditching things you don’t need. Really, holding a jumbo box of tampons will never really be synonymous with ‘joy’.  Well, unless your period is late.

Book category was easy. I just don’t need so many of them in my life right now. I kept some that are particular meaningful for me as well as reference and some sweet children’s books. Then I took many down to 2nd & Charles and got 22.00 cash.

For all three categories mentioned I also did these for my 2  piglets. The large pig, well he’s on his own. Not touching it.

My sewing room will be it’s own category with multiple sub-categories. I plan on doing this one near the end. It’s going to be tough.

 If you’re on Instagram one of the hash tags is #konmari and some of the folks before and after photos are jaw dropping. I feel like the amount of my stuff is average for an overly consumptive westerner. But, wow there is some amazing work going on.  It’s inspiring, it’s like the Biggest Loser. I feel if they can do it I can too.

Warning: There was a photo from one person who said she now has all her clothes in one closet, no off-season storage. Immediately I felt that I didn’t do enough and I felt inadequate.  It’s a common theme with me, the relentless comparing to others. But really, everyone’s closet is there own and the work I do on mine is mine alone. It’s hard work no matter the size of the closet or how many garbage bags were sent to Goodwill. If you do this you will revel in your new found de-cluttered state! Keep me posted if you do the Marie Kondo method.