July 19th, 2015

me: portrait

Sewing a dress: Part 1

So. Here we go, attempting my very first dress. Of course, I can't choose an EASY pattern to start with, now can I? No, no - I need to choose 1 that has cut-outs and inserts. :bangs head: Ah, well - I tend to jump in feet first, so why change now?

I decided I'd do this "right" - first I'd fit the pattern, to see what changes I needed to make, then I'd make a muslin (using old sheets....um, yeah. We'll talk about *that* in a moment!) and make any changes to IT, then add them to the pattern, THEN I'd cut the "real" fabric for the actual dress.

Yes, it's a lot of work. I want this dress to *fit*, so...it needs to be done.


First off, I traced the pattern onto medical exam paper. I pinned the front and back together, and tried them on Cat:

dress - pattern fitting front

dress - pattern fitting

Judging from this, it looks like the bodice actually *fits*. The skirt part will need work. I'm not 100% sure, though, because of those cut-outs (I tried pinning the inserts together, and pinning that piece into place, but it didn't work that well.)

So, I un-pinned everything, laid out the old sheet, and started cutting:

dress - cutting fabric

First up: I decided to cut both backs and both fronts out at the same time. It *should* have worked, and it would have saved time. Unfortunately, this sheet is a slinky bit of hell - the fabric shifts, and moves, and STRETCHES. :bangs head: So, both fronts ended up not matching (ditto the backs. :sigh:) Note made - I will cut the fronts and backs out individually when I get to the "real" fabric.

I did lay the pattern pieces back down and trimmed the fabric, but the pieces weren't 100%. I figure, they're close enough for this...I hope.

I took the parts to my machine, set it on the basting stitch (6 stitches to the inch), and sewed it up. Problem: I am used to quilting, where you use a 1/4" seam allowance. This? Has a 5/8" seam allowance...and it just looks HUGE to me. I get *why* you want more fabric in the seam allowance...but I foresee a LOT of french seams in my future. Or slightly more ease in my clothing. :lol: (1/4" on both sides will give me almost 1/2" EXTRA ease - not something you really want. :sigh:) I tried to use the seam guide on the faceplate, but if I quit staring at it like a manic, I reverted to trying to shrink it to 1/4". I need to work on this.

So. Please forgive the sloppy sewing of the inserts - I'm honestly not sure I sewed them in correctly. Again, this is just for sizing purposes - I will do it right on the real thing. (And - I already know I really need to re-do this in a heavier woven, NON-slip fabric. So...this exercise ended up being kind of pointless, from a fitting point of view. Oh, well...)

dress - form front

dress - form back

Again, it appears that the bodice works as-is. Might need a little tightening, but I'm OK with the fit right now. (Also again, I will be re-cutting it out of a heavier sheet....and I have on my list MUSLIN. One of the outlets we'll be going to soon has a deal - buy the bolt, get it for $1.25/yard. I think I need to invest in a bolt of muslin/lightweight cotton. This? Was an exercise in futility and frustration!)

Now, there are a few wrinkles on both front and back, but they smooth right out - I *think* it's the slinky hell-fabric clinging to the cover on Cat, and not something off with the fit. Again, I'll be re-doing this in different fabric.....

I have a photo of the dress on me, but...I'm not posting it. It looks almost exactly like the dress on Cat, only it's me, and....I don't wanna. :lol:

I need to think about the skirt.....I think I need to grade the pattern up to the next few sizes in the hip area (even though the size I chose MATCHED my hip measurement.....not sure what's up with that, but whatever. I was pretty sure I was going to have to re-vamp, anyway - I'm hard to fit.). I'm also not sure about the fit in the waist - I'll re-trace the pattern, up-sizing the hips, and cut it out of the other sheet before I make any determination.

SG bought me a different rotary cutter, which should make cutting weird shapes easier (the one I have is an older one, that has a.......guard? thingy around the handle. I can't cut curves with it - the handle-guard thingy makes it hard to maneuver. Straight lines? I can do those like a champ! But curves? Nope. The new one has just a knife-handle, and a smaller blade. We'll see if it helps.....

So! Back to the drawing board for me. Good thing I'm thinking of this as experience, huh? :lol:

Feel free to offer advice - unless it's about the color choices. :snicker: These were the sheets I had on hand, and I know the fabrics don't go together. And I HATE florals (SG said "Oh, I like this fabric! It'll be pretty as a dress!" :bangs head:), which is why I'm not upset with the failure. It got rid of the floral fabric! That makes it a win in my book! :lol:

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