August 8, 2014

The First Dress I Sewed (for myself)

A few months ago while I was doing laundry I came across the first garment I ever sewed for myself (because I had finally gotten to the bottom of the laundry pile).  As I was hanging this particular dress up I was picking apart all the mistakes I now know I had made.  I made this dress over three years ago but it was a UFO until after I moved to SoCal 2 years ago.  All I had left was a zipper and the hem but it took me about a year to get to it.  It was the first zipper I ever put in and you can definitely tell!  But let's start with the beginning of my tattle-telling.

I decided to use New Look 6886 and make a dress.  The style is very much something I'd wear as I'm a big fan of fitted bodices and flared skirts as a result of a mis-proportioned body.  I had already bought material for a different pattern (this was before my fabric addiction turned into a fabric stash) and I decided to switch patterns since they both called for the same amount of fabric.  No big deal there.  My first mistake came in looking at ( or not looking at) the measurements for the body.  I decided to sew a size 14 because that was my bust size and I knew the skirt was flared so I wasn't worried about my hip size.  I had read on many blogs about the ridiculous amount of ease in Big-4 patterns so I thought I'd be fine.  After I cut everything and had started sewing my bodice I freaked out.  I finally looked at the finished waist measurement and measured my waist over and over again, coming up inches short (or too much, your choice).  So... I decided to add 1 1/2 inch panels to the back of the bodice on either side and the same amount on each side seam of the skirt, thinking this would cover it.

Obviously I had no idea about how to adjust fit correctly (I don't actually know that I know now either) and this dress ended up being too big...  By almost exactly the amount I had added.  Funny, right?  I readjusted the back by the zipper, tightening it up to fit with pins.

I had also  decided to add a skirt lining, so I cut my lining using the skirt pattern and narrowing it's volume.  After that I added gathered tulle in an attempt to make the skirt poufier (oh the days that I always wore something poufy!).  That tulle got cut off after the first wash- it became a mess.

Because I decided to add a skirt lining I had no idea how to insert the zipper since a lining wasn't included in the directions.  I tried tho.  I pinned it in and sewed it up and...

I had a totally un-matching waist seam and one top of the back higher than the other.  Oh dear!

I folded the excess on top down, topstitched over it and cut out the excess- total chaos.

As a result of my incorrectly inserted zipper, the bottom of it had a funny hole and pucker.

The inside seams aren't finished but they haven't frayed terribly too much.

The shoulder straps are too long for my short shoulders.  I even ripped out the seam once to try and shorten them, but they're still too big and fall off my shoulders.

Actually, considering  how little I knew about adult clothing construction then and how fearlessly I went about it, it's not that bad.  Nowadays I make multiple muslins and hope my adjustments will work, but I'm not so fearless like that anymore.  I could definitely use that again, if anyone finds some you-don't-know-what-you're-getting-into-fearlessness lying around. 

I didn't wear this terribly often until recently since the shoulder straps fall off my shoulders and the skirt caught on the skirt lining and bunched up when I walked- it was sooooo annoying.  Here's some advice- don't use quilting cotton as a lining for quilting cotton.  It just doesn't work.

I recently decided to cut out the lining so it wouldn't be such a pain to wear.  It worked (happy dance).  The shoulder straps still fall down, but at least I don't have a bunching up skirt.  Since the most obvious mistakes are on the back I figure out of sight out of mind- right?  The best part was the first time I wore it after this adjustment I had two complete strangers compliment me on my dress, one even asked where I got it.  It kind of made my day.  I wear this dress more often now. I love how it's fitted just for ME and I wonder why I don't sew myself more clothes.

I learned so much from this dress, especially since all my sewing before this was children's clothing and home sewing.  Even with all my mistakes, I still feel good wearing it and have pride in it being me-made.  I've recently decided to use this pattern again, hopefully with different mistakes this time.  Hehe!  Also, my roommate would love for our living room to be completely pink like that (and I'm totally amused by the pink filter!).

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