I made a dress!

I think I have become a compulsive sewer.

It being the 4th of July, I had the day off, and yesterday I was so excited about it that I decided I would make a dress! I had a few yards of light brown sprigged quilting cotton, and it seemed the perfect stuff for a vintage-inspired summer dress, something with a fitted bodice and a full skirt. So I sat down to make one, because why not, really?

My dad bought me 62 vintage zippers on eBay, but they probably won’t arrive before next weekend, so I had to come up with a fitted bodice that didn’t have any zippers. Luckily for me (I thought), I have a lovely blue dress that not only buttons in the front, but also doesn’t have any darts, so I would just take a pattern off that–no adjustment required, since it fits me perfectly, etc. etc.

dresses on the line

(Sad side note about the blue dress: I’ve had it for a couple years and never washed it, and decided it was high time it was washed. I handwashed, but it still bled blue and red and purple all over the place and it is looking a bit faded and blotchy in spots. Not in a super noticeable way, but how do you wash things like that that bleed like mad?)

Of course the reason it doesn’t have any darts yet still fits perfectly is because it has armscye princess seams. I blithely traced it onto brown paper, cut out the pieces, and prepared to sew them . . . and then realized the edges of the pieces were curved. In opposite directions. I have no idea how it took me so long to realize that this might be problematic or confusing, but by the time I had noticed it was far too late to go back, and I definitely had no better plan, so I forged on ahead, found some video tutorials, and sewed the dress.

dress

dress back

It was a learning experience, for sure. I had no way of knowing how much seam allowance I would need, and tried using washable markers to denote where my pieces should match up, but in the end I was more preoccupied just trying to keep the pieces matching up at all while I curved them in directions none of them wanted to go, so the bodice didn’t fit perfectly. The dress being sleeveless, the armholes pooched out in unfortunate, boxy ways. In the end I ditched my armhole interfacing and added darts–even though it seemed silly to have darts and princess seams at the same time.

The internet cautioned me against french seams on armscye princess seams, but I don’t have a serger or zigzag or anything of that ilk, so I tried to finish my seams by turning them under and sewing along the edges, adding some decorative topstitching while I was at it. I can’t say that it worked splendidly, I’m afraid, but luckily no one is looking at the inside of my bodice and I can just handwash the dress from now on.

I stayed up until 2 AM sewing and finished the skirt this morning. I had to teach myself how to make a placket!

I cannibalized buttons from a cardigan that I’ve never worn and wouldn’t wear buttoned anyway…

buttons

…And a hook-and-eye from a blue cut-up evening-gown that I subsequently decided didn’t fit very well anyway and deprived of its zipper as well.

I also made a sash, not because it’s at all helpful or necessary but mostly because I still have lots of fabric and I like sashes. It’s good practice for sewing long, straight seams, anyway.

dress with sash

Yay! Overall I’m really pleased–it’s not perfect, by any means, and it definitely falls short of my imagination, but on the other hand it is way better than what I expected last night at 1 AM. It is something I will wear, and happily, and the next thing I make will be even better! I am not giving up on this bodice pattern, either; it’s lying scattered around my floor with scraps of fabric at the moment but sometime I might play around with the neckline and figuring out how to work with seam allowance.

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8 thoughts on “I made a dress!

  1. Cuckoo Chanel

    The dress looks really cute on you!! The buttons are cool, I love the sash, and I adore the flow of the skirt. Great job.

    Reply
  2. ooobop!

    I think you did such an amazing job. To actually create a pattern from an existing dress is no mean feat. You will have learned heaps from this experience, I’m sure and also created a beautiful new dress at the same time. I am also extremely impressed!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: The Ashland Dress | SIDEWALK STYLE, DIRT ROAD DIGS

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