Tuesday, 16 June 2015

that dress....

Let me tell you upfront: I am not at all pleased by the dress I recently made for myself. 


I did spend an inordinate amount of time looking for a dress that would suit my figure. Which is an out of shape pear of sorts. I may not look disproportionally huge but believe me, my measurements are proof to the contrary, often I have to go for the largest size possible. I found a bloggers collective, the Curvy Sewing Collective, which is a good place to start looking for a woman with my challenging shape. It is such an inspiring site and if you are on the large side, or of an unusual shape but still would like to make your own clothes, you should definitely explore it. 
Winifred dress
http://bluegingerdoll.com/collections/dresses/products/the-winifred-dress

To cut a long story short, I eventually came across this pattern: The Winifred Dress by Bluegingerdoll. I liked the look of it. There are lots of images online of women wearing the dress. They are of all shapes possible. The pattern is advertised as fitting a D cup. I was hopeful. The photo above is what inspired me. Doesn't the model look great? Busty and sexy. What could go wrong? Clearly plenty. 

I ordered the pdf pattern because I wanted to get started immediately. As you do. I already had the fabric, a gorgeous ruby red linen/cotton mix I bought here. It is soft and drapey and I imagined it would flatter me a great deal. 

The pdf pattern is not great. Not all of the 60 (!) A4 sheets of paper fitted together perfectly. This is not unusual for a pdf pattern but always annoying. I carefully measured myself (with help) and chose to blend two sizes together to reflect my shape. Smaller at the top, tapering out to a larger size for the bottom half.

The pattern is 'for beginners'. I am not sure what Bluegingerdoll's idea of a beginner is but it is certainly different from mine. In my view, a beginner needs detailed and clear instructions. A beginner also needs explanations why things are done they way they are done. I don't think I could have managed this pattern as a beginner. Don't get me wrong, it is not difficult to sew this dress. Not at all. It is cleverly constructed from four pieces and the construction is simple. I am not convinced by the finishing, which could be improved considerably. The pattern instructions are clear but there is some guessing required. Not good for a beginner. Take the collar. The instructions tell you to pin the collar facing and collar right sides together and stitch along the entire outer edge. Fine, not a problem. You then trim and clip and finish the seam, turn the collar and give it a good press. Fine. But then what? We are instructed to tack the collar facing to the shoulder seams and front opening, on the inside of the dress. Fine. But then you move on to sew the belt. There are actually raw edges on the collar facing at this stage! Seriously. The sew along on the blog suggests you can finish those anyway you like, even using pinking shears. I am not joking. I am not sure about you but I would have liked some tidying up, attaching the collar to the inside in some way, even with iron on facing if need be. I don't like flappy bits on my clothes. I handstitched the collar to the back of the dress but it was a bit of a pull and tug. When worn, the flappy parts of the collar show. I couldn't bear seeing raw edges and made a neat narrow hem. No pinking shears for me. It still looks wrong on the inside. It looks fine from the outside.



I am work accurately and carefully and I am fairly certain that I didn't mess up with the pattern, in fact I checked and rechecked when I noticed that the shoulders of front and back didn't match. The pattern instructions tell you to sew the shoulder seams, then ease the collar in place, which kind of works but it is not very satisfactory. There is a slight gather. I did actually email the designer, as suggested you do when you encounter a problem. There was no reply. The length of front and back are not identical in length. Not a problem of course but it annoyed me all the same. I went for just below the knee, lengthwise.






After I finished the dress, it looked just wrong on me. I measured my natural waist and adjusted the waist accordingly but the elasticated back waistline somehow sits to low, causing the upper part to bulge, a bit when like when you tuck in your shirt and then pull it out a bit (like we did in the 80s). It actually might look nice on someone with a waist.


The pretend box pleats in the front are a great idea but don't do me any favours. 



I do like the belt that covers the back elasticated waist. I found a lovely mother of pearl slide buckle. The dress looks best on a hanger. Don't get me wrong, with a bit of pulling and holding in place it looks ok. But not great. 

 

Lessons learnt? I should have made a toile and more importantly, I should evaluated my body more honestly. Would I make this dress again? No, not without major changes. Mostly to my body. And so my quest for a great dress pattern continues. Maybe I'll explore maternity wear patterns next, my tummy is rather large these days :-). If you have any suggestions, please let me know. 

The fabric is as gorgeous as I expected, although it frays easily (linen/cotton) and an overlocker would be grand for a neat finish.

I didn't have the heart to pose in the dress, hence some close ups and hanger photos. Please forgive me. 

Otherwise life is just grand. The ironing is piling up, the kitchen floor is sticky, the fridge is empty and the children unwashed. But we are happy. I hope you are, too! Cxx

18 comments:

  1. Don't you hate it when a project goes wrong like this? It sounds like the pattern left much to be desired. You must be feelin annoyed to have used that beautiful fabric on something you aren't happy with. I'm glad to hear you're happy in spite of the dress disappointment. :-)

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  2. How disheartening to have spent time and money on a dress that you were disappointed with in the end. What a shame! I do hope you find a pattern that suits you better; there must be one out there! I suspect you've already seen it, but www.Coletterie.com had a pattern used by the Curvy Sewing Collective - I do need beginner instructions despite knowing the basics and although I've not attempted more than a Sorbetto top, I found their pattern to be very good xx

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  3. What a shame it was so disappointing. Have you thought about a wrap dress? Good for the tummy area! I think a pdf pattern on 60 pieces of A4 would finish me off, well done for persevering. I know the perfect dress for you is out there somewhere, I hope you find it next time! Unwashed children here too, although I did scrub a couple of knees before bed. A lick and a promise. Fridge is full of allotment produce today which is making me happy. Kitchen floor average. Enjoy the rest of the week. CJ xx

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  4. I'm sorry it didn't work out. It sounds like you gave it a valiant effort. I have a ridiculous body. I often say I have the body of an old man. I carry virtually all of my weight in my torso and bust, with relatively thin legs, no butt and no hips. It's just stupid. I really need to have a look at that website, maybe there are more of my kind over there. :)

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  5. You sound like my body type, but I'll be you're taller. I know what a hassle I have trying to find patterns that will fit me. Sometimes using a print instead of a solid color will be more flattering.

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  6. How disappointing for you. Certainly a shame when the fabric was so gorgeous. No children here at the moment so the fridge is full and the floor is clean but it is quiet, so very quiet. Roll on the weekend when I have little visitors...

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  7. Have you looked at vintage style dress patterns, I am a definite pear shape more of a dumpy pear so anything thats fullers from the waist and hides the hips is for me, I hate it when they cut corners on finishing, all that effort and to be dissapointed.

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  8. Oh I'm sorry that the dress didn't work out the way you imagined. It's always frustrating to spend time and money and energy on something and then being dissapointed at how it turned out! :(

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  9. How disappointing after all the effort. Although the internet is a wonderful thing and has opened up all sorts of opportunities I do hanker for the days when we had a local shop where you could peruse the patterns, ask a knowledgable shop person and then walk out with everything including a proper pattern with proper instructions and proper finishing off instead of the current "who cares what the inside looks like because we just need something quick" aka The Mollie Makes Primark Effect. Do you read http://www.thedrapery.com.au/blog - it's pretty honest about patterns and body shapes.

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  10. I am so sorry that it didn't work out for you as it was obviously a lot of work. I don't dressmake, but it sounds as though it was quite difficult and therefore as a definite beginner I fear that this would have put me off quite a lot. I want my clothes to be finished off on the inside as well as the outside, so I totally agree with you about that! xx

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  11. What a disappointment but it does sound like the pattern was seriously lacking. You are not alone in despairing of your shape, believe me. I now regard clothes as a form of disguise, whereas when I was young I wore anything I liked and no doubt looked ok in most of it. X

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  12. How disappointing Christina. I sympathise very much. Like you I have been caught out by PDF patterns that you piece together from zillions of bits of A4. Very trying. The instructions sound more like guidelines than proper instructions to me and when one has gone to the trouble and expense of getting fabric and starting to sew that is not what one wants to encounter! Especially when time is short. If it's any consolation I too have had a couple of sewing misses recently - a wraparound skirt that well, didn't wrap around properly and has to be held down with some strategic safety pins if I wear it out of the house and a dress from a Japanese dress book that was too short in length and voluminous enough in width to accommodate a triplet pregancy. I thought I'd cut it down to make a smock-like top but two efforts at this and it's no better, just shorter! Very annoying! And a waste of good fabric to boot. It grieves me every time I catch sight of it! So you are not alone! Hang on in there and I'm sure you'll find a pattern that you're happy with. It's out there waiting for you - just a question of uncovering it! Happy sewing in spite of obstacles! E x

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  13. so frustrating.............. x

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  14. Sorry that it didn't turn out the way that you hoped it would. That sounds very frustrating to buy a pattern and then have issues with it. It is a bright cheery color though. How about wearing a cardigan or shawl - doesn't that always make a just okay dress look better? You are a talented seamstress though; I can't imagine sewing a whole dress for myself, unless it looks like a super sized version of the simple sleeveless tunics I make for my daughter.

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  15. What a shame about the dress after putting all of your effort into it. I think the PDF pattern alone would have me tearing my hair out. You can't tell whether my kitchen floor is clean or dirty, that could be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it :-) glad you are happy despite everything! Xx

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  16. Oh no! It's soul destroying to spend so much time, effort and money on something which ends up disappointing. I've only ever made one dress. It turned out OK but not fantastic. I'm not tempted to try another any time soon.
    I do like your sentiment at the end though - onwards and upwards. The ironing pile's pretty large here too, which is why it lives behind a closed cupboard door :)
    S x

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  17. I'm sorry it didn't work out. I definitely couldn't make this dress with my beginner's dress making skills. I'd need far more detailed instructions. I think you managed well despite the pattern' s flaws and the lack of instructions and you kept going until it was finished. It must be so frustrating though after all that effort plus using such a beautiful fabric . I hope you find a better pattern soon. I'm sure there's a perfect dress out there just waiting for you. X

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  18. I'm so sorry the dress was such a disappointment! It's so frustrating to work so hard in something and then be thwarted!! Hopefully your next effort will be the perfect dress for you! X

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx