Oh my god I made a DRESS!
That was my exact reaction when I put it on for the first time. I am SO excited to share this accomplishment today, because this was my first EVER garment and it turned out great! I learned a lot about garment design and sewing with a pattern (two things totally new to me). Thankfully I had a great teacher, Professor Pincushion! She has her own sewing blog and posts tutorial videos for anything you could think of related to sewing. I found this full length video online and decided to make this dress too. It was so helpful, and I couldn’t have done it without her help. So, super huge thanks to Prof P! Everyone go check out her site here!
Now, on to the dress and the process!
This dress is made from Simplicity pattern 2444, from the inspired by Project Runway line. I chose the very simple but very cute basic version: sleeveless, no front tie or special collar. The dress has pockets and a fitted bodice with a full skirt (no lining, which makes it easy for the first-timers like me). After watching the entire video one night (yeah, I’ve got that much time on my hands right now), I ordered the pattern online. Once it arrived, I rushed off to Joann’s for fabric. I ended up getting a quilting fabric, 100% cotton, with a really fun blue and coral retro floral pattern. I opted for the quilting fabric over an apparel fabric because I felt it would be a good place to start, and easy to work with (I was right).
After pre-treating (washing and air-drying) the fabric, I cut out my pattern pieces for the size 12 (which I thought would be about equal to a US size 4/6, and most closely matched my measurements). I really felt that this was the most tedious part of the whole process, but I totally understand how important it is to be accurate here! I accidentally cut off some of the “notches” but found out later on that it was ok. I made sure to tape them back on the actual pattern for next time.
All throughout the sewing process I was marking my 5/8″ seam allowance with a fabric marker, because I didn’t quite trust myself to be able to eyeball it. I’m really glad I did that! And until I am comfortable, I will continue to do that for other pieces I make. I also will make sure to mark darts and dots on the pattern on the wrong side of the fabric. I didn’t think twice and marked on the right sides, and now I’ve got little marks on the front of the dress where the darts and pleats are, but those will come out when I wash it.
I accidentally sewed the pockets on inside-out! Whoops! I didn’t even realize it until I attached the first back piece of the dress to the front and sewed all the way around the reversed pocket pieces! I was really frustrated at myself for not noticing until that point, but I was able to easily fix it. I ripped out the seam from the bottom up just past the top of the pocket, detached both pocket pieces from that side and the other two sides (that weren’t sewn together yet), swapped them out so they’d face the correct way, and reattached. Sewing the two pieces back on the side of the dress I had already sewn was a little tricky, but I managed. Lesson learned: PAY ATTENTION!
The zipper was actually easy to attach! When I made the cover for my blue throw pillow, I used an invisible zipper, so I already had experience with that whole process.
I ended up taking the bottom hem up 3.25″, because I wanted the dress to hit right above my knee. I will always make this dress that length, so before I start my next one (which I already have material for, teehee) I will adjust the pattern so I don’t waste fabric. I’ll make sure to include how I do that on that particular post.
Once I finally completed my dress and put it on, I noticed some gaping at the front collar and around the back of the dress at the top. After doing some research online, I discovered that this is relatively common if you have a larger bust but “narrow” shoulders. I never realized that my shoulders were “narrow” until this happened, but now I understand what that means. Basically, because I am a C cup but otherwise thin up top, the width of my upper body above my bust apex (from back to front) is not proportionately smaller than the width of my bust, according to the pattern (my actual “high bust” is smaller than what the pattern says it should be- go figure) and thus I have extra material and space in that area of the dress. There are ways to adjust your pattern to fix this problem, which I will utilize next time. However, I couldn’t find any help in fixing my DRESS. So I had to improvise. Here’s what I did…
I didn’t want to experiment on my lovely new dress, so I make a mock-up of the back shoulder area, with the interfacing and lining of the collar included. Once I figured out a way to remove the excess fabric without ruining my dress, I set to work on the real thing. While wearing the dress, I marked two spots where I would insert a small dart, equidistant from the zipper on both sides. Then I sewed in the dart, and cut out the extra fabric. After that I cut through the collar lining down to the dart, ironed the dart flat towards to zipper, and sewed the collar lining back together, slightly overlapping itself to decrease it’s size.
Based on the way the back of the dress looks now, I have decided to leave the front as-is. The darts I created left tiny “bumps” of fabric in the back, so it’s not as smooth as it was. I don’t want that to happen in the front, so I am not going to do anything. The gaping is still there, but I’ll deal with it.
Overall, I am really very happy with my first dress! I have already purchased fabric for my next rendition of this pattern, but before I start on that one, I am going to make some adjustments to the pattern so the dress fits better at my neckline and waist. I am also going to add a border along the bottom of the skirt! Get excited!!