My latest dress has been an interesting experience that I hope not to repeat anytime soon.
It all started when I decided that my next sewing project would be to make a dress using just my dress pattern block. I’ve had this pattern block for quite some time, but somehow I always seem to get side-tracked by patterns that I just have to make up. So with a cotton fabric that I really liked and a dress block that I was convinced should almost sew itself, I was pretty confident that this little project was going to be easy. So easy in fact that I decided that I would also have a crack at altering the pattern so that it had a square neckline and an exposed zipper in the back. I could barely contain myself when I purchased a beautiful metal zipper that I was certain was going to look the business in the back of my dress.
Everything was going strictly to plan – alter neckline so that it is now square rather than round (yes), cut out the pattern adding the correct amount of seam allowance (yes), create facings to match neckline and armholes (yes), sew darts (yes), interface and sew facings (yes). This is all going along so brilliantly, I am the world’s greatest sewer! Sew in the zipper……..
WTF! Beautiful metal zipper is way too heavy for my cotton dress! First thought – rescue this situation by interfacing the seam allowance for the zipper (maybe it just needs some stabilising and some support). Duh no, its way, way too heavy. Second thought – ditch the metal zip and go for a black invisible zip. Of course this required unpicking the metal zip, very depressing not to mention effing annoying!
After a few moments (1 hour) of soul searching, I sewed in a black invisible zip. It looked okay but there was never going to be any deep feelings between us. I finished off the dress and tried it on in front of the mirror. Enter baggin’ draggin’ an saggin’! The dress of a thousand sins -it gaped at the arm holes, it bagged out at the back, it made everything about me look saggy, baggy and draggy!
What to do? I was really disappointed in how this dress had turned out but I didn’t want to throw it in the cupboard never to be seen again. I knew the problems were largely fitting problems so I asked one of my sewing friends to fit it too me and help work out what was wrong. After some discussion we realised that I had stuffed up the facings. Of course to fix this required a lot more unpicking, recutting the facings and unpicking the zip yet again. I eventually got there (thank you Ansey). It’s only in retrospect that I also realised how well behaved this fabric had been during all these marathon unpicking and resewing melodramas. Way to go cotton!
It’s taken a mountain of patience to make this dress but in the end I think it was all worth it. I’m not sure if the style is really my thing but I learnt a lot about fit, zips and altering my pattern block and that’s what really counts. (I also learnt a bit about calmly accepting that something has to be unpicked…but let’s not go there!)
Oh and another thing…
As part of my love of sewing I have been collecting toy sewing machines for a while now. On his recent visit home to Tasmania my husband Chris picked up this little beauty. It’s a Vulcan Minor made in England. I’m not sure how old it is….possibly from the 1950s or 1960s?? The box is a bit tatty but the machine looks brand new!
My next project is a black and white skirt that I have been wanting to sew for a while. Hopefully I will spend more time sewing and less time unpicking!