Little by little, I think I’m getting better at this sewing business, though I still have a long way to go before I can say that I am no longer a beginner.
Pattern: Truffle Dress
Fabric: Moderate Stretch Rayon for Muslin and Moderate Stretch Polyester for non-muslin (3 yards each)
Alterations: Small Bust & Sway Back Adjustments
Sizes: 0 for the bodice, 8 for the skirt
This pattern is from the Colette Sewing Handbook which the author uses to impress upon the up-and-coming sewist to carefully plan out the pattern (measure & alter the pattern pieces, make & fit a muslin) before cutting into your fancy fashion fabric. Below is my ‘wearable muslin.’ In the making of this muslin, I was very responsible and I engaged in all of the aforementioned best sewing practices. Even still, when I first finished my muslin, it had a pretty good fit, although there was considerable bagginess at the bust despite the SBA. To try and correct the bagginess, I pulled the fabric from the front of the bodice up and over to the inside and handstitched it to the lining. I suspect that was a very ‘slapdash’ way to correct the fit, but I didn’t see any other way and, heh, it’s a muslin anyway.
As for the construction, one major modification that I made to the pattern was to convert it to a side zipper rather than a back zipper. Please, can someone clarify for me why it seems that most dresses have back zips? I do yoga regularly and seem to have pretty good shoulder flexibility, but the idea of having to contort my body in such a way as to zip up a back zipper is beyond practical. Or perhaps there is an easy way of zipping up (and then zipping down) a back zipper??? I have no idea. Anyway, in employing the Colette Handbook’s recommendation about planning out my pattern, I therefore eliminated 1/2 inch from the back pattern piece (since I didn’t think I needed that space for my zipper installation). The only funky thing about this pattern modification was that I couldn’t figure out how to then ‘right’ the lining. Per the pattern, with the right sides of my bodice pieces facing, I stitched the neckline and the armholes, leaving a small hole in one of the shoulders to pull the dress through so that the right sides would be out. I pulled the dress out of this hole multiple times and each time it was the same; I could pull only one half of the dress through correctly and the other half would be twisted. Later, as I was pondering this when I should have been sleeping, I realized that I had inadvertently made a moebius (so for the second version of the dress, I cut open the back bodice where the zipper would have gone and was able to pull the dress through correctly).
I spent several days ruminating over what I should do about this lining conundrum and I finally realized that I couldn’t have both the neckline and the armholes stitched the way that I had them, and ripped out the stitches at the armholes and was able to flip the lining over the neckline to the inside of the dress. I then was faced with two raw edges at each of the armholes and wasn’t sure what the best method of finishing them would be. I spent a few more days thinking about this and finally just decided to use some of the bias tape that I continue to buy for super cheap at thrift and antique stores. From my stash, the color and width of bias tape that seemed most appropriate was this kelly green that I actually like quite a bit, though it does make the dress seem more casual.
Having successfully made a wearable muslin, I then confidently started cutting into my fashion fabric, and that’s where it started to go awry. First, because the bodice of the muslin was so baggy, I decided to augment my SBA even more dramatically and I think I somehow made a concave bust adjustment. After I initially put enough pieces together for a try-on, I was horrified to find that I couldn’t even pull it onto my body. Fortunately, I had just enough fabric left over to cut out the bodice pieces again, which I did and tried to re-correct my over-correction in the bust. Then, I don’t understand how or why, but my front and back bodice pieces weren’t lining up at the sides and so I ripped and re-stitched.
I guess all of this made me cranky (sadly, the Colette Handbook doesn’t have a chapter on what to do when you want to throw your sewing project into the incinerator) and I started losing interest in finishing this dress, instead dreaming about what project to work on next. However, because I am trying to be better, I persevered and finished the dress without too many more unexpected moments. I think it turned out okay, but I feel that my muslin was much more successful than this version, which feels like a disappointment.
I think that the business of the fabric print detracts from the design effect of the front drape piece. Also, I don’t know why this one is so much shorter than the muslin; I definitely prefer the length on the muslin. And below you can see my side zip; for the fashion fabric version I decided to use just a normal zipper rather than an invisible zip. However, one good thing about this version is that the fit of the bodice is MUCH improved and I definitely prefer it to the muslin with the weird wrinkles at the neckline where I slapdashed it to fit better.
I’m still patiently waiting for the time when my sewing skills are sufficiently advanced that I can just proceed the sewing best practices of planning and muslining, and then actually make a finished piece with relatively no frustration or difficulty. I’ll be celebrating my one year anniversary of embarking on this sewing journey in March, so I guess I shouldn’t give myself such a hard time that everything is not easy and perfect yet.