Friday, 19 July 2013

you can't win them all


This week it's been incredibly hot and humid, and I realised while staring at my closet trying to pick clothes that I don't have many good "every-day" summer dresses.  I needed to fix that!  So I dug through my fabric shelf and pulled out this blue and white gingham, which was actually a queen-size sheet from the thrift store.  It's sturdy and fairly crisp but very soft, and I thought it would make a nice dress. 


It was not entirely a success.  Do not be fooled by look of extreme happiness in most of these photos.  It was HOT and the sun was in my eyes and we kept having to stop so I could wipe sweat off my face and neck, and as you will read I was less than content with the fit of the dress.  But I like some of the images we got even if I don't love the dress!  I think I'll keep my sister as my official photographer - she does a geat job. 


The pattern I chose is Butterick 5209, one of their "Retro" series from '47.  I really don't recommend it!  I'm not at all sure how it's supposed to fit a normal human being.  My first version of the bodice didn't even begin to fit - it was huge, and gapped unpleasantly through the bust, and looked nothing like the illustration.  The sizing seems to be way off on this pattern - according to my body measurements, I should have made the size 20.  I cut the 18 instead, since when I compared the supposed finished garment measurements to my own, the 18 seemed closer.  But it was still way too big.  I think this pattern is a victim of the pattern companies' insistance on adding lots of ease even to designs which shouldn't have it... but whatever the reason, it didn't work out.

Darts which shouldn't have to be there.  I do sort of like the effect, but it's the principle of the thing!
I almost just scrapped it and started over... then I decided to make it work.  I ended up taking a huge dart in the bodice on each side going from the armhole edge towards the point of the bust.  Then I had to add another smaller one next to these darts to tighten up the edge a little further.  I took in the centre seam of the midriff panel by about an inch, and re-gathered the bust to fit the narrower panel.  Then I took darts in the midriff panel since it was still too loose.  I took in the centre back seam a little bit near the top.  I stitched in some elastic on the side front edges to try to tighten them up yet a litlle more.  I shortened the halter straps by about an inch.  The neckline was particularly plunging and, especially with the completely open back, I wasn't comfortable with that, so I made a little crocheted rose to fill it in a little.


And the dress still doesn't fit completely the way I'd like.  I think I need to take in almost another inch from the back midriff panel so that it really sits snugly and doesn't sag with wearing.  The halter straps could probably be even a little shorter and tighter.  I don't love the way it sits under the bust, but I haven't figured out how to fix that yet.  I think if I made this style of dress again, I'd put interfacing in the midriff panels and maybe even some boning on the side and centre back seams, to counteract the wrinkling and scrunching.  I love the way the dress looks when I first put it on, but after even just a few minutes of wearing it shifts out of place.  I spent a lot of time on Wednesday readjusting the bodice, and I'd rather not have to pay that much attention to my clothes.

We found a snapping turtle in the side yard whilst taking photos...
 I also realised after looking at the photos just how flabby and un-toned my upper back is.  Hmmm.  Well, it's something to work on! 

I'm really much more satisfied with the way my hair turned out than with the dress itself!
I am proud of how I finished this dress.  There are no raw edges showing!  Most of the main seams are French seams, and the midriff panel has a self-lining whip-stitched on to hide all those seams.  I put the zipper in by machine and it actually worked out.  The hem came out well.  I had fun doing up my hair and makeup and taking pictures - I felt like a cross between a 1940s pinup girl and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, which is no bad thing ;)  But I don't love the dress yet.  I'll do a little more tweaking, and I'm sure I'll wear it, but I wish I'd started with a pattern that worked better to begin with.

7 comments:

  1. So Pinup! (And I LOVE Pinup.)

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    1. Me too! I sometimes wish I were confident enough to dress like this all the time... or that I cared enough to wear makeup like this more often ;)

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  2. Your dress is beautiful, but... wow, that didn't stitch up the way the pattern shows! I was eying that for the cap sleeve version but I think I'll pass and find a different base pattern. You did phenomenal tweaking though and I actually do like the armhole darts. I hope you find a way to love it!

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    1. I was hoping it would work out because I love the cap sleeve version too! But with all the alterations I had to do to make this fit, there's no way the sleeves would even match up to the bodice anymore :/ Of course it wouldn't need to be quite so tightly fitted if it had a back and sleeves, either, so maybe the fit issues would be less important?

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  3. Your dress is so cute! I've made the other view of that pattern and didn't really have any problems with the fit...I wonder if mine was just a random good edition of it. :)

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    1. I'm glad you didn't have problems with it! It's possible it's a size issue - I often think the larger sizes fit less well than the smaller sizes because they just grade EVERYTHING up instead of realising that most women don't have linebacker shoulders or something!

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  4. I'm all for dressed that you don't have to constantly fiddle with! If the dress needs tights under the skirt and a cami and a shrug or jacket, I will not wear it! Too much hitching and hiking and moving around and tucking under and covering up...

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