Friday, 30 September 2016

Simplicity Sewing Challenge - part 3. final part

This is the final part of my blog posts for the Simplicity sewing Challenge. Please read the other 2. Part 1 here and part 2 here. Then this one continues on.

I'd now sewn two toiles/muslins. My last post detailed the changes I made following the first toile.
I made the second toile from a patterned cotton,  for a change and to distinguish between the two.

David was my fitting buddy.
  • Excess fabric was pinned from bust point up to shoulder and from bust point down to waist
  • Excess fabric was pinned at back princess seam line between back and side back
  • The lengths of the side panels didn't match - extra fabric was turned under in back upper side panel, making it shorter.
  • When the front was pinned to the correct length,  fabric was about ½” shorter than it needed to be
  • I didn't pin the back length - or rather,  didn't get David to pin it. I decided to remove the excess length later.
Really,  there were now no major fitting issues, though quite a few tweaks were still necessary. Lenght issues were sorted out, or at least I hoped they were! The toile had been made up with 1” side seams

I altered the pattern:
  • Taking in excess fabric as detailed above, ensuring the front central panel stayed straight,  so most of the excess fabric taken from very curved side upper panel.
  • Reducing front side princess seam allowances to ⅜” for easier sewing later
  • Reducing side seams to ⅝” (though I ended up using the 1" allowance, anyway)
  • While modifying line of bust,  I slightly lowered bust point and added more fullness there as I thought from the toile this was necessary (see later - this was a mistake)
  • Lengthening front length
  • Truing upper side panels
  • I still wasn't 100% sure about the fitting at the side. i had lost the instructions (I still haven't found them and I'm sure this would have helped!)
I was at my tailoring class tonight (Wednesday 28th September) and took the opportunity to ask Dan if she agreed with my steps and whether she thought crepe-back satin or crepe rather than cotton would be best to make it up with. She felt this was the case.

So the next step is actually making up the pattern in the real fabric. Make or break moment, really!

The real deal
Front view. It looks better in real life!
Well, I was running way behind, as you are well aware. Unfortunately, too, I had a minor bug for a couple of days which stopped me sewing.

I made up the pattern pieces cut out of my single crepe in turquoise, used before, as I felt that as I had experience of that, it would be easier than trying out a new pattern in crepe back satin (which in any case hadn't been washed - I assume you wash it?) At this stage, I decided to go with the 1" side seams as recommended in the pattern as I still wasn't sure about the junction at the sides.

There was too much space at the bust apex (my mistaken alteration earlier) and just below and the back princess seam was too wide over the bodice.

I pinned (or rather got David to pin) the sides at an appropriate point. I was disappointed to see that the end of the front upper side panel didn’t meet exactly with the front upper side panel. I resolved to change that and made some alterations to the pattern.

I then took the tacked dress to pieces again. I should say that I tacked/basted the dress together using the basting stitch on my machine, after I had hand basted on the bust panels only. I had never used this stitch in earnest. It basically stitches every 4th stitch so the stitches are 4 times longer than you would normally get. Easier to get out but doesn’t hold as well as it might otherwise. The seams look a bit puckered. But much faster than hand basting.

I marked the dress where it needed altered and made these alterations when the dress had been taken to pieces.

I feel that one potentially big disadvantage of this method is that the fabric is inclined to get a bit overworked and could stretch or distort. I'm not sure really how big a problem that was with me, but I think it was a part of my issue.

I went ahead and sewed the dress up using the final stitching. Last night (Thursday 29th) I went into town and bought new thread and a zipper of a better colour than I had in my stash. This was the same zipper that I had problems with before - the teeth were a little bit chunky for my invisible zipper foot. I resolved that I might have to put in differently or just use a transparent zipper and use nail varnish on the tab (I bought some specially for this purpose). I put some interfacing on the wrong side where the zipper goes. The zipper ended up going in okay though it needed more than a little persuasion! If it hadn’t been for the colour, I wouldn’t have bought this brand and will steer clear in future if I can.

As an aside, I found that I could actually take the dress on and off without using the zipper, so there you go! I guess that shows that the dress is really too big for me?

Back view. My zip was pretty good but I see that kink at the bottom of the zip. I did pres and then iron it before I wore it, but I was sitting around before these photos.

I decided against narrowing the dress at the sides at this stage (I had marked on the pattern but not transferred to fabric), though I do feel that on me it would be more flattering narrower - that is, straighter rather than A-line. Again, at this stage I was just trying to get it finished.

My biggest issue by far was  the side where the upper side front and back meet at the side seam line. I really struggled to get the two sides lying properly and matched. This was not helped by the fact that I have lost the instructions for the pattern!

I eventually managed but then had to take some in at the side after the event as the dress was just too roomy in the bodice section at this point. To be honest, it probably needs more taken out here. In the photo the match doesn't look at all good. That front seam looks pretty bad. I'll improve that in a future version.
Close up of junction at side

I had decided to make a full lining but had problems cutting out my lining. I won’t go into that! All to do with trying to do it too quickly! I decided I didn’t have time to redo and would just go with bias binding at the neck and armholes. Fortunately I still had some left of the perfect colour. The actual pattern uses facings but I felt my fabric had needed a lining, though unlike many people I do like me a facing! I no longer had time to do the facings.

Out of focus photo of bias binding. Sorry, too tired to redo

Another point I will make is that the pressing took ages. There is considerably more shaping in each of these princess seams that there appears to be at first sight. More on the back, even, than the front.

I'm trying to show the marked difference between edges to be joined (back of dress)

Next time, if I was starting again, I would be tempted to use the 'average' body parts rather than the 'curvy' as I didn't need some of the extra space allowed where it was given.

I found the dress was a little shorter than I had planned so rather than the 1.25" hem allowance, I folded up by 5/8" ans folded in the raw edge, then top stitched. I felt top stitching would be okay as there was the same at neckline and armholes.

I will enter this dress into the challenge as that is why I was making it at this stage and in this way. You might feel I shouldn't have entered it or posted here as there are still too many issues with the dress. I agree but decided to go ahead anyway. Please do make comments about how you feel I could imprve a future version - or comment on whther you feel \I should make a future version! It won’t do anything in the competition, however. I ran out of time to insert the piping I was going to make (not made so no chance of doing this at the last minute!). Piping had to be inserted only if you were sure of the fit, which I wasn't and am still not happy with it. A future version will have piping, probably.


I think this pattern has real potential. You will remember that I wasn’t at all sure about it to start with as I didn’t feel the dress on the pattern envelope fitted the model (I thought the shoulders were too wide for her) and didn’t look good. I wondered if it was fit or whether this wasn’t a good style for someone of my build.

What did I do to the pattern?
  • I had to lengthen the front to drop the bust point and the waist.
  • Note that this was the most difficult part. If I hadn't had to do this, the pattern would have fitted together perfectly and I wouldn't have had difficulty at the side seam. I think my changes are incorrectly trued or presumably it would still have fitted together okay.
  • I increased the bust shaping by moving the outside princess seam in towards the bust point and adding to the side.
  • I made the front princess seams less A-line shape, taking away fabric from the front centre and adding to the side front. I have posted about these already. I didn't, however, reduce the side seams in the dress, though drew in my referred line on the pattern for a future occasion.
  • I used a bigger size for the 'skirt' section.
I think I will regard this dress as a ‘wearable muslin’ for a future try with a few changes made. If I had been able to find my nice heavy crepe (hangs head in shame - I’m afraid my stash is completely disorganised; that must change), I would likely have used the facings. Otherwise, I’d do a better lining than I achieved today. This fabric I used today is too thin not to have a lining. I really don't like this fabric - fortunately, I don't have enough left now to do anything significant with it. True, it would have looked much better with the lining.

I need to get some photos and get them posted quickly. I want to see some of the Ryder Cup though Europe is doing very poorly, sadly. My photos are pretty poor, sadly. Late at night, poor light, unwell model who doesn't want to dilly dally! On the positive side, Europe has picked up this session, after the whitewash by the USA team in the first session. I don't think I can stay up to watch the end (US 6 hours behind us) as I'm too tired - but hope to wake up to good news.

I have edited the post to correct a couple of typos and add a touch of detail. I had to get it in quickly or forget about it. As I received the pattern free of charge from Simplicity for the challenge, I felt I was duty bound to go ahead to post. Quite a few people have read the original post but I don't have any comments. Please don't be afraid to criticise!! I'm a big girl and value observations and helpful tips. I'm well aware of the deficiencies of my dress here. I think this dress was much harder to fit than I anticipated.

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