Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dan to the Rescue!

Dan to the rescue! Part 1

I wasn’t happy with the dress, Simplicity 1458, I entered for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge, as those who read my blog know. I ran out of time to complete it more satisfactorily. I did decide in the end that the dress had a lot more going for it than I originally gave it credit for, though, even though my iteration was poor.  To make it a challenge, I really couldn’t ask for help with it before submission. I don’t count David pinning me into it as helping with the construction etc however invaluable that was.

These are photos of the dress at the point of entry, last Friday. At this stage, the armholes and neckline are finished, so not directly comparable with the later photos.

 Fitting remained the big issue. The dress was unflattering, didn’t have enough shape and was overall too big - I could get it on and off without using the zip. I wasn't sure how much of this was due to me having altered the pattern bodice length and hence the upper side panel lengths, perhaps reducing the amount of shaping they were providing. I assumed that the main problem was in how I had sewn together the junctions at the side - that is the junction between upper and side panels, back and front and junction between back and front. I knew the way I had done this didn’t look as good as it should have done and couldn’t be correct but I had tried several times to improve without any success. I have still not found the instructions but remain hopeful.

Dan reads my blog so is aware of all the issues I was having and my thoughts on the matter.  I took it into her sewing bee last night and asked advice. She agreed it was shapeless and needed to fit into my curves better. She pinned the front princess seams in around the bust and immediately the whole thing looked so much better! She also pinned the back princess seam tighter.

Dan also thought the shoulders looked a bit wide but I had already taken out the finishing , so they are ⅝” wider than finished width and when she turned in on the marks which are still present, she thought it was fine.

I needed to use the zip to get it off! Much better already.

David kindly took some photos of the pinned dress. He thinks it is too tight now, which in part explains why he pinned it less tightly originally. I like it much better, though

This is simply pinned, so there are some drag lines and it's crushed as was in my bag.
Armholes and neckline are raw edges with full seam allowance of 5/8"

It's sunny outside - you can see how thin the fabric is

You can see that I wasn't comfortable standing in this position!

It now seems to be shorter at the back

These are not vanity photos!!

A number of the other bees commented that they liked the dress, particularly the colour, which is lovely, but also the style. I thought the fabric was too thin and needed a lining but the others said that it had looked fine in class - in the sunshine in my photos, that's not the case!

I also asked Dan about the zipper. I noticed that when I was doing the neckline finishing (which by this time I had taken out again ready to dismantle the dress) that I couldn’t turn the full seam allowance at the zipper area. I asked Dan if I had put the zip in too high and she agreed that this was the case - there just wasn’t the full seam allowance available. So I will take the zip out too. It doesn’t need dropped that much but will also give me a chance to get rid of that little kink at the bottom of the zip. Practice always helps.

We didn’t actually touch the side seams at this stage. I will alter things the way we have discussed and eventually I’ll be able to alter the side junctions with a bit more faith that things will work.

The other question I had was whether the dress would be better on me with a little less flare. Dan helpfully pointed out that this would depend on the fabric used. A flowy, drapey fabric could take this amount of flare, a stiffer fabric less so. So I haven’t changed this.

I will also make it a little longer - perhaps more so at the back. I'll need to look at what the problem there is, though I suspect it's me filling it out too much!

I’ve posted a picture of the dress before Dan’s pinning and after her pinning and eventually hopefully I’ll be able to post a much more finished version.

I will be treating this as fitting toile so I won't be making the facings or a lining at this stage as that’s really not necessary. A lining should be pretty straightforward. If I do the facings, I know of course that the pattern for them will  need to modified as I have modified the dress. Which fabric I use will determine which method I go for, I think.

Tartan skirt McCall’s 7022
In the sewing bee, I cut out the skirt pattern in calico to make a toile for Helen. I was interested that both Dan and Rory are anticipating that I might be very pernickety with matching etc (yes, I do plan to be!). I got the impression that Dan might be more up for this than Rory, though I expect to do most of this at home. I’d like to get a first fitting toile ready to post to Helen soonish. She can pin and let me know what needs to be done. I can’t really use Missy as I don’t think she is close enough to Helen now. I’m not worried about the sides, but obviously a bias yoke needs to fit well to look good. Rory suggested I’d be better cutting in gingham rather than plain calico as it would be easier to see how things lie - the pleats are not parallel with the grainline, particularly as I'll be using tartan for the final version and will need to adjust the pleat width to fit in with the tartan sett. I don’t have any gingham at present so I’ll make do with the calico for the first toile. My next fabric shopping trip will include buying some gingham.


I also discussed with Dan that I wanted to make a pair of trousers to fit me and we explored the different ways to do this. I will be pursuing this in the sewing bee over the course of several weeks. It seems to me that concentrating all my fitting issues into a very short space of time is very off-putting so I’ll dilute this with other projects! For this, though, I definitely need her help. I might be ready to start this in a couple of weeks.


  1. Your dress looks so much better with the closer fit! As for the tartan skirt, why don't you use a sharpie and a ruler to draw the outline of the plaid on the calico? Can't be that much work or the yoke pieces!

    1. Thanks, Marianne. I agree. I might get around to making it up in the next few weeks.
      I've completed a lovely toile of the tartan skirt and am just sending off for Helen to try for fit. Yes, one I have the fit (I suspect the toile will be a little large) some drawing skills will be used!

  2. Miles better Anne. You look much younger, slimmer and taller with a fitted dress. No comparison. Well done for persevering.

    1. Thank you. I haven't taken it further yet as busy with other things but one day..


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Please leave a comment. I welcome each and every one. I value criticism (constructive of course! ), love hints and tips and would appreciate suggestions for future direction.

Do you know? Can you answer?

I put up blog posts via Blogger. I follow blog posts via Bloglovin’ with a few via email. The stats on the Overview stats page o...