No Dictionarys Were Harmed During The Making Of This Dress

13 Sep
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As is the custom for me, my latest project is the result of going in to Joann’s for one thing and ending up with an entirely different thing than was originally sought. Their Simplicity patterns were a dollar, which forced me to deviate from my original plan. I ended up with the Leanne Marshall 1755 pattern and some really awesome dictionary page printed fabric, in a ridiculously soft cotton (which almost never happens for me given the quilting cottons I tend to pick). You guys, this fabric is my dream fabric, and it plays to the little would-be librarian in me.

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The dress was fairly easy to put together, but even so, I ended up having several issues with it.
My first mistake was not buying enough fabric to make the long version like I had planned. I made the short version but needed to add a couple of inches of black fabric to the bottom so that my own bottom would not show every time I bent over. It worked out though, because it totally looks better this way. What I learned from this mistake: my motto, never buy more than 2 yards of fabric because I can always make 2 yards work with a little finagling, is a terrible motto to follow. Seriously, it’s time to stop being stubborn and buy the yardage the pattern tells you to buy.
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My second issue: the sleeve cuffs. I had trouble trying to figure out the instructions for them. I seriously felt like it was in another language, and the pictures just make me more confused. I don’t think I have ever had this much trouble understanding pattern instructions. After two days of trying to figure it out and failing miserably, I gave up and did it my own way. I would describe it, but I cannot really remember how I did it. Yay for problem solving skills, boo for lack of writing down my method.
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(I always feel so awkward when taking photos of myself.
The result: lots of funny faces for your enjoyment.)
My third/fourth issue involved the bodice. I shortened the waistline and took in the bodice. I feel like the waistline they go for in this pattern is a little too low and looks a little off, but then again, I prefer my waistlines higher. I did, however, end up with it being just a little too high since I had to make the pattern pieces fit on the very small amount of fabric I had left thanks to issue number one. For the bodice, I cut the pattern out at my normal size, but failed to heed the warning from other reviewers that the bodice is a bit baggy. I ended up having to take the darts in quite a bit, as well as the sides to get the tighter fit I wanted. If I make it again, I am going to have to cut the bodice of the pattern down a size. On a positive note, this is the first time I used the darts to make the size adjustment instead of just the side seams. Let me tell you, it made me feel like a bonafide tailor.
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In other good news, I put in what is probably my best zipper yet, so yay me! In other bad news, I learned that I really stink at putting on collars and making them the same size. (I’ve tried this with other collars in the past, so it’s not really that new of a revelation.) Not only are each of the flaps a little off in size (even after several attempts at evening them up), but there is so much extra fabric bunched up on the underside that I had to sew them down to get them to lay right.
All in all, I think the dress turned out somewhat decent despite all my problems, and I think I would like to give this pattern another go (after practicing my collar making technique some more, of course). Maybe now is a good time to start making muslins, but really, who has time for that?
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P.S. Lesson of the day: it is better to serge each piece separately, and then sew them together afterwards. Not having to seam rip a serged seam makes it much easier to tear apart if/when you need to fix something, and all of the seams will look pretty regardless of the method used for sewing them together. The goal for my next dress is to put this lesson to use and make the inside as pretty as the outside.
Love,
Jess
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