I know this is a day late and it’s not Monday, but oh well. Today I want to share something I made over the weekend.
It’s a dress!
Disclaimer: It doesn’t fit. But that’s not important right?!
Let’s start with the details.
Pattern: Simple Sew’s Grace Dress (Beginner) – Version B with ruffled skirt and no sleeves, with a shorter skirt.
Fabric: Cheap flowery cotton print that I picked up at a rag market in Birmingham. £2 a metre so £4 in total!
Notions: A zip! My first zip insertion! Hurrah!
Edits: I removed the pockets, because I didn’t want to do all that extra for something I won’t use. I don’t really do pockets in skirts!
So this week The Boy and I are having a little holiday at home (read: needed a week off work but couldn’t afford to go anywhere) and I decided to start it off by getting back on the sewing wagon. I’ve been having a little block lately, like my sew-jo has up and left me feeling a little unmotivated and uninspired in the creative department.
Luckily, last week my latest copy of Love Sewing arrived accompanied by a free pattern for Simple Sew’s Grace dress. Unlike a lot of patterns which scare me with their complexity (I then just stack them in a pretty pile in my sewing room for later), Grace looked like something I could feasibly manage with my lack of dressmaking experience. There was an option for no sleeves (not even going to attempt those yet) and ruffles at the waistband made me happy as they’re almost intended to be random and a little squiggly (plus I love love love ruffles!). I’d never tackled a zip before, but I thought one new experience wouldn’t ruin me, and so I was rather excited to give it a go.
I chose this flowery cotton fabric because it was a super-cheap pick up and if I wrecked it, it wouldn’t hurt me. I mean, it’s cute but I don’t adore it like some of the rest hiding in my stash. I thought it would make a pretty summer dress. Though after looking at it for hours on end all weekend I’m now less-enamoured. Does anyone else get that? I also used some spotty cotton in the bodice lining. I’d like to say this was a style choice, but really I just ran out of fabric…
- The pattern was quite easy to follow – when I read the instructions properly! (I had to redo the bodice because I didn’t turn it through before I sewed the side seams. Whoops.) The fully lined bodice was a lovely plus to this pattern, it’s nice to have it all hidden and looking smart. Even though I only used spotty lining because I ran out of the same flowery fabric I liked the effect. Fun, contrasting lining in all projects, perhaps?
I was really happy with putting in the invisible zip. I’ve never installed any zip before so for this to go in reasonably well was good! Look how it’s pretty much invisible! There was a small section at the waistband where the zip tape was slightly visible but hey, can’t do everything perfectly the first time eh? I think I was most nervous about this bit, and it turned out fine.
- I finished the seam by pressing the seam allowance under and sewing it down. (Sewing seam allowance only, not dress!) I think this looked quite neat and finished. How do you finish your seam allowances without an overlocker? I was considering french seams but wondered if that would be too bulky…
- Using my twin needle was another highlight of this project – I used it before on my Moneta dress and loved it. How cute do those two rows of even stitches look? I’m in love with this needle for hemming.
- I knew when I had the bodice constructed that it just wasn’t going to fit. It fit nicely up until halfway down my back, at which point it was too small and my back too wide. I haven’t the first clue how to change up the pattern to fix this accurately. Sewers out there, what do you do? There
wasn’t much I could do about it. I didn’t have any more fabric to try again or to fix the gaping space at the back of the waist.
Even though I knew it wasn’t going to fit and I couldn’t change it, I decided to go ahead and finish the rest of the dress anyway. I’ve got so little experience with constructing dresses that I thought I’d benefit from completing it. Especially putting in the concealed zip. I didn’t want to try Grace again with some more fabric and then screw up that bit because I’d never done it before. So I soldiered on and tried to finish it.
The pattern had a strange way of inserting the zip, so I disregarded it and followed a tutorial on YouTube instead. Though this way was easier, it left me with raw edges showing inside the bodice of the dress – not the aim when it’s supposed to be fully lined – and also a raw space at the top of the zip that I didn’t then know what to do with. Oh dear. Next time I’ll try and puzzle out the pattern version.
I should really pay more attention to the pattern. I didn’t notice that the skirt pieces I cut were for the tea dress version of the dress. Now I think tea dresses are beautiful, just not on me! Any skirt below the knee just makes me feel like a gnome, so I chopped off 15cm from the bottom of the skirt (the difference between the tea-dress skirt and the shorter skirt!) before I sewed the hem.
Overall, putting my first Grace together wasn’t too much of a stress. I’ll definitely be trying it again, I have some shiny fabric that’s just asking to be an evening version of this pattern – plus I’d like to try the pleated skirt too! Most of my complications came from not reading the instructions properly – or misreading what they were telling me. The zip was way less scary than I thought it would be, and apart from that one big flaw – y’know, how it doesn’t actually fit me – I think it turned out really well!
How do you change the fit of your patterns? Are you as big a fan of ruffles as me?