sewing themed dress

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So I’ve been struggling with this dress… but I think it’s worth it! Mr Beloved thinks it’s “classy” and my bestest sewing buddy deemed it flattering and pretty… it certainly wasn’t a quick project.

Simplicity 2981
Simplicity 2981
Simplicity 2981
Simplicity 2981

I sewed from Simplicity 2981, which was released some time ago as a Khaliah Ali  Plus size pattern (18W to 24W, and 26W to 32W). I noticed that a smaller  version (6-14  and 14-22) of the exact same dress was put out under the Threads Magazine Collection label as Simplicity 3877 a while back.

I made the shorter length with collar and short sleeves (view B or view D, depending on the pattern you’re using.)  The instructions do warn that you must decide on your finished length before you cut the fabric -I shortened the skirt length by 2″. There is no provision for above waist adjustment on the pattern (but that shouldn’t deter you – get a copy of Fit For Real People and go for it!) I’m long waisted so I lengthened the top by 1″ – in retrospect, I could have even gone 2″. (This might sound odd – why did I shorten AND lengthen? Well, because I needed a flattering skirt length and for the waist to actually reach my waist!)

Can I just say that the pattern instructions SUCK?  I mean, really suck.  They were confusing and the illustrations made things even more muddled. Even though I’d read through the pattern, it took me a while to work out when to attach the second tie of the sash. The jumping backwards and forward in the instructions really threw me, too.

The zipper goes in almost LAST, which is not at all helpful – it makes getting a nice finish even more difficult. I was also undecided up to the last moment about whether to use an ordinary zipper, hand picked (not machine sewn) or an invisible zipper.  I knew an ordinary machine applied zipper was not what I wanted, even though it’s in a side seam and unlikely to be visible when the dress is worn.  After reading Summerset’s blog on her latest dress, I went with hand picked – it’s amazingly quick and strong. (Mine is NOT as nice as hers – she’s one of my sewing heroes,  I aspire to her skills!)

I think the collar is ok – the spread works on this style of dress.  It’s applied directly, no collar stand – which makes it easier to sew, but not as crisp, in my opinion.

I’m very, very proud of myself about the skirt – 4 front pieces, 4  back pieces, and 8 godets – all of which went together smoothly first time with no ripping and restitching thanks to the godet instructions in Sandra Betzina’sPower Sewing.” Yay for skill building successes!

I let the dress hang for DAYS to let the bias drop (and ok, because I was procrastinating!) and when Sue helped me pin the hem, we were surprised by how much some sections dropped – and how little others did.  Fortunately I knew I was using more of the same fabric made into bias binding for a bound hem – so I could get away with having a few sections that were quite a lot shorter.  And with 160″ or so to sew around the hem, I had to accept that some compromises were necessary if I wanted to wear it THIS YEAR!

In this hem detail photo you can also see just how cute the all-over print of sewing things is!

The hem, bound with bias binding
The hem, bound with bias binding

The neckline was rather *ahem* LOWER than I had anticipated – perhaps next time I need to stay the neckline? (I don’t think this was caused by my lengthening the bodice – it looks low on the pattern cover, too.) But the crossover point got a wee press-stud inside, so I won’t flash bra at anyone.

HOWEVER – I will probably make this dress again – cos it’s TWIRLY!

This dress makes me happy!
This dress makes me happy!

And I grabbed some $5 per metre/115cm wide all polyester (not too bad to the hand, though, and totally non-crushable) in black with white dots when Sue, Vicki and I stopped at Fabric Barn on our way home from Brisbane the other day.  I’m glad I did the first one in cotton though – I know some of the traps to watch out for in the second iteration.

Not least of which is MARK EVERYTHING. A LOT!  The chalk I used seemed to disappear just when I needed it most – it’s back to good old-fashioned tailors tacks for me. I have shamelessly snagged this illustration from Vintage Sewing Info, who very kindly provide their info under Creative Commons:

Creative Commons

Mark perforations with tailor’s tacks.

The very best way to mark perforations is by using tailor’s tacks since you can then mark them through two pieces of material at once. A very good plan is to mark all small perforations with one color thread and all large perforations with another color.

Tailor’s tacks are thread marks placed in the material, made through the perforations in the tissue paper pattern.

Illustration 25This is the way to make tailor’s tacks.

Use a double thread preferably without a knot. Take a stitch or two stitches one over the other through each perforation and down through both pieces of material if the material is double. Where there is a row of perforations close together like those at the shoulder seam or the underarm seam, take a row of stitches through each perforation and leave a loop between each perforation. (Ill. 25.) Cut the thread half way between the perforations and take the pattern off.

Now, to separate the two pieces of material, pull them slightly apart and snip through each tailor’s tack between the two pieces of material. A little whisker of basting thread will be left in each piece indicating where each perforation comes in the pattern.”

There, wasn’t that useful?!

I’m off for a little bite of dinner, and then to work on the petticoat…