As mentioned in some of my recent posts, the new series of the Great British Sewing Bee has resuscitated my joy of dressmaking. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that there is no point me lamenting my woeful lack of skills unless I’m willing to put the time in to improve them.
With this in mind, I spent the weekend before last on the first of my new patterns – Very Easy Vogue 8898. A committed fabric hoarder, I already had a big bundle of heavyweight green jersey stuffed away in the craft room, which I thought would do for the project. I’d impulse bought it at Abakhan over a year ago, and had been itching to get something made out of it.
As this is the first project I’ve done in some time, I tried to go about it properly – I read the whole pattern before cutting anything (which I never do); I took accurate measurements of myself rather than just cutting to my current clothing size (which I rarely do), and cut the pattern neatly (which I sometimes do) before ironing it straight for pinning to the fabric (which I always do). However, despite trying to work neatly and accurately throughout this project, I’m disappointed with the result – it’s too big, the waistline is too high, and the fabric doesn’t drape the way I wanted it to. What a mess!!
Learning lessons from this, I’ve decided to blog my results anyway. At first I thought I was going to hide this dress away from the watchful eyes of the lovely online blog readers, as I thought I could do better. Then, I remembered that this blog is my personal way to track a route through the items I make, recording both the failures and successes – I’m sure,to some extent, we are all good at showing when we have done well, but rather reluctant to show where we have screwed up. However, we only learn from our mistakes, and we all have them! As some bright spark once said, ‘don’t fall into the trap of comparing your life story with other people’s clip reel’. I suppose, in terms of my endeavour to learn more about dressmaking, from here the only way is up!
1) I had cursorily glanced over the reviews on Sewing Pattern Review for this design, but I realise now I should have read them in more detail. I was a size 14 for this pattern, so cut accordingly. However, from the picture you can tell this is quite a loose garment, and several of the previous makers had reported using the size down as the suggested sizes made the whole thing too baggy. My dress is cut to the 14 but I should have used the 12, as the finished garment is more akin to a circus tent than to a sultry dress. Of course, if I constantly walk around, striking a pose, as in the picture below, I could just about get away with it…
2) I stitched the front and back together, as per the instructions, but the dress utterly swamped me. Also, as you can see from the technical drawing, the arm hole on the left hand side is actually part of the top line of the dress. I found that this felt too bunched up under my arm when I stitched it together, so unpicked the stitching and modified the design so that the dress had one covered sleeve and an arm hole on the left edge. This felt much more comfortable and looked quite appealing too.
I actually quite like this asymmetrical sleeve on the dress, but with hindsight, I would have been best just unpick the stitching and downsize the material!
3) The instructions told me to hem the neckline and the sleeves – I did ok on the sleeves, but the neckline doesn’t lie completely flat after stitching. I guess this means I stretched the fabric slightly when stitching. I guess I should have taken more care!
4) I originally planned to make the ‘C’ design of this dress, where the belt is tied around the whole circumference of the dress. The finished result looked far too bulky, so I quickly took a needle and some scissors to the garment and added the belt holes, as shown on the ‘B’ design. Why I rushed into this, I’ll never know! My natural waist is a good inch and a half lower than the one specified on the pattern, so I should have adjusted the belt hole accordingly. I guess this error isn’t too apparent on the finished article, but I think it certainly exacerbates the problem of the fabric not hanging nicely around the hips.
5)I also think the dress could have benefitted from a lighter-weight fabric – then perhaps these other points would not have been issues at all.
I was so disappointed with the finished result, that I left it in a UFO heap in the craft room for over a week, refusing to finish the bottom hem. I eventually finished the hem and tried it on, and it’s not as bad as I was expecting. However, I don’t think this dress will be getting worn that often. Other bloggers have written about this particular pattern and say it’s a really stylish, effective, easy design, so I might try this one again at some point. Has anyone out there made this dress?