Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I recently showed a post with a dress on the sewing machine with the hopes on having it finished for church that Sunday. Remember that? I now recount the story behind that dress.

In the not so distance past, I decided to attempt my first dress. That's right. My first sewing project on a grand scale. I bought my first pattern at Walmart when I should have been grocery shopping. I chose the New Look 6615 , style B.

I measured myself. Made the necessary adjustments. I was excited to have a tailored dress made specifically for my body type. My ambitions couldn't be dampened. I even learned that the standard cup size on any given commercial pattern is size B. Well, let's just say I am larger than a B. So I did some search on the Simplicity website and found directions to adjust the pattern to fit your bust size. I followed the directions to the T.

I bought this cute blue and white patterned fabric at Walmart for $2/yard. I wasn't really intending to find fabric there, but this design could easily be transformed from casual wear to work attire with a cream sweater.

All the pieces were cut out fine. Then the sewing began. I kept my copy of U-sew handy for any terms that would be confusing. And it came in handy! I got off to a great start. I buzzed right through steps 1 and 2. Then came step 3 and 4. It took me an hour to get through these steps which included 50 minutes of me reading the directions over and over again.

But I continued on. I clipped my curves to the stay-stitching. I layered my seams. I still don't get understitching, but I suppose I'll leave something to be learned later in life. :)

I was so proud of myself when I got the neck yolk put in and everything matched up. To see everything coming together was thrilling. I felt so proud of myself. When I got to this point I quickly threw it over my shoulders only to realize that the front bust panels were going to be terribly short on me. This is where it gets Bad. I have never been able to wear this style of clothing for this reason alone. The "waist" band lies across the middle of my bust line. How unflattering! So I ripped a few seams, matched up the pattern, and sewed some extra length to the front bust panels. And when you do this, you also have to lengthen the other parts too. This was certainly a learning experience.

After all that muxing, I continued onward with my new Pfaff sewing machine. I got to use some fun top stitching too!

And this is currently the status of the dress.

I added some darts and pin tucks in a few places. Had my husband help with the pinning. I got really excited. I made those alterations, threw the garment back on and this is where it gets UGLY. The front panels where still too short. Another 3/4'' and it would have been perfect. But now the waist band created this shelf over my belly and we certainly can't have that. I was almost in tears. And like a good husband I have, he tried to console me on my first dress sewing disaster. He even said, "You can't always have home runs on your first try." True that.

So it never made it to church with me. My jeans were a nice substitute. And it's still hanging over the closet door mocking me. But not all is lost I suppose. I learned A LOT! And I guess I can rip it all apart and cut new front panels with the left over fabric. Thankfully, I over estimated in case of cutting mistakes. But it's not an easy rip. Every seam, every hidden seam, all the pieces were built on the previous step.

But at the end of the day, I will make another. I will use this pattern because I still hold out hope that I can wear this style of top. And I am also thankful that it only cost me $6 in fabric to learn my lesson.

In conclusion, the moral of the story (did you know there was going to be a moral at the end?) is to Live, Sew, and Learn. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.


  1. This is fixable but maybe not something you want to go back to. That's how I am sometimes. Don't want to even look at the damn thing again. Theres a lot of fabric in the skirt. You could probably salvage an apron out of it and just call it a day.

  2. Oh, it looks so cute hanging there ... too bad it doesn't fit right. :( Hopefully your next one is a home run. :)

  3. That dress does look cute LeeAnn. I've had the same kind of things happen before too, and it's just so frustrating. But I do agree with Vallen..it's fixable..but you
    may want to take a break from it by working on something else first. It's a great looking dress though.

  4. Thank you for sharing this.

    I, too, have projects that I've started with such gusto and then failed miserably (and not been able to go back to).

    I really like the fabric that you used - and you got it at a great price. Your husband is right - you can't always have your first attempt come out perfectly. (I know how that hurts, though.)

    Don't give up! I think you did really well for your first garment! Think of the wisdom you now have for the next try!

    : ) Best - Jenn

  5. I had a similar experience sewing my first dress too. Don't worry it gets better and easier. I have learned a lot about clothes from sewing doll patterns believe it or not. They teach the basics but you use a very small amount of fabric so it's not wasteful.

    Your dress looks cute, hang in there, you'll get it!

  6. I can imagine the distress this has caused you. I am impressed that you will have another go at it.

  7. Oh yes, your story is very familiar to me. I always give myself overly ambitious goals (oh yeah, I can wear this tonight, I'll just finish cutting out these pieces and it'll be a snap) with a rather disappointing ending. But, your husband and Vallen are right, as much as you (and I) might wish, your first time won't necessarily be the best, but you can definitely fix it. Whatever it is. You can turn this into a skirt, or cut out a new bodice out of the same or different fabric. One thing I'm sure you've learned is try it on (a million times) before you do any finishing stitches, that way you can go back and alter before it's too late. I've definitely learned that one the hard way.

    And understitching is stitching the seam allowance to a facing so that it won't turn to the outside of a garment.

  8. What a great story! Seriously. Such inspiration for me, a complete novice. It is good to hear this doesn't come easy yet it still is "sew" wonderful!

    Cheers! LA

  9. Well, it sure does look impressive on the hanger! (and sometimes, that's all that matters!) I'm still too whimpy to even attempt a dress, so you get major point for even trying!

  10. Welcome to the club! I remember my first dress making experience (which was also my first real pattern using experience). I was 15 with a brand new hand-me-down olive green Singer and had no idea how to choose a pattern or fabric that flatters me. I picked out a yellow flowery gingham and a sleeveless floor length sun dress with a Big Sash at the waistline. It turned out looking like a costume from Little House on the Prairie and was completely see through to boot. I never wore that dress but that's how I learned to use a seam ripper, button hole foot, and to sew a zipper.

  11. Wow! This dress is an impressive undertaking! I think you did a great job, and stayed with it through several bouts of frustration, more than I can usually handle. I still haven't tried a dress.

    And wow! Thank you for my package. I love how you arranged the buttons on the card; I don't want to take any off! It was so sweet of you to do that, and a perfect reminder of the benefits of blogging (new friendships, I mean. buttons are a +) when I've been kind of down on it lately.

  12. Hey, at least you tried and got some great practice with your PFAFF. I haven't sewn clothing in ages, I used to do it all the time. Some pattern instructions can be tricky to understand. When I can't decipher them, I just walk away for a while. Come back later & give it another go. You learned a lot in the end, right? haha
    The next one will be easier.

    p.s. You've been tagged, check my blog for rules.

  13. Thanks for sharing your story. I am trying to make my first skirt (a much easier endeavor), and am having a hard time. Your dress looks fabulous, very inspiring.

  14. First off, BRAVO to you!!! Your dress looks excellent, even if the fit is a bit off for your figure. I, too, have issues with fitting my bust. An excellent resource is Debbie Cook's full bust adjustment tips

  15. Seems, unfortunately, it's a familiar story with everyone. I met up with a woman in a yarn/fabric store the other day and she expressed her dislike of sewing because sometimes you have to rip things out. My friend Bethany piped in and said, "Yep, you pretty much have to sew it twice the first time." The woman obviously didn't want to do that. When I expressed my fear of knitting a sweater for myself because I'm afraid I won't like how it fits, the woman said, "You could always rip it out." She was serious. A days sewing versus months knitting. Interesting what people are willing, or not willing to do.


I absolutely delight in the fact that you would take the time to comment and continue a dialog on this blog! If you have an email linked to your comment, I do my best to respond. Thank you so much!