Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sewing a dress

I've embarked upon an experiment. I've sewed dresses before, but they've been simple affairs. I've sewed fitted blouses. I've sewed simple skirts. But after too many days, months, even years of not finding a 100% cotton dress with sleeves that fit, I began to think about sewing something more adventurous. Sure, I've found plenty of sun dresses that were 100% cotton and were cut very simply so that they more or less fit, but what about the other 353 days of the year when the weather isn't sun dress weather?

But after looking at patterns I ran into the same problem: the dresses made from just wouldn't fit.

Then I found Vogue fitting : the book of fitting techniques, adjustments, and alterations at the library, and thought, "I can do this."

I think I can do this!

So I got my own copy of the book, and New Look 6587, and decided to make dress A. Then I began to take measurements. I worked through the book, taking my measurements and comparing them with the standard measurements, and after following the "contact" link on the Simplicity site and hearing back from the very helpful people there, also added the actual garment measurements to my comparison table. The results: I needed to enlarge the waist.

After a trip to the art supply store for tracing paper, I then used the instructions in the book to trace and draw new pattern pieces that enlarged the waist and lower bodice of dress A. And after pushing the table aside in our tiny living room, and using the floor to lay out and cut out the fabric, I was able to begin sewing.

The first instructions were for something I'd never done before: stay-stitching seams, clipping them, and then curving the bodice front to fit the bodice side. (Without doing this, the two pieces of fabric wouldn't fit together without gathers and/or puckers.) And I'm so happy with the results! Sure, the pattern doesn't match up at the seam, but I'm not even trying to do that with this first dress. I'm just delighted that the seam lays flat so nicely.

I'm going to keep sewing very carefully, and hopefully, at the end, I'll have a 100% cotton dress with sleeves that I can wear most (if not all) of the year, that fits, and a pattern from which I can make more.