Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

The Four Day Dress


Every spring/summer I long for the perfect cotton dress and start my annual search for the perfect pattern and suitable fabric. And so far, every year, I never quite achieve it. I look at all the wonderful dresses you all make and showcase and I want to be like you.
This year has been no exception. I found this happy fabric in the local shop and images of the perfect summer dress materialised in front of my eyes. I’ve had the pattern for a while – I believe it it OOP now but still available from Vogue’s website if you’re prepared to part with $30 hard earned. 
For the summer dress version – I dropped the sleeves – Yes me going sleeveless, what ever next? Shortened to just below knee and lowered the neckline into a scoop. In other words my usual mucking about with a pattern. The pattern classification is ‘easy’ so I reckoned a few hours at most. You start off thinking a quick and easy to make cotton summer dress – I’ll be wearing this tomorrow – and what happens? Nightmare – that’s what. Four days of frustration, disaster, mistakes and horror. What should have taken me a day at most has now run into its fourth and believe me, last day!

 Sewing and construction went fine, straightforward and relatively simple and then I tried it on………

“Take off my dress!” Esmerelda snapped at Quasimodo
Really baggy bodice, ill-fitting skirt, armholes that cut into my skin, neckline too tight. Nothing was right about this.

The bodice was attached to the skirt three times! The neckband has been sewn and removed, sewn and removed etc until I was ready to turn this into a skirt!

Scrappy loop and button closure at centre back – but at least it’s on and works!

In my haste to complete this I forgot to do a sway back alteration at cutting stage so moved the back darts to a more acute angle and shock horror – couldn’t be bothered to rip out the first dart  – just pressed the living daylights out of it. Believe me, I’d done so much ripping out by this stage that this dress could be categorised as being ripped out rather than sewn!

The front skirt was baggy and wrinkly around the tummy on trying on, so it was ripped apart from the bodice yet again and I added two front darts for shaping. Except I added them off centre…..

As I was doing a sleeveless version I had to cut the armholes into a different shape and then figure out the finish.  So in my frustration I just cut! Now I can get my arms through the armholes and they don’t chaff against the skin but they are not symmetrical and a little loose. However, here’s a tip: if you don’t have enough fabric to make a bias strip or no colour coordinated bias binding in the box, cut a straight strip of leftover jersey fabric and apply as if it is bias. The stretch in the jersey is enough to go round the curves. This little tip is the only good thing to come out of this project so far!

The fixes:
Front darts – I hoping the fabric is so busy that no one will notice the darts.
Arm holes – I’ll wear a cardigan.
Loop & button closure – I’ll make sure the cardigan covers this at the back.
Mis-aligned centre back – I sewed some grosgrain ribbon that was hanging about around the bodice seam and cleverly positioned it to hide the join. Failing that the cardigan will cover this as well.
Not one seam allowance is finished; no lining inserted; a machine sewn hem (I usually slipstitch); and one p****ed off sewer! And the reason I went to all this trouble instead of just throwing the whole thing in the box for another day is this…………

Tune in soon for the BIG REVEAL.
I hope this made some of you feel a little better about your sewing skills because I seem to have lost mine! Ruth


18 thoughts on “The Four Day Dress

  1. I think the perfect summer dress exists only in Plato's world of the forms, lol! It's fun to try though. This project seems to have turned out to be more work than you would have expected, but it is a pretty fabric and a nice style, so I hope your hard work will pay of. Can't wait to see the big reveal!

  2. It must be the week for it! I've just stuck a nearly completed jacket in the corner because the front turned out all twisted, all because I changed the front pattern piece and didn't change the facing and after unpicking and resewing a few times I can't even look at it anymore…..Honestly though on your dress the print is busy enough that I didn't notice the centre back seam or the uneven darts at all, and it really is such a pretty fabric, can't wait to see it with that gorgeous jackt you gave us a glimpse of!

  3. I am sorry you have had such poor luck with this dress. What I like is your creativity to "make it work". Been there, done this also.

  4. I'm sorry your dress ended up being such a pain, but I do thank you for the bias tip. And I bet when you wear it no one will notice anything amiss:)

  5. The fabric is so pretty and, paired with that pattern, will surely be the perfect summer dress. I am looking forward to the big reveal 🙂 Sorry it was such a pain to sew, but it's nice to know I am not the only one struggling with sewing bugs lately.

  6. Thanks for posting your problematic sewing. In the last two weeks I have made some of my biggest goofs ever. It is refreshing to see that others have less than stellar sewing moments as well. I'm sure your dress will be beautiful in the end.

  7. Oh dear! Sorry you had so much trouble with this one. My mother had a saying: "Slow down 'cause I'm in a hurry". Whenever I start making mistake after mistake after mistake like that, I remember her saying and try to slow it down… of course first I need some time to calm down 🙂 The fabric is gorgeous though, so I think it was well worth all your efforts to save it. Can't wait to see the combo!

  8. ooh we need the the big reveal!

  9. great post for our amusement, but how annoying for you – cant wait for the big reveal

  10. Of course the idea of 'perfect' is different for everyone and changes every year but it's fun to search!

  11. I'm happy to hear you are experiencing difficulties – that makes me feel better – LOL

  12. Thanks Linda – it became a battle of wills – me or the dress!

  13. Mary & Ribena – something in the air perhaps?

  14. Yes Lucia, when you think 'simple dress' you can't help thinking 'quick'. We have a similar saying – more speed, less haste.

  15. This is assuming of course that my hem doesn't fall down, the bodice detach itself from the skirt, the seams don't unravel etc.

  16. A somewhat humbling sewing experience – just to remind me I'm only human

  17. Do you know I have this pattern and I take it out and stroke it lightly? it's like a unicorn for me- I keep wanting make it, but I'm not sure it will be a good reality for me! I'm afraid of it. Seriously. I am really scared now! Maybe I need a fab duster to cover it….hmm…

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