Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Wiggle out of that one……


My red crepe fabric arrived in the post this week and I was itching to get it cut out and pinned for the New Year’s Eve Scarlett wiggle dress. This is  a poly crepe at only £5 p/m with a bit of Lycra. I wish it was a fine wool crepe with Lycra but I think a £30 p/m price tag is just a bit too extravagant for a ‘wear-it-once-or-twice’ frock. The red is definitely red!



I may have mentioned once or twice  that my sewing space is rather small – perfectly adequate when stitching up a skirt, but woefully inadequate when trying to cut a Donna Karan piece or a long dress. The fabric hangs off the table and there’s only one free side as the table is pushed up into the room’s corner, so everything has to be turned and twisted for cutting out access.


 Armed with pattern, tape measure, pins, chalk, shears and fabric I took the whole lot into work. On Friday afternoon, after the students had gone home and the marking and admin was completed for the week, I snuck into the Marquis Room, otherwise known as the sewing room, and gleefully made use of the facilities.


As you can see there is a large cutting out table right in the middle of the room: exactly 3 metres long and 1.5m wide to fit my fabric perfectly! The table height is just right too – no bending over required and lots of space to walk around 360 without bumping into other desks or chairs. There are tonnes of windows for maximum light – even on a grey and rainy day like yesterday – and the views over Belfast are stunning. If I was better organised and knew what I going to make before I started making it I would use this room more often.

When I could tear myself away from gazing at the vista, I pinned everything and cut out.


The pattern only comes as size 12, so I added at least 1.75cm all round as a grading up to a 14, lengthened the bodice pieces by 4cm and cut a little extra on the hem length too (this can always be cut off later if necessary). FYI the seam allowances are only 1cm on this pattern. I have 3m of fabric but used 2m. There aren’t too many pieces to cut out and prepare and the construction seems straightforward.

I rolled the whole lot up, gathered my bits and pieces and came straight home to start marking up and sewing. I had made a quick muslin of the bodice earlier in the week with a bit of jersey that was lying around and while tight-ish, it sorta fitted. Sometimes I really wish my confidence wasn’t just as confident. I stitched the skirt’s front and back and pinned the side gathers. The wiggle description of the dress is exactly that! So narrow at the hem that I couldn’t get it over Doris’s shoulders, so I just pinned it on her.


Looking kinda  good right? But wait……..let’s look at it from the other side. See the side seam on Doris? See the side seam on the skirt? They don’t match! And they don’t match by miles!



Not to be put off by Doris’s perfect body and knowing that there is a bit of stretch in the crepe I wriggled myself into the wiggle skirt…Whoops! Big whoops!

I was planning on inserting a side zip – hence the gap – but even so folks, I know a small skirt when I see one. It takes me 10 minutes to wiggle it up to waist level and I can’t even take a teeny step forward it’s that tight around my ankles. And that’s nothing compared to the hips – the least said about that region the better, me thinks. I’ve worn wetsuits that are looser than this!

Now that’ll teach me to measure first; to not think I know it all; to take my time; to plan first; to make a proper muslin!!!!!! And isn’t it lovely when other people make big mistakes?

On the back of this fiasco I’m also now considering a side split (so I can walk) or shortening the dress to knee length. I’m going to line the dress to give it a bit more substance too. I also need to devise a backless bra contraption.

So more crepe has been ordered to cut out two new skirt pieces (1m leftover is not enough). I’ll have to wait until mid next week for it to be delivered and in the meantime I’ll measure, learn from my mistakes, slow down, plan a little, prepare the pattern to match my measurements and make a proper muslin!


While I was in Croftmill ordering more crepe my finger slipped on the mouse and somehow I managed to put a teal moleskin (for jeans) and an mauve patterned jersey (for SWAP ’14) into the shopping basket! Oh well, every cloud has a silver lining……

37 thoughts on “Wiggle out of that one……

  1. What a shame! Thank goodness it wasn’t £30 fabric! It will be interesting to see the difference between the size of the pattern and your muslin. It might confirm what I have discovered, a size 12 from the 80’s is not the same as a 12 now. I have proof, I have a Liz Clairborne skirt from that era and a pair of Liz pants/trousers from the current era, and believe me they are not even close to the same size. The 80’s skirt is at least 2 sizes smaller. Vanity sizing indeed.

    I have some very serious envy over that cutting table. I have a pretty good one for a home sewist, but I love that one. It is going to go on my lottery list for sure.

  2. So sad – but thank goodness it wasn’t the wool. I’m sure it will look fabulous once it is right.
    I would say you needed to do something about that slippy finger but those fabrics look great. Leave the finger as it is 🙂

  3. Hi there Ruth, we all know that once you get the extra fabric, you will get this sorted and look fab.

    Can’t wait to see the finished article on you. I am stalling on diving into my first Marfy pattern…….also red crepe as I thought it would be Christmasy……………….

  4. Oh, Ruth! The colour of the fabric is beautiful – this will be a knock-’em-dead dress. Thank goodness you have 1 metre of fabric left and can use it for a sewlution. *sigh* I have made many the same mistake around not measuring. Looking forward to seeing you wiggle something terrific from this.

  5. I’m distracted by that fabulous cutting table! 3m x 1.5m – the new dimension of my fantasies!!!

  6. What a great place to cut out fabric! It’s the kitchen table for me, I’m afraid. Your cautionary tale is one I need to hear today. I know the sleeves are too tight on Vogue 8945 and I need to make myself muslin them today, instead of just hoping it will work. Despite the setback, I know your dress is going to be stunning:)

  7. Oh dear, 2 steps forward and one step back…we never run out of new lessons to learn, do we? Pattern sizing is just a huge joke and this is what happens when one decides to just cut and not measure the paper. Even paying attention to the supposedly printed finished dimensions on the paper pattern does not tell the truth…but your dress and your mannequin certainly have a different story to tell. At least you have time to make it all right if this is a Christmas dress and the skirt portions can be cut at home where you might feel less rushed. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

  8. Wow, what a disappointment with the pattern. Thankfully, the fabric wasn’t too expensive and you were able to order more. I’ll keep this in mind before I cut mine.

  9. So sorry about your fabric-fit problems. What a disappointment! When I saw your project and the line drawings, I had to catch my breath; it is so lovely. I know you will finish beautifully. And love that beautiful sewing room with a view. So nice you can make use of it!

  10. I’m sure we would all love a cutting table like that in our sewing rooms. You are lucky that you can use it when necessary. So sorry to hear of your fitting woes, but great to see that you have not given up on this project. Looking forward to seeing the final outcome, which I am sure will be fabulous.

  11. What a beautiful cutting space. Sorry to hear about the sizing issue. I have lots of patterns from the 80’s (the Jurassic dressmaking period of my youth) so I might just do a comparison one day. At least it wasn’t wool and you might be able to use the discard for knit muslins. Funny that slippy finger phenomenon… it happens to me all too often. But haven’t you mentioned elsewhere that you don’t have a stash?…. I don’t know how you have achieved that but I guess we can look forward to two more fabulous projects soon.

  12. I was tempted by this pattern after reading your post. Then I thought, the bottom looks very narrow and I wouldn’t be able to wear a bra! Still, if anyone can make this work – it’s you. The style and colour will be great on you. As for trying on, after boldly cutting out, I have lost count of the times this has happened to me.

  13. The dress is going to be lovely when it’s finished. As for the bra solution, you have two options: there are certain haberdashery and lingerie shops (try the department store) that sell tape or sticky pads that can hold the breasts in place. However for those who have a large bust, cannot use those, as they will not be robust enough to provide ample bust support. There are lingerie shops like Bravissimo, that sell bra converter straps that allow your bra to be worn with the backless dress.

  14. I have a few backless numbers and have to wear something………I call them chicken fillets……….they have a clasp in the middle between the two cups, and you just dampen and they stick to your skin and stay in place all night long. Have to admit, the first time I wore them ( 13 years ago) I was worried. They have never let me down. They are soft and you can buy online or in stores.
    Just checked my box. If anyone is interested its called the invisible bra by Giani – silicone bra cups. I have seen them recently in stores made by other companies I guess. They range from £20-30 depending where you purchase. Mine still look the same as when new, so a good investment.

    There are ones that are hard and look more like cardboard………..should imagine they are not comfortable??

  15. Ruth, I was wondering what setting did you use to print off your pattern?? I notice that the download doesn’t give you a sample square to check the scaling……………..

  16. Ouch! Glad you were able to order more fabric, the dress will be stunning. You have a lot of sewing planned in the next 4 months, love your SWAP board. And agree, what an awesome sewing room and view!

    • Thanks Coco. I’ve got so many things going at the moment – planning, thinking, sewing, pressie buying and work that I’m all over the place. One thing at a time…..

  17. Oh no!!
    But it IS described as a hobble dress, because it’s impossible to walk in (don’t ask me how I managed in the old days for I simply cannot tell you, but I did!). Will it work with a side zip? Hope so.
    I never had the bra issue being utterly flat-chested my whole life. That said, it’s on a booby mannequin in V&A exhibition and looks great so I hope you can make it work.
    I’m going to send your blog link to Juliana to see what she makes of the sizing issue.
    PLEASE let me know when/if it’s done. I’m dying to see how it is on somebody else!

    • Hi Scarlett, thanks for dropping in and taking the time to comment as well.

      I’ve been working on re-sizing the pattern and I bought a different (but still red) fabric that has a bit more stretch. So far, the skirt’s looking good and the the top is coming along too. I’m researching couture techniques for built-in support at the moment and hope to fashion some sort of contraption this week.

      Hopefully the finished dress will be posted at the weekend – or shortly after. Unfortunately I no longer have my size 10 figure of the 1980s but I still have the attitude!

      Best regards Ruth

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  19. Oops – I’m a little late commenting! Wow – what a great cutting out table. It must make it a lot quicker and more comfortable for you. I also smiled when I saw you link to Croftmill. It is interesting to see that they have gone ‘all modern’. I remember when they used to send out a paper catalogue with descriptions of the fabric (no samples). They were hilarious! It is great to see that they are still in business.

  20. I am also impressed with the cutting table! It’s a shame that in our college we don’t have such facilities…

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