Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

More than I can Chew…



I had the fabric.. a beautiful fresh green linen from Chrysalis (and had to order an extra metre),


and had the pattern, Vogue Ralph Rucci 1381. I even had the time!


However indecision and doubt infected this project from the beginning – nay, well before the beginning. My heart just wasn’t in it and this, I believe, has affected the result.

I knew a Vogue advanced rating would be challenging and that’s exactly what I really wanted – I’ve already made the T-shirts and cotton skirts for summer and needed something that would make me think and plan and figure out.

Well, maybe I couldn’t figure out, or plan –  the fact that I needed to order an extra metre tells you I hadn’t planned properly to start with and maybe I just couldn’t deal with the advanced rating: or a combination of all of the above.


While the finished dress on the pattern envelope is polished, refined and simple – here’s the reality – the inside centre front! Now just how do you trim those seams? Seven of them all ending in one point – hah!

And that’s just the construction – there’s about 1000 hours of quilting to be done before you even get to this stage.

The pattern has 29 pieces in total: but 8 of them have to be cut 3 times on 3 different substrates and quilted together – and that’s cut 2 folks on each – so that’s 62 pieces just for the quilting. Then you have to actually do the quilting – I used 2 spools of thread on this stage alone.

Ready to give up and retire (RTW was looking decidedly attractive at this stage), I thought that if I’d managed to complete the quilting I may as well carry on –  can’t give up now in spite of overwhelming odds. England and World Cup – similarities anyone?

So I got the bodice made and skirt attached.


Even managed to sew in an invisible zipper…. and there’s not just one waist seam line to match – there’s three!


Two out of three ain’t bad.

The skirt’s lining was cut, made and attached.




Sleeves are cut out – not sewn: sleeve linings are cut and ready to insert: bodice lining is cut and ready to sew: hemming and that’s it.


Here’s what the dress looks like on me (alright, no sleeves, shoulders are pinned, no hem etc, but look past that please)

DSCN4133 DSCN4134

Front pleat won’t lie flat with the skirt; wrinkles at the top of centre front skirt (might be able to disguise with knotted belt);  wrinkles on front bodice above quilting; neckline too low (easy fix); not polished, refined, elegant or slimming (not easy fix).


And here’s what the dress looks now.



So – should I finish? Justify your answer. (10 marks)

Things are going to go a bit quiet here for a few weeks while I mark A-Level exam papers. The machine has been packed away under the table which has been transformed into exam marking central. All those young futures are dependent on me taking the next few weeks seriously – no really! I have peoples’ lives in the palm of my hand – oh the power……wish I had it over my sewing too!



35 thoughts on “More than I can Chew…

  1. I looked closely at the pattern on the Vogue website. I think that there are fit issues even on the model that cannot be atrributed to her pose. If the sleeves are cut out, I would baste them on and see if that helps. Looking at the picture I think it would make a lot of difference. A lot of times with that type of sleeve, my biggest adjustment is taking about an inch off at the shoulder, and it works wonders. But I’m not sure if this would help. I’m drawn to the pattern, but I can see where it would be torturous to make. Good luck in deciding what to do with it, I’ve thrown out a lot of wadders this year.

    Best, Nicole

  2. Even the model has under bust wrinkles and raglan sleeve drag lines and her front skirt doesn’t sit flat either and she didn’t even quilt anything. Lordie! What a challenge and with your deadline and students this is best let in the bag for a while…age it…and see if it looks better later. Why did you add the quilting? Inspired by RTW?

  3. I think I would have given up MUCH sooner, though I can see it is a shame to abandon all the work you have put in so far and to admit defeat. But I suggest you put this down to experience. If there are things you still love about this pattern, I suggest you incorporate them into a TNT pattern that does not have quite so many challenges all at once. You make so many successful garments but you are allowed the occasional wadder – it makes the rest of us feel less inadequate!

    Even with the neck fixed, are you really going to be happy with the dress?

    What subject are you marking? Inquiring minds would like to know!


  4. I think you did a good job on a nightmare of a pattern.

  5. I love this blog! You are so human with such personality, yet.

  6. Hmmm, what to do? If it were me, I would leave it to perculate while I did something else (marking papers for instance) then I would go back and finish it. If I still didn’t love it I would donate it somewhere. But this is always my solution because unfinished projects goad me from wherever they were flung until I can’t stand the guilt anymore!
    I really love the dress and the colour, it’s worth a second chance 🙂

  7. I agree with Wendy that it’s a fantastic colour – one of my favourites – and it suits you absolutely perfectly. For that reason, a bit of trimming before adding the sleeves might be worth exploring when you’ve had a rest but on the other hand, you could treat yourself to more of the fabric and make a TNT to celebrate the end of marking.

    Yes, what subject are you marking? You’ve never said!

  8. Yes, when you have more time, Finish! Too much work to throw Away!

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. The colour is gorgeous; really suits you. It seems like such a lot of work to abandon – but I have done similar. At least rescue the skirt pieces, and turn it into a stand alone skirt, but I think that you have come this far, you should attach the sleeves, and then decide. It has the potential to be stunning. Good luck.

  10. Perhaps the linen fabric is part of the problem; it just doesn’t have much give (even though bias seams stretch unmercifully), so if something does not quite fit, it can look really bad. The wrinkle below the bust of your dress could be fitted out if you undo about 5 inches of the waistband seam and move the waistband up slightly, easing any excess fabric carefully. The front pleat could be stitched down to where it doesn’t pull anymore. The dress is definitely worth another attempt at fine-tuning.

    I have this pattern, too, acquired with considerable doubt because of its simplicity (appearance only) and beautiful lines. The quilting lines are eye-catching, but I don’t have enough time until the end of my life to do that, so I bought one knit fabric for the large pieces and found a contrasting rayon solid for the not-to-be quilted pieces. I’m hoping that the knit will provide enough give so it will fit. Still, I’m going to start with a muslin!

  11. What a fantastic colour that linen is, Ruth. I want it. 😉 And I’ve this dress in my queue, too, although I’ve planned to make it in red. If it were me looking at your pics, I’d either set it aside for a while, or take a deeeeeep breath, and make a few changes: I think the CF pleat isn’t lying flat because the skirt should pull up at CF a little higher – perhaps make the pleat a little shallower? It just seems to be wanting a little more ease across the high hip. And as for the underbust-underarm drag lines… perhaps once you baste the sleeves in, since it looks like they’re on the bias (?) you may be able to ease some of that extra length into the armscye.

    Don’t give up! It’s a gorgeous dress!

  12. Agree with Susan. Perhaps because you have been working on it for so long you have become too critical. I don’t think linen is ever going to fit perfectly due to the creases.

  13. I say Finish It! I think all the problems can be fixed but if you hate when you’re done and want to make a wadder of it, instead take a look at the Asiatica website and be inspired by their beautiful jackets made of patchwork and lots of quilting. The dress is beautiful fabric, a gorgeous colour that suits you, interesting stitching – it will be something wonderful whether or not it becomes the dress idea you started out with.
    All the best

  14. life is short. sometimes vogue patterns just don’t work the way they should. move on to something that gives you more pleasure.

  15. I would have given up at 29 pattern pieces! Some of those Vogue patterns just overwhelm me.

  16. Oh Ruth, after all the work you have put into this dress to be so unhappy with the result. I suggest you put it away for a while and then bring it out again when you have more time and less stress. Sometimes looking with fresh eyes can lead you to the solution. The colour suits you so well. I feel sure that you will overcome these issues and I look forward to seeing the results. You are a very talented lady.

  17. Ruth – I agree with Nicole. I think adding sleeves will make a big difference. Maybe not enough to make you love the dress – but it will fit differently for sure. Add the sleeves and see what you think. If still a no, I bet you could make a cute skirt out of your fabric. 😉

  18. Hi Ruth, I am sure you will return to the dress to complete it. The colour really is good on you and after all that time already spent, well, finish it and I am sure you will be happier with the final result.

    I looked at this pattern and loved the clean look of it and the quilting…………….DH didn’t like it.

    We all know what a fabulous job you did of the DK dress ( the best example I have seen on the www) so I know you can and will do the same with this dress.

    Hang on in there!

  19. But its a fabulous apple green and so cool…..let it bag mature and bring it out later- it may still charm you!

  20. I don’t think it looks as bad as you think. I looked at the pics, then when I read your commentary I was surprised that you were so unsatisfied. I think that if you made a couple of fitting tweaks like others have mentioned, then finished it you would get tons of compliments on it.

    Take a breather though, move on to something satisfying.

  21. WOW! You are a trooper to get even this far on this extraordinarily complex and confounding project. Kudos! Having seen your past delightful creations, I can’t help but feel that somehow you’ll figure out
    how to make this beautiful and totally yours. The time and “magic closet” will undoubtedly help you decide the final outcome when you’re ready. Looking forward to seeing it when your clever workarounds kick in.


  22. ummmm…no. let’s see…I’ve seen you do better. Better yet, dock me 10 points. 🙂

  23. I agree with the very first comment from Nicole: you can see the same fitting problems in the one worn by the model as have turned up in your version.
    The clothes you make have such a perfect fit (and finish), that I don’t think you will be satisfied with the result even if you do complete it later. If I were you I’d let it go and move on to something more satisfying.😊

  24. Please finish this dress. You above all sewers can make this one work! The colour is really lovely on you and I am, ahem, ‘green’ with envy that there wasn’t enough of this lovely fabric left when I went to place my order. I also have the pattern and although I really enjoy quilting fabric before making up, feel a bit intimidated by the shape of those sleeves/shoulders. Thanks Ruth, thoroughly enjoy your posts.

  25. i have made this without quilting and eliminating the front pleat. i have had loads of compliments as it is such an interesting design(the sleeves are lovely and i am sure they would help the finished look). could you sew up the pleat so the front lies better?
    dont give up-i think it will be worth it in the end!

  26. Never give up, never surrender.

  27. I agree with most other readers, I think you CAN make this work, but best to let it rest a little while, so marking is a very worthwhile distraction. I too think that the sleeves will improve things a little. The fit issues you have are not that obvious, it just that sewists see things that others don’t. Like many others I have also bought this pattern, more from admiration of the design than any conviction that I am able to complete it…. it’s one of those “advanced” that you know really is advanced! Kudos to you for attempting it and achieving something which will still be good enough to let that design shine through! Agree that the colour is lovely on you. Looking forward to seeing the final product, even if not immediately.

  28. I really think it is worth carrying on with this. The colour is great on you and the amount of work – well, it is awesome. Would it be an idea to have a centre seam on the skirt perhaps? And once sleeves are in, the bodice may lay better, though it is not so bad as it is.

  29. This color is fabulous on you and the lines hit your sweet spot for optimal fit (fitted from bust to waist, bulk-free gentle flare over hips, knee length). Maybe I’m biased because I’m currently making a muslin of this dress, but please finish it! I’ve been disappointed with many things I’ve made, because they are the ghastly colors for me and the cut is all wrong for me (despite the fit and sewing being good). This is not the case for you… You caught this one in the ugly phase, IMHO. A little more work and this dress will far surpass RTW. I have a question.. Do you think underlining would help the front bodice wrinkling issue?

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  31. Thank you so much for sharing a nightmare pattern and the difficulties involved. I had already purchased this pattern but will now never attempt it – my skills are nowhere near being up to this. From what I have seen on your blog you set the bar high for yourself – if you do finish the project will you ever be happy with it? Will you wear it with confidence. My learning from sewing over the years is that sometimes I just acknowledge what I learned and bin the project.

  32. Wow, I just posted about this dress yesterday. I had the same darn issues. The whole time I was making this, I was thinking “fussy”. I put mine in a bag as well….

  33. I realize this a few years old…but, from what I can see, you’ve done a great job. This lies better on you than any of the other versions that I have seen. Perhaps you can let the pleat out a bit so it drapes better? I’m halfway through the dress and having some doubts that I can make it work, but I’m willing to keep slogging through.

  34. Pingback: No Fabric…..1 | corecouture

  35. I’m glad you finished this one! The quilting looks like a ton of work, but the colour is lovely on you!

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