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SEWN: "FEELING FRUITY" DRESS

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Simplicity 2180, View D without sleeves.


This was my first time working with a modern Big 4 pattern in a very long time. Also made during my period of extreme "fuggness" (I do like making words up), and consequently it nearly ended up in the UFO pile.

AKA: The Dress That Nearly Broke Me and in the end I had to relinquish my anally retentive tendencies and just give in to a gloriously imperfect make.

Or it could even be known as The Dress That Drove Me To Finally Learn Pattern Redrafting/Adjustment.


I had been planning this dress for donkey's years. I'm not sure why it took me so long to start, but when I found this awesome fabric I knew just which pattern to use. Even better I'd been lusting after the fabric for some time when it suddenly went on sale for something ridiculous like $5 per metre. Score! It's a lovely crisp vintage print cotton poplin from Spotty. Who doesn't like citrus fruit?

But "heartache" would be understating my state of mind whilst undertaking this make. I just couldn't seem to get things right. There was a lot of unpicking and head scratching going on, let me tell you.


It started with problems with the bodice fit. I have yet to learn how to do a small bust adjustment, and this is the dress that pushed me to make my Summer Sewing Promise No. 4. I relied on the somewhat tried and true and quick and dirty of simply taking in the side seams to get a better bodice fit. Um... wasn't working. 

Those bust darts were just looking saggy and baggy and the bodice decidedly unfilled. I mean, look at that photo above. It's a travesty I tell you, a travesty. That's even wearing one of my most padded bras. I just gave up, my brain just wasn't up to the task. I present to you, my gloriously imperfect bodice. Feck it...

And I used a really cheap fusible interfacing which has left all the interfaced pieces permanently wrinkly/crinkly. No matter how much I press those pieces those wrinkles come back within minutes.


One of the things that really attracted me to this dress was the v-back option and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I couldn't quite get the v nice and neat, but it's not bad.

My topstitching was a hot mess and why I decided to do it in a contrasting colour is beyond me. Grrrr... I just didn't have the energy to unpick and redo. The likelihood was it wouldn't have been much better.

But you know what? In the end I really like this dress. Heartache aside, I'm really proud I did get it finished and I've worn it a number of times and always get complimented on it. I've even been stopped in the street and asked where I got it. That's not so bad! It's a happy ending after all.


Pattern changes/alterations

  • I cut a 10 bodice and a 12 skirt. I didn't need a 12 skirt for fit, but this skirt is not terribly full and I wanted a bit more flounce. I gathered the 12 skirt into the 10 waistband.
  • I underlined the bodice with an ivory coloured cotton voile, even though underlining (or any lining) wasn't called for. I was concerned the fabric would be a little transparent. I decided in the end not to line the skirt and it's just fine.

Lessons learned

  • Don't keep trying and trying when the old brain fog sets in. You'll just want to take scissors to your dress and cut it into a million irreparable pieces. And Jillian, that would make you a little cray-cray.
  • DON'T USE CHEAP FUSIBLE INTERFACING. It's a false economy, dammit!
  • Try grading the bodice as well as adjusting the bust. I think I really need to start at a size 8 at the shoulder and neckline and grade out to a 10 at the waist. Making a muslin would probably help, but who has the feckin' time?
  • Embrace the gloriously imperfect and love it anyway... and I do.

I'm off to brunch now!


22 comments:

  1. Jillian. I love this dress too.

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    1. Thank you! I'm pretty fond of it as well.

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  2. It looks beautiful; these colours are gorgeous on you and the V-back and skirt shape are really lovely. Fitting is hard... sometimes I think the easiest is to find the pattern company (or era) that fits and stick with it!

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    1. Thanks Gabrielle. I agree about finding a pattern company/era that fits. But I'm still struggling to find it! I think the old 70's Style patterns are my best bet.

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  3. Lovely work - yoiu'll get there with your fitting. I do a SBA on most darted bodices. I just make the darts smaller and then re straighten/fix the waist. I also grade up for my waist from a 10 at the bust to sometimes a 14 at the waist depending on how much ease I need.

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    1. Christy, you make SBA's sound so simple. I think I am one of those people that have to be shown. It sounds easy in principle, but my brain just can't quite get around it. Craftsy course here I come! By the way, it was searching for other people's version of this dress that originally led me to you blog.

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  4. It really looks lovely despite your fitting concerns. No wonder you get compliments when you wear it.

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    1. Thanks Kirsty, I am sure half the fitting issues we moan about aren't noticed by the average joe on the street. I think I just have to lighten up!

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  5. It looks lovely in the pictures! And since you've gotten real life compliments on it, it must look lovely in real life, too, I guess!

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    1. Thank you! And it does look pretty great in real life ;)

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  6. So, so pretty! I can see why you fell hard for this fabric. Having just completed a less-than-perfect but perfectly serviceable item myself, I'm telling myself it's a lesson in lightening up, so I'm glad to hear you're doing the same!

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    1. Gail, that's totally it! I am trying to do the same.

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  7. This is such a lovely summer dress! I would call this one a win!

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  8. This is such a great pattern, I love the neckline detail. Worth all the hair pulling hassle i think. It looks lovely... and delicious!

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    1. Seriously Amy, it makes me wanna chomp on an orange every time I wear it!

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    1. Thank you, how's that Cape Cod coming along?

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  10. The dress looks so pretty, I don't see anything wrong with it! Loving the v back. I think I've actually seen this fabric at Spotlight before as well.

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    1. Thanks Zoe! The v back is the best part, it's nice to have the detail on the back sometimes.

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  11. Oh it's gorgeous! I love the fabric. I know what you mean about different sizes in the bodice - I'm wrestling with a muslin at the moment that I think is going to be an 8 at the shoulders, a 8-10 bust and a 12 waist! So vexing! God isn't it awesome when a stranger asks where your self made masterpiece is from! :)

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it certainly strokes the ego and makes the work feel so worthwhile when you get asked where its from 😊

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