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Thread: adventures in dress making

  1. #1
    Kelly R's Avatar
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    After a few months of making quilts on my new sewing machine, with some success at small projects (baby quilts), I decided that I could probably sew some clothes, too. Joanne's had a sale on Vogue patterns last weekend, so I went and picked out a dress pattern that said "very easy" and bought some lovely periwinkle blue linen that I love (and I got it for only $4.99/yd). I've never sewed clothing before, but I thought, "what the hay--I have a PhD, so I should be able to read the instructions and figure out how to make a 'very easy' pattern."

    On Sunday afternoon, I cut out my dress and stitched up the bodice. Had to puzzle over some of the instructions but finally interpreted them correctly. Tried on the bodice and it seemed pretty loose, but of course it was still open in the back and didn't have the skirt attached.

    On Monday evening, I stitched up the skirt and attached it to the bodice. Then I had to sew in the zipper (gulp!). It took some thinking (and a little time spent with my seam ripper), but I finally got the zipper in beautifully! Yay! I was feeling so proud of myself. I still had some hand finishing work to do, but my dress was nearly done.

    THEN, I tried it on. :-(

    It fits like a feed sack. I adjusted the pattern for petite, but the shoulders are loose and the bodice hangs much too low. The V-neck comes down half way to my navel. The skirt is the right length but about a half-mile too wide. :-( I'm so disappointed. I think I'll stick to quilts from now on and buy my clothes where I can try them on first. Apparently, I'm better at two-dimensional patterns.

    Accomplished sewers out there, is there anything I can do to salvage my dress, or should I just cut it up and use the scraps for quilts? Tips and consolation gladly accepted. :oops:

  2. #2
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    Turn it inside out...the first fitting should be to pin the shoulders up, adjusting more near the neck. That should help alot.
    I have a feeling that you didn't buy the pattern according to your measurments but by dress size, so....
    you may need to adjust a dart, or make a dart to pull the fabric where it needs to be.
    something just popped into my mind....you did use 5/8" seams didn't you? It is something that I forget when I go back and forth between quilting and sewing.

  3. #3
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    You may need to make a little triangle to fit into the very low bodice...

  4. #4
    lbaillie's Avatar
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    Don't give up!,I find that most of the time the patterns are way off from real world sizes. You've gotten this far,go ahead and make the adjustment, what's the worse thing that will happen...an addition to your scrap pile! one of the issues may be that you used 1/4 seam allowance versed the 5/8 for sewing garments. I would just leave the seams that are in it now and just keeping going in a 1/2 inch at a time. I wish I could come help! Good luck

  5. #5
    Kelly R's Avatar
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    Thanks, Susie. I did remember to use 5/8" seams, or else it would be even huger! I *thought* I was using the correct measurements, but apparently was not. I guess I'll get busy taking apart the bodice lining and shoulders first. I think my next investment is going to be a better seam ripper!

  6. #6
    Super Member mary quite contrary's Avatar
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    Congratulations!! Good job!

    Very easy Vogue isn't very easy. You started on one of the hardest pattern makers. Next time try a Simplicity or McCalls. Their instructions are a little more user friendly. At least that has been my experience.

    Be sure you check the measurements on the envelope. Pattern sizes usually run a little bigger than clothes sizes. I'm not sure why.

    Don't give up if you enjoyed the process. You are pretty much assured you will not have the exact same dress as the person next to you.

  7. #7
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    i agree, not a good starter pattern co.
    i can make clothes fit anybody but me! that was my first passion.
    sounds like you did pretty darn good for the first time and all on your own :thumbup:

  8. #8
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    congrats on sewing a dress! everyone is right about Vogue vs. Simplicity. it takes practice. i'd say that if you got a zipper in on your very first garment, that is huge! :) if you want to have original garments, don't give up. try searching YouTube for Nancy Ziemann's Sewing with Nancy videos on fitting patterns... they're terrific.

  9. #9
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    Be sure you check the measurements on the envelope. Pattern sizes usually run a little bigger than clothes sizes. I'm not sure why.

    ----------------------------
    And I've found that lots of pattern makers have pretty strong ideas of what the perfect size should be, which may not be close to anyone not a starved model who is 120 pounds and 6 feet 2 inches tall.

    Personally, I find Burda to fit me better. It's a German pattern company, and Germans are not really famous for being fragile and delicate little people!!

  10. #10
    Mimito2's Avatar
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    Please don't give up! As long as it is to big it can be adjusted fairly easily. Turn the dress inside out and put it on. Get in front of a mirror with a box of pins and take it up. Most likely if you take the shoulder seams up it will adjust up the front. If you can give us the pattern # we would understand your delima more.

  11. #11
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    One problem could be the amount of "ease" built into the pattern. Take your bust measurement over a good fitting bra. Then look on the bodice front pattern piece. It should give you the bust measurement for your size including the ease added into it. It shounds like you could have used the next smaller size. You will want to check the waist and hip measurements on the patters as well. Some patterns may have 6" of ease built into them, while others barely have 2" built in.

  12. #12
    Senior Member cinnya's Avatar
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    LOL I am sorry, but the way you described your dress adventure....too funny. :D :D :D
    I admire you for attempting it though :thumbup: :thumbup:

  13. #13
    Power Poster CarrieAnne's Avatar
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    I just attemped a shirt, too, and hated it. Mine unfortunately was way too tight.....so it will go in the scrap bag. I am so hard to fit, next time I am sewing it from an old sheet first!

  14. #14
    Kelly R's Avatar
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    Thanks, ladies, for the tips and the encouragement. I will try taking up the shoulders and taking in the waist. When I took your advice and put it on and pinned it, I had hope that I could get it to work. The waist seems easy, but the shoulders will take some figuring. If I ever get it wearable, I'll post a picture!

  15. #15
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    Just pick up the slack at the shoulders and pin it...if you already have the lining on...it makes it a bit trickier.
    you will have to release it from the neckline and then do your pinning on both.

  16. #16
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    Did you take your measurements before buying the pattern?

    Ready-to-wear sizes and pattern sizes are sometimes different.

    From what I've read, Vogue has the least amount of "extra room" (also known as "ease") built into their patterns. Vogue patterns also have a reputation of being "more difficult" than some of the others.

    You might have more success with garment making if you start with something like pajama bottoms or a loose top where "exact" fit is relatively unimportant.

    Congratulations on the construction part! :thumbup:

    Sorry it ended up not fitting the way you hoped.

    Do you have a similar style garment that fits you well? Maybe you could compare the pieces of that one to the pattern pieces and see how/where they differ?

  17. #17
    Super Member Glenda m's Avatar
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    I have always made the kids clothes, the DH, and Mine. Still make the DHs. He likes western style, two pockets and longer 'tail' so he can keep his shirt tucked in and pearl snaps. To me...reading a new pattern and figuring it out is like reading a good mystery.
    Don't be discourged. I have been sewing for 58 (yipes) years and learn something new all the time. Keeps the old brain alert. LOL

  18. #18
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    Hi!

    NO purchased garment has EVER fit me properly. 6' 1" short waisted, hourglass sloping to pear shape. 36' inseam (same as my 6' 7" brother :roll: )

    Time was (BC-before child :D ) I made all my own clothing. Jeans, coats, skirts, suits, etc.

    McCalls & Simplicity def before Vogue, even the easy ones (but that has been said a couple of times)

    Find some $1 yd fabric or buy a couple of sturdy goodwill poly cotton sheets. Get the Butterick fitting pattern. It is a waisted (true waist) straight skirted dress. The directions start you out on a full range of measurement taking. Make the dress in your sheet or $1 yd fabric. pin it write on it, etc. Sew the dress and darts in basting stitch, contrasting color thread. You can put a zipper in if you want, or have someone pin you in from the back, or you can sew the back shut leave the underarm side seam open, and pin yourself into it. make all your adjustments on the sheet dress, adjusting fit of all seams & darts. Cut the sheet dress's seams down to 5/8", cut it down into its components, draw the darts in before you take them apart. Use the sheet dress as your fitting pattern with any Butterick pattern you like. It's is extra work, but the end product is worth it. I have made 2 wedding dresses using this method for SIL & BFF.

    A note about darts. Regardless of a woman's size the accuracy of the dart placement will make a wonderous difference in a garment's fit. Find the most outward part, the body's "point". On me, large woman, I drop down one inch, and toward the side seam one inch. THAT is the point of the dart. NOT right out ther on the body's point. If your bust is petite in addition to being a petite woman, your moves may not be one inch, but I think you get the picture.

    Another dart suggestion, is to use a pattern with princess seams. Thus, no bust dart. You still need to know how to do darts, for back shoulders & on the waistline of skirts & pants.

    Sew darts from widest to narrow. If it is pointed on both ends, start in the middle, go to the end, twice. As you stitch, aim for 1/4 in short on your angle, not to the tip of the dart. When you get to the point, take 3-4 stitches parallel to the fold of the fabric. this smooths the end out to nothing, and no dart pucker.

    Everything else, the pattern will tell you how to do.

    :thumbup: enjoy yourself!

  19. #19
    Senior Member rismstress's Avatar
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    Before you take up the shoulder seams, make sure it doesn't make the armhole too small. Side seams are easy to take in. The shoulder seam and the darts are key to a good fit. Also, make sure the back waist measurement is right or the waist will either be too high or too low.
    Good luck.
    Cheryl

  20. #20
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    I've thought it would make sense to make the front in two halves, also - like the back.

    Sometimes it's hard to get any assistance with the fitting - and if one basted the back seams together, it would be easy enough (well, easier, anyway) to pin or baste the front together oneself.

    Plus some of us are lopsided and it would be easier to adjust a separate piece for each part of the body.

    Maybe??

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