Tai Dress, take two!

Ok here is the second version of this great pattern! I made the two versions back to back and I get so much wear out of both of the them.FullSizeRender[9]

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here. My photography is horrid I know. I have been playing around with timer apps on my phone and this is as good as it gets apparently. The latest app has weird zooms in really close on one part of my body (this pic happens to my boobs) and slightly from an under angle (zero flattery). It also refuses to include my legs, not matter how far away or close I am. I should invest in a remote for my actual camera, but that’s money I could be spending on fabric, right? If anyone has a suggestion for a decent timer app I would appreciate it.

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Let’s focus on the dress.

This time I used tencel denim. I LOVE this fabric. Drapey, soft, sews well, serges well. I did the same princess seam alteration as the last dress but this time I also took in those seams by 1/2 inch under the bust and used a 5/8 seam allowance for the side seams instead of the 1/2 SA the pattern calls for. With this fabric, hindsight tells me I should have done an FBA. It’s not pulling anywhere over my bust, but I think there is a hint on uni-boob depending on the bra that I wear with this dress.

I used the lining pieces with bemberg of course so I will be able to wear this dress with tights in the transition seasons. How great is it to have separate lining pieces??

The dress is a tad on the short side for work (no being anywhere close to my 20’s), but perfect for out and about. I am really pleased with it.

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As I said in my previous post with my first Tai version, this is a great pattern. The only downside I can see to this pattern is that there is no sleeve option, but that’s what sweaters are for, right?

 

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Take home messages are:

1. Buy this pattern

2. Buy tencel denim, it’s wonderful

3. I am too cheap to invest in a proper camera, so enjoy the odd unflattering photography

Tai Dress

I recently made the Tai Dress from Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick patterns. I was introduced to this pattern by Kathy from theNerdySeamstress. Her version is adorable, and this is really a great pattern. The dress is a princess seam bodice with back darts and a pleated skirt.  It uses little fabric and can be made with many different types of fabric. This dress can be worn as a work dress with flats and a cardigan or jacked, or heels/wedges for a night out.  Plus, I really enjoyed sewing it. IMG_3412

I was unsure whether I would need to do an FBA, and after reading Kathy’s review and emailing with Betsy, the company owner, I decided not to for the first try. I think with a heavier weight fabric with no stretch a small FBA (1/4 inch) would be ideal. I cut the size small and made it out of a stretch cotton in a light and spring-ish print. The alterations I made were: taking in the princess seam close to the armhole and took in the side seams by about an inch from the bust down to the waist seam. I also did a hand ticked lapped zipper instead of the recommended zip. The neck gapes a bit which I took care of with the next version.

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I opted not to line the skirt, but this pattern comes with separate lining pieces! I am going to use the lining in many other skirts and dresses, it is so useful. The pattern finishes the neckline and armholes with bias binding which is surprisingly new to me. I love the finish, so much so that I used bias binding on the hem.

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I am very impressed with this pattern company and surprised other bloggers have not tried this pattern. Everyone should!

McCalls 6887….times two!


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It feels like forever since I have posted about my sewing. I did make a few items over the past few months including a couple of knit shirts (Plantain, Nettie, and Lady Skater peplum) and my first Burda pattern (a so-so skirt). They were all in black and grey and not super exciting.

I have seen McCalls 6887 made by a handful of bloggers who have said this pattern has been fitting just out of the package. Sadly, this was not the case for me. It’s a versatile fully lined pattern with front and back princess seams, one option has a cute cut out in the back and there is a full and straight skirt option. And this pattern comes with separate bust cup sized pieces!! My intention was to make this dress in the sleeveless and full skirted options for a wedding that I am in this summer. Glad I made this dress twice before I made the bridesmaid dress – after 2 muslins and 2 dresses I still do not have the fit perfected.

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Based on the finished measurements I started with the six 12 C cup, and it was HUGE everywhere. So I sized down to the size 10 and still had a lot to take out. The back was still billowing out so I took a wedge 1.5 inches wide and 12 inches long (!!) out of the centre back panels. I had originally made a wide waist adjustment that would allow for an extra inch total of ease in the waist (again based on the pattern’s finished measurements) and this was definitely not needed. I took this out in the finished dresses just in case the fabrics needed more room.

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The first dress I made is out of a cotton with 3% spandex, self lined the bodice and used bemberg rayon for to line the skirt. I have to be honest I am not very happy with the fit of this dress. There is gaping at the neck, the back of the bodice is too long, the upper back of the skirt has some weird excess fabric lines, and the hips are a bit exaggerated. Also, it’s just too big overall and is not the most flattering dress. It’s in the dryer right now, hopefully shrinking a bit. The dress is just ok, and I will keep it to wear for work.

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The second version is better but I didn’t do anything about the extra length in the back bodice. It was really out of laziness – I was so annoyed with all of the adjustments I had to make, and I would have to alter the two back pattern pieces. I regret it now because it’s now bothering me! I did take a wedge out of the neck for this version to take care of the gaping neck. I also took in 2 inches of ease from the side seams in the bodice. After taking the pictures it’s also apparent that the bodice is in general just too long, an inch off the overall length would likely make a difference.

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The bodice is self lined in the front, and bemberg in the back and decided against lining the skirt. The fabric is my new favourite – rayon poplin. Rayon and tencel are so drapey and they sew and serge beautifully. Both dresses have lapped zippers instead of invisible zippers, with hand ticking which looks way better that any zipper I have sewn in. And as I hate the flimsiness of invisible zips this will likely be my go-to method. I learned the hard way it is near impossible to machine stitch the lapped part, but really hand ticking can be done in front of the TV.

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I will not be using this pattern for my bridesmaid dress, so I better start testing other patterns!! Although I am not very happy with the fit of both dresses my finishing skills are improving which makes me happy. I am very proud of my new zipper skills. I think I also need to think harder about the patterns that I am purchasing. It’s very tempting to buy patterns from the big 4 since they have so many new ones every season. My body seams to have better lucky with Indie patterns, and I might have to stick with them even though they are more expensive. I do have another McCall’s dress in a knit on the list of sewing to do’s, so fingers crossed the fitting is better.

Flora for a wedding and my polyester debate

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My friend and former coworker Erica got married over the past weekend in Seattle so I of course had to make a dress for this occasion. The BHL Flora dress seemed like a natural selection for the out-of-country event. The wedding was as perfect as they come, I am so happy she invited me to her special day.  Erica is a “former” coworker because she married an American man and sadly (for me!) relocated to the US. Here is a pic of her, she looks stunning! Her dress is gorgeous.

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The lovely Erica on her big day. Have you seen a more beautiful bride?! Erica’s hubby is a lucky man.

Ok back to my dress! I love By Hand London patterns, even though I have only made 2 of their patterns so far. Their dresses are so pretty and the patterns are so easy to sew up. They look like a lot of work with little effort.

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For this version, I made the faux wrap bodice again with the same FBA adjustment as last time (1/2 inch or 1 full inch) and I kept the lowered bust dart. This time however I re-drew the dart to it’s original length as I had shortened it last time – it’s now a perfect fit. I was going to use an invisible zipper, but I could not get a perfect colour match so I went with the regular one. The closest colour in the invisible zipper selection was a grape colour which I hated. The back looks like I could have shortened the bodice by half an inch. Oh well, people should be checking out the front of this dress!

 

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I also sewed the skirt this time, and l wow it’s a pretty effect. I did the high-low hem option and I love it. I think a straight hem version just as a skirt would be really nice. The pleating details on the front and back are amazing, it’s just not easy finding fabric that is 60 inches wide, most seams to hit the 59 inch mark which is actually too narrow.

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I used a deep plum coloured polyester crepe with a touch of spandex which has beautiful drape. The stretch from the spandex is perfect for a party dress – lots of room for eating, drinking and dancing. I have had issues with using polyester in the past as I wanted my handmade wardrobe to be made out of natural fibers only. I have been avoiding synthetics like the plague but now I am thinking otherwise. The drape is beautiful, the price is right, and it was wide enough for the skirt. Plus it was a joy to sew. I am a convert and I am not ashamed to admit it!

I do have to make a non-dress related comment here. The curls in my hair are from a styling wand – I woke up the next day with curls which never happens. They held all night long which is a first for me – my hair is thick and very straight. If you have been on the fence about trying one – DO IT! The one I used was made by Conair and was only about $30.

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View of the hem in the back right before I finished the dress. You can see here the beck is gaping a bit.

 

Flora-Truffle Dress

Kathy from the Nerdy Seamstress and an extra BHL Flora dress pattern online so I jumped on that right away. As so many other sewists say, other sewists are the nicest people ever. Kathy was sweet enough to stuff a surprise of fabric in the envelope, which I of course love. She has has amazing taste in fabric, and if you never seen her beautiful dresses you really should. I actually didn’t realize you could mesh two different patterns together until I read on her blog that she was doing it all the time. So it’s only suitable that with her fabric and pattern that I mesh it up with another pattern.

 

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Actually I had a perfect amount of the cotton blue and navy dot fabric for the bodice and lining. I did make a muslin, and during the process I finally came to the realization and acceptance that I need to start making FBA’s for most patterns. I registered for another Craftsty course ‘Adjust the bust‘ which de-mystified how and why to chop up your patterns. I had no idea how to and I did not understand how make bust adjustments until I did this course. This is such a great website !

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So, I lowered the bust darts and made just under 1/2 FBA (1 full inch) and shortened the dart. I am planning on making the full pattern and next time I will redraw the dart to the original length. The darts up close have too room in that area, if that makes sense. Based on what other sewists have said about the gaping in the front I ran 1/8″ elastic in the seam allowance between the shell and the lining. I should have only pulled the elastic by an extra inch, but  I went for 2 inches for no reason and now you can see rippling. Next time – just an inch.

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Thanks to Kathy for the super cute fabric!

I wanted a more A-line bottom so I could wear this dress to work and be a bit more conservative. I used the skirt from Colette Patterns Truffle dress in a regular black cotton and lined it with bemberg rayon, of course! The only issue with using the different skirt is that the two patterns have slightly different fits – the Flora is very fitted and the Truffle is meant for a bit more ease. When I joined the bodice to the skirt there was about an extra inch on both sides on the skirt, so I trimmed it as sparingly as possible, but the waste line is SNUG. I am not sure how it will be sitting at my desk for most of the day at work. We will see! Maybe if I only eat a salad at lunch…..

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The lining is a medium grey and the binding is a light silvery grey.

I used hem binding for the first time which makes for a more professional finish. Well worth the extra time and money.

The only thing with this dress is that I am self conscious about the tummy area. The skirt is not tight over the tummy but I feel that by removing so much ease in the skirt that the shape may have been altered a bit which draws my attention to that area, and gives a roundness/thickness if that makes sense.  I haven’t worn the dress yet, maybe it will loosen out a bit, however bemberg usually stops cotton from stretching.

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This dress feels a bit heavy, which is actually what I was going for. I wanted a transitional piece that can be layered with tights and a cardigan  or wear with neither, and be able to be comfortable with too much air conditioning in the summer. I am really happy with how it turned out, and will definitely make it again – both patterns!

 

Colette Myrtle – getting my sew-jo back

Hello Myrtle.

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Soooo…after a couple of sewing fails I finally got my sew-jo back with the Colette Myrtle pattern. I had a disaster with a BHL Flora dress – I used a billowy rayon fabric that was horrible to cut, so much so that none of my pieces were the same and one of the back bodice pieces was 2 inches narrower than it should have been. That experiment will go down in my history as the worst cutting job ever. Seriously it looked like lined up the tequila shots and blind folded myself before cutting. Fortunately I happened to be parousing through Tilly’s Love at First Stitch, and her advice is to drop projects you are not happy with. Great advice!

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I also made a McCall’s knit dress pattern that was supposed to be casual and simple, instead it’s frumpy and trampy because of lack of shape and it being oddly incredibly low cut. I also broke my only jersey twin needle as well which topped that experience. Anyway I have been in a bit of a sewing funk because of two sad sewing experiences. Thankfully this dress came together well.

 

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There are some changes I will make the next time I make it, but it was easy peasy breezy to make and I am back on the wagon. Everything came together nicely, this is  a well made pattern. I used my serger for any of the construction that was possible which just looks so much neater. I made the size small based on my measurements but I think the top is too big. Next time I will take out some width in the back neckline as it gapes slightly, this should help also bring the shoulders in as they are a bit wide. The cowell is also very low so the front shoulders will be need to be shortened.

You can see the gaping in the arm circle - the bodice is a bit wide

You can see the gaping in the arm circle – the bodice is a bit wide

The only change that I made was to use a single needle when using my sewing machine my only double knit needle was in needle heaven. And seeing as I was sewing this dress on a Monday of course the only store that stocks these is closed on Mondays (and also closes at 5:30 on weekdays wtf). Seriously someone needs to open a fabric and notion store that has hours for those of us with 9-5 jobs……

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This dress is seriously comfy and cute and I think it will work in the fall with tights and a cardy. It reminds me of a ancient Greek-styled dress but with pockets! Every girl needs pockets in her dresses.

Anyway, the next Myrtle I am thinking of making with a silk woven that I purchased on my last trip to Paris. The Coletterie has a series of posts on which changes to make when using a woven for the Myrtle pattern which will be helpful.

 

Amazing new pattern! No wait, it’s another Anna!

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I know what you are all thinking, does this woman own any other patterns?? Yes I do, this is just the perfect summer dress and it fits me like it’s custom made (because it is!). I was recently on a work/pleasure trip to the UK and of course bought fabric on my days off and it only seemed fitting (ha! punny, right?) to use this fabric for a By Hand London dress. It’s a super soft lightweight cotton that is really nice to wear. It’s a summer dress so there was no need to line it. I used French seams everywhere except the bodice side and shoulder seams.

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I love the print – it’s mini parasols and reminds me of a birds eye view of a packed beach. You can see here that my facings are off by 1 cm, oh well it’s on the inside so really who cares? I also love the Anna dress pattern. I feel like it’s kind of 40’s/70’s era vibe to it and I love the 1970’s style.

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The only change from my last alterations to this pattern that I made this time were opting for the V neck version and a regular zipper instead of the invisible zipper. I find them hard to get out of with higher back necklines and they are flimsy. This fabric is so colourful it was hard to match a zipper to, but it also makes it easier to hide the zipper. Dressew (Vancouver’s notion emporium) sadly and surprisingly did not have a cream coloured regular zipper, so I matched it to the turquoise in the fabric.

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Regular zipper – easier to get out of!

This is a TNT pattern, and so easy to make, everything matches up nicely it’s really a dream pattern. I am sure this will not be the last Anna, I am already thinking of making another version with a different skirt….

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Fabrics from Goldhawk Road and Shepard’s Bush Market

These are the fabrics I picked up in Shepard’s Bush Market and along Goldhawk Road in London. So many fabrics to choose from, so little time!  And money – you have to think of the pound as the same as the dollar, otherwise your vacation becomes sad. I didn’t pay too much attention to how much these fabrics were, except the one on the top in this pic – 1.5 meters for under 9 pounds for a wool cotton blend which was not expensive and not easy to find over here in the colonies. The market itself had lots of fabric stalls as well as a large amount of ugly shapeless women’s clothing made from pretty fabrics. The market has an entrance/exit along Goldhawk Road which has fabric shops lined up next door to each other.

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Shepards Bush Market

The Lilou Dress becomes a TNT

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Despite a minor fitting issue in the back this pattern is going into the TNT pile, I love it. Ok, I haven’t used the actual pattern skirt yet but I will when I get fabric that is wide enough.

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I found this pretty floral lightweight cotton at a discount wholesale fabric store, not only is the print gorgeous it was also only $5.98/metre. I lined the bodice and the skirt with bemberg rayon, and it’s still a very lightweight dress. I decided to leave the serged hem on the lining to try something new. I think I like it. On this dress anyway.

Just hiding my bra strap !

Just hiding my bra strap !

I used the same altered pattern pieces for the bodice as last time, and took the side seams in a bit around the bust line. I lowered the neckline by 3/4 inch as my original alterations did not take into account that I got rid of 2 inches in the shoulder seams. The armpit circle is a tad on the tight. I should open it a bit more for next time (yes, meaning I will be making more).  For the skirt I added the mini half circle skirt from the circle skirt calculator on the By Hand London website. My fabric was just wide enough for the half circle skirt, perhaps another indicator that I need to look for wider fabric when making dresses.

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Ever get caught changing poses and everything looks great except one body part forgot to move? I call this the flamingo.

I had a few issues with the invisible zipper – it got caught up a few times in the fabric when I was sewing the bodice lining and also in the skirt. I haven’t quite mastered the invisible part either as the zipper pops through a bit, but I don’t know how much I really like them anyway. They are flimsy and I broke the one for my Delphine skirt (not yet blogged) which was a pain in the arse since it was yellow and I only bought one. I recently read on Paunnet’s blog that she (Ana) also dislikes them which is affirming if a pro like her rarely uses them.

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What do you think of the raw serged lining?

What do you think of the raw serged lining?

Anyway, I love this pattern it is so straight forward and easy, and of course cute! If you haven’t tried this pattern yet, or haven’t purchased Tilly’s book, then I really don’t know what’s wrong with you!!

 

 

Lireau Dress

Enter Lireau, the love child of the Lilou and Sureau (Deer and Doe) dress patterns.

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Have you gotten your hands on Tilly Walnes’ new sewing book Love at First Stitch? It’ beautiful. Oh, and the reason I bought the book was because of the yellow Delphine skirt on the cover. So why did I start with the Lilou? I don’t know, I just did!

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Ok so here are my thoughts on the book – it comes with 5 patterns of which I like all of them. This is rare! I paid $30 Canadian including shipping which makes for an incredible deal. I have to admit I have not read much of the book as I am more interested in the patterns. The instructions are fantastic and this book would have been great for when I started sewing. Oh well no matter, this is a great reference book too.

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The only negative part of this book is that you have to trace the pattern pieces. That’s ok, I seem to be needing to make a lot of bodice adjustments for my clothes anyway which involves tracing. This also means that I can lend the patterns to my friends. Too bad most of them don’t sew.

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Ok so on to Lilou.  Based on the finished measurements, I cut the 4 bust an shoulders and graded to a 3 for the waist and hips. This was not necessary I should have just cut the 3 all the way through. Again I made a muslin (What?? again you say! I know…..) and had to take the side seams in by an inch on each side, tapering down to 1/2 an inch where the size changed to a 3. I also had to take 2 inches out of the shoulder seams which then made the arm openings a bit tight, so I opened the armpit (is there a sewing word for this? ) by 1/4 inch. For the usual upper back and shoulder gaping fitting issue I seem to have I added and closed a 3 inch long and 1.5 inch wide dart 3.5 inches out from the seam allowance on the back seam line.

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There is a bit of wrinkling in the mid back that I didn’t notice with the muslin. Could be from the type of fabric, we will see with the next one.

The love making of these two patterns was not intentional…. you know how it is….things just happen sometimes.  The cotton I used for this dress is quilting cotton which is not wide enough for the Lilou skirt. Instead of adding the gathered skirt alternative Tilly suggests, I went for the Sureau dress’s skirt for more subtle gathers. And boom! What a beautiful baby these patterns made together.

I also lined the bodice with the quilting cotton. These photos make it hard to make out the black and white gingham pattern on the fabric it looks grey from s distance.

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The construction was easy peasy for the whole dress. I will be making more of these, whether it be Lireaus of Lilous. It was nice to have no hiccups or issues getting out of this dress like the last one I made!

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The Saltspring look-a-like

 

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I have already made this pattern before, it’s Vogue 8870. I love the pattern but I wanted to change it up a bit. I wanted a maxi version with the blousing of Sewaholic’s Saltspring dress, without having to buy another pattern. I am trying to keep to a monthly sewing budget and I have lots of patterns I have not made yet so I decided to wing it with the Vogue pattern.

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Look at that fabric!

I bought this lightweight cotton print (maybe voile, not sure) with the intention to make this dress. I love the print on this fabric and thought it would be perfect for a Saltspring-like dress. There is a slight sheen to it that stayed even after I washed the fabric.

 

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I lengthened the skirt pattern pieces and removed the high-low hem. I found out during construction the front piece was longer ooops. From what other bloggers have written, I followed their description of the Saltspring’s bodice construction. I cut the lining to be the same as the original pattern and added an inch in length to the actual bodice pieces. Everything was going smoothly until I realized there was an inch long tear in the middle of the front bodice …..grrr! I knew when I bought it there was a tear and the fabric store had added a free 1/2 meter because of it. I was careful to mark the tear so I could avoid it, but apparently there was another surprise tear I didn’t see….So I hummed and hawed over what to do because of course I didn’t have enough fabric left for another bodice piece. I could have cut a piece on the bias but the pattern is directional so that would just look like a giant mistake. I tried machine embroidery over the tear, and it looked stupid and out of place. Then I thought about applique then realized I would need special glue for it which I didn’t have. I was tempted to go buy more fabric, but then I smartened up and decided to add a seam allowance the bodice centre and cut two half bodice pieces and used French seams to join them.

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Problem averted. Time to keep sewing. I couldn’t figure out why the side seems were not matching up, and unpicked the seams a few times until I realized I hadn’t added the bust darts…….Back to sewing. But then the brain freeze kicked in again with the lining and I was unsure how to attach the lining at the neck line and keep it as a lining and not underlining….well lets just say it’s a combo. The dress is not the prettiest on the inside. Oh well, shit happens.

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The waist elastic the first time I tried it on was too loose so I tightened it. It was still too loose, so I tightened it again. Before I tried it on again, I thought it would be a good idea to tighten the elastic even more to save time because surely it would be too loose again. I swear I was not drinking I have no idea where that brilliant idea came from. The elastic was so tight it barely got over my shoulders and got stuck when I took it off. If you live alone and have gotten stuck taking clothes off then you know the panic that comes over you when your dress is over your head and your arms are stuck in the air with no way out. I was actually so stuck I was thinking of what friend I could call to come over and help me out of it. Finally I got it off, but then had no more elastic left…

Apparently I also published this post accidentally before I finished writing it! Haha.

This dress had sewing issues, but really it’s just part of learning. Fortunately I am also learning that if I am getting frustrated while sewing, just take a break and come back to it later. Have a drink and relax, or whatever. For all the issues I had I am still super happy with my maxi!

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I think Smiley likes my dress.

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Or maybe not!