Those of you that know me know that I started a new job October 17th of this year; well I was honoured to receive a call from my prior manager inviting me to attend the Awards of Distinction taking place on November 4th.
I saw this as a perfect opportunity to take on a new project of course! I did not however see this turning into the adventure it ended up becoming.
Adventure one begins.
I was off to Fabricland to find the perfect dress pattern. Those of you that follow read my blog sewing journal know that 99.9% of the patterns I use are Kwik Sew and you will be excited to see that I have branched out into Simplicity!
Ok well maybe the excitement is more on my end but hey I can pretend that my fellow followers (thanks Mom and Dad) will be excited that I have tried something a tiny bit more advanced and new;)
The perfect dress pattern for this event was Simplicity 2053 Dress ‘C’.
Pattern Found. Now let the search begin for the perfect material.
I had my heart set on finding a really nice back satin, unfortunately the only back satin that Fabricland had was in stock was bride white and well that would not work. So this adventure led me to Lens Mill.
I am sure all of you at one point or another have been to a Lens Mill, they always seem to have good prices and tons of selection; but with my luck I still couldn’t find any back satin and when I asked, no one seemed to know what I was talking about. So I started shuffling through piles and piles of fabric… I couldn’t find anything that I ‘loved’ but I did find a nice red poly blend that I thought would work and with time running short and the lack of fabric stores in KW I knew I had to pick something and move on.
So pattern and material purchased…
Time to head home and get started!
Based on my measurements and the measurements on the pattern envelope I figured that the size 10 would best suit me so that is size I cut out.
The pattern was super simple to follow and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Simplicity to any beginner nor will I hesitate to purchase from them again.
The first couple steps explain how to create the first shoulder strap, however I chose to not use that strap because I wanted the dress off the shoulder on one side so skipping to the next part, I created the top portion of the dress (the bodice).
The top involved simple elements like front and back facing and darts. It is projects like this that remind you how important your friend the iron is in every step. The dress would not have turned out as well as it did without carefully pressing every step of the way. This allowed the facing to lay perfectly flat and the darts not to bulge.
Top portion completed, next part was to sew the skirt front to the top front. Once that was done it was time to try something new… pleats!
Pleats are very much like darts however with a dart you would sew right off the fabric in a V form where a pleat you sew a section which may not start or end at the edge of your fabric (kind of like making a fold in the fabric). Pleats are used as a design element where a dart is used to fit a garment.
This pattern called for about 8 pleats all the way down the one side of the dress.
Darts in the back of the dress. You will see the darts lay are pressed flat:
Pleats down the side of the dress. See how they differ from darts? They more overlap or bulge/ruffle…
The fabric I chose turned out to not be very photogenic so it made taking photos of the progress a little more difficult. I apologize.
After sewing the skirt front to the top front (bodice) and the skirt back to the bodice back it was just a matter of sewing the side seams and the zipper and the dress was well on its way.
The zipper instructions were a little fuzzy to me so I put in the zipper my own way, as that is what I know and it works for me!
My process for zippers is super easy; I base stitch (use a long stitch) the seam together and press the seam open. I place the zipper face down against the middle of the seam and pin in place. I then proceed to sew the zipper in place using my zipper foot. Once both sides are in sewn I use my seam ripper to open up the base stitching and voila my version of an invisible zipper! It never fails me.
Once the bulk of the dress was sewn together to a point that I was able to try it on and see how it was fitting I did so, this pretty much resulted in the end of adventure one and the start of adventure two…
The size 10 was a tad tight on me. With the facing and zipper in place I didn’t want to go through and try and fiddle with making the seams smaller to see if the I could get it to fit a little looser and since I only paid just over $13 for the fabric I figured I would go out and get more material and try again. As bad as it sounds it only gets worse if you read on 😉
So even though I had to start over it wasn’t a total waste as my sister had a wedding to go to on the 11th and she needed a dress and loved the one I made so in a way it was a win win for her!
Adventure two begins.
Back to Lens Mill to find the same fabric so I can make dress number two. I found the fabric close to the same location as I found it the first time in the store and I re-bought the pattern a second time as I had already cut the size 10 so instead of trying to figure out how to make the 10 a 12 I figured I would just buy the pattern again and cut the size 12 to save me some time.
Get everything home and start all over again…
With the first dress taking just a little over 4 hours to make I wasn’t worried about making it the second time. Actually I didn’t mind at all since doing it a second time allows me to change what I didn’t like about the first round.
Things I wanted to remember for round two was pay closer attention to the zipper height at the top of the dress and back stitch at both the start and finish of my pleats so they don’t come out as they were on the first dress.
Now back at a point where I can try the dress on… and it fits! Perfectly I might add!
There was only one small issue, at the back of the dress it dropped a bit due to leaving out the one shoulder strap. This ended up being an easy fix, though because this was in the back and I don’t own a dress form (yet) I had to call mom over to help me pin while wearing it.
Once the pins where in place and I knew where to take in and how much I just simply added a third dart to the bodice back. This allowed the back to lay flat for me and gave it a much better fit and look.
The reveal of the final dress number two:
Where normally this photo would represent the end of the adventure this one goes on to a story that provided many (those that where there and even those I told after) with a good laugh…
The dress looked great, it felt great and I received a number of compliments while at the Awards of Distinction… though all did not end well.
About half way through the night my dress ended up ripping – right where my butt was! Words can’t even explain how embarrassed I was and without being able to see myself I am sure my face matched the colour of my dress. Thankfully being with good company they helped tie a sweater around my waist so my butt wasn’t hanging out for all to see and we all shared in a good laugh.
The words of a good friend “at least I handled the situation with cl’ass…” Ha ha 😉
Here is a better view of the rip with the dress off:
You can see that the fabric literally ripped away from the seam, which was even serged!
At this point I have convinced myself that I completely suck at sewing and I will never wear anything I make ever again!
I couldn’t imagine how my sister would have felt had she worn the dress and this happened to her instead! There was no way I was letting her wear dress number one! This then took me to adventure three…
Adventure three begins.
Mom and I had planned before any of this even happened a trip to Hamilton to check out the fabric district. I took a sample piece of fabric with me so I could talk to some people that know a thing or two about fabric and sewing. I was determined to find out what went wrong so that either I can make sure something like this would never happen again or second option give up sewing all together.
After talking to some super nice and extremely helpful staff at the Fabricland in Hamilton I found out that it was in fact faulty fabric and NOT my sewing that made this happen. Talk about being relieved.
They took the sample fabric and showed me how they were able to rip it in different ways and even rubbing it between your fingers allowed the fibers to loosen from each other. They told me that that should obviously NOT happen and that fabric should only ever rip in one direction not all directions.
So with my confidence slightly restored and still owing my sister a dress I started looking for fabric a third time.
Being in Hamilton allowed for a much larger selection of fabric and I found a beautiful burgundy satin for her dress. The fabric was much nicer than the original fabric bought so again I was excited to get started.
Once home I laid the fabric out so I could start placing my pattern pieces for cutting. Looking at the fabric laying on the floor I thought to myself how the fabric looked strangely small but I just shook my head and carried on.
I laid the pattern pieces one by one before pinning in place. When I got to one of the final pieces and realized… hmm there is no room for it? I sat there starring blankly for a few moments until suddenly I realized what happened. I bought enough material for the dress had the material been a width of 60” (which most fashion fabrics are) and you probably guessed it, the fabric I bought was only a width of 45’.
At this point I didn’t know if I should laugh, cry or scream.
Adventure number four begins.
Back to Fabricland I went as there was no way I was ever buying material at Lens Mill again after the past experience and to find material for the fourth time.
Had it not been 8 PM at night I would have gone back to Hamilton for the selection but there was no time left. I raced off to Fabricland as I only had an hour before they closed. Thankfully since the last time I was there looking for myself they had got in a few more polyester options. So I grabbed a nice red material (again) and another zipper and more thread and headed home to start.
Of course I definitely double-checked the width of the fabric before requesting it to be cut this time!
This time all went smoothly, I mean I could have probably sewn the dress together without looking at the instructions at all at this point but at the end of the day this oh so simple dress has taught me a handful of things that will most definitely help me out in the future.
And my sister’s final dress and the end of this adventure…