Earlier this week I mentioned that I was having a go at making my own dress. I’d got the fabric ready, chosen the dress style, cut out the pattern and was ready to make the first cut. Just like so many others around the world, I was making my first step into Sew It Yourself territory and I even posted a photo of the Vogue dress pattern on Instagram declaring my intentions to make the dress that very day – so there was no getting out of it!
It took a little longer than I’d anticipated, but that was probably due to the adjustments that I’d needed to make to the pattern in order to get the perfect fit. I’m a petite girl in height and I needed to adjust all of the pattern pieces to compensate for my lack of length. Helpfully the Vogue pattern had incorporated fold lines for those of us in the vertically challenged category, so it wasn’t too difficult to make sure that I cut out the fabric pieces in the right size. However, when it came to sewing the darts into the bodice of the dress, I’d already forgotten that I’d adjusted the size, and stitched the ‘normal’ length darts into the front, which obviously came up too high! Oops. Time to unpick and start again. It turns out that I get quite grumpy when I have to unpick something so a lot of huffing ensued and I took a tea-break before starting again.
Even after shortening the length of the skirt during the cutting process, it still seemed a little too long for me and I carefully cut off another 3 inches. It now falls just on my knee – which is a lot more demure than most of my dresses – but I kind of like it that way. And I can always take a little more off the length in the future if I want to.
So I finished constructing the dress and tried it on. Ah. It was too big. I thought that the whole idea of Sew It Yourself was to get a finished garment that fits perfectly? It turns out that some of my measurements fall into one dress size and most of my other measurements are a lot smaller. But I wasn’t disheartened – and this is the beauty of sewing your own – I could take in all the necessary seams to make the fit much better. The thing that confused me most was getting a smaller sleeve without losing most of the arm-hole. I fiddled around with it a bit (and stitched the sleeve on inside out at one point – more unpicking grr) and soon figured it out.
I think that the adjusting and fiddling was the activity that took up most of the time but now that I know where to change the pattern in the future, I’m convinced that I could rustle up a duplicate dress in exactly the right size in half the time. I guess that’s what our grandparents’ did – pick a pattern, made it their own, and replicated it in different fabrics and colours. I used a beautiful shade of emerald green fabric from Minerva Crafts. When I’d finished the dress I posted a photo of it hanging on my wardrobe (for those of you who don’t already follow me on Instagram here’s my Cassiefairy profile ) and the “likes” and comments came flooding in demanding to see a photo of me wearing it, so here it is:
The wind and how I’m holding the dress make it look like I’ve got a wobbly hem but I can assure you it’s the straightest, most level skirt bottom I’ve ever seen and I’m really happy with the overall fit etc. Plus the fabric is super-comfortable so I’m very happy with it. It may well become my ‘Christmas dress’ and I’m definitely wearing it to a friend’s green-and-gold themed party at the start of December! I don’t know if it worked out any cheaper than buying something off-the-peg (especially when you factor in my time to make it) but to buy a custom-made dress would have been way out of my budget. Plus the sense of satisfaction was immense, especially when my husband couldn’t believe that I’d made it myself – if only you could see my smug face 😀