I do NOT want to make this dress

About one month ago I was asked if I made custom dresses.  I demurred, but the emails persisted, so I gave a quote for the job once I’d seen the dress I was to copy.

But I can tell you that the bodice looked like a very bad attempt to copy an Herve Leger bandage-type bodice, with a very large piece of cotton sewn to the bottom of it in a huge circle skirt.  In the pic that I’m supposed to work from for this project, the skirt fabric looks like it’s been wasting away in the back of a closet for about 18 months, it’s so creased.  And the ‘bandages’ of the bodice are AWOL.

Ms. Rs materials

My quote for labour/design was deemed acceptable, and I was given a bag with the goodies you see above:

  • about 1.7m of waistband elastic for the bandage bodice
  • 3m of 115cm wide very lightweight poly crepe (pictured on the left)
  • 3m of 150cm wide heavy jersey for the lining (pictured on the right)

The dress is supposed to be a pullover dress – no zipper or other openings, thank you!

I have been avoiding this, but today is the first fitting.


I am not working with anything else so I must make magic from these fabrics.  I really don’t know how I’m going to copy that bandage bodice, which is why I’m loathe to tackle this project, so wish me luck.

The skirt will be a piece of cake, I’m sure – a simple A-line jersey lining with a double-width gathered poly crepe skirt stitched directly to the waistband elastic.

The bodice will require samples, trial, error and something called faking it.

I hope it works…

Salvage September Project 1

Back in Me-Made-May earlier this year, I whipped up a version of Vogue 1179. I used a poly-lycra roll end from my stash in a reptile-ish print.  But I wasn’t happy with it because it really needed an FBA to hang properly.  And I felt like a frump every time I wore it.  Definitely a wadder project, although I really really like the idea of this dress.  I just don’t feel stylish wearing it.  I even gave away my earlier red version because the fabric was only an 11 oz rayon-lycra and I felt so self-conscious wearing it.

MMM15 Day 27

So I took the latest rendition apart and saved the fabric by turning it into one of Burda’s shapeless boxy tops that take 30 minutes to trace, cut and sew (Burda 05/2012 #109+110).

Burda 05-2012-110

I’m surprised at this, OK?  I have never gravitated towards shapeless anything, but this was a gamble I was willing to lose.  I like it.  If it wouldn’t look weird, I’d wear this top three times a week. Why?  There is nothing special about it. It’s just an over-sized box with a wide boat neckline that can maybe sorta fall into a cowl-ish shape on the front.

Burda 5-2012-110 cowl top

I made it more interesting for myself by adding the shoulder ties and pulling them up to about a 10cm width.

Burda 5-2012-110 front

Lots of room in this, I think, is what I’m liking.  It’s not figure conscious, which translates to comfort, physically and psychologically, perhaps.  It was a good use of the fabric.  And now that I know I like shapeless tops and they don’t look as horrible as my mind’s eye insisted, I’m not afraid to try more.

Burda 5-2012-110 back

The Blogiversary Wadder Ledger

Since I can’t sew while my house is in chaos, I’ve been thinking and reading and looking at things related to sewing a LOT.  Mostly I’ve been thinking about how experimental it all seems to be for me, with successes mostly being regulated to garments I sew for other people.  I don’t have any trouble constructing and finishing garments well, but fitting myself is an elusive science, and I don’t always want to make that @!(#* muslin.  So I end up fitting as I go, which in the case of the Saga of Capris this past spring, means basically I’ve made myself three muslins.  So I should just get over myself and make the muslins already.

Anyways, I thought it would be interesting to catalogue all the garments I’ve made and haven’t kept, and the reasons for letting them go.  Whenever I do catalogue, I start seeing patterns, and this helps going forward.   And I thought I’d share them with y’all, since this blog is about failures, mistakes and successes.  You can click the pics to get to the original posts.

1. Vogue 1175: Donna Karan dress.  I love this dress.  It’s so far out of Normal Clothing Universe that I love it.  But the linen was too heavy and I wasn’t sure about the colour.  So I thrifted it with plans to make it again sometime out of something lighter and darker.2. All my recent Vogue capri makes.  My go with the Burda block has made me absolutely dissatisfied with every pair I made this spring.  I have cannibalized them all for notions, however.

3. The first version of Vogue 8182.  This shrunk after I washed it because I hadn’t pre-shrunk the silk. I was very sorry to part with this dress, and have kicked myself every time I see pictures of it for not pre-treating the fabric before sewing it up.  Never mind.  Lesson learned. Another thing: this dress was made with my first-ever duct tape twin, and it made a tremendous difference in getting the fit right through the bodice.  My twin eventually collapsed, and I’m still without a double. But thinking about this dress and how easy it was to “fit myself” using that dress form makes me kick myself for not having DH wrap me up in duct tape again.4.  The tank from Simplicity 2603. I hated the finishing.  Hated the top.  Hated the pilling on the fabric.5.  This wrap top from Simplicity 4076.  I wore it until the fabric was so badly pilled it became an embarrassment to wear.  But I liked the pattern and it fit well.

6.  A Karl Lagerfeld blouse.  I actually never wore this, although it was fun to make. I’ve wanted to make this blouse since I was a teenager, and I finally got around to it just to make someone else happy in a thrift store! 🙂V1900 batwing sleeves7.  My first plastron from BurdaStyle.  I wasn’t happy with the fit (no required FBA was done) and it shrunk after washing.  I’d like to make this again, if 4 ply silk wasn’t so expensive.  It was a nice top.7. These trousers from Vogue 8434.  I initially loved them and they seem to look good, but I decided last year that they looked dowdy, so I cannibalized them for notions and trashed the fabric.  The RPL was starting to pill anyways, and I hate that.v8434 front8. A tulip skirt.  The fabric was left in stash, so I made this on a whim, mostly to try out the silhouette.  But I cut the lining a size smaller than it should have been, which made it uncomfortable to wear, and I had to always remember to suck my belly button into the front of my spine while wearing it, so I sent it out of the house to bless someone else’s closet.b skirt8. My fringe dress.  I never did like the way it fit, regardless of that lovely fringe.  And every time I’m tempted to make something out of RPL, I remember this dress and the trousers in #7 above, and move on.v2396 full front dartless9. The first woven version of Burda 9/2012 #111.  It needed a lot of tweaking through the shoulders and width down the sleeves, not being made of jersey and all.  D’oh.  Didn’t think that through prior to cutting and sewing.b09-2010-111a full 10.  Both this top and the skirt.  The top was too short and the FBA too big (it was a jersey) for me to wear comfortably.  And the skirt was eventually tiresome, even if it was bias linen in a lovely olive green.  I always used to hate my hips in it.MMJ 1411.  My bombshell dress. It was the first garment I ever cried in frustration over, and after taking pics for the blog, I never wore it.  I always hated the bodice. ‘Nuff said.

12.  This muslin.  I was sorry I wasted the linen on it. I’m still sorry.DSC0347413. These trousers and the jacket.  After years, I finally thrifted that jacket.  The trousers, although I was sorry to see that beautiful wool crepe go, had to leave.  I hated the high waistband after all.montana jacket14.  This OOP Vogue blouse that looks like Vogue 8747, but is cut completely on the bias.  It gave me nightmares every time I put it on.  And the trousers. The shirt was made out of fabric that was too drapey for the pattern, and the trousers just got worse the more I wore them.  Looking at them now, I know what’s needed, but I thrifted them both.  I didn’t even bother cannibalizing them for parts.v7751 r315. The shark fin skirt.  Bad fabric choice, and I’m still lamenting this one.  I loved the fabric, but it would have been much better in a straight skirt.  I wore it once.B 2-2011-103 detailAnd there you have it.  Just looking at this catalogue makes me appreciate how much I’ve learned through trial and error, and brings home – yet again – just how much I need to think through fabric/pattern marriages and make a muslin. This post marks my blogiversary, and in the last three years of taking pictures and scrutinizing my sewing skills, wardrobe and style choices, I’ve learned a lot.  I know I’m making more garments that fit better and that I’m happy to wear now that I’ve been logging more sewing hours, scrutinizing fit, poring over tutorials and books, and reading a gazillion sewing blogs.  Also, I am amazed at how helpful the camera is in tweaking fit.  I really hated taking pictures at the beginning, but I’m thankful that it helps me pinpoint things that need improvement.  I’m also surprised at how a lot of these garments don’t look so bad in retrospect, although I’m not sorry I let them go, because I wasn’t comfortable wearing them even though (from today’s perspective)  they didn’t look half as bad as I thought they did at the time I made the decision to pass them on.