Friday, April 3, 2009

Pride Goeth Before a Sewing Failure

I was a bridesmaid in my friends wedding, this past weekend. She is a sensible girl and decided to let her bridesmaids choose their own dresses. Hoooray! Her one parameter? Black. Just black. Sounds like it would be easy, right? Not for me.

I don’t know about you, but when left to my own devices with very few guidelines, I tend to let my sense of humor take over. I figured since this was a mod-ish wedding that started with a scooter ride I should go for something fabulous and vaguely mod-tacular. I very nearly wore this:

At the bridal shower, the other bridesmaid showed me the dress she picked out. It was lovely: Vaguely 60s. Simple. Black. Elegant. I asked her, “Why is it that without parameters I go crazy? I need parameters! Someone give me parameters!” She said, “How about no sequined mini dresses? How’s that for a parameter?”

And suddenly I was off the ledge and seriously thinking about what to wear. I decided to make something similar to what she’d picked out.

Her dress had a simple scoop neckline and a straight skirt. It was in a shiny fabric, but I am no good with shiny. I decided to use black cotton (surprise) with a little stretch.

I dug through my patterns to find something that would be close to the same style. I used this pattern for the top:

And my tried and true skirt for the bottom.

I am a very impatient sewist but I try to do a lot more thinking and planning when I’m trying to make a Franken-dress or something that is supposed to come out “nice.” It should have been so simple and so easy.

Instead, I foolishly decided that I knew what I was doing and I didn’t need to think/re-think/try on/alter/think some more/try on again. I just hacked and stitched and then was surprised at how poorly the result fit.

For the blouse pattern, I just folded the pattern over at the hip line and cut it out. My bodice came out about an inch too short…and I have a high waist.

For the skirt I slapped the skirt and lining together and then bunged it onto the bodice with only one brief fitting. I neglected to line up the lining seam with the skirt seam when I stitched the zipper in and once it was all sewn together I couldn’t open the zipper seam. I couldn’t be bothered to unstitch it, so I just cut through the lining to open the zipper thinking “Oh it’s all stitched down, It’ll be fine.” Result: furry and funky zipper, too tight lining, fabric bunching up over my butt in the back. (Click on the pic to "biggify" and see the bunchy horror.)

With a few foundation garments and a belt it was wearable. Thank heavens, because I had no time to refashion it. Besides, I’d ruined the lining and had no extra fabric left to re-line it with.

I’ve learned an important lesson: I should never assume that I know what I’m doing simply because I’ve done something similar before. I should always fit and re-fit and fit again. Also, I really need to remember that wanton seam ripping just makes everything worse.

Here I am all dressed up and ready to bridesmaid. (Yes, its a verb.)


  1. Well, it turned out nice and wearable and sometimes that's all that counts.

    Hope you had fun at the wedding!

  2. Thanks Ducky. The wedding was really too much fun. I think I'm still recovering two days later. :)

  3. Well, I, for one, thought you looked fabulous!

  4. You did look fabu. A total babes-maid.

  5. I think your dress looks great.

  6. I hope you go back and sew another version. The dress really is stunning on you.

  7. Thanks Linda! At some point I'd like to unpick this one and re-line it so that it hangs properly. If I made it again, I think I'd use dupioni to give it extra bomshell appeal. Maybe in a bright blue...

  8. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I think dupioni is a great idea. It is a very forgiving fabric. I made dupioni dresses for my wedding and they were easy to fit.

  9. Ooooh those are pretty! I love dupioni, it looks very fancy but its so easy to work with.