Thursday, September 3, 2009

Allergic to Scallops

In my stash was this completely twee forget-me-not print from It needed a project but I kept pushing it aside to work on other things. Then I saw this dress in my pattern stash.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s a shape that usually looks good on me. The measurements are close enough to my actual body measurements to give me a minimum of fit issues. Plus the fun detail (scallops!) should add interest to an otherwise not-so-interesting print.

The basic idea for creating scallops is this: you pin on the interfacing with the rounded edges towards the raw end of the neckline. Then you sew around the rounded part and clip/trim the edges. When you turn the necline right side out, the scallops should appear around the edge. How cool is that? And really, how hard could it be?

Very. Apparently.

I read and re-read the instructions. I actually transferred ALL the pattern markings to the cut pieces. It seemed like it was going so well. Unfortunately, I was a little too enthusiastic with my trimming around the scallops and many of the curved seams popped open when I flipped them right side out. I had to go back and re-stitch all of the popped seams and I inadvertently squared off corners and flattened curves. Final result: FUG.

Sooooo… After thinking about it ALL DAY at work, I decided to overstitch the edges of the (weirdly shaped) scallops with an embroidery stitch so that it might look intentional. It worked for about an inch and then the bobbin went all crazy. Instead of giving up and ripping out the ugly stitching and trying to come up with another idea, I just fixed the bobbin and kept going. Then it went crazy again, and I kept going. It was looking pretty crappy and I got frustrated, which made me angry and I kept going until I'd created a total disaster.

When I get mad/frustrated/angry what I should do is put down the sewing and do something else for an hour or so. However, getting angry frequently makes me want to force whatever’s not cooperating to do what I want it to EVEN IF IT’S A BAD IDEA.

The scallops were now extra fug.

Oh and here’s one more small insult. I made the pockets (which I had to remove because they made the skirt front hang strangely) and the scallops on the pockets came out PERFECT. Sigh. Sewing is hard.

The right thing to do, at this point, would have been to rip out all the horrid “embroidery” and re-stitch ALL the scallops. But I just didn’t have the stomach for it. I started picking it out and it seemed impossible and endless and very, very sad. So instead I did something awful and lazy, but it totally worked.

I added purple grosgrain ribbon around the waist to give it a bit more definition. Then I folded the horrid scallops over and stitched the same purple grosgrain ribbon around the neckline.

And you know what? It ain’t bad.

I folded the ribbon rather strangely at the front corners. Intead of fixing it, I added little decorative ribbons that hide it nicely. (Even better with the addition of gravity.)

I didn't care for the way the ribbon folded over at the back, so I tacked on a cute matching bow.

I’m a little worried that the folded down scallops will pop up, but not so worried that I’m going to pick out all that damned embroidery and start over. I am finished. Funny thing, I think that the end result is actually better than the simple dress with scallops would have been.


  1. I just love your projects. Very inspiring! You always look so fabulous and vintage-like.

  2. Good save on the project! For future scallop projects, you can cut out a template of the scallops (minus seam allowance) from cardstock. You can use the template to trace around the scallops. Use a very fine stitch in corners of scallops and then clip at corners. I actually don't clip all around the moon of the scallop (I know all the purists are screaming). I just cut it down to around 1/8 long. If you can, you can use a point press and actually iron the small seam allowances open before turning to inside and pressing on the outside. You can use the scallop template to iron the scallop into the correct shape. I found someone who also uses this method and has pictures!

  3. @ Tina - Thank you for your kidn comment! Styling my projects for the pictures is lots of fun. I enjoy it almost as much as the sewing.

    @ Linda - A template! Genius! I was wondering if such a thing was possible. Thanks so much for the tips and tutorial.

  4. Ohhhh lovely dress!!! it looks great on you! I have always thought to make scallop is very difficult.

  5. Remove the "fail" in tags dear, this is a total win! When I saw the print at the start I didn't think much of it but you chose the perfect project for it, what a lovely dress!