My first garment!

As discussed in the last post, I knuckled down over the Easter weekend and tried my hand at a dress. I am quite proud of my efforts even though I will probably never wear it. Let’s explore why.

The pattern:

Lisette by Simpicity #2209

I chose Lisette from Simplicity #2209. In the main picture she is wearing a shirt/coat over the dress. It is the equivalent of the smaller blue dress in the image. I used a black twill fabric with the intent of creating a dress for me to wear to work…office attire if you will. I liked the fabric because it was cheap, I bought 3 metres of it, and it was good for if I stuffed up…plenty there and easy to disguise mistakes.

This is the completed dress. Doesn’t look to bad on the face of it hey?

The finished dress

There are several problems however, and we can break it down in to two main ones:

  • The dress is at least one size too big, probably two.
  • The dress is too short

The second problem is pretty basic…I hemmed it in a hurry and shouldn’t have. I knew if it was the full length the pattern asked it would look frumpy when coupled with the fact that it swims on me, but I went too far when hemming it up.  Not the end of the world but something to learn for the future. In fact I have made a conscious decision that when I finally reach the hem on a dress I am making and I am so close to finishing I am to wait overnight before hemming, or at least a few hours if this occurs early in the day. No rushing when tired!

The first problem was more complex and has alot to do with the gradual learning that I am in for when it comes to fitting myself, reading patterns, and getting a general feel for the measurements I need to work with.

Sitting down with my Lisette pattern was both easy and daunting at the same time. I found I was pretty quickly able to see what was required, what all the symbols meant etc. The daunting part is sizing. This was a multi-size pattern, sizes 14-20. The first part was deciding whether to cut the pattern or trace it onto tissue paper to conserve the different sizes. After umming and ahhing for ages I decided that I didn’t want to waste time, I wanted to get into it. I decided to write off my two Lisette patterns as experience, especially since I had gotten them on special, and just dive in and cut them. Once I made that decision I then had to figure out my size.

Now firstly, I had this vague recollection from my school days of making a garment to a size 14, knowing that I was a size 14 in clothes off the shelf, only to find the completed garment too small. I also often hear that patterns do come up small, so with this all in mind I was sure to carefully measure myself  everywhere and be honest with what came up.

In the end, my measurements were saying a size 18-20. I couldn’t tell you what my instincts were saying on this. I was so keen to just make a dress, get my hands dirty, and learn as I went, that I was ignoring instinct and just putting my trust in the pattern guide even though I knew it would probably fail me. I am glad I did this as the result is a satisfying learning experience 🙂

So finally, armed with measurements and a keenness to get going I cut the pattern to a size 18.

Pattern cut!

As you can see in the pic I pulled out my Reader’s Digest Sewing Guide to have a look at cutting guides. This gave me a good intro to selvage and I am pretty sure I cut the fabric correctly, so yay me!

Fabric cut!

The part I enjoyed the most (as with most people I think) was the putting together. But not only did I enjoy it, but I think I managed it with no real dramas, tackling several techniques and recquirements that I had never attempted before 🙂

My zipper, whilst not perfect, looks pretty damn good for my first ever thanks to the great instructions from Reader’s Digest:

The zipper (bad shot, I know)

I am really pleased with the darts in my bodice:

Cross over darts in bodice

And I also liked the way my neck reinforcing turned out, though it wasn’t something I could really show in a photo.

Now, to the problem, its way too big!

So big!

Loose fabric bunching

Huge armholes (side boob risk anyone?)

This thing really swims on me! It’s definitely the case that I was probably a size 14 in this pattern, possibly needing to make slight alterations to a 16 around the tummy area. Unfortunately I am really not all that confident in doing so yet, so that is what I have to work on: sorting out a fit with each garment I make that works. My shape is rather awkward which doesn’t help. I have a bit of a tummy, and a very deep spinal arch which further pushes my tummy forward and my bum back. I am up to a D cup in chest, but have a relatively slender upper back. I have very rounded shoulders when standing naturally. Its not going to be easy to learn how to best fit these features but challenge accepted!

All in all, despite fitting issues, I am not disappointed with this dress, as I learned so much and put it together very successfully, just to the wrong size. Making me feel even better, I tackled my other Lisette pattern dress this weekend just gone, and will hopefully blog about it in the next few days when I get around to the hem…it has come up very nicely, and fits! 😀

Oh and finally, I also made some coasters…how cute! 😀

Cute coaster for my new mug 🙂

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7 thoughts on “My first garment!

  1. I did exactly the same thing with my first dress, about six years ago. Based on my measurements I am a size 18 or 20 on most pattern envelopes so that’s what I cut and sewed and it turned out far too big. I have since learnt to ignore the envelope, and check out the finished garment measurements that are printed on the pattern tissue – this usually gives me much better results. When I use the finished garment measurements, I’m usually a 14 at the bust and hips, and a 16 in the waist.

    It’s great that you enjoyed the sewing process even if the dress didn’t fit you how you’d like and I’m looking forward to seeing the other one when you get chance to blog about it.

  2. Awesome! Congrats on your garment. Such a good feeling! I mostly sewing for kids. When I make something for myself I usually make my own pattern or copy a piece of clothing I already have. Can’t wait to see more!

  3. Pingback: A successful dress! « Cotton Handy

  4. I found you through The Blogging Library. I just finished reading the above post and really enjoyed it. I hate making Vogue Patterns and seeing what size I am in them LOL but I love sewing for me. You did a great job, nothing better than a project where you learn lots 🙂

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