Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sewing Disasters - The Dress That Nearly Went in the Bin

Recently I've been experiencing a run of really frustrating sewing.  I'm sure we've all been there.  You see a lovely pattern, and think you'd really like to have a go at making it yourself.  You buy (or draft) a pattern, choose your materials, spend ages carefully sewing your garment, then the big moment arrives. You put it on and … you don't like it, or it doesn't fit.  Aaaargh!

I experienced this recently.  Check out this beautiful dress by Adey at The Sew Convert:

The 3 Red Cats Dress by The Sew Convert

Everything about this is so beautiful.  The simple pattern and the adorable fabric combine to make an elegant, beautiful dress.  I bought my own copy of Rin Gomura-Elkan’s “Easy Japanese Sewing Patterns” for the pattern.

Easy Japanese Sewing Patterns by Rin Gomura-Elkan

I then visited my favourite fabric shop - Desai in Cricklewood Lane, West Hampstead.  I found this really special Liberty Tana Lawn.

I love Liberty Tana Lawn fabrics.  They are so light and beautiful, and the fabric is such lovely quality. The dress was a very easy make.  I did have a little trouble with the cutting out.  I followed the pattern placement guide, but didn't seem to have enough fabric.  I ended up making the bodice back in two sections, and joining them with a centre back seam.  After a bit of messing around with the Japanese instructions, and sending a question to Rin (which she very quickly answered) I managed to sew my dress in one day.  I used french seams and my best, careful sewing.

Once I was finished I carefully pressed it, then tried it on and … it looked weird.  Aaargh!  The front bodice seemed too baggy and puffy, the shoulders sat strangely and the skirt wasn't the right length.

I think I just chose the wrong fabric.  It really needs to be made in a very drapey fabric, or it just won't look right.

This dress sat in my cupboard for about six months, while I tried to figure out what to do with it.  It's such lovely (and expensive) fabric, that I didn't want to waste it.  I saw this really sweet dress on Guthrie and Ghani, and thought about about reusing the fabric to make something similar.

Leini Dress by Guthrie & Ghani

In the end I decided to have a go at remaking the bodice using the Sorbetto top by Colette Patterns, and adding a shortened skirt.

Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns

I've made one Sorbetto top in a very light cotton shirting fabric, and I regularly wear it.  I like the simple silhouette and the comfortable fit.  I began by carefully unpicking the seams.  I unpicked the entire bodice (except that centre back seam) and carefully snipped off the skirt.  I then ironed the pieces and laid out the pattern.  No matter how I placed the bodice pieces, there just wasn't enough length in the fabric to cut the bodice.

After mulling the problem for a couple of days, I decided to patch in a piece of white fabric on the shoulders.  I stupidly added fabric to the front section and the back section, then joined them together.  That seam on the top shoulder looked terrible, so I unpicked the sections again, cut a new piece and sewed it between the front and back bodice pieces.

As an aside, I think I sewed those shoulder pieces in about 8 times.  I kept sewing them in upside down and back-to-front.  It was so immensely frustrating.  If it hadn't been such expensive fabric I think I would have thrown the dress out several times.

Once the bodice was finished I cut about 3" off the waist of the skirt (I hadn't unpicked the side seams or hem of the original skirt) and attached it to the bodice.  I folded the seam allowance over, sewed an elastic casing and inserted the elastic waistband.  The very last step was sewing belt loops on each side of the waistband and adding the sash.

Can you see that big smile on my face?  I LOVE this dress.  It is so pretty and comfortable.  That lovely Tana Lawn fabric by Liberty is absolutely perfect for sticky Singapore heat.  I can't wait to wear it out and about.


  1. Wow - what a lovely recovery of your fabric. The new dress looks great and I'm sure you'll get a lot of wear from it in Singapore. Well done for keeping with it.

    1. Thanks JCatD. I've worn it many times already, so I'm glad I salvaged it.