I hate unfinished projects. They weigh on my mind and give me a perpetual sense of guilt for starting something and not seeing it through.
That’s why I have spent upwards of 40 hours on this damned dress. And you know what? It doesn’t even fit.
The pattern is The Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. I (stupidly) cut a straight size 4. That was my first mistake. I thought (stupidly) that I could cut a smaller-than-usual size because of the rows of elastic shirring in the back, thinking it would give me flexibility for a large bust but still give me a nice, snug fit on the waist. For reference, my measures are 36.5″ bust, 27.5″ waist, 39″ hips. But, alas, there is a reason I took these pics with the dress on my dressmaker’s form. Normally Laura (my body double – I’m so original) wears a bra to pad out her chestal region but she ain’t wearing the bra and it sure is a snug fit! I even noticed the fabric is pulling at one of the darts! Yikes! This dress has been a total challenge.
So, as I was saying, the dress does not fit my bust. I can do it up, sure, but there is some serious gaping going on there. It’s a pity, because I actually quite like this dress and its vintagey feel. I wasn’t in love with the fabric initially (it was only $4/metre), but I think it really suits this pattern and I might have gotten a LOT of wear out of the damn dress if I could get it to fit me!
One of the great things about this dress is the elastic shirring at the back, which makes it comfortable but still fitted at the waist for the classic hourglass look.
The other awesome thing about this dress is the pockets! Pockets! I love them!
Pattern alterations and design changes
I’ll say it again. FBA! FBA! FBA! Should have done an FBA. Lesson learned. NEXT.
The fabric I used – a cotton lawn – was so sheer I had to underline the dress. I swear it took almost as much time to prep the fabric than it did to actually construct the dress. This was because the fabric, even with the white cotton lawn underlining, was still so fine that I couldn’t get my machine on the right tension to baste the two layers together. I had to hand baste about 14 pattern pieces together and it took FOREVER.
I was trying the dress on as I sewed it and after I’d done the six rows of shirring on the back (as instructed by the pattern), I saw that because the front of the dress was pulling so tightly across my bust, The pleated upper back on the dress was gaping/pooling/poofing. I decided to sew more rows of shirring, which eliminated my fabric gaping issues, but didn’t do much for the tight bust issues. Sigh.
One good thing is how great the self-covered buttons look. I love them! They look fantastic.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to wear this dress comfortably and I’ve offered it to one of my friends who is a similar size but with a smaller bust. Hopefully she likes the style and then my dozens of hours of work won’t have been a total waste. You might have noticed that the dress hasn’t been hemmed yet. I thought I’d see what my friend thinks of it and then she can determine what length she likes and I’ll hem it for her.
I’d like to make this dress again. It’s a flattering and feminine style and, if I could get the fit right, would be a spring/summer wardrobe staple.
All in all, I’m putting this dress down to a learning experience. I practised new techniques – adding a collar, elastic shirring and covering buttons – and I know to choose a more substantial fabric so I don’t see the fabric straining at the seams and I don’t have to spend a million hours prepping the fabric after underlining and whatnot.
A learning experience. That’s what I’m telling myself. Otherwise it’s just the equivalent of a full working week and about $50 of sewing supplies gone to waste.
If you’ve had an unsuccessful sewing experience, please commiserate with me!