Red, Red Dress … Stay close to me-eee-eee …

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today seemed appropriate as a day to post one of my more recent projects, a red dress made from pattern Simplicity 2145.

Yes, it is a “Project Runway” pattern.  No, I have never watched the show.

Either way, the dress is lovely.  I decided to make View A, with long sleeves, as I don’t think I even own one long-sleeved dress.  In the above picture, it is the dress shown in blue, with the wrap around the front.  Very cute and appropriate for work on business casual days, possibly with a tank underneath. I chose a red polyester knit fabric with a minor amount of stretch to it.  It was on sale at the store.

This dress had a few new elements for me:

  • Pleats
  • Wrap
  • Standard zipper
  • Facing
  • Wrap

After the cutting, I had to fuse some interfacing onto the facing pieces.  What is a facing you say?  Well I am not sure I can describe it super well, but here is my best shot.  A facing is a part of a garment that helps to stabilize necklines / collars and prevent them from flipping and flopping all over the place.  In the image below the flap that connects the back of the neckline at the zipper is the facing.  This facing continues down the v-neck front to the connection at the “point” of the V.   Installing this facing was pretty confusing for me, being my first time.  I wound up with some of the stitch lines showing on the outside of the garment, and I think they belong inside.  Maybe next time I will get it right.

As you’ll notice, there are a lot of pleats in this dress.  Pleats in the bodice, pleats in the skirt (front and back) and pleats in the sleeves.  While scary, the directions did a pretty good job describing how to do these, and aside from some annoying ironing, all I had to do was sew them in place.  They came out pretty good.  The pleats on the back of this dress, however, lay funny if you do not have a pancake for a booty.  I found this out after trying it on.  Thankfully, it was very easy to lengthen the pleats, and hopefully this problem no longer exists.

The wrap pieces were sewed on along the edges of the front of the dress.  As you can see in the picture above, when you are not wearing the dress, they droop quite a bit.  Attaching the wrap was not difficult, but making the wrap work correctly was a pain.  The instructions told me to stitch the sides of the dress together, and then install the zipper.  I was fairly paranoid that the dress was going to be too big, so I only sewed one side, then I installed the zipper, and allowed myself some room to adjust the sizing with the other side.

The zipper itself shouldn’t have been a problem, but it was.  For one thing, it was not easy to figure out how to feed the dress through the machine to install the zipper.  Were I to do this again, I would attempt to install the zipper prior to stitching ANY sides together.  As it was, I wound up unzipping the zipper in order to more easily feed the large amounts of dress fabric through the machine.  The result?  Well, take a look for yourself.  This is what happens when you stitch a zipper in while it is open.  No good.

Luckily, my hair is long enough to hide this mistake.  Won’t be wearing any ponytails with this dress though.

When done, I tried the dress on, and pinned the other side appropriately so that it would not be too big in the end.  After stitching it, I discovered I was still having problems with the wrap in front.  It was kinda hanging there even when I put the dress on.  I decided to do something I absolutely despise – seam ripping.  I ripped 2-3 lines of stitching on one side, but only immediately surrounding the wrap.  then I put the dress on, and pulled the wrap piece further through the side of the dress.  Restitched.  Rinse and repeat on the other side of the dress.  I hated having to do this, but at least the wrap wound up working out.  I read a review on that said someone just wound up leaving the wrap off cause she couldn’t figure it out.

I have made sleeves before, for my Halloween costume.  Those were very flouncy, bouncy sleeves.  The sleeves on this dress, while not super tight, made me feel more likely to mess up.  The first thing the pattern instructions had me do to the sleeves was “ease stitch” the rounded edges.  I followed the instructions blindly after reading this little article.  My instructions gave me no real indication that the whole point was to make a smaller piece of fabric fit a larger piece of fabric.  When I got to the step that I *think* was trying to give me the instructions on how to “ease the pieces together”, I was super confused.  I wound up just measuring the sleeve hole next to the shoulder hole and stitching the sleeve to fit.  This worked ok, but now one sleeve is slightly tighter than the other.  Regardless, here is a picture of the sleeve with the ease stitching in the top.  I think in the future, I will increase the stitch length for ease stitching, I think this was a little bit too puckered up.

Before I attached the sleeves to the dress, I had to put some pleats in.  This was pretty easy.  In the image below, the left side shows the inside view, folded over with the stitches still in.  There are two lines of horizontal stitching to create the pleats, then a single line of vertical stitching to hold them in.  Ones the vertical line is in, you remove the horizontal lines of stitching.  This was one of the few times that I have actually followed an instruction to “baste” (i.e., use a longer stitch length so its easier to remove them later) .  The right side of this picture shows the unfolded version, right side out, horizontal basting stitches removed.

Finally, to pin the sleeves into the shoulders of the dress.  This was interesting.  I turned the sleeve right side out, and pinned the right side of the sleeve to the right side of the dress.  I found the easiest way to do this was like in the picture below, and then simply stitch around the armhole.  Pinning was the part that took forever here.

Below is a picture of the finished dress on.  There is a small weird part in the bodice, where the two sides of the bodice connect through a sliced piece of fabric with interfacing.  You can see it by the tiny white line.  The instructions gave me no indication of how to fix this, so I am sure when I wash the dress things will break and I will cry.  It’s nowhere near perfect.  The wrap belongs up close to the bodice seamline.  I am beginning to think this was an issue I could have fixed if I had properly re-sized the bust of this dress.  I read that all patterns are created with a B cup in mind.  Gonna have to remember that in the future.

Still, I feel like this is definitely wearable.  In fact, I plan to wear it on Valentine’s Day – to work and then to dinner with the hubby.  <3


2 comments for “Red, Red Dress … Stay close to me-eee-eee …

  1. February 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    This was an epic post for an epic dress. You should be very proud – this was no easy task. Enjoy your V-Day dinner with your cute outfit!

  2. Kim
    February 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Very nice! You have definitely taken on some impressive things as a “beginner”! I applaud you!


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