I have to be honest, I had some doubts that this project was going to turn out at all. I almost gave up several times.
The top part of the dress was a beast. When I ended last post, I had decided to step away from the top part. Take some time apart from it. We were on a break, OK?! I asked my husband to look at it to make sure I was not going crazy. Showed him the instructions. He saw no way to turn the top right side out properly either. Aside from seam ripping.
Fred and I inspected the top, debating which seam would be ripped. We decided on one of the side seams.
1) I don’t know if Fred wasn’t feeling well or if I really hated ripping the triple reinforced straight stitches on stretchy knit fabric, but about 5 stitches and 10 minutes later, we gave up and cut the seam (see picture 1 below).
2) I turned and rearranged the fabric appropriately, and tried to figure out how to fix the seam I had just sliced. In picture 2, I stitched the two pieces of fabric on the bodice front together at the side seam and did the same to the two pieces of the bodice back. And I contemplated restitching the curved underarm seam where the pin is. This would have been folly however, as the seam would have only been connected at the top by that thin line of stitching. Not correct.
3) Then I thought about pinning the fronts and backs I had just stitched together and stitching yet again along the side seam. In picture 3, I pinned it that way, then tried to open the top piece and realized this was also wrong. Insert some cursing and shouting here.
4) This is a picture of what I had succeeded in “fixing” at this point. I had cut a side seam, and re-stitched the bodice into a front and a back that no longer connected under the arm. #!)$@*&%!!!
Maybe I need to name my scissors next. Fred was a tad lazy this week. I cut the two seams I had just made again, rather than rip them.
After a bunch of spatial reasoning testing, more pinning, sweat, tears, a crazy llama wandering through my house (it’s possible I hallucinated this, but it still made this project significantly better), cursing, grunting, and wondering why on earth I decided to take sewing up as a hobby … I figured out the correct way to fix the side seam:
I hate linings. I opened the outer fabric and the lining fabric along the underarm seam, and pinned it together along the arrow at the center bottom. The other arrow points at the curved underarm seam. Then I repeated my straight stitch along the side seam, which now correctly kept my lining and outer fabric separated from one another. Sheesh.
At this time, I decided that it may have been easier if I had just started over.
It gets better, believe it or not.
This is what the whole thing looked like after my successful fixing of the seam. In the top picture, at the arrow, is the seam I fixed. In the rectangle at the top, and then zoomed in on the bottom picture, is the still-twisted center back seam for the neck of the halter.
Sam (my freshly identified pair of scissors) came running and snipped the center back seam for me. I did not want to do this because – among many other reasons – I had struggled with the stay tape that resided in this seam during my first session with this dress. Oh well. After the seam was cut, I gathered each side, pinned in the stay tape, and stitched together, leaving the opening on one side of this neck piece as the pattern instructed.
Then I was able to properly turn the top right side out. Totally would have been faster to start over.
Next, I attached the top back of the bodice to the open part of the center back halter seam, on the outside. It looked like this when I was done:
Can you tell how much I hated ripping seams on this knit fabric? I left the bastings in, and I don’t even care.
Anyway, the lining side of this seam was still open, however. So I had to slip-stitch it closed. Top shows in progress, bottom shows my completed slip-stitching. This went significantly better than my previous attempts at this. And for sure, I did NOT cut my painstakingly placed slip stitches when I was done!
I was now finally ready to attach the waistband of the dress. This went very smoothly really, even though I was ultimately stitching through quite a lot of fabric layers. I even remembered to swap needle sizes as the fabric thickness got crazier, hooray!
1) Prior to the waistband, I basted the v-neck in place down the center and across the bottom.
2) I stitched the front and back waistband pieces (and the front and back waistband lining pieces) together at the side seams. Then I pinned right side of the waistband to the right side of the top. Note: I also did quite a bit of fitting work on the top prior to this; I subsequently had to take in the waistband to make it fit the top pieces prior to attach them together.
3) After I attached the outer fabric for the waistband, I attached the lining waistband. Hence the multiple lines of stitching.
4) The finished top with the waistband attached.
The worst was finally over! With the waistband now attached, I did another round of fitting. The bodice was still too large. I took it in at the sides about an inch on each (although I did not cut the seam, so I can still let it out if I ever need to). Stretchy knits are kind of a pain to fit.
Skirt time! I gathered the front and back pieces of the skirt between the small dots, and I also stitched the side seams.
More fitting. This time with the skirt on its own. I put it on myself, measured, and pinned the excess. Then I wound up taking almost 3 inches off each side. Better to have things be too big than too small, but still. I sometimes wonder if everyone else that sews winds up taking things in THAT much, too.
At this point I was so excited to be nearly done that I didn’t take very many more pictures. I overcasted the side seams once they were correctly sized. I spent too much time trying to figure out how to pin the skirt to the top with right sides together so that I could attach them to one another. The pattern instructions were useless on this – the picture was not even of the correct step. Nothing whatsoever to indicate how one might pin a tricky spatial reasoning puzzle like this. Ultimately, I figured it out, and wound up with something like this (from the inside):
Next the pattern wanted me to attach a piece of elastic to the seam along the bottom of the waistband, where it connects to the skirt. But it didn’t want me to make a casing for the elastic, it asked me to just place the elastic along the seam on the inside of the dress and stitch through the center of it. I could not understand the purpose of this, as the waistband and the skirt were fitted to my waist. Furthermore, the skirt fabric had only a minor amount of one-way stretch to it, so stitching elastic to it was not going to increase my ability to get into the garment. The elastic seemed extraneous, and so I left it off. If you have any idea why the pattern wanted me to do this, please clue me in. I imagine I can still add it in if I understand the reasoning.
Lastly, I hemmed the dress.
I’m pretty pleased with the finished product, even though this was one of my tougher projects with a lot of mistakes involved. Well, I am guessing they were my mistakes. Even though I really do blame the pattern instructions for most of them. It worked out pretty well that the skirt was done in a one-way stretch fabric. It did stretch horizontally, not vertically, so that may have helped, but the dress is very easy to slip on and off over one’s head. Despite all of the fitting work that I did, I still feel like the top is a bit too big, and its a little more low cut than I thought it would be. Maybe it will shrink in the wash? That might actually be a good thing in this case!