Much of my sewing inspiration comes from seeing what others make, through magazines, blogs and Twitter. Some patterns appear time and again, and Simplicity 1609 is one of them. I’ve seen several particularly lovely versions recently courtesy of @sewdeputy.
During half term I had had a little splurge on fabrics, including four from a market in a small shopping centre near my mum’s. Three of the four were destined for dresses, with one being a thicker jersey that I’m already eyeing up as a possible first Myrtle. I chose a summery feather print that was around £6 per metre and began cutting late on Friday evening.
After checking my measurements I was a little dismayed that the pattern I had purchased was one size smaller than what I would have ideally chosen, although I know in reality I would ideally grade between the two, with the smaller size on top. I decided that, for the first time ever, I would quickly baste the dress together to check the fit. I did this before darts so knew I would have even less room, but even pre-darts the dress was too tight across my legs. I was glad to have discovered this early on but wished I had worked out how to widen the skirt prior to cutting. I mused over possibilities of making it into just a top, but had ignored two other ready-cut-out makes because I wanted to make a DRESS.
Ignoring the order of the pattern as I collected my thoughts, I skipped ahead to making the bow. After the first step or two I realised I hadn’t cut out the middle of the bow, and was glad to find I still had the paper pattern piece and hadn’t thrown it away by mistake.
The bow needed a few bits of hand sewing which I didn’t mind too much although I’m not neat at all. From the front, however, it looked ok when it was done.
As per the pattern, after sewing the darts I stitched the dress together at the shoulders, and interfaced and attached the facings. It was at this point I discovered that the interfacing I’d invested in 5 metres of, was much stiffer than I wanted. A pitfall of eBay. After finishing the facings I felt at a bit of a standstill as to how to proceed, so decided to tweet Amanda to ask if she had any advice.
I thought it was so nice she replied basically immediately, and took on board what she said, but I also knew I still needed to find some more room from somewhere. After sewing up the back and one of the sides to roughly my waist, I inserted a regular peach 7inch zip at the other side. Instead of consulting a book or tutorial I just fumbled my way through with my invisible zipper foot, and it somehow worked ok.
I then decided to embrace the thought that had been at the back of my mind for a while, and returned to the leftover fabric which luckily there was plenty of.
I used the metre stick to make sure the line was straight, and cut the fabric whilst it was doubled, so I ended up with two almost triangles. I inserted the none-zip side first to see how it went, then the zip side. The fabric caught a little but after unpicking a few stitches and re-sewing more carefully they looked surprisingly ok. It was only as I tried it on to check how it looked I realised I hadn’t even needed to unzip it, typical!
Last job was hemming which I somehow managed to do extremely unevenly, in my haste to finish. Oh, and very last job was hand sewing the bow on which seemed tough as there were thick layers to push the needle through. If there was a way I could have done this on the machine (without it showing on the front of the bow) please let me know.
I think the side panels create a different shape and add a kind of flare to the dress which wouldn’t normally appear in this pattern. The internal finishes are extremely shabby due to trying to eek as much fabric from seam allowances as possible. Today I wore the dress, with tights, and forgave it some of the heartache it caused me. I like the bow detail and neckline, and the length is just right for work. The darts feel flattering and it was comfortable to wear all day. In fact, by tonight my pains had subsided so much that I’ve begun preparations on another, on which I plan to add extra inches as well as French seams.