I can’t believe I’m sharing this project with you, I had thought I quite liked the outcome but this was the best photo I could find of me in it and I’m now thinking it’s awful and all wrong for me. (I know it’s a bit rumpled, it was ironed before I put it on but I had been wearing it all day by the time I managed to get my OH to take the photos – and it’s not the creasing that’s bothering me).
This is the Monique dress by Serendipity Studio . I’ve had this pattern floating around in my stash for about a year but hadn’t found some fabric that I really wanted to use to make it in, the pattern is designed for using the addictive and seductive quilting cottons that are about and while I am always lusting after these beautiful fabrics, the reality is most often they are a bit much to you know, actually wear. I eventually found this fabric from the Just Wing It collection by Momo on Seamstar . Pretty, but still wearable I thought.
Well, eventually I got round to actually trying to make this dress and because I’d spent a fair amount on the fabric (more than I really should considering my sewing skills) I decided I was going to try and do this properly, take my time and make a muslin. I purchased quite a few metres of a polycotton at £3.99 per metre for this muslin making process, and boy am I glad I did! I did not get on well with this pattern at all. Looking at the size chart on the back of the pattern I thought the size small looked to match my measurements about right, it might have been a half inch off at the bust but having got the Colette Sewing Handbook for Christmas, I thought I was prepared to give a bust adjustment to a pattern a go.
So, I traced and cut out my pattern pieces for the small size and then cut out my pieces from the polycotton and tranferred my markings. I had difficulty with sewing the darts accurately, marking s didn’t seem to line up, I couldn’t figure out why but as it was a muslin I let it go, but I also had difficulty with the front and backs matching up, but searching on the internet it seems that these are accounted for in the seam allowance and things should be okay, fair enough. I roughly assembled all the pieces together, minus the facings and the zip so I could try it on and get an idea of fit. The fit was all wrong, but hey, that was the point of making the muslin wasn’t it? Far too small in the bust area, so much so that a bust adjustment didn’t seem the way to go, I would try the next size up bodice.
Onto muslin 2, I realise now I should maybe have taken photos of these stages and of the difficulties I experienced. So, with a size larger, I traced new pieces, transferred new markings blah blah blah I STILL can’t get the darts and pieces to line up properly am I just awful at cutting out and marking? But I haven’t had these sorts of difficulties in the past? Arrrggh! Nevermind, I shall persevere, it’s still just a muslin and I want an idea of fit. Oh, I should say I was just making the bodice and waistband bit, the skirt on the first muslin was fine, in fact there was loads of fabric to it, it seemed huge. So I get this bodice to a stage where I can try it on, the bust area fits better, but the waist is way too high, like really not comfortable high. Where am I going wrong?
Now, I am not a very patient person and I get frustrated when I can’t get something right. I guess, I should have tinkered with the muslins a bit more, but I was getting close to just discarding the whole thing and moving onto something new. No. I wanted this dress and I wanted it in the gorgeous Momo fabric. So I lengthened the bodice a bit on my paper pattern and then I just went straight ahead and cut out my nice fabric. Nervous, fretting that I had wasted this gorgeous fabric I decided to go really slowly with the sewing of this dress, making it in short bursts. So, sewing the darts (still seemed off to me so I traced new lines from the outside edges to the length as marked on the real pattern (I still have no idea how these ended up so different) then going away and doing something else. Attaching the waistband, then going to do something else and so on. I experienced all the same quirks with the matching up of pieces that I had with the muslins but I trimmed and neatened these up when I could but this required re-zigzagging my edges after I had sewn the seams. I was still worried, but what I had looked like a dress so I felt a cautious optimism.
Eventually, I got to the end and I pressed it and tried it on and I was HAPPY. I twirled in front of the mirror, I felt pretty and girly and like I had made something really nice for once, something that was how it was supposed to be. If anything, it may have felt a little large especially around the waist, even though I had tapered the bodice and waist to back to the small pattern size. I wore the dress, the OH said it was pretty, I spattered it with tomato pasta sauce before photos could be taken. I washed and ironed the dress, happy in the knowledge that I had a nice dress and we could photograph it when I wore it again. So, to the day I wore it again and took the photo:
It makes me look dumpy and dowdy :'( although I will say my calves are looking lovely and toned from my time on the cross trainer. Maybe I shouldn’t have lowered the waist quite so much, but it does feel more comfortable there then it did right the way up where it was originally, maybe I should have tapered the waist in a little bit more, maybe the pattern just isn’t all that suited to a bigger bust. I don’t know. All I do know is that the way this photo makes me feel about it and the way I feel when wearing the dress are two very different things!
*Sigh*. Well, I had envisaged all the things I would do differently if I were to make this dress again and the way I had felt when I tried it on, I had thought I would make it again, even with all the dart and matching issues I’d experienced. Now I don’t know whether I will use the pattern again or not, but in case one of you does here is the main thing I would do differently; I would interface the waistband for more support/structure and I would also line the dress, not because the material is too flimsy or see through but because I like the idea of concealing all the seams around the waist etc and also I like the weight that a lining adds to a dress, to me, a lining seems to elevate the feeling of quality I get from a dress.
So, besides the mixed feelings I have about this dress, I have things I can take forward with me into new projects, namely that the short bursts of sewing, i.e. focusing on finishing one stage in pattern assembly at a time really works for me. Sorry for the text heavy post, if you have any tips for why I seemed to have so much trouble with this pattern I would be glad to hear from you as I always have the Torii Tunic from Serendipity Studio to make and I’m scared.