Sunday, February 22, 2015

Humbled by a Dress. The Struggle is Real.

First things first, let's start with an introduction to the newest member of my sewing family. Everyone this is Bernice, my Bernina. She sews like a dream! Smooth as a hot knife through butter. I love this machine.

Well obviously with the arrival of my new baby, that sweet sweet Bernina I mean, I had to undertake a new project. I've had a few options rolling around my to do list for quite a while, but in the end I landed on making The Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. It was a long struggle but in the end she came out beautifully.

Now that we can keep in our minds eye how lovely the final dress is let me tell you that it was a process to cross the finish line with this dress. As one of my students would say I was riding the struggle bus and the struggle is real. I thought this dress would be something I could just kind of whip out. I mean when I sat down to actually sew it I had already cut my pieces, serged everything, and interfaced what needed it. However that was not what happened, it was not a breeze, and there were moments where I considered abandoning it. This dress was a classic example of an over sure sewer being humbled by a project that should've been relatively simple.

First thing that happened was that I somehow did the shirring on the back of the dress too tight. Don't ask me how I did it because I have no idea. This was the first big mistake and I didn't even really catch it at first. I looked at the shirred piece and thought to myself, "My that looks tight, Oh well I guess it will snug up to my lower back really nicely." Oh it snugged up, to the point that the elastic thread was cutting into my skin, it was painful and would not work.

Too Tight!!!

Next thing that gave me pause and bugged me was the sleeve. I drafted a tulip or overlap sleeve rather than a straight sleeve. I thought it would be cute. However not all my notches transferred through or at least I couldn't see them after I serged so I was having a hard time lining up the overlap properly. Also when I was hemming the edge, I wanted to do a delicate rolled edge but this light weight and drapey fabric becomes a thick hard root when it's double rolled on itself and it was rippling in a very unpretty way. Also it was kind of sticking out weird.

::Side Note:: I don't know how this fabric can be both drapey and light, yet at the same time thick as kevlar and battle approved. That's what happens with some of the mystery fabrics from Joann's.

I even debated the option of doing it sleeveless. but that didn't look right to me.It was so frustrating.

I ended up finishing the sleeve with some wide ric rac and I think it's cute and I used it on the collar too. Next I neglected to run the gathering stitches far enough so I had to redo those. Then finally after more struggle than seemed necessary the sleeve went in and looked cute.

Next thing that I completely jacked up was the collar and facings. Again I don't think my notches transferred correctly and so it was difficult to set in. Also I kept catching the dress and getting ripples. I took this collar out three of four times I swear! Infuriating!

I put this on my form and thought it must be wrinkled, till I popped the collar. Ugh why does it have to be so hard today! Finally the collar went in. Good, great, done. I think that collar ended up set back a little too far but I do not care it is staying. It doesn't look like crap anymore so I'll take it!

Everything came together pretty much to plan after the great collar debacle of 2015, and it is a cute dress. I mean polka dots and ric rac, obviously. Also the button holes that my machine does! They are amazing. I love Bernina, and I love my girl Bernice.

Ok, finished dress. After all that I think I love her. The sleeve is my absolute favorite and I will be using it in a future top or dress very soon. I am also A huge fan of the pleats in the skirt on the side of the center front. Really great.

I took a ton of length off of this dress but I am also 5'2", so that is fair.

This is the back re-shirred so as not to be too tight. Still don't know what I did in the first place but it's fixed now.

Sleeve cuteness.

The collar sets back pretty far, I think when I make this dress again, I'll change that.

I was humbled by this dress but I'm glad it didn't become a UFO and get chucked in the closet. There's a ton of snow out there right now but some day it will be spring and I'll break this little lady out.


  1. so cute with the ric rac sleeves. I want to try out some tulip sleeves one day. So annoying when a project seems to fight you every step of the way and always a sense of achievement when it doesn't become a UFO!

    1. Colesworth, I've done the tulips before and I am absolutely in love. Part of me could put them on everything. The UFO thing is really hard for me. It takes a lot for me to abandon a project but it absolutely happens. Thanks for finding me/reading

  2. This happens when you least expect it. I also want to make this dress one day but so far the shirring has put me off :(

    1. Hey Elena,
      Don't let the shirring put you off. As I said I am not 100% sure what I did but I think that I initially wound my bobbin too tight. I've done shirring on other projects and It's worked out great. I wore the dress the other day and I was positively flooded with complements. It was absolutely worth it. Just checked out your blog by the way, you are straight up adorable! I love your call the midwife inspired skirt.

  3. I just finished this dress...or, so I thought. After having to regather the sleeves-somehow, gathering in the given notches, one sleeve was gathered in the back only-and cutting a ton off the bottom to be a reasonable length for my 5'3 frame, I added the buttons and tried it on for a final look. The collar looks super off. So, off to rip it out. Maybe I'll adjust the linebacker shoulders while I'm at that I know all this, though, next time I make it, I can have the adjustments ready, and I think I'll try tulip sleeves. Your dress is adorable!

    1. I actually just wore this dress today. I got a ton of compliments on it. The collar is totally weird. It sits way too far back on the neck. I love this dress but I will be doing things a little different when I make it again.