Hubris, or How I thought I could totally make this dress

22 Aug

So, I tried to make this:

Advanced 9050, a quintessential 1950s frock

A quintessential 1950s frock

And it turned out like this:

Advanced 9050, my version

Sad and droopy

The whole idea behind this sewing challenge (which I neglected for over six months, but who’s counting?) was to make me a better seamstress so that I can make gorgeous things for myself. It worked so well for knitting, after all. (I recently lost my fear/hatred of finishing, the Last Hurdle!) And it’s not like I’m starting from scratch. I know how to sew, both with machine and by various hand stitch methods. I’ve made clothes before (not getting into how they turned out, and how many projects I abandon at the zipper or hem stage…). I even researched pattern fitting and full bust adjustments! In my mind, I could jump right into this thing and come out with a passably wearable garment.

Instead, I didn’t do the pattern fitting quite right and the first bodice didn’t have enough seam allowance for the zipper. The second bodice fit, but didn’t look as nice as the first one. The skirt pattern is weird and required lots of adjustment. The whole thing looks pretty frumpy and I’ve reconsidered my interest in circle skirts.

I was feeling pretty down about my sewing future, so I cut out a skirt I knew I could make to try to cheer myself up. And proceeded to botch the pattern adjustments so that instead of taking in the hips, I ended up with not enough seam allowance and hips that were still comically too big. And then the cat knocked my laptop onto my foot with bloody results (mine, not hers).

A bbq with friends and a good night’s sleep later, and I’m feeling better about things. I’m still sad that I “wasted” that fabric, but I’m going to put it away until I get better at this sewing thing and can figure out a way to rescue it. I know I can rescue the skirt now by decreasing the darts, and after that I’m going to re-draft the pattern to actually fit my hips so that next time I can save myself this trouble.

And I figured out how to hand-pick a zipper (from this tutorial), and it is amazing. So if nothing else, this little escapade has added that valuable skill to my arsenal.

The details:
Pattern: Advanced 9050, bought at the Alameda Antiques Fair for $7
Fabric: Supposedly a rayon, but it feels like cotton. Bought at the Oakland Museum’s White Elephant sale for $5 (4 3/4 yards, 54″ wide)
Notions: Zipper, interfacing, self-covered buttons, thread


Posted by on August 22, 2011 in sewing


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “Hubris, or How I thought I could totally make this dress

  1. dressingmyself

    August 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Yesterday I bought fabric, zip, thread and a pattern to make a dress for my daughter. I really do want to get this right, but I’m afraid that I’ll have your issues. This is a reasonable fear, as I am currently wearing a skirt that I made. I always wear a belt to cover up the botched zip!

    • pancha

      August 23, 2011 at 8:43 am

      I highly recommend checking out the hand-picked zipper tutorial! She also had a tutorial for a machine-sewn zipper, which might be a better option for a child’s dress (wear and tear and all that).


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