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Adventures in poor decisions

June 28, 2010

Over a month ago, in a rush, I bought a pattern and some fabric in hopes of making a dress in time to wear it to a friend’s wedding. I quickly realized I would not finish the dress in time and wore something else…but I still planned to finish it.

So far this process has been dogged by problems every step of the way.

1. I have the distinct impression that the woman who cut the fabric for me, mismeasured it… either that or it really shrank when I first washed it because when I laid it out, it came to 3.5 metres rather than 4…which can make a big difference.

2. The pattern I picked was Butterick 5176 which has a nice full circle skirt. The fabric I chose in the end, however…looks like this.

I picked it because I really liked the border pattern…but a border pattern and a circle skirt really don’t go together all that well.

After some google work, I determined that if I wanted to use my pretty print, I would have to make the skirt into a gored skirt. I made a wedge pattern piece based on the dimensions of the original skirt pieces.  The size of the wedge was also determined by just how much of the border print fit into an arc. It involved my rulers and some calculations and reminded me that I always did plan to take a pattern drafting class someday.

I started to cut as many pieces as I could. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t have enough fabric to extend the border print all the way around the dress, so the border will only be in the front.

After getting as many pieces out of the fabric as I could, I came up with the makings of a pretty full skirt. There are 14 wedges in the skirt.

I stitched each piece together directly on the serger to have the smallest seam allowance possible. I’m doing the same on 14 pieces of cotton broadcloth for the underlining. It’s not perfectly circular, but it should have some swing.

3. Since I decided that it was important to make the skirt as full as possible, once I completed cutting the skirt pieces out, I realized that I had very little fabric left.

In fact I had so little left that I’m now out of fabric and I still haven’t cut out the front corset piece or the long ties.

I stared at my situation for a bit trying to figure out what to do. I’m not daring enough to bare my midriff and turn this into separates. That wouldn’t work all that well with this dress anyway.

What I’m going to try to do is find plain fabric to match the navy blue pattern and see if the corset section and ties would look okay in a solid accent colour.

4. I’ve also noticed that my legs are shorter than even I estimated so I will need to trim about two inches off the top of my skirt to prevent the dress from hitting straight across the middle of my calves: a look that at 5’4 with a long torso and plenty of curves, I simply can’t pull off.  This is likely a blessing in disguise though as shortening the skirt from the waist will give me more fabric to gather and make the skirt even fuller.

On my way home from work today, I’ll try to find the fabric I need and see if I really can salvage this dress.

More to come.

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