Sunday, 28 February 2010

Over Achiever's Ruffle Dress

Sometimes I can be a bit too ambitious for my own good! I saw a little girl wearing a really beautiful simple dress a few weeks back, and at the time I thought 'I can make that!' so I kinda stalked this kid trying to see the detail in the dress and once I came home I sketched it out and jotted down a few notes.

I intended to make this for Miss C as I think its better for her age than Miss M. I measured Miss C and using the drafting knowledge I've acquired so far and Cal Patch's book, I drafted a pattern. I compared it with other dresses she already has, and tried the paper pattern out on her body, this led to a few changes and the 'final' pattern which I cut out of pale pink linen.

As I want the bodice to be lined with a facing I knew that the ruffles would have to be done first. (Of course using Disneys tute as she is the master or is that mistress of ruffles!)

Its a bit daunting to have to do the most complex part of the design first, I kinda feel I should break myself in gently rather than jump into the deep end, but there you go, such is life. It was rather tricky to get the two ruffles to measure the same size, (the original dress I saw had 2 layers of ruffles on each side but I felt that it was too much for the dress and too much for me!) by gathering them, in fact they are gathered but still too long for the bodice section so they are kinda pleated onto the fabric as well just to bunch them up. I sewed a basting line of stitches on both sides to hold the ruffles in place while I made the cover. I cut a strip of fabric and then created a bias strip using an iron and later added two buttons to finish it off.

I had major trouble putting the concealed zip in! I've never done one before and bought a concealed zip foot and had to do it 6 times before I got it even following these great instructions!!!! First couple of times I put it on the wrong way so you would have to open it from the inside! Ripped it out and tried again and I found that the stitching was too close to the zip so that the zip couldn't actually close as the stitching was fouling the zip. I eventually realised that the foot was adjustable so that the stitching wasn't so close to the zip teeth. I moved it all the way to the other side but I think it needs to be a bit closer than I ended up with. I then sewed up the back seam and I don't think its as neat as I wanted. I was concerned that the waistband should be perfectly matching on either side of the zip which I think its quite good but I'm not so happy about the way the seam covers the zip. Does anyone have any advice about how to make this better next time?

The next area to work on was the facing. I applied iron on interfacing to the facing and then tried to follow Deb Thompson's instructions on how to a attach a facing to a sleeveless bodice but I didn't manage to do it quite as well as her. I'm not sure if its because I'm working with much a smaller bodice and therefore the straps are smaller but I found the last stage of sewing the side seams up from inside very difficult. In the end I hand-sewed the gaps from the right side. Again if anyone has a good way of doing this or advice on where I went wrong I'd appreciate it!

This left the facing sewn in with the exception of the zip line. I then hand sewed the facing to the zip, any better way?
I had originally envisaged the facing being sewn into the skirt panel seam but because of the zip construction I'm not sure it would work that way anyway I ended up with raw edges from the bottom waistband seam so I covered them with some binding tape to neaten the ends, I then sewed the facing to this seam covering the top waistband seam as well. Hopefully this will stop any wear on these seams. Again if anyone has a better way of covering the internal seams I'd appreciate advice!

I finished the side seams with a french seam which is currently my favourite thing in the world. I had to made a decision on matching up the curve of the armhole or the waistband as I felt the armhole needed to match more the waistband is a bit out under the arm but I'm hoping that it won't be seen too much as its under the arm. I then hemmed the bottom which I think is a little too long but Miss C thinks its great!

In summary

Good parts
  • drafted a unique pattern for my daughters measurements, have never done anything so ambitious before
  • designed a dress!
  • inserted a concealed zip (need to improve the finish but ok)
  • used a facing to cover waistband seams matched up the waistband okish where it can be seen at the back, not so good on the side seams
  • ruffles - never done them before but worked well. Thanks Disney for your inspiration
Points to improve

  • Inserting a concealed zip, need to get closer to the teeth than I achieved here but not too close!
  • Using a facing on the bodice, needs to be neater
  • The pleats front and back should be closer to the centre line.
In summary, I think I done good, I've never designed, drafted, cut, sewn my own pattern before especially one that used techniques I've not used before. Its amazing what you can achieve when you don't know you can't achieve it!

I might give myself B- for this project, what would you give me?

1 comment:

  1. I really like the dress. The first picture on your daughter looks so cute. I admire you for being so brave and actually doing it!