I’m totally living in a blog time-warp at the moment! I wish I had started the blog when I started sewing but alas no, I have started it about 9 months later. I want to show my earlier projects first so I can document the progression but it’s so hard to resist the temptation to write about the three dresses I made this month of which I’m very proud! Never mind, this can serve as a long overdue lesson in patience for a normally impetuous ‘just doer’!
Not long after I completed my first pattern project (in SEPTEMBER 2011!) it was announced at Mandors that we would all be dressing up for the Hallowe’en week and that anyone who was willing to make their own costume would be given a pattern and fabric in order to do it.
I don’t really like Hallowe’en (boo hiss) because I’m a tight-fisted fuddy-duddy.
It’s only very recently that I have credited myself with any sort of creative thought or ability and I think I have always assumed that in adulthood I would not be able to make a good Hallowe’en outfit. Hiring a costume is expensive and to be honest, making one even more so. For one night!? This teamed with my feelings towards shopping has meant that in the past I have been a somewhat unenthusiastic Hallowe’en party attendee. Furthermore, don’t get me started on my feelings towards the licence it seems to provide women to appear in public in various states of undress.
So in light of the offer of free materials combined with my new ‘can do’ attitude with regard to making things, I declared an intention to have a bash. I wanted to make a dress as that was my next goal anyway and so I picked the Snow White pattern from Simplicity’s costume section. At least then I wouldn’t have to do much in the way of hair and make-up. (ha! I know, that’s really not the attitude!)
Anyway, I picked some cheap budget satin in yellow and royal blue for the skirt, cape and bodice, red pongee for the cape lining and some pale blue acetate satin for the puffy sleeves. I found the collar a bit daunting but decided to cross that bridge when I came to it.
What size to make?
I normally wear a UK 16 but according to my measurements the pattern envelope seemed to say I should make the size 20. Vanity and genuine disbelief led me to compromise by cutting the 18 which I figured I could adjust if it was too big.
I had no immediate problems with this pattern and I found the tip on sewing darts particularly helpful:
To prevent a ‘bubble’ at the point, make the last few stitches right on the fold and leave the thread ends long enough to tie a knot. DO NOT back-stitch at the point.
I expected the piping to be difficult having not even the foggiest how it might be constructed – I just had never had a reason to ponder it! I bought a hemline piping foot which fits the machine fine and made it really easy.
The first mistake I made was to sew the two cape pieces together the wrong way round so that both shoulder pieces were together in the middle. I spent a loooooooong time unpicking it and then immediately did exactly the same thing again!
More unpicking for me – GAH!
I did not interface the bodice as my ‘allowance’ didn’t quite cover the cost of that and I had not a penny to spare and time was fast running out. I don’t think it was too much of a problem really.
The appliques on the sleeves were my first time using bondaweb and it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship! Incidentally, I didn’t find the instructions which came with it that clear. I found this video helpful (I think is actually aimed at kids). She talks a bit too much at the start but we won’t hold that against her, she seems very nice!
The sleeves were another part I expected to be difficult but I found the instructions regarding gathering the top and easing them in clear and easy to follow.
Alas when I finally had the whole thing together and excitedly tried it on, I found the dress to be too small in the bodice and was not able to get the zip done up. I was pretty devastated about this initially since I was expecting it to be too big!
With hindsight though, I had not yet grasped the concept of seam allowances and had made it with about double I should have. In order to fix this I cut two panels from the cut off fabric I had left over and inserted them on either side of the zip. I didn’t really expect this to be as succesful as it was because I didn’t even measure them, such is the slapdash nature of my being. Lo and behold it fitted perfectly!
I wore this costume for three or four days straight at work and it was great. It washed well and although I didn’t win the staff competition I got lots of compliments on it and experienced the very unnerving scenario that is having children follow you around while gazing at you, pointing and asking wide eyed, “Mummy, is that really Snow White?”.
Things I would do differently next time:
- I was very pushed for time when I eventually got to the collar stage so used white pelmet interfacing on its own with debatable success.
- I used self adhesive velcro for the collar, next time I’ll just sew it in because it did NOT stick very well at all.
- The satin I used frayed like nobody’s business and I did not have access to an overlocker. In fact, I don’t even think I knew what an overlocker was in October!
- Sleeve facings. I didn’t bother trying to catch the pressed edge in as it tells you to in the instructions because the end was in sight and I was too lazy. This meant that I spent the whole time I was wearing it trying to tuck them back up.