A Frankenstein’s Monster of a dress

I’ve spent the last two nights wrestling with a polka-dot monster. In between bouts of sobbing, sewing, seam ripping and cantering up and down the hallway with a cat at my heels and a ‘1000 yard stare’ according to my husband, I’ve managed to produce this:

Polka-dot monster

This is the result of about 8 hours work so far. I’ve made so many mistakes that have had to be corrected, it’s now the fabric equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster.

What did you do wrong went wrong?

Well first off, as I spoke about in a previous post, I omitted to add the extra width in the bodice to accommodate the darts, so I had to re-cut the bodice fabric and lining.

Then, since I had no experience of adding lining to a dress, I decided to sew the lining pieces directly to the fabric pieces by zig-zagging round the edges.

I then sewed the back bodice pieces to the bottom skirt and added an invisible zipper. So far, so not so bad, although the invisible zipper was pretty tricky and the finished result wasn’t amazing but it did the job.

Then I sewed the front bodice to the front skirt. Guess what? It was STILL a few centimetres maybe too narrow. Where am I going wrong with this, I thought? *%&@ it – I’ll just sew a larger seam allowance down the sides.

Then  I attempted my peter pan collar. I had decided to sew it in between the lining and the fabric so a nice crisp clean collar would emerge like a pretty little butterfly when I turned it. Uh-oh – I’ve already sewn the bodice to the skirt so I can’t do that. Stupid. OK – I’ll sew it onto the neck line instead. Eurgh. Not a good look on the inside on the dress. But lesson learned for next time.

I needed to tidy up the neck line first though so I rolled a small hem and stitched around the neck line. Bit messy but most of it would be hidden by the Peter Pan collar. However, I did this AFTER I put my zip in, so the top of my zip was now sticking above the neck line. No problem, I thought, I’ll just snip the ends off to neaten it up…

NO! The zip fastener flew right off the end of the zip when I pulled it up! How could I be so dumb? How on earth did this happen? What compelled me to carry out such a foolish act of stupidity?

Cue another half hour sobbing on the couch unpicking a 20 inch zip in the last of the day’s light with concerned cats and husband watching from the corner of their eyes.

Polka-dot bodice

So this is it for the time being. One peter pan collar done, one left to do. Two sleeves to set in (boy I can’t wait to do that! not…), one invisible zipper to re do, side seams to stitch up. I still suspect that it’s going to be a few centimetres too narrow for me. But I’m going to finish this dress. It will not break me!

Polka-dot back view


12 thoughts on “A Frankenstein’s Monster of a dress

  1. I guess one of the things that comes with experience is the being able to think both three-dimensionally about the dress and also the order to do things in. I had always assumed that you made the lining in the same way that you made the dress or the skirt so it was all made and then inserted it into the garment reversed so that the wrong sides of both would be together and then, for example with this do the neckline to stitch them together.

    Must be much easier with a bought pattern which tells you what order to assemble things in.

    anyway, think it is looking good – it definitely won’t break you and will be a good learning experience for future projects.

    • Bridie – yes indeed I think that’s a good standard to work to. The original dress has an upper and lower part though, as does the cloned dress. And the original had the lining sewn into the bodice, but the bottom was loose and free so it was all a bit different from the standard. I think if I make the dress again I’ll go for a fabric that won’t require lining at the bodice and just attach it to the empire line under the bust.

      Yes it’s quite traumatic working from this pattern without instructions but what a learning curve eh? Thank you so much for nice comment – hope it turns out ok. But it’s a blueprint I suppose so mustn’t get too worked up about it if not.

      Joanne x

  2. Think it was a very tricky dress to start off with for someone with a dress making fear. Perhaps next time just a simple shift, without a lining or collar? or a wrapover dress? And work your way up to more complicated!

  3. LOL this is too funny. I love the sobbing on the couch and the 1000 yard stare. So true. Everybody’s been there and it is really brave of you to start with projects that need linings. It makes it all twice as difficult. Good luck, and I like your blog!

    • Heheh glad to hear it’s not just me Molly. This dress is still an ‘ongoing project’ though, you’ll be glad to hear. Just haven’t quite…got…going on it yet. 😉

  4. I think it looks like a dress….unlike my first attempt at dressmaking which looked like I’d cut it in the dark and sewn it on a machine that had a mind of its own.
    I’d tried to make a dress where you had to draft my own pattern and bought completely the wrong kind of material. And I’d attached the wrong way up. If the material hadn’t cost me so much it would have gone in the bin. Instead I unpicked it all…and have since used it in other projects.

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