K. C. took on the challenge of making a dress for her birthday. She missed the deadline but persevered and finished in time for Valentine’s Day. This dress had lots of next-level lessons (zippers, waistband, lining) for our beginner! I admire how she overcame her frustration, stayed encouraged and completed the dress. Good job, K. C., for advancing to new sewing techniques!
Finding the Pattern
This project started as a dress to wear for my 30th birthday celebration. I envisioned a red V-neck A-line dress, so I did my best to sketch it out for Ms. Roz. I took a trip to Hobby Lobby and spent about thirty minutes flipping through all the pattern books before I found this McCall’s pattern. I used view A because of the V-neck and straight skirt but opted to not include the long sleeves. I also made the ban shorter. Honestly, dresses B and C are both cute, and I wouldn’t mind making either one in the future.
Why did you select this fabric?
I knew I wanted the dress to be red, but I didn’t realize how many different shades of red there really are. I also knew I wanted to dress to have a nice and elegant shine like satin. Ms. Roz let me look through her giant swatch book and thought either Satin Back Crepe- Red or a Matte Satin would be great for the look I was going for. I specifically chose this fabric because of how vibrant the red is and the beautiful shine it has to it.
How did you prewash it and how did it come out?
I actually did not pre-wash the fabric for this project.
Pinning and Cutting out the Fabric
Because I used a pattern with multiple styles of dresses, it took a few minutes to determine which parts of the pattern I would truly use from the envelope. After figuring out which pieces we needed and cutting them out, My Mom and I pinned the pattern to the crepe side of the fabric. Cutting the fabric was very simple. However, cutting the rayon lining was the tricky part because it was so slippery.
Experience Sewing on the Machine:
I haven’t had the opportunity to share with you all that I bought my very first machine. I now have a Juki HZL-70, and it is very user-friendly. Sewing on the machine this time took a little adjusting because the last time I used the machine was to make a homecoming mum for my cousin. At that time, the settings were set to large zig zags. I don’t even know how I did that, but it didn’t matter because no one could see the stitchwork. For this project, it took a couple of minutes of playing around to ensure the settings were correct. I then took a couple of more minutes to practice on a piece of scrap fabric to make sure I actually remembered how to sew straight lines. Overall I am more comfortable with sewing on the machine. I finally got my straight seams down (or at least I believe I do). I sewed the panels of the skirt together, I made the band, and sewed the panels to the band. I even placed some darts which I don’t think I had done before. Unfortunately, the dress was too small. My Mom and I had to completely take the band and skirt apart, cut more fabric and remake it.
How do you feel about the dress?
I absolutely love the dress. It was originally supposed to be my birthday dress, but honestly, it was too small. The band barely fit, and it was extremely uncomfortable. Had I worn the dress out then, I would have been worried the back would bust open or split from sitting and standing. It was a good thing I had a new red dress in my closet from last summer. I initially bought it for a wedding but never wore it.
My Mom and I had to take the band and the skirt of the dress apart, recut and resew it. The first time, we only used two hook and eyes to close the back of the dress. However, it didn’t work out too well. The hook and eye weren’t aligned correctly and we couldn’t get the back to lay flat for a smooth look.
I was initially disappointed because this was the dress I envisioned wearing for my birthday. However, taking it apart and adding the zipper made a world of difference.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Good– I was able to do more sewing on the first dress and am becoming more and more comfortable with the machine. I’m also gaining a better understanding of reading more complicated patterns.
The Bad– Having to recut and resew that bottom of the dress was a bummer. However, I did learn to cut the pattern on a larger size. It would be better to have more fabric than you need instead of not having enough.
The Ugly– The hook and eye debacle was very ugly.
Things I Learned:
Use a zipper or a button when you can because the hook and eye alone do not give a smooth finish
How to place darts
How to switch out a presser foot for a zipper foot
Still needs work:
How to add a zipper
Threading the needle
How to stitch/sew by hand
I’d like to get back to the basics. The past two projects I’ve had have been for someone with much more sewing experience than I have, which required me to lean more on my mom’s skills. I think my next project could be a simple skirt, maybe mid-calf length) for the spring and summer months.
I still have so much to learn. I would like to sew a few more simple items, such as skirts, to gain additional confidence in sewing solo before trying another challenging pattern.
Your dress is beautiful! I remember my beginning days of sewing too! After several years of sewing, I still make mistakes. There is always something new to learn. Believe this, you have now increased your sewing skills. Keep sewing, and creating!
Thanks, Pat, for your words of encouragement!!