Saturday, March 1, 2014

Garment of the Month Challenge - February Disaster Project

This project was doomed from the start. I should have felt the "bad sewing vibes" from the muslin I made, but oh no - I was bound and determined to see this project thru to the bitter end!  Well now, I am just thoroughly frustrated.  Not so much with the project, but more with myself - mainly because I didn't even follow my own advice!  The front isn't looking so bad, but the back is a disaster!

Dress front - needs to be taken in a little at the front waistline

My number one rule with buying fabric is to only buy odd numbers of yardage - 1 yard, 3 yards, 5 yards, etc.  NEVER buy even numbers - 2 yards, 4 yards, etc.  I learned this from a Roberta Carr seminar years ago and that rule has never failed me.  So naturally, when I pulled out the red fabric, I figured I had 3 yards.   Instead, I measured and it was two yards!  Oh the horror!  So this meant I needed to change things to make the pieces fit on the fabric.

After pinning the skirt bottoms to the muslin on my dress form, I could lose about 5 inches from the length of both the front and back pieces (there was 10 inches saved).  And, I really didn't need to make the belt that was included (another approx. 24 inches saved).

Length was way too long, so I could save some fabric here

After laying out off of the pieces, the only way I could get them all to fit was to skew the grainlines on the skirt pieces a little bit.   And, I didn't want to move anything after I finally got everything to fit, so I just cut it out on the floor.  I felt like I was back in high school again crawling around the living room floor cutting out my latest project.

I had various disaster moments after the cutting out was done....
My disaster muslin. Quite obvious it doesn't fit properly in the back
From my last posting on this project, after making the disaster muslin - here is exactly what I said:

All is not lost though - I did learn quite a few things from this (muslin):

1. I do not need to install the invisible zipper in the back.  I can pull it over my head just fine.
2. I do need to take it in at the back waist a little.  This will make it a little more fitted in the waist - and cause another problem in the process - the lining up of the pintucks.
3. Because I will need to take in the dress at the waist, I think I will wait to do the pintucks south of the midriff panel until the garment is almost finished.  I may even leave off the last pintuck on the top portion above the midriff panel as well because of the waist fitting.
4. I need to be more diligent and accurate in my markings.  There are alot of circles and squares and notches that need to line up in this dress so I need to take my time when cutting it out and be sure to mark every single one of them!
5. I will trace the pintuck lines onto the dress, but understand that they will need to be adjusted - probably freehand the final lines when the dress is near completion.  
6.  Lastly, give it a break for a few days!  I think I've been thinking about it too much and need to do something mindless for awhile!

Did I follow any of this?  NO.  

Let's review what went wrong:

1. Yes - I did need to install a zipper in the back.  In my muslin, I forgot to take into account the fact that the lining has part of the facing pieces sewn to it so naturally, the neckline will appear bigger if you don't sew the facings to it.  Here's the top of the dress pre-zipper.  Perfect time to adjust it but I didn't.

2. Did I take in the waist before sewing ALL of the pintucks - NO!  Instead I sewed in the invisible zipper (hand basting first of course to line up all of those pesky pintucks) and the realized after trying it on, that I needed to take it in!  Here it is with the zipper installed.  It's about two inches too big in the waist!

3. I did all of the pintucks south of the midriff panel before even trying the thing on!  Again - where was that advice I was supposed to follow?  

I even did test pieces to try out my new pintuck foot and pintuck blade for my new machine.  I don't know if it was the knit fabric or what, but as it turns out, my new machine makes terrible pintucks - especially when sewing over seamlines.  The top 5 rows on the sample below were made on my new Pfaff Performance 5.0.  I adjusted the tension, stitch length, everything I could think of to get them perfect but to no avail.  So, I got out my old Pfaff 7550 and voila!  Using the same foot (no blade though because it wouldn't fit), it made perfect pintucks with no adjustments at all.  So now, I was using two sewing machines (no serger at all) to make this goofy dress. 

Stitch length practice samples....

4.  More diligent in marking - ok this one I actually did follow.  I followed it so well, I don't think a garment has even been marked better.  I chalked the pintuck lines twice, and marked every single circle, square, triangle, etc.  If it had a shape, it got a mark.  I started off by highlighting all of the pintucks on the pattern pieces with a pink highlighter.  Then transferring them to the fabric with tracing paper.

Then, I redrew all of the lines using a chalk marker. 

Then, after fusing interfacing to all of the seamlines, I marked the darts and the circles, squares, etc. with chalk as well.

5.  I followed the first part (trace pintuck lines onto dress), but didn't heed the second part (understand they will need to be adjusted after I take the darn thing in!)

6.  Give it a break for awhile.  Ah hah!  Something I can do now! Probably give it a break for a month!  

The dress may just hang out on my dressform for awhile until I get in the mood to do some ripping out - there will be alot of it!

Until my next project - Happy Sewing!


  1. Oh the frustration!

    Time on the form is a good idea. And some of your favorite drink...

  2. Thanks Accordion3. Hopefully it will only stay on the form for a few weeks. I've had a blouse on my other form for over five years!

  3. Oh dear - this is a situation I have known as well - don't kick your self too hard. Such a pity because the colour is glorious.

    Machines that don't sew - sometimes I have to use two as well. So annoying when its a new machine that doesn't work as well as the old.

    1. Thanks Sarah Liz. I will finish this eventually. Just need to give it a rest for the moment.

  4. Whew. You are better than I am. Great job persevering. I am in awe of all of the tucks and seams in this one!

    1. Thanks Nakisha. Currently the dress is still hanging out on my dress form. I'll finish it soon though!

  5. Can you explain the logic behind the "only buy odd numbers of yardage" rule? Very curious about that.

    1. Thank you for asking Helvetica Von Ampersand. The reasoning is that a standard jacket takes around 2.5 to 2.75 yards. A pair of pants or a dress about the same. If you round the yardage up to the nearest odd number you are guaranteed to have enough. This rule of thumb has never failed me. I'm sure one day this rule will be broken but so far it has held up true for me. I hope that answers your question.

  6. That does clear things up, yes. I usually make skirts, dresses, and quilts so I usually get 2 yards (good for a straight skirt and leftovers for quilts) or 4 yards.