Tuesday, May 20, 2014

April Garment of the Month Challenge Completed (Finally!)

I've finally completed my April Garment of the Month Challenge - only 3 weeks late.  New Look #6224. I originally selected this dress and rayon fabric thinking I'd be able to knock it out in a weekend, but sewing disasters just kept happening with this garment.

First, I decided to make a muslin of the top of this dress.  The muslin fit perfectly - a little bit snug, but I was ok with it - after all, my muslin fabric was a cheap cotton and my garment fabric was a nice flowy rayon so I figured it would drape and hang a "little" differently than the cheap cotton muslin.

Great.  Now that I had a good fitting muslin, I cut out everything- adding 2 inches to the length of the skirt and sewed the entire dress together.  Of course it was getting late and I needed to start dinner, but I wanted to put the zipper in.  Having not tried on the dress so far, I quickly put the zipper in and then hung the dress on my dress form.  Uh oh.  Something was wrong.  As my husband walked into the room, I said, "something's wrong with this - my waist isn't that low".

So of course I had to try it on and sure enough, my waist was indeed not that low.  The whole dress had shifted about an inch!  Next, I did what any sane sewer would do - I wadded it up and threw it in the corner and had a glass of wine!

The next day, after contemplating about it all night, and I think dreaming about it too, I fished it out of it's hiding place and tried to figure out what happened.  I put the muslin on the dress form and yes - it fit nice and snug - like it originally did.  Then, after ripping out the zipper and the skirt, I put the top over the muslin on the form and here you can see the problem.

The muslin is a full one inch sorter than the garment.  The deep V in the front, was way, way too deep on the purple, but fine on the muslin.

Shoulder seams lined up, and the sleeves on the purple finished top fit perfectly.  If I would have put sleeves in the muslin, they would have been too far up on the shoulder line.

On the back, same thing - muslin is one inch higher than the purple rayon.

On the bottom, you can clearly see how much longer the purple is than the muslin.  

At this point, you can imagine that I was frustrated as could be because I couldn't figure out why it had changed so much.  I decided to compare the finished garment pieces with the pattern pieces and Bingo - that's where I figured out the problem.  

The purple finished pieces were exactly the same size as the pattern pieces.  The muslin pieces, however, were smaller - 1/4" here, 1/4" there and it all added up to a smaller muslin.  But why when they were both cut from the same pattern pieces?  

Next, I decided to do a "steam" test on my extra muslin fabric and sure enough, it was shrinking before my eyes as I was pressing it. My purple rayon fabric had been pre-shrunk already, but the muslin fabric was not.  My muslin shrunk both in width and in length - almost exactly one inch in both directions.  Why I didn't see this shrinking when I was pressing my muslin originally remains a mystery.  

So now, after figuring out what the problem way, I needed to start fixing it.  So much for making a muslin! I'll be sure to shrink my muslin fabric in future - I've never had that be an issue before but I guess there is a first time for everything.  

First fix - I needed to raise the V in the front 1 inch.  That was fairly simple to do.  

Next fix, I needed to reattach the skirt. On the picture below from bottom to top, you can see the original cutting line, followed by the original stitching line.  The folded line is where the muslin ended, followed by my new stitching line above that.  The front of the dress needed to be raised up a little further as well to make it hang evenly - that's why the stitching line appears to be a little off in the front.  

Same procedure to attach the back skirt as well. 

I also ended up sewing in a zipper by hand instead of machine.  Something I had never done before, but absolutely love the results.  You can barely see the hand sewn in zipper versus the mess of a zipper I had before.  That's one good thing that came out of this dress!

Side view

Here's a close-up of the fabric. I love the cute little buttons!

And the back.  The dress really does hang straight, I just couldn't get the tripod and camera to cooperate with me.

Until next time!
Happy Sewing!


  1. sorry to hear about the issues you had, but your dress turned out great!

    1. Thanks Remebering Oz. I eventually got thru them.

  2. Oh you poor thing - it's so horrible when this happens. I've even thrown garments in the rubbish bin when they misbehave only to fish them out the next day!!

    But what a beautiful final result :)

  3. Congrats on great problem-solving! I love the dress on you.