Have you ever been scared to sew something? Almost frightened because you didn't know where to start? Let me share a little story with you.
I picked up the Simplicity pattern and beautiful floral fabric with a vacation in mind. My husband and I were going away for a few days. I wanted to make something pretty and different.
When I sew something for myself, I like to look at other people's versions.
I searched the interwebs to find any and every tutorial on how to sew up Simplicity's #8244 pattern. I didn't find what I was hoping for. I found a few pattern reviews and photos, but no tutorials or step by step instructions. I messaged a gal asking a few questions, but she didn't have the answers I needed either.
Hesitantly, I traced the pattern onto my paper (here's a list of my go-to sewing tools) and transferred the markings. I usually, always need to do a full bust adjustment. How was I supposed to make one with this asymmetrical dress? After staring at the pattern for what felt like days, I shut down. I rolled up my paper and set it aside. For 1 year exactly.
Not sure what lit a fire under me, but I decided to pull that rolled up pattern out of hiding and give it another go!
I made a muslin using some old costume fabric on hand.
I sewed up the muslin, making sure to include the darts, side and back seams and any other important areas. I did not attach the collar or zipper. It's a muslin, so it was for the fit purpose only. I HIGHLY recommend making a muslin for this pattern. You may find that you need a few simple adjustments.
I found that my bust fit pretty well. *I did use my high bust measurement. I have a 5-inch difference from my high bust and regular bust, just an FYI.
I made the short waist adjustment- because I have no torso. Ha!! Thanks, mom ;)
I also did a forward sloping shoulder adjustment as well. Bad posture FTW!
Nothing else was needed. I transferred those measurements back to the pattern piece and traced out my pieces onto the pretty fabric.
Gather everything you need for this pattern:
Interfacing, matching thread, needles
Frog Closures or buttons
I opted out, but you may want to add the piping detail
Sewing machine, etc.
All your favorite pattern tracing and cutting tools
Now that the fitting info is out of the way, let's dive in and make this beautiful traditional Chinese dress. I did research a little on the dress, thankswikipedia. If you want to find out some information, click the link. You tube has some amazing videos on how the dresses are made as well.
Once everything is cut out and your marks, darts, and hemlines are transferred. Cut out the fabric. **Pay close attention to the pattern layout on the tissue paper. You don't want anything backward or inside out. This is very important. you'll see why later.
So far, so good. Right? Moving right along. It should look more like a dress at this point.
Now for the fun part. The facings. All the armhole facings and neck facings. So many facings. And collar pieces. Wheee!! Keep them separated by attaching your pattern pieces to them. It will make you scream less. I promise.
Attach the facing pieces together at the seams, be sure to match the notches. This is very important for the facing to lay correctly and flat. Sew the seams together and it should resemble a funky snake. Now you're going to attach the facing snake to the dress. Matching notches again, and following the curves and angles.
Side note- The pattern has you do a hem on the facing, but I wished I would have just serged the edge. It creates a little more bulk than I like. It doesn't bother me enough to rip it out though. #lazysewist
I didn't take a photo, but you make the collar before applying the facing snake. The collar is sandwiched in between the dress and facing snake. It has basting stitches to hold the 2 layers together.
As long as the facings and collar went in well, it should look something like this. If you opted for the pretty piping detail, that would have gotten sewn in between the facing and dress seams.
This dress was a labor of love. I sewed a little each day, without rushing. I definitely took the slow sewing approach to this one.
And, if you need to take a break, take it. If not... forge on!
Next up, stitch the 2" small area to enclose the flap part. Those are the technical terms in case you're wondering. I think they have you do this to ensure nothing is accidentally seen, skin wise.
Armhole facing time. Apply your interfacing if you haven't done so already. Finish the edge as you did with the neck facing. I serged the edge instead of an actual hem. I learned after making the front facing. Attach to the armhole matching notches and following the curve.
This is where the pattern placement messed me up. Well, I messed up. I had to cut out so many armhole facing pieces. I kept doing it backward. Ugh. I turned the machines off, unplugged the iron and walked away. I returned the next morning with a clear head. Yay!!
After the facings are sewn to the armholes.
It has you start the vent openings, but I was so confused at this part. I read the instructions over and over and over. I've never made a vent before, so I went to trusty ole youtube.
Below is a link to a video of how to create a vent by Professor Pincushion. She has fantastic videos on almost everything, so check her youtube channel and website out.
After that was all sorted, I was a happy lady. Whew!
I put in the side zipper. You can insert the zipper before or after the vent. It doesn't really matter. But, you do need an invisible zipper foot. It makes a pretty zipper that hides secretly in your side seam.
Grab your invisible zipper and invisible zipper foot. I like using clips for this. Attach it backward and if you use the correct foot, it'll be a breeze. The foot is designed to grab and push the zipper teeth away from the fabric. The teeth then refold back to make a beautiful seamless zip.
After you sew up the left side, backstitch and go to the sewing table.
Pin or clip the right side of the zipper tape to the seam fabric. It looks like this when half sewed. See how it's backward. You have to flip your sewing brain inside out to do these zippers. Haha
Sew the other side down. Hold the tape and work with the machine while I slowly sew the zipper.
Okay, now all that is left to do is the bottom hem. The pattern suggests a 2" hem. So, that's what I did. I serged the raw edge, then turned it under. I measured up 2 inches and stitched with my machine. The pattern calls for hand stitching, but at this point, I had enough of this dress. So, I tossed that sucker on my machine.
Overall, I love this dress. The fit is amazing. It's form fitting, but loose. If that even makes sense? I like the length too. I'm glad I decided to just dive in, after a year of it staring at me... from the corner of the floor. I don't like labeling sewists as beginners, advanced, etc. But, I think this dress would be best for someone who has sewn a few garments. It was time-consuming and the pattern layout was tricky. Just take your time and you'll be a 50's pinup goddess in no time. The only thing now is where I'm going to wear it. Hmm...
Photography by Erica Lancaster at Desert Sky Studio.
Hi there, I'm Annette and I love eating and sewing. I usually have a cup of coffee or tea with me, but not next to my machine because I'd probably spill it. I am the reason we can't have nice things.