Sunday, 12 May 2019

Making Grace - part 3, finished (!) and pattern hacks

I finally have a completed dress! Most of the work turned out to be in the bodice, so once I'd made and attached the sleeves, the rest of it was fairly straightforward. I couldn't find any buttons for the cuffs which even remotely matched the greyish green of the fabric, so I went with mother of pearl instead. My hand-stitched buttonholes are getting much neater these days, which I'm chuffed about.

Cuff, button and buttonhole

On the skirt, my first pattern hack concerned the slant pockets. The instructions were to make the pocket, then sew the smaller pocket bag to the skirt along the opening. This would involve sewing two pieces of soft, drapey fabric together on a bias, so was sure to stretch - and then stretch some more in use. So I decided to add a stay tape along the pocket opening. Before sewing the pocket pieces together I laid a piece of cotton tape very slightly over the seam line for attaching the pocket to the skirt, basted it in place along that edge, and machine stitched it to the pocket piece along the other edge of the tape.

The pocket made up - the tape is machined on the left side, basted on the right

Then when I attached the pocket to the skirt, I sewed through the tape and both layers of fabric.

The pocket sewn in place, and the basting removed

Finally I top-stitched along the edge.

The completed pocket*

The instructions suggest that once the drawstring has been fed through the casing, the ends should be knotted to stop it from coming out. Instead I sewed it in place at the centre back through all the layers of the bodice and casing.

The final step was the hem, and this was another hack. The pattern only allows for a 1cm / ⅜" hem. It also uses the same pattern piece for the skirt front and back. Now if, like me, you have a sway back/big bottom and, also like me, prefer your hem to be the same distance off the ground all round, then you'll know that you need to make your skirt longer at the back than the front. And such a narrow hem doesn't leave a lot of room for manoeuvre in that department. For this reason I had added 10cm / 2" to the skirt length when I cut the pieces out. I ended up with a hem which was 1½" deep at the front and ⅜" deep at the back, so was very glad that I'd added the extra.

And here is the finished dress. It's OK, but sadly I can't say that I love it. It's not as bad as the Dress of Frump™, but then nothing is. Somehow it just looks a bit, to use a good Scots word, 'bumphly' - sort of rumpled and untidy.

Finished at last

I think that part of the problem is that the instuctions say to avoid gathering the tops of the pockets, so the front ends up with a lot of fabric bunched up at the centre.

Bumphle in the middle!

If I make the pattern up again (and I may well do so, it's a good basic dress) I think that I would make the skirt front narrower, and possibly shorten the sleeves a smidgeon. Certainly I do like the bodice. When I was taking the photographs I got distracted by a blackbird singing on the roof of the house, and the resulting picture of me looking up shows the collar and neckline off well.

The bodice is fine

Also on the plus side, this has used up a large chunk of the length of printed viscose that I bought in January. I have actually used half as much fabric as I've bought this year! This may not be something to be proud of, but it's better than nothing.

The stashometer - still not good, but getting better

* - The eagle-eyed will have noticed that the birds on the fabric in the three pictures of the pocket have flown round a bit! Somehow I managed to take two shots of one side of the skirt front, and one shot of the other; so for the sake of consistency I flipped the second photograph.

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