Linen summer dress
I made this dress fairly soon after I started learning to sew. It’s one of the few items I still like from those first attempts - most of them eventually got thrown out.
When I started sewing a little over a year ago, I was basically thrilled to just successfully complete a garment, so everything was bathed in a beautifying glow of achievement. Then, as I moved on from that first big leap of learning, I started seeing all the little errors I’d missed, and also found that just because I’d enjoyed making something didn’t necessarily mean I enjoyed wearing it.
It’s entirely possible that in another year I’m going to feel the same way about the stuff I’m making now, of course! I like to think that now I’ve got the basics down, and have a slightly more refined idea of my personal style, that’s not going to happen, but you never can tell.
Anyway, I think this was my first step away from rigidly adhering to a commercial pattern. I had a go at drafting a bodice sloper / block (I’m still not entirely sure what the difference is) and after a few attempts had something fairly respectable. I think this was the tutorial that won the day.
I wanted to make a close-fitting sheath dress, inspired by this Hobbs number. When I say ‘inspired’, I was essentially hoping for an identical home-made knock-off. It didn’t turn out that way, mostly because after spending so much time on drafting the bodice with calculator, ruler, angles, copious sheets of wrapping paper, etc. I became impatient and ‘drafted’ front and back skirt pieces by drawing a skirt shape on a large piece of paper.
Unsurprisingly this did not result in a close-fitting sheath silhouette - I suppose it’s more of an A-line shape? It also had weird poking out bits at the hips, I think because I had been a bit over-enthusiastic with making sure it was big enough, and the shape of the curve was a bit out.
I also couldn’t get all the darts to line up no matter how many times I redid it - eventually I gave up and settled for most of the darts being right. I wore it a few times fairly happily anyway.
If I was re-making this dress I would:
- do an all-in-one neck and armhole facing instead of the too narrow, flappy separate facings I used.
- match the darts up properly.
- take a wedge out of the pattern on the front neckline - it gapes a bit, not too badly, but still
- use a proper skirt pattern!
- do an invisible zip rather than the visible see-through one it has. Not sure what I was thinking there - suspect I just grabbed a zip I had to hand.
So now, a year later, I was sorting out my fabric pile and came across a bit of leftover linen from it. It’s a beautiful pistachio green that I got from C & H Fabrics. The piece was too small to make something else with but just big enough that I didn’t want to throw it away.
Then, inspiration struck - what is the best thing to do when you make a mistake that you can’t be bothered to fix? Cover it up and pretend it’s not there. (A wonderful life lesson.)
So I made a simple belt - just a rectangle with fastenings - and some belt loops. Mismatched darts miraculously gone. I also made some matching bias binding to replace the neck and armhole facings, and ripped open the skirt side seams and shaved the weird bits off the side. I didn’t change the cut to something tighter though as however misguided its creation was, the skirt is actually pretty comfortable, even if it's not the most stylish shape.
I suppose if I was really keen I could have taken it to pieces and put in a new zip and redo the darts… but I couldn’t quite be bothered to take it that far.
I’m much happier with it now. It’s still not exactly what it would be if I made it today, but it looks much neater.
Update: 2 days after drafting this post I broke the zip. FINE, I'll put in a new zip that is actually green. Universe, I have received the message.