Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Dan to the Rescue!

Dan to the rescue! Part 1

I wasn’t happy with the dress, Simplicity 1458, I entered for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge, as those who read my blog know. I ran out of time to complete it more satisfactorily. I did decide in the end that the dress had a lot more going for it than I originally gave it credit for, though, even though my iteration was poor.  To make it a challenge, I really couldn’t ask for help with it before submission. I don’t count David pinning me into it as helping with the construction etc however invaluable that was.

These are photos of the dress at the point of entry, last Friday. At this stage, the armholes and neckline are finished, so not directly comparable with the later photos.

 Fitting remained the big issue. The dress was unflattering, didn’t have enough shape and was overall too big - I could get it on and off without using the zip. I wasn't sure how much of this was due to me having altered the pattern bodice length and hence the upper side panel lengths, perhaps reducing the amount of shaping they were providing. I assumed that the main problem was in how I had sewn together the junctions at the side - that is the junction between upper and side panels, back and front and junction between back and front. I knew the way I had done this didn’t look as good as it should have done and couldn’t be correct but I had tried several times to improve without any success. I have still not found the instructions but remain hopeful.

Dan reads my blog so is aware of all the issues I was having and my thoughts on the matter.  I took it into her sewing bee last night and asked advice. She agreed it was shapeless and needed to fit into my curves better. She pinned the front princess seams in around the bust and immediately the whole thing looked so much better! She also pinned the back princess seam tighter.

Dan also thought the shoulders looked a bit wide but I had already taken out the finishing , so they are ⅝” wider than finished width and when she turned in on the marks which are still present, she thought it was fine.

I needed to use the zip to get it off! Much better already.

David kindly took some photos of the pinned dress. He thinks it is too tight now, which in part explains why he pinned it less tightly originally. I like it much better, though

This is simply pinned, so there are some drag lines and it's crushed as was in my bag.
Armholes and neckline are raw edges with full seam allowance of 5/8"

It's sunny outside - you can see how thin the fabric is

You can see that I wasn't comfortable standing in this position!

It now seems to be shorter at the back

These are not vanity photos!!

A number of the other bees commented that they liked the dress, particularly the colour, which is lovely, but also the style. I thought the fabric was too thin and needed a lining but the others said that it had looked fine in class - in the sunshine in my photos, that's not the case!

I also asked Dan about the zipper. I noticed that when I was doing the neckline finishing (which by this time I had taken out again ready to dismantle the dress) that I couldn’t turn the full seam allowance at the zipper area. I asked Dan if I had put the zip in too high and she agreed that this was the case - there just wasn’t the full seam allowance available. So I will take the zip out too. It doesn’t need dropped that much but will also give me a chance to get rid of that little kink at the bottom of the zip. Practice always helps.

We didn’t actually touch the side seams at this stage. I will alter things the way we have discussed and eventually I’ll be able to alter the side junctions with a bit more faith that things will work.

The other question I had was whether the dress would be better on me with a little less flare. Dan helpfully pointed out that this would depend on the fabric used. A flowy, drapey fabric could take this amount of flare, a stiffer fabric less so. So I haven’t changed this.

I will also make it a little longer - perhaps more so at the back. I'll need to look at what the problem there is, though I suspect it's me filling it out too much!

I’ve posted a picture of the dress before Dan’s pinning and after her pinning and eventually hopefully I’ll be able to post a much more finished version.

I will be treating this as fitting toile so I won't be making the facings or a lining at this stage as that’s really not necessary. A lining should be pretty straightforward. If I do the facings, I know of course that the pattern for them will  need to modified as I have modified the dress. Which fabric I use will determine which method I go for, I think.

Tartan skirt McCall’s 7022
In the sewing bee, I cut out the skirt pattern in calico to make a toile for Helen. I was interested that both Dan and Rory are anticipating that I might be very pernickety with matching etc (yes, I do plan to be!). I got the impression that Dan might be more up for this than Rory, though I expect to do most of this at home. I’d like to get a first fitting toile ready to post to Helen soonish. She can pin and let me know what needs to be done. I can’t really use Missy as I don’t think she is close enough to Helen now. I’m not worried about the sides, but obviously a bias yoke needs to fit well to look good. Rory suggested I’d be better cutting in gingham rather than plain calico as it would be easier to see how things lie - the pleats are not parallel with the grainline, particularly as I'll be using tartan for the final version and will need to adjust the pleat width to fit in with the tartan sett. I don’t have any gingham at present so I’ll make do with the calico for the first toile. My next fabric shopping trip will include buying some gingham.


I also discussed with Dan that I wanted to make a pair of trousers to fit me and we explored the different ways to do this. I will be pursuing this in the sewing bee over the course of several weeks. It seems to me that concentrating all my fitting issues into a very short space of time is very off-putting so I’ll dilute this with other projects! For this, though, I definitely need her help. I might be ready to start this in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Pie crust promises?

I’ve decided I’m not going to enter any more competitions/contests!  Well, that’s not no more, ever - just no more unless I was planning to make whatever, in any case. I feel a lot happier.

I've been so caught up in contests that I've lost sight of what I wanted to do for myself. David pulled me up on this over this weekend. He's quite right of course.

PR Sewing Bee

I couldn’t cope with the time pressures of the PR Sewing Bee. You’ll certainly never find me on GBSB!! I hadn't intended to enter the Sewing Bee but I had to when the required make was  apir of shorts! The first round was fine as I was going to sew Joanne another pair of shorts using the pattern I had made for her and which led to well fitting shorts, anyway. So it was no great problem to make up a pair in a short time scale. I knew how to do it and had completed a pair just a couple if weeks earlier. The biggest problems were getting the materials and my carelessness. Joanne was certainly pleased to get another pair, though she might have preferred them to be more different from the first pair so that everyone would stop thinking she wears the one pair all the time! I tried to get a different colour of double georgette (possible online, not locally) but haven’t been able to resource matching guipure lace. In any case, Joanne likes black! She has to wear black to work, too.

I didn’t expect to get through to the second round, though of course I was delighted. I had real problems with this round - finding a pattern, getting materials, getting any inspiration whatsoever, and finding the time to sew (when I didn't really want to!). In the end, my garment was pretty simple and lacked any inspiration, being made up exactly as per pattern. It’s no wonder it didn’t make it to the third round! I have worn it, though! I love the fabric.

I was disappointed, sure, when I didn't make it through - but mighty relieved as my time has been particularly short this last week. That and that I didn’t like the pattern chosen - the Colette Rue. Initially the contestants had to make a dress putting their own spin on it but keeping it clearly a Rue but that has changed slightly and they can now make any garment. However, I’ve been reading some posts about this pattern. It seems to be very badly drafted and there are all sorts of fitting problems with it. People who don’t usually make toiles have been making 5 even 7 toiles! There is a lot of activity on the forum. I have such problems with fitting anyway that I am very glad not to be trying this one. Also, I think the Colette patterns are aimed at a younger clientele. I can’t see me suiting this design. Most of the Colette patterns I have seen made up appear to have fitting issues so I’ve never been eager to make any - though I do have the Colette book.

Simplicity Sewing Challenge

I had months to enter the Simplicity Challenge - and kept procrastinating or getting involved with other things. I feel bad (embarrassed) that I have blogged about a dress when I am far from happy with it. I ended up doing it as quickly as one of the PR sewing bee rounds, when that wasn’t necessary, rather shouldn’t have been necessary, except that I had completely run out of time. What I have is a toile. Yes, I can wear it - around the house, certainly not outside! Given a while longer, and some help from my sewing tutor, I could make this into a very acceptable dress. I may well try this. I may well  post  a review on PR if I take it to the next stage. Obviously, I ‘d have to use a fabric with more body

Sewing Dare

I still have to complete the sewing dare - mine is to remake a previous garment. I still plan to remake my ‘white dress’. I have got as far as altering the pattern after making adjustments to the pattern. Yes, this is something I want to do.

Toile for modification. It's not far away.
I prefer this shape on me to the A-line skirt I made in the sma efabric for the last challenge I entered

 Helen wants me to give her a pattern that fits me perfectly - she wants to make up a dress for me in the fabric she has bought, as a thank you for making her wedding dress. No, Helen doesn’t sew and doesn’t go to a class, so I’m not sure how well this will work out, but the thought is there! So I need to move on with this fitting. I think my white dress (shown above as a toile in turquoise!) will be a nice shape for her though I don't know what the fabric is like, so a non-princess seamed dress could be better.

What I really want to do

However, what I want to do for myself/family is
  • I have been distracted by contests and haven't got around to sorting out my blocks properly, given that I have gained weight (I plan to lose it again but I find this hard). I want to sort out at least a bodice block.
  • Make a well fitting pair of trousers (pants). It’ll take a while. I have some fitting patterns, a Craftsy class, any number of books and help from my tutor at the sewing bee, hopefully.
  • Make a jacket following my tailoring course. I’ll get help in class with fitting and any constructional issues. As I’m retired, I prefer a smart casual jacket rather than a tailored suit jacket. I took some patterns in and my tutor has approved two. I rather favour Vogue 1036, view B, in a nice wool, not the denim recommended. All the reviews I have seen have used denim - this is seen very much as a Jeans jacket but seeing the lines, I hope to create something less casual but still with the casual vibe and the lovely sleeve seaming 
I love the seaming on the sleeve of the white version B

B is my choice

  • Before this, though, I want to make up what I think should be an easy pattern - the Cashmerette Concord T shirt. I won this in a giveaway run by Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic.  It comes with FBAs already done in C/D, E/F and G/H so sewing it should be easy.I finally managed to get it printed out today (I've had some home network problems recently). It’s for a knit fabric so I’ll get that washed some time next week. I have plenty of suitable fabrics in my out-of-hand stash! Looking at their sizing recommendations, I plan to make the  16C/D. The recommendations are based on full bust size and I could have gone for a smaller size but there is a fair bit of negative ease and I feel a bit wary about that. I wondered about the next cup size up but in the end decided to go with the recommendations.
Joanne likes the pink version (in black of course) while I prefer the other

Various versions are available
  • Joanne arrived for a visit today and she quite fancies a Concord tee shirt in the short sleeved, scoop necked version - in black, of course! I don’t have any black stretch fabric (black isn’t one of my colours) but I’ll see what I can do.
  • Last year I was going to make Helen a fully pleated skirt in our family tartan but because of the wedding didn’t get past the test garment. I had a few issues with that test garment and wasn’t sure how to resolve them. We have now chosen a pattern with two box pleats on each side, front and back, and a bias yoke and I think fitting will be easier with this. Also, a fully pleated skirt in heavy tartan is quite a weight and this will be lighter.

Helen likes the shorter version. This will either be for her birthday in November or for Christmas.

Helen likes version A
  • Note - other than Helen's skirt I am not setting any time scales - realistic or otherwise!

So, I’m not going to enter the PR handbag contest (I don’t have a pattern for the golf handbag I want to replace and don’t feel up to making one up) or the outerwear contest (I’ve never done anything along these lines and feel I need a bit of help - not possible of course in the contest; and fitting!), though I may do the menswear contest later in the year. Just maybe! The one good thing to be said about contests is that they really give me a time frame.

This weekend, I have done virtually nothing. Watched the Ryder Cup - the USA team won, deservedly so. Wrote this blog post, edited my last. I’m starting to feel a bit better after the bug I’ve had. I’ve cancelled the game of golf I had tomorrow, just 9 holes followed by afternoon tea - but I’m still going for afternoon tea. I think I was trying to push too much into too little time. Joanne is here for a few days and that’s lovely. I did a bit of cooking today, she’ll do a bit, we’ll have some board games and some trips and it will be very relaxing - we all need that.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Simplicity Sewing Challenge - part 3. final part

This is the final part of my blog posts for the Simplicity sewing Challenge. Please read the other 2. Part 1 here and part 2 here. Then this one continues on.

I'd now sewn two toiles/muslins. My last post detailed the changes I made following the first toile.
I made the second toile from a patterned cotton,  for a change and to distinguish between the two.

David was my fitting buddy.
  • Excess fabric was pinned from bust point up to shoulder and from bust point down to waist
  • Excess fabric was pinned at back princess seam line between back and side back
  • The lengths of the side panels didn't match - extra fabric was turned under in back upper side panel, making it shorter.
  • When the front was pinned to the correct length,  fabric was about ½” shorter than it needed to be
  • I didn't pin the back length - or rather,  didn't get David to pin it. I decided to remove the excess length later.
Really,  there were now no major fitting issues, though quite a few tweaks were still necessary. Lenght issues were sorted out, or at least I hoped they were! The toile had been made up with 1” side seams

I altered the pattern:
  • Taking in excess fabric as detailed above, ensuring the front central panel stayed straight,  so most of the excess fabric taken from very curved side upper panel.
  • Reducing front side princess seam allowances to ⅜” for easier sewing later
  • Reducing side seams to ⅝” (though I ended up using the 1" allowance, anyway)
  • While modifying line of bust,  I slightly lowered bust point and added more fullness there as I thought from the toile this was necessary (see later - this was a mistake)
  • Lengthening front length
  • Truing upper side panels
  • I still wasn't 100% sure about the fitting at the side. i had lost the instructions (I still haven't found them and I'm sure this would have helped!)
I was at my tailoring class tonight (Wednesday 28th September) and took the opportunity to ask Dan if she agreed with my steps and whether she thought crepe-back satin or crepe rather than cotton would be best to make it up with. She felt this was the case.

So the next step is actually making up the pattern in the real fabric. Make or break moment, really!

The real deal
Front view. It looks better in real life!
Well, I was running way behind, as you are well aware. Unfortunately, too, I had a minor bug for a couple of days which stopped me sewing.

I made up the pattern pieces cut out of my single crepe in turquoise, used before, as I felt that as I had experience of that, it would be easier than trying out a new pattern in crepe back satin (which in any case hadn't been washed - I assume you wash it?) At this stage, I decided to go with the 1" side seams as recommended in the pattern as I still wasn't sure about the junction at the sides.

There was too much space at the bust apex (my mistaken alteration earlier) and just below and the back princess seam was too wide over the bodice.

I pinned (or rather got David to pin) the sides at an appropriate point. I was disappointed to see that the end of the front upper side panel didn’t meet exactly with the front upper side panel. I resolved to change that and made some alterations to the pattern.

I then took the tacked dress to pieces again. I should say that I tacked/basted the dress together using the basting stitch on my machine, after I had hand basted on the bust panels only. I had never used this stitch in earnest. It basically stitches every 4th stitch so the stitches are 4 times longer than you would normally get. Easier to get out but doesn’t hold as well as it might otherwise. The seams look a bit puckered. But much faster than hand basting.

I marked the dress where it needed altered and made these alterations when the dress had been taken to pieces.

I feel that one potentially big disadvantage of this method is that the fabric is inclined to get a bit overworked and could stretch or distort. I'm not sure really how big a problem that was with me, but I think it was a part of my issue.

I went ahead and sewed the dress up using the final stitching. Last night (Thursday 29th) I went into town and bought new thread and a zipper of a better colour than I had in my stash. This was the same zipper that I had problems with before - the teeth were a little bit chunky for my invisible zipper foot. I resolved that I might have to put in differently or just use a transparent zipper and use nail varnish on the tab (I bought some specially for this purpose). I put some interfacing on the wrong side where the zipper goes. The zipper ended up going in okay though it needed more than a little persuasion! If it hadn’t been for the colour, I wouldn’t have bought this brand and will steer clear in future if I can.

As an aside, I found that I could actually take the dress on and off without using the zipper, so there you go! I guess that shows that the dress is really too big for me?

Back view. My zip was pretty good but I see that kink at the bottom of the zip. I did pres and then iron it before I wore it, but I was sitting around before these photos.

I decided against narrowing the dress at the sides at this stage (I had marked on the pattern but not transferred to fabric), though I do feel that on me it would be more flattering narrower - that is, straighter rather than A-line. Again, at this stage I was just trying to get it finished.

My biggest issue by far was  the side where the upper side front and back meet at the side seam line. I really struggled to get the two sides lying properly and matched. This was not helped by the fact that I have lost the instructions for the pattern!

I eventually managed but then had to take some in at the side after the event as the dress was just too roomy in the bodice section at this point. To be honest, it probably needs more taken out here. In the photo the match doesn't look at all good. That front seam looks pretty bad. I'll improve that in a future version.
Close up of junction at side

I had decided to make a full lining but had problems cutting out my lining. I won’t go into that! All to do with trying to do it too quickly! I decided I didn’t have time to redo and would just go with bias binding at the neck and armholes. Fortunately I still had some left of the perfect colour. The actual pattern uses facings but I felt my fabric had needed a lining, though unlike many people I do like me a facing! I no longer had time to do the facings.

Out of focus photo of bias binding. Sorry, too tired to redo

Another point I will make is that the pressing took ages. There is considerably more shaping in each of these princess seams that there appears to be at first sight. More on the back, even, than the front.

I'm trying to show the marked difference between edges to be joined (back of dress)

Next time, if I was starting again, I would be tempted to use the 'average' body parts rather than the 'curvy' as I didn't need some of the extra space allowed where it was given.

I found the dress was a little shorter than I had planned so rather than the 1.25" hem allowance, I folded up by 5/8" ans folded in the raw edge, then top stitched. I felt top stitching would be okay as there was the same at neckline and armholes.

I will enter this dress into the challenge as that is why I was making it at this stage and in this way. You might feel I shouldn't have entered it or posted here as there are still too many issues with the dress. I agree but decided to go ahead anyway. Please do make comments about how you feel I could imprve a future version - or comment on whther you feel \I should make a future version! It won’t do anything in the competition, however. I ran out of time to insert the piping I was going to make (not made so no chance of doing this at the last minute!). Piping had to be inserted only if you were sure of the fit, which I wasn't and am still not happy with it. A future version will have piping, probably.


I think this pattern has real potential. You will remember that I wasn’t at all sure about it to start with as I didn’t feel the dress on the pattern envelope fitted the model (I thought the shoulders were too wide for her) and didn’t look good. I wondered if it was fit or whether this wasn’t a good style for someone of my build.

What did I do to the pattern?
  • I had to lengthen the front to drop the bust point and the waist.
  • Note that this was the most difficult part. If I hadn't had to do this, the pattern would have fitted together perfectly and I wouldn't have had difficulty at the side seam. I think my changes are incorrectly trued or presumably it would still have fitted together okay.
  • I increased the bust shaping by moving the outside princess seam in towards the bust point and adding to the side.
  • I made the front princess seams less A-line shape, taking away fabric from the front centre and adding to the side front. I have posted about these already. I didn't, however, reduce the side seams in the dress, though drew in my referred line on the pattern for a future occasion.
  • I used a bigger size for the 'skirt' section.
I think I will regard this dress as a ‘wearable muslin’ for a future try with a few changes made. If I had been able to find my nice heavy crepe (hangs head in shame - I’m afraid my stash is completely disorganised; that must change), I would likely have used the facings. Otherwise, I’d do a better lining than I achieved today. This fabric I used today is too thin not to have a lining. I really don't like this fabric - fortunately, I don't have enough left now to do anything significant with it. True, it would have looked much better with the lining.

I need to get some photos and get them posted quickly. I want to see some of the Ryder Cup though Europe is doing very poorly, sadly. My photos are pretty poor, sadly. Late at night, poor light, unwell model who doesn't want to dilly dally! On the positive side, Europe has picked up this session, after the whitewash by the USA team in the first session. I don't think I can stay up to watch the end (US 6 hours behind us) as I'm too tired - but hope to wake up to good news.

I have edited the post to correct a couple of typos and add a touch of detail. I had to get it in quickly or forget about it. As I received the pattern free of charge from Simplicity for the challenge, I felt I was duty bound to go ahead to post. Quite a few people have read the original post but I don't have any comments. Please don't be afraid to criticise!! I'm a big girl and value observations and helpful tips. I'm well aware of the deficiencies of my dress here. I think this dress was much harder to fit than I anticipated.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Simplicity Sewing Challenge - part 2

I've been busy doing other things - okay, and procrastinating - and I may not get this challenge finished. I've really fallen down on taking photos during the process. Too bad, can't be changed now! I looked really bad and pretty miserable in the photos I took for the PR Sewing Bee because of pain from a dry socket, funny name. It's getting a bit better, less painful with antibiotics and painkillers but I still don't feel at all photogenic - then I never am! I'll take photos of the pattern pieces tomorrow in the daylight.

I've found fitting much more difficult than I anticipated (as predicated by Kate). I did take it to my sewing bee a few weeks ago to get an opinion but unfortunately, I haven't had it back since - and I don't have any more sewing bees left before the dress is due in.

Taken from the Simplicity website. The other photo, of the same girl, with piped princess seams on the dress as per pattern envelope, wasn't on the site. This version appears to fit her a little better.
I didn't like the photograph on the envelope of the plus size pattern I am using. 

I don't think the dress fits the model. Or maybe this style of dress isn't suitable for a plus size person? The line drawings look great and the photo on the regular sized envelope looks good as far as I can see. I am extremely wary about the dress's suitability for my figure.

This is the pattern envelope from the smaller size range

I rather like the line drawings. It's the same pieces whether a sleeve is added or not

I was pretty good and read all the instructions before I changed things!

My pattern is sizes 20W - 28W+. By high bust measurement, I fit into the size 20W, although I often use a size 18 if I am making from the smaller size range, even if there is a 20 available. I am quite wide shouldered. There isn't much difference between my high bust and my full bust - only 2" - which means that I should fit into the regular cup size in regular patterns and here. I know I don't, though. My bra size is 36DD. The suggestion from the pattern was that I cut the 20 cup size C (based on difference between full bust and high bust in the plus size range) - I decided to go for the D, not the DD which was also an option. The instructions do point out that you have to consider your body shape when making your choices.The cup sizes refer to the front only.

The back pattern pieces come in slim, average and curvy. My hips measure at two sizes above the pattern piece given measurements, which means that I am a 'curvy' person and so used the curvy fit pieces. I've only once before used an Amazing Fit pattern (a skirt) and found the curvy hip pieces too curvy but I did as recommended.

Okay then. I started to trace the pattern pieces but realised I really didn't have enough time so have cut directly into and altered the pattern tissue. Terrible!

The next instruction is to lengthen the pattern pieces as necessary. I had big problems here. I needed to lengthen the shoulder to bust point by 2.25". I've been reading Joi Mahon's 'Create the Perfect Fit' and tried her methods.

This is a nice spiral bound book inside the hardcover

So I altered the front and back independently.


I cut across the upper side front pattern piece and added in the required amount - 2.25" By Joi's method, this adds a lot of depth to the armscye. The Palmer Pletsch method would cut out a box and slide down keeping everything properly aligned. This method does not alter the armhole depth. However, because I am longer from my shoulder to the armscye (I'm 5'11" not 5'6" which is what patterns are designed for) I do actually need to drop the armscye anyway. So I went with Joi's method and waited until later to build the armscye back up to an appropriate place.

Raised and altered armscye on upper side front

Here you can see the lengthening affecting the armscye, the altered armscye and the area above the bust point

Because I have lengthened by quite a bit - this of course is the same alteration used to lower the bust point, though my bust point is not disproportionately low, or just a little as I get older - the upper chest line is rather distorted. I was going to follow the Palmer Pletsch method to draw the curve but in the end, didn't at that stage as at the sewing bee Dan said I could take that in later if required - extra fabric would be added which could easily be removed later. Easier to take fabric away than add it!
The purple line is the line that I would have cut following the PP method.
I went with the cut area in the meantime. Quite a difference!

The alteration the way I did it, following Joi's method, lowers the whole of the dress below the cut and also brings the waistline into a more reasonable position. The Palmer Pletsch method actually reduces the distance from bust point to waist. I am also long bust to waist. More of my extra length is in my torso rather than my legs. My front waistline is rather lower than the back.

I also had to alter the front and side front to match.

Originally, I also lengthened a little below the waist to add to the skirt length. Not by much at the front. The length back and front does not match.


By Joi's method, I worked out where my 'full back' was and lengthened the upper part of the back to suit. However, in this case, I had to raise the waistline point by a little, to get it falling in the correct place.
Slight lengthening of back piece

All back pieces were altered similarly.

However, the waist points need to match at the side seam. I looked at the upper side panels. Now the front panel was considerably longer than the back. I decided I liked the length of the longer one better. I therefore lengthened the back upper side panel. This meant also altering the curve into which it fitted.

Altered side back curve. I had to add to side seam as I had tapered to larger size at hips too late, I thought


I adjusted the armscyes to match front and back. This meant raising the front armscye quite a bit. I think the armscye in the original pattern was a little low for me - I don't want to be showing the side of my bra! This pattern has the same basic armhole shape whether or not you are making the sleeveless version, as I am, or the version with sleeves.

Princess seam lines

In my sewing bee I had discussed the princess seam lines. Now I love princess seams - they are great for fitting and I think the long lines are fairly slimming.

However, in this case I disliked the shaping of the front seams and discussed this with Dan. They flared out much too much for my liking. I pinned the tissue pieces together to try to judge fit and how they would lie. When I pinned the front tissue piece to the side front tissue piece, it appeared as if there was no shaping whatsoever. This seemed very strange at that position but was not so surprising on another level as there didn't appear to be much bustline shaping on the model, judging by the photo. Dan suggested pinning these two pattern pieces together, cutting as one when I made the toile and later deciding on the princess design line as that is what it appeared to be, rather than a true princess seam with integral shaping.

Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of shaping included in the rear princess seam and the same option was not available. These were going to be cut as per pattern. I was a little concerned that the dress would look rather odd, being so different front to back, but was reassured that this would be fine. I was also a little worried about altering the front by too much so that it didn't resemble the original pattern at all.

Tissue Fitting

It looked as if I needed additional fabric at the front upper side seam so I added additional here.

First toile/muslin

I went ahead with my first toile, using plain calico.

As recommended by the Amazing Fit pattern instructions, I used 1" seam allowances on all side seams and 5/8" seam allowances elsewhere - in other words, as per pattern.

I found that there was actually some shaping built into the front/side front pattern pieces so decided to cut them separately. They didn't lie as smoothly as it seemed they had originally.
I don't have a photo of me wearing this first toile. Apart from length changes, this is pretty much as per pattern.

The fit wasn't too bad. Certainly better than I thought it was going to be.

I did make a number of changes to the pattern following this:
  • I really didn't like where the front princess seam was lying and got David to draw in a more pleasing, for me, line.
  • I felt the skirt was too flared for my liking and I decided I wanted it slimmed down a little - not to a straight skirt as this would perhaps take too much away from the original design concept.
  • The front length was too long by quite a bit so I took away the length I had added to the pattern and more - I had to tuck up on a shorten line which I had to draw. Again I had to do this on all pattern pieces. I didn't change the back length at this stage.

As I realised that I was going to make quite major changes to the pattern following this, I didn't go too far with fit and just made the above changes to the pattern with a view to making another toile.

Pattern changes

This almost all was on the front pieces.
  • I moved the princess seam on the front closer to the centre below the upper side panel. This meant that I had to take away from the centre front and add to the side front at their junction. I still had to keep a smooth line.
    Not easy to see. This shows the side front panel with the added portion taken from the front panel to alter the princess seam. The pieces had been shortened by folding the fabric, independently hence the odd folding, which I am in the process of removing as I need an extra 1/2" in front length.
  • I took in a little at the hem of the sides (front and back) and tapered back to zero at the top of that piece (which joined to upper side front). I didn't take in as much as we had measured as I reckoned I would be better altering to suit later.

Second (and final) toile

I'll do that in the next post - I'm still making the pattern changes necessary but am taking a break away from sewing to write this post. I should say this toile has already been dismantled so you won't see me in it!