Checking In (with a lack of finished projects)

Now with pictures!

You wouldn’t know if from looking here, but I have been sewing. I promise! I spent last week working on the Gail dress from Burdastyle, along with Grosgrain’s Frock by Friday. I am less than pleased with the result, and the dress is still unfinished.

Gail Dress

I look about as happy as I feel.

I learned four important things on this project:

  1. If I’m not excited about a pattern/project at the start, I probably shouldn’t devote a week of my life to it. I’m no more excited by this dress at the end.
  2. I hate working with silky materials. Seriously hate.
  3. I shouldn’t do a sew-along. I like reading through all of the instructions before starting, which I couldn’t do with this sew-along. Sometimes an individual instruction doesn’t make sense to me unless I can see where everything’s going.
  4. I should never sew when I’m tired. Actually, I already knew that one.



Original Gail

The original Gail dress (what I used for the top)

Modcloth dress

The Modcloth dress Kathleen used as inspiration.

I don’t know if I can possibly recount all of the mistakes I made on this dress, some of which are still there. I started off on a bad foot with this one because I could not make up my mind whether to do the original Gail or Kathleen’s modified version on Frock by Friday. So I spent Monday taping and cutting other Burda patterns instead of working on this dress. I finally decided to do the top from the original version, with an elastic waist like the modified version, so I cut my fabric on Tuesday. I don’t know about you, but I find that cutting takes a long time, especially cutting something slippery like the satiny material I was using for this dress.


What should have been an elastic waist.

I finally got around to sewing on Wednesday. Sewing up the sides of the bodice and skirt was easy. Next up was the elastic waist. And I immediately made a mistake. Kathleen clearly says: “pull your elastic taut as you sew it to your lace.” But I missed that, and I just sewed the lace onto the elastic and sewed the bodice and skirt onto the waist (with way too little seam allowance). And then I sewed up the back. Kathleen said I didn’t need a zipper if I was using an elastic waist, so I didn’t add one.

At that point, it looked like a fairly pretty strapless dress (although, of course one that wouldn’t stay up on its own), so I decided to try it on for fit. And that’s when I discovered my elastic mistake because the dress was much too tight to put on. It would have taken a lot of work to re-do the waist (and I HATE seam ripping), and I would have needed a longer piece of lace to do it properly, so I left that and added a zipper to the back instead. I actually like the look of the zipper, which matches perfectly, but I’m sad that the elastic is wasted on this project, since it’s essentially just working like normal fabric.


The flipped-up hem.

On Thursday, I hemmed the dress very poorly. The slippery fabric made my usual burrito hemming difficult, and I ended up with the hem flipping up a bit in the front. That’s fixable with some seam ripping, but I haven’t bothered to fix it yet. I also finished the lace, using Kathleen’s toilet paper method. That worked well and looks nice, except that I still have toilet paper stuck in the lace. I wasn’t excited enough about this project to try to get that perfect, but I will come back to it at some point.

On Friday I was excited to finally finish this project. Except that I didn’t finish it. I sewed the lace and facing onto the bodice. That was MUCH more difficult than I had envisioned and led to a lot of quality time with the seam ripper. The problem is that in some place, the lace goes between in the bodice and the facing, and in other places, the facing goes directly onto the bodice, and I had a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around what went where. Oh, and I used a 1/4″ seam allowance for reasons I couldn’t begin to explain to you or to myself. I put the wrong side of the facing toward the body. I kept thinking it didn’t matter because the fabric was basically the same on the two sides, but I forgot about the facing seams, which now show on the inside. Figuring out how to wrap the facing around the zipper was also a head-scratcher, but I did eventually get it right.


Loose lace. Not a good look.

At that point the dress was basically done except for buttons (which frighten me). Even with the mistakes, I could have been happy with the project if it was a cute dress. But I put it on and found that the top was completely ill-fitting. The lace was just too loose and didn’t sit flush against my upper chest like it should have. I was too disappointed to go on and just left it as it. I *think* the problem is my too-small seam allowance at the top of the bodice, which left the lace part too big.

Back of dress.

Note the zipper. and the missing buttons. And the toilet paper stuck to the lace.

I do want to finish this dress, even if I don’t know where I’d wear it, so here’s what needs to be done:

  1. Fix hem
  2. Re-do top with larger seam allowance
  3. Remove toilet paper from lace
  4. Add button loops
  5. Add buttons

Sounds like a lot of work for a dress that has already taken a week! I think the worst thing is that Kathleen ended the week saying: “This dress was so much more easier than I thought.” Sigh.

Gail Dress

How the dress *should have* looked.

I have very nearly completed the Star Trek dress. I haven’t decided if I’m happy with it or not. In any case, it deserves its own post, coming soon.

And I have cut out the fabric for my Beignet dress, which I will start sewing tonight. It looks fairly easy(!), if I can just get over my fear of buttons. 🙂


One response to “Checking In (with a lack of finished projects)

  1. Pingback: October Progress Report | Kelly Learns to Sew

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