Saturday, 8 January 2011

Crepe Sew Along - progress so far

So my first project of the New Year is taking part in the Crepe Sew Along, organised by the incredibly talented Gertie. I took part in her Lady Grey Sew Along last year and enjoyed it immensely. It was challenging for a relatively new sewer like myself, but I didn't really come across any vast problem mountains to climb and I was making a coat, so I figured that a wrap around dress would be simple in comparison. I believe I may have spoken too soon! (I'm also a few posts behind with the sew along at the moment as I have only recently returned home and had access to my sewing machine)

I purchased a beautiful mink coloured cotton/silk mix for this dress with the same fabric in black for the contrasting sash, the fabric is so soft and has a gorgeous subtle twinkle under the light. So I was excited to see what the final dress would look like, having fallen head over heels in love with the raw materials! However, before I could go "whack whack" into the fabric, I needed to make up my muslin and try it for fit. Now being a UK girl - and not used to American dress sizes - I wasn't quite sure which size to pick initially, but from my measurements I decided to go for a size 4, as it would fit my hips and although it would be bigger on my waist and bust I was sure I could alter the muslin and then the pattern accordingly. Rookie mistake. When I tried on this muslin I literally felt like I was swamped in fabric. Now I'm no expert on altering things so this sight did start to make me panic, but I decided to soldier on regardless of my fear and so started taking in little tucks here and there to improve the fit. Well I had so many pins sticking in me I felt like a hedgehog! I felt as if there had to be a simpler way to make the muslin fit, so I decided to do what I'm sure I should have done in the first place - instead of just cutting out one size in the bodice, I transitioned between several different sizes to get the best possible fit. And so I made my second muslin.

My second muslin ended up being a size 2 at the waist and a size 0 at the bust, and as I tried it on I prayed there would be less that needed to be changed. Well there were less alterations needed than before, but I was still snowed under by the amount of changes I needed! I was convinced that by needing to change the pattern so much I must be doing something wrong. I'm so used to doing exactly what the instructions of something say, so taking a pattern piece and drawing all over it and even - quelle horreur! - cutting into it with scissors was a little bit much for me to handle! I wasn't sure whether my heart could take it! Anyway, after almost two days of working on my pattern, tracing, cutting, slashing and redrawing lines, I finally had a new copy of each bodice pattern piece adjusted and ready to make muslin number 3.

Muslin 3 Front

Muslin 3 Back
And it fits!! Hooray! Hurrah! Huzzah! I was so happy I could barely contain myself! I didn't want to take this muslin off because it finally fits! All together I lowered both the neck line and the back, took up the shoulders, took in the side seams, lowered the bust darts, altered the waist darts for a more flattering finish, took up a tuck in the back and lowered the arm holes for comfort. Now if you're an experienced seamstress that may not sound like much, but to me it was my first real challenge and I couldn't be prouder of myself. This has made me realise that panic in these situations is really not necessary, as the worst thing that could happen is that you go back to the drawing board. And the drawing board is a nice, familiar place, so I really don't mind going back there.

I've faced my first challenge of my project and have overcome it, and I can hardly wait to start piecing this dress together for real! My fabric is being pre-washed as we speak, so it won't be long before I get my shears out and go to town. I'll keep you posted on this dress' development, but meanwhile have a great weekend!

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