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My Stitches Potpourri Dress

Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with this pattern. And there is nothing wrong with the embroidery designs.

Everything that occurred in the following narrative was totally my doing. My one day dress turned into 4 days. I wish I had taken pictures along the way but I didn’t know at the time that it was going to continue on this path until the bitter end. I was way past aggravated to worry with it.

I hope you learn something from my experience or at least have a little chuckle.

 

I love this long flowing vest. A perfect ‘cover-over’, I call it, to cover the bra-less chest and bulges that show through your clothes.

I selected a rayon challis from my stash that would go with many items in my wardrobe. I know this fabric will be lightweight and drape nicely.

I used a sharp microtex size 8 needle and matching cotton thread.

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Embroidery Thread Colors

I took all these various items out of my wardrobe and matched the embroidery threads to each item. That’s how I selected the thread colors. The embroidery turned out great but for one thing.

    I used the wrong stabilizer. I totally forgot about soft n sheer which is what I should have used for this fabric. What did I use? Medium weight cutaway. It stabilized very well but an outline of it’s cut edge does show a bit. Okay, I will live with that.

Construction

Because this is rayon challis it needs french seams. No problem. They are not difficult to make. But they can be a bit confusing which side the seam will end of on if you don’t pay attention.

For fitting purposes, I put right sides together and basted together the side and shoulder seams of the bodice. I sewed the three skirt seams together with french seams.

    But look! One of the French seams is on the outside. No problem. I cut it off and made another one - correct this time.

I basted the bodice onto the skirt. When I tried it on, it was too big. But it was supposed to be a loose fitting garment. It was just bigger than I thought looked right on me. Also it was much heavier than I expected it to be. Too heavy for what I wanted to use it for.

It doesn’t get very cold here in Houston so I wouldn’t get much wear out of it as a cover-over.  But I decided I would make a pull over dress instead. A dress I would wear by itself. I wear dresses most of the year so I would get much more wear out of it.

 

The Bodice

I took the bodice off the skirt. I sewed the two front cut edges of the skirt into a fourth french seam for a dress skirt. More about this later. I knew I had to work with the bodice to get it to fit for a dress.

I sewed the two front cut edges of the bodice into a french seam for the dress. Hmmm! I don’t usually see a center front seam on a dress but there it is. I will live with it.

I made deeper side seams, tried it on. It fit much better. The neck was too high front and back for a summer dress. So with trial and error I cut off little by little until the neckline was where I wanted it to be.

But the fabric around the armholes is too much. So trimmed of the excess around the armholes. Also they bulge in the front.

Boobs! It needs darts.

 

Darts

My method for making darts in this area is trial and error. It would not have been such a problem if not for the embroidery, the dart had to be short. So with the bodice on  and wrong side out, I folded and pinned, folded and pinned, over and over. Finally one of them worked. I quickly pressed it with the iron so the fold would stay in place.

I drew lines on the folds like darts on a pattern.SPP_100DPI_08_300

    What did I do? I drew them on the right side of fabric and in lead pencil. Nothing I can do about it now. I re-drew it on the back of the fabric. I copied it to the other side of the bodice. I just had to make sure I stitched deep enough to hide the pencil line on the front.

    Well, it shows a little. Thank goodness this is brown fabric.

You can’t press these darts on a flat ironing board. But wait, I have my mother's ham and sausage roll from her tailoring classes. Worked perfectly for ironing the darts into the shape that it was sewn. But that ham needs to behave and stay put in its base.

I’ve had enough. I’ll work on it again tomorrow

 

Next day, I made french seams on the shoulders. That worked out right.

The Bodice Lining

The bodice is lined with the same fabric. But I needed to cut it the same size and shape as the main fabric - the  neckline, armholes, and darts. I took apart the basted seams of the main fabric and used it to cut out the lining the same size. No problem here.

I put the lining fabric together with French seams and sewed the darts.

    But now what? One of the French seams was on the outside! I took it out, press, press, press. Sewed it again, correctly this time.  

Since I sewed up the center front seam of the bodice and lining I could no longer sew the lining and the main fabric together as shown in the pattern where it faces the neck and armholes very nicely. But I could still make the neckline like that and I did. I also added the under stitching. It turned out very nice.

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The Armholes

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Now what to do about the armholes - I decided to add bias binding.

 

    But oh no!! The darts in the lining are on the outside! I took them out and sewed them on the inside of the lining fabric.

 

 

 

 

SPP_100dpi_productImage_09_x300I sewed the lining and main fabrics together around the armhole and trimmed them evenly. I cut bias pieces for the armholes and sewed them together on the diagonal. I pressed and opened the seam, folded the stips  in half and pressed them - like making a quilt binding.

    I sewed the binding to one of the arm holes then realized the binding was too narrow. I had forgotten to double the width. I took the binding off the armhole.

Again, I cut wider bias pieces, sewed them together on the diagonal, pressed the seams open, folded it in half and pressed. This time when I sewed it to the armhole hole it was the perfect width. It wrapped around the raw edges very nicely so I could stitch in the ditch from the front side and secure the fold of the binding on the backside.

Great all the raw edges are tucked away safe and sound on that armhole.

I’ve had all I can take today. I’ll do the other armhole and finish the dress tomorrow.

 

Next day I finished off the other armhole with the bias binding. It came out perfect.

 

The Skirt

Finally, the bodice is fitted and ready to add to the skirt. I gathered each of the 4 sections of the skirt between the dots as noted in the pattern. I eased them onto the bodice. I sewed them together. Yay!

All that remains is to stitch in the ditch between the bodice and the skirt attaching the bottom edge of the lining and I have to make a narrow turned up hem for the dress.

I turned the bodice and skirt right side out. Looking at the embroidery around the bodice, it was looking good.

    But wait! The front center French seam of the skirt is on the outside!!!! Well I can’t cut this one off. I picked out the French seam - it is a long seam!. I spritz and steamed the two cut edges until the needle penetrations are gone.

I then had to trim all the pokies that stuck out along the cut edges. Then I pinned the seam together.

    On my way to the sewing machine I realized I had pinned the first seam right sides together! WRONG! Here I go again. I removed the pins and re-pinned it wrong sides together. I sewed and pressed the first seam.

I sewed the second seam a little deeper this time just in case any pokies were still there. 

    When I turned it right side out - pokies, pokies, pokies, all the way down the seam! I clipped all I could without cutting the fabric. No doubt this is going to need to be done again when it is laundered!

I’m done for now. Maybe I will work on it again later today. All that remains to be done is stitch in the ditch the bottom edge of the lining to secure it and a narrow turned up hem of the dress.

    Didn’t I say that before? What could go wrong?

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This evening I turned up a ⅜” hem on the bodice lining, pinned it to the main fabric so my stitches in the ditch will catch the ⅜” fold keeping all raw edges tucked away. Went like a dream.

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner." - Tallulah Bankhead

 

 

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"Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance." - Charles Lindbergh

Hem

I pressed the dress and tried it on. It’s 2” longer in the front than I like and way too long in back.

So I folded up 2” and that is just right in the front. But is is still longer than I want in the back. I marked 2 inches around the hem, used my rotary cutter, and cut it off. I tried it on. The front is perfect, but the back is still touching my achilles tendons.

I marked 2 inches across the back merging it with the curved side seam length. I cut it off. Shoot! It’s still too long - I look like little orphan Annie. I measured 1 inch more and cut it off the back. Then I cut off the center drop, again merging it with the side cut hem. Perfect!

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I turned up the hem inch and steam pressed. Then turned up another inch and steam pressed it.

I’m a pinner so I pinned it along the pressed hem all the way around. I used a straight stitch to stitch the hem in place.

Of course I pressed it flat first to “set the stitches” - so says Nancy Zieman.

 

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The Last Laugh

You knew there was going to be one!

What now you say?

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While I was wearing it, I kept feeling something sticking in my left shoulder.

    Now what? There is a straight pin tucked away between the two bodice layers and it has a big glass head on it!

    That’s what hammers are for - grins!

    So who got the last laugh?

     

Well it’s not perfect but I love my little dress. I enjoyed wearing it Sunday with a  cream silk turtleneck.

It’s a cute little winter jumper and will be a cool summer dress. So it all turned out good.

Laura Waterfield

 

 

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