How Not To Make A Dress

My Wednesday sewing buddy was having a clear out of her fabric cupboard and unearthed some fairly thin stripy jersey fabric which I commandeered to make pull on pyjama pants (or slob around pants as they are known in our house) for me and one of my Madamoiselles.  There was still loads left so I thought it might make a light and easy to wear  (not to mention free) summer dress and remembered the pattern by Deer and Doe – ‘Reglisse’ – which I have made before and  is a versatile and comfy dress although it uses a lot of fabric as it is cut on the bias and the neckline and hem are finished with more than 4 metres of bias tape.

reglisse dress pattern

My tips for how not to make a dress are these:

1.  Use totally different fabric from that recommended so that the instructions don’t match what you are having to do in real life.

2. Use stripy fabric in order to make life more difficult

3.  When cutting out and trying to match stripes completely forget that the dress has darts and that these must be taken into consideration

4.  Use thin jersey fabric with edges that roll so that the overlocker does all sorts of weird things with the seams

5.  Don’t bother to match the stripes that will be visible across the front and back bodices.  After all the tie will hide the front mismatch and nobody looks at your back anyway and, if they do, you won’t see them sniggering.

6.  If you notice a tiny hole in the fabric, ignore it.  Perhaps a tiny fairy seamstress will appear during the night and fix it for you.

7.  Get the right and wrong sides of the fabric confused and have to redo one sleeve.

However, even having followed all these tips and more,  by some miracle, I did actually produce a wearable dress.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Striped Version

Some good things I did: –

By using a jersey fabric I avoided having to cut the dress on the bias and so didn’t need so much fabric.  I cut the back and front bodice pieces on the fold instead of in two pieces each which avoided the seam down the centre and the matching difficulties. As this is a stretch fabric I remembered to stabilise the shoulder seams with clear elastic tape.  I fixed the tiny pinhole in the fabric by ironing a small piece of lightweight fusible interfacing on the wrong side to prevent it getting any bigger.  I decided, on several occasions, against throwing the whole thing in the bin.

Concentrating on my jaunty rear view pose, surely only the mean spirited among you would notice the fact that the waistband is plain at the front and has a stripe through it at the back.  Not to mention the stripes on the sleeves don’t match.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Striped Stretch Version

and, Oh look!  One side of the bodice doesn’t match (although the other does – honest!) and the armscye is too deep (though that is a bit of  a ‘thing’ with this particular pattern).

Deer and Doe Striped ReglisseHaving just bought a 25m roll of Liberty Lookalike bias tape, the fact that it has red in it was a good enough reason to use it to finish the neckline rather than going out and buying some plain white or red – by this stage I was past caring.  However, I drew the line at using it for the hem and finished that with a double needle stitch instead.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress in JerseyAs it happens, my younger Madamoiselle has her eye on this dress and I did actually make it in her size but she won’t model for me unless I engage in strong arm tactics and/or bribery – and even then only from the shoulders down – so you got me again.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress (2)

 This blue and white version was the first Reglisse I made when I didn’t ‘go maverick’ and I probably get more compliments on this than anything else I’ve made.  The fabric was one euro a metre in the local market and I daresay it has never seen a shred of natural fibre nor an ethical workplace in its life.  I’m sorry about that – I stumbled and fell but am only human.

Next time I will make it in my size and pay for some decent fabric – although 3 metres is a lot.  It’s probably worth it though to save having to faff with buttons and zips and such.  I am getting very lazy in that regard.

Have you ever felt like ditching a project halfway through?  Or even after you’ve finished it?  It can’t just be me can it?


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  1. #1 by Ami on June 7, 2015 - 11:53

    Wow that works so nicely in the stripy jersey! And your other version is gorgeous too! And yep that pattern has VERY low armscyes doesn’t it- I thought it was just me bring prissy and not wanting my bra on show!
    I have been close to throwing my most recent maternity dress (megan Nielsen piña) in the bin several times. But keep powering through! Hope it turns out as lovely looking as your reglisse! 🙂

    • #2 by tialys on June 7, 2015 - 19:59

      Thanks Ami. Just had a look at the Megan Nielsen dress and it looks great. Are you going for the ruffle at the hem? It’s cheekily low cut isn’t it? I like the way the description says you can just pull the neck to one side when nursing – probably best not be on a crowded train when the need arises 😉

  2. #3 by springystitches on June 7, 2015 - 12:17

    This post really made me chuckle! Well done on persevering and the blue dress looks gorgeous – I’m not surprised that you have received so many compliments!

    • #4 by tialys on June 7, 2015 - 20:02

      Thank you and I’m glad I gave you a laugh.

  3. #5 by on June 7, 2015 - 12:21

    I’ve felt like ditching, but never actually done so – what I start, I finish! I like the dress very much, and a blind man would be very glad to see the faults: I couldn’t.

    • #6 by tialys on June 7, 2015 - 20:06

      I’m like that with books. Even though I might come to the realisation that I’m not going to particularly like a book quite early on I always (well, nearly) persevere. Your ‘blind man’ saying made me laugh as it reminded me of a friend of mine who uses it all the time.

  4. #8 by Beth on June 7, 2015 - 12:56

    Wow you did have your work cut out trying to match stripes with darts! I don’t think it’s a problem that the sleeves don’t match, and no one would notice that the back waistband has a stripe in. The other one is beautiful and I imagine easier to make with no matching! You are certainly not the only one to want to ditch a project! But I’m glad you persevered.

    • #9 by tialys on June 7, 2015 - 20:07

      Sometimes I just don’t think a project through enough before I start. I’m just amazed that, in the end, something wearable came out of it.

  5. #10 by katechiconi on June 7, 2015 - 13:20

    My main fault is using fabrics which are too heavy for the application, and consequently the garment is stiff and ungainly. This dress is not nearly as bad as you describe, and I think its main defect, the low armscye, is not your fault but that of the pattern!

    • #11 by tialys on June 7, 2015 - 20:09

      Exactly! That’s what I’m putting the blame on too. I’ll just have to remind my daughter not to wave her arms about when emphasizing a point.

  6. #12 by quiltsandchemo on June 7, 2015 - 18:16

    I love both versions of the dress, and I did not notice any of the oopsies you so clearly pointed out! Since I started quilting, I’ve barely sewn a garment–so now who’s lazy? Good job all around, I say!

    • #13 by tialys on June 7, 2015 - 20:12

      Thank you! I left dressmaking to one side for a long time when I got into patchwork – that’s probably why I’m not as proficient as I should be (in either of them!!).

  7. #14 by Jan Marriott on June 8, 2015 - 00:25

    pretty pink stripes…..

    • #15 by tialys on June 8, 2015 - 18:50

      They are red actually Jan – the fabric actually reminds me of a tube of signal toothpaste.

  8. #16 by Joan on June 8, 2015 - 16:30

    You are not alone in wanting to pitch it in half way through. I gave up making regular clothes as I was never happy with the fit. Making robes, gowns, and house things like pillows and coverlets, etc. was much more satisfying.
    Your dresses, however turned out great. Both of them look wonderful on you.

    • #17 by tialys on June 8, 2015 - 18:53

      Thank you Joan. I feel like that often and have a sort of mix between doing house type things – patchwork quilts, knitted blankets, etc. and dressmaking. Anyway, I like shopping for clothes far too much to ever rely only on what I make.

  9. #18 by sew2pro on June 8, 2015 - 18:53

    This reminds me of my first ever jersey project. The fabric was white and very cheap so I thought I would make some maternity trousers out of them (yeah, a heavily pregnant woman would look great in baggy white jersey trousers….). Every seam had the lettuce leaf effect. I came close to giving up sewing. Your dress is YSL by comparison.

    • #19 by tialys on June 9, 2015 - 08:40

      Some projects were meant to fail! I bet you’re glad you didn’t give up though as you make some great clothes now – although, now I think of it, I don’t see jersey fabrics making much of an appearance. Are the memories still too raw?

  10. #20 by lovelucie1 on June 8, 2015 - 21:41

    I’d never have noticed all the things you’ve become fixated on! I ALWAYS go through a hate stage. Looks super comfy and lovely and fresh..

    • #21 by tialys on June 9, 2015 - 08:45

      It’s weird that you become much more fussy about details when you make clothes. Things that you would never have noticed before on RTW, become blindingly obvious. It doesn’t help that, if you’re going to blog about something, the faults are there for all to see so I feel I might as well draw attention to them before somebody else does. Although people are generally very generous with compliments on blogs and wouldn’t do such a thing – even though they might think it.

  11. #22 by claire93 on June 16, 2015 - 09:08

    oh I loved your “now not to” advice ^^ I actually thinky the stripey dress looks rather nice but I agree, it is a little on the large size

    • #23 by tialys on June 16, 2015 - 10:03

      Thanks Claire. Luckily, I have a willing recipient!

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