The Dress that Nearly broke the Camel’s Back….

…Or mine anyway!Dress pattern

It should have been so easy!  It was a pattern that came free with a sewing magazine that I picked up a while back on a trip to the U.K.  I like the shape with the darts back and front and, who knows, I might even get around to making the jacket one day.  The fabric was bought locally in France  – a rare event – and was reasonably priced but a good quality cotton.

What could go wrong?

Well, almost everything as it happened.

It started off well with lovely neat french seams and I even managed a perfectly acceptable invisible zip insertion but then I decided I didn’t like the facing around the neck.  It made the neckline seem stiff and seemed to be pulling the top of the dress out of shape.   That’s when it all started to go horribly wrong.  Pear shaped, in fact.

Nightmare Dress (2)

I took off the facing and replaced it with bias binding.  Then I didn’t like the way the binding had gone on and, anyway, it turned out that it wasn’t just the facing pulling it out of shape there were other issues too.

Nightmare Dress (3)

The darts were pulling on both back and front.  Crosswise and downwards.  The back was pulling tight either side of the zip.

In some places, it was too big – around the neck for instance and in others, it was too small but only on one side.

Basically, it didn’t fit me.

This trauma was a while ago now – I’ve only just been able to bring myself to blog about it – so I can’t even remember the amount of different fitting issues there were with this dress and the more I messed around with it, the worse it got and the more I hated it.

Nightmare Dress (1)


So I decided, on this occasion, to admit defeat and might give it another go in the Spring (‘perhaps the silly cat will make a muslin next time’ I hear you say!!) but, in the meantime, the fabric has already come in useful here and there and will continue to do so as it’s that sort of fabric – a good blender.

Anvil Block

To get back on that horse  sewing machine before I got too depressed I decided to make an old favourite – Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater dress – which (almost) never fails me and found this knit fabric that I bought in Toulouse before my fabric fast began.  It sort of reminds me of a splodgy impressionist painting.

ProcessSkaterDress (3)

This time I remembered the clear elastic at the waist – my favourite Lady Skater dress (below) has to be pulled down over my body like putting sausagemeat in a skin because I forgot the elastic last time and just used twill tape to stabilize.  Never again.  But it is my favourite so I persevere and hope I never have an accident and have to be taken to hospital wearing this dress because they will have to cut me out of it.

Lady Skater Grey & White (3)

ProcessSkaterDress (1)

Clear elastic – a complete pain to attach but worth it – trust me!

ProcessSkaterDress (2)

The Lady Skater shows you a nice easy way to attach the neckband to the dress – only one shoulder is sewn up – and although you need lots of pins and risk your overlocker’s blade every inch or so (or is that just me?)  the results are nice and neat and you feel a little glow of pride (probably also just me.)

ProcessSkaterDress (4)

So now I’m back on the sewing horse again but I’m in knitting mode at the moment – with a bit of patchwork thrown in – so, although I’m going to make one of these in plain purple for Mlle. T. the Younger, after that I might not be sewing any more clothes until next year.  Although I never say never. Unless it’s something like ‘I’m never (knowingly) going to eat an anchovy again’ or ‘I’m never going on a sea cruise because I know I’ll get hideously sea sick and I don’t think I’d like the onboard entertainment’.

LadySkaterImpressionist (2)

Do you persevere with projects that go horribly wrong or do you always try to put it right?



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  1. #1 by katechiconi on October 13, 2015 - 16:00

    Mostly I try and fix, but I have one notorious UFO quilt in my cupboard which I must one day almost totally unpick… I very rarely sew knit fabrics, I don’t find them terribly comfortable to wear in this climate, but I can see that Lady Skater has become a huge favourite of yours. Maybe one day I’ll discover the Ultimate Dress Pattern for myself, and will make it again and again because it’s so reliable. There’s something very wrong with that grey dress neckline, it almost looks as if they put extra space into the neckline when they balanced the darts…

    • #2 by tialys on October 13, 2015 - 16:44

      To be fair, I’m pretty sure it was my fault for messing with the fitting.

      • #3 by katechiconi on October 13, 2015 - 16:50

        What about those underarm darts, though… If it looks that wrong on the dress form I can only imagine how it looked on… well done for making the best of a bad job!

      • #4 by tialys on October 14, 2015 - 09:06

        Even worse! That’s why I let the mannequin do her stuff.

      • #5 by Liz on October 15, 2015 - 19:26

        I have had exactly the same issue with the neckline on that pattern – I thought with all those seams going into the neckline that it would be easy to adjust for my unusually small above-bust area and to get rid of the excess I get at the CB seam…but no 😦

      • #6 by tialys on October 15, 2015 - 19:42

        It’s a pain – but good to find out you’re not alone 🙂

  2. #7 by sew2pro on October 13, 2015 - 16:05

    I wanted to laugh reading this. Not ’cause I’m some sicko enjoying my daily bit of schadenfreude but because it’s all so familiar. I have just managed to just rescue a dress after a couple of mistakes that turned it into such a long, drawn out project that vaguely reminded me of something… like a bad deja vu… and I now realize it’s that Dahlia feeling all over again.

    But well done on the de-stashing. Both the fabrics you used are lovely, and the first one didn’t go to waste. The latest skater is fab (unusual colours) and really suits you. I don’t have a serger; would I still be able to make the pattern, do you think?

    • #8 by tialys on October 13, 2015 - 16:47

      Aaah! The Dahlia dress – a pattern languishing in my stash, probably never to be made especially after reading your adventures with it!
      You could definitely make the Lady Skater with an ordinary machine – I’m sure you have a lightning bolt or zigzag stitch – she doesn’t assume you have an overlocker. Also, it would definitely suit you!
      p.s. I’m not on commission or anything but it’s just a comfy, easy to wear, yet flattering frock.

  3. #9 by ipatchandquilt on October 13, 2015 - 16:58

    Love that newest dress! It is just perfection!

    • #10 by tialys on October 14, 2015 - 09:12

      I don’t know about ‘perfection’ Esther – I’m usually happy with ‘wearable’ – but thank you anyway. I think, once you start making your own clothes, you get much fussier about things you would probably have once overlooked in shop bought garments. I really notice now, when I’m shopping for clothes, if pattern matching isn’t good on seams – which it most often isn’t.

  4. #11 by knettycraft on October 13, 2015 - 18:27

    To cut a long story short: I never tried to sew clothes. But every sweater or cardigan I tried to knit ended up in a nice shawl, scarf or socks!

    • #12 by tialys on October 14, 2015 - 09:09

      At least you end up with something – and winter is coming (as they say in Game of Thrones) – so shawls, scarves and socks will be very useful.

  5. #13 by jendavismiller on October 13, 2015 - 21:25

    Oh, the great moments in sewing….I am beginning to remember how it goes. It’s not just me! Hooray! I think the gray is perfect for the quilt squares, shame it didn’t work out as the dress. The second dress is quite marvelous I think. And those big-flat-headed pins are grand and I should definitely try to find some. They would never get lost!

    • #14 by tialys on October 14, 2015 - 09:01

      Those pins are probably the finest ones I have too so very useful. You just have to be careful not to run the iron over them – ask me how I know.

      • #15 by jendavismiller on October 14, 2015 - 14:35

        Oooh, I just hope they were not ironed onto a very fine fabric?

  6. #16 by on October 13, 2015 - 23:10

    These things happen – sometimes it’s the fabric or the pattern – don’t worry any more, and look at the marvellous things you make all the time. That black and white dress is just gorgeous!

    • #17 by tialys on October 14, 2015 - 08:59

      Thanks Viv. I sometimes feel like not bothering with dressmaking any more. I love shopping for clothes, am quite a standard ready-to-wear size and I have far too much stuff in my wardrobe anyway so why bother? However, I do enjoy it and, as you say, occasionally I make something I love. I’m just going to rein it in a little for a while.

  7. #18 by lovelucie1 on October 14, 2015 - 13:47

    As they say, been there, done that. I do have to remind myself that I sew for ‘pleasure’ and not see every make as an uphill struggle that sometimes comes off. That’s the beauty of making a pattern that you know suits you. Immediate gratification.

  8. #19 by Jan Marriott on October 14, 2015 - 15:57

    That is a very strange fit!
    In the days when I made my own clothes I used the same fav pattern over and over

    • #20 by tialys on October 15, 2015 - 19:39

      It’s good to know something is going to fit nicely and you are definitely going to wear it. Too many sewing adventures get a bit wearing I find :/

  9. #21 by dezertsuz on October 14, 2015 - 17:50

    What a sewing adventure! The dress looks so lovely on the pattern, but I can definitely see the issues you had. I really hate it when I can’t figure out how to make something go right when it’s gone wrong. With clothing, it’s a one shot deal, but I can’t remember when I last sewed for me. I made some skirts for two little girls a couple of years ago – cute little things with overskirts that drew up on one side with a bow. Drove me crazy and reminded me why I like to quilt instead. LOL I do love that block with the fabric in it, though!

    • #22 by tialys on October 15, 2015 - 19:40

      Kate has reserved some of the fabric for when it’s her turn on F2F as it goes so well with her colour scheme. As you can see, I will have plenty!

      • #23 by katechiconi on October 21, 2015 - 11:16

        Yessss!!! (punches air in triumph). Now all I have to do is wait till Next.Dratted.Year…

  10. #24 by Fred the Needle on November 6, 2015 - 12:53

    Oh how lovely to read that other people make mistakes too, I have had some horrendous failures in the past. That skater dress is beautiful and it fits you so well. What is the pattern? Would love to make one of my own.

    I know what you mean about being in knitting mode, I am struggling to get the sewing machine out – opting instead for cosy crochet while watching a good film! Sewing does have it’s drawbacks sometimes.

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