Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The Frocktober challenge for The Monthly Stitch (TMS) had me in a quandary. Having recently decided that I don't really want dresses in my wardrobe, to have to make one was a little bit of going in reverse. However, I love being part of TMS so I figured I'd make it work somehow.

Of course, then I had to decide what dress to make. I considered a variation of the Danielle, but didn't really want to patch together a downloadable pattern. After weeks of searching and indecision (literally, weeks - practically the entire month of September) I decided on the McCall's M6554. It looked simple and pretty and I figured I could handle it.

And then the grr.... started.

Recently I've had a run of bad luck with sizing, consistently sizing my items too big and having a completed garment that looks like I won a season of the Biggest Loser. So this time I double checked, triple checked, measured and measured some more. I measured the pattern itself to ensure I had it correct and a perfect fit, then carefully traced the entire pattern onto my newly acquired pattern tracing material. I was so itching to use this tracing material and save my patterns intact, and spent an entire day tracing and cutting out the pattern pieces in my exact size. 

When I finished cutting out the pattern pieces, I looked them over and thought "wait a minute... that looks too small!"

You experienced sewists are way ahead of me here, aren't you? Yup. Zero ease.

Unfortunately, I still hadn't worked it out, I was just aware something was Not Quite Right. So, this niggling concern made me pause and dig out some spare fabric from my stash as I did not want to use my good material for something that might not work out. I dug out some cotton batik that I bought in Central East Africa and, now that I've worked with it, wish that I had more of. Fabulous stuff!

Anyway, I then spent ages working with the fabric to get all the pieces cut out, as it wasn't exactly the right size material. In the end, I had to cut the front skirt pieces a little too small in the pleat and used a different color for the front bodice pieces.

By now, I was getting annoyed. Very annoyed.

Don't look annoyed here, do I? 
Confession time: I hate muslins. I hate toiling over a toile that is then used for scraps or rags or whatever it is you do with them. Oh, I understand the reason for it, I just can't abide the wasted time and effort to make one out of mismatched scraps that can't be used. So I ALWAYS make a wearable muslin.

Except this time.

So far I have carefully traced and cut out a pattern that I'm fairly certain is the wrong size, cut into my stash fabric to make a muslin that is no longer a wearable muslin as I had to switch fabrics. Grrrrrr...

Quality Inspector giving me the once-over
Now, I've traced the pattern and cut out the pieces, so my sheer unadulterated obstinacy kicks in and I'm determined to finish the muslin anyway. I carefully sew the dress, following the directions. Then I realize I don't have an invisible zipper. Anywhere. I have to use a lapped zipper. Directions are for an invisible zipper and a lapped zipper requires me to unpick a side seam to get the zipper in.

Did I mention that I hate unpicking almost more than a wasted muslin?


I finally get the incorrect type AND the incorrect length of zipper into the dress and move on to the bodice lining. To discover the instructions are written with Machiavellian brilliance and my dress is hopelessly destroyed! I've never in my entire life read such a discombobulated muddle of a lined bodice. I'm a BEGINNER, dammit, and I know how to do better linings than this mish-mash!

Or, at least, the way I know how gives a really good finish and I couldn't make head or tale of these directions, so I'm not sure who's really at fault here.

Either way, I'm now in meltdown mode.

Now the title of this blog is No 4 Letter Words and I have, indeed, been making an effort to stop swearing. Reasonably successfully, for the most part. However, there are times when I've been known to make sailors blush. Unfortunately, by now I am in such a tiff that several seamen take an honorable discharge and check into a nunnery.

And yet, believe it or not, my pigheadedness oinks and I persist with this blasted dress! Move aside, masochists, make way for the Queen of Disaster.

I take that dress apart (more seam ripping, more coins in the swearword jar), sew each shoulder unit into it's own complete lined piece, and then stitch the two completed sections, right-sides together, BY HAND!

Yeah, take that, yo!

If I were an accomplished sewist, I would probably have never done it. (I'm often told by experienced seamstresses that they would never have tried my latest sewing lunacy.) Now it's still not a wearable muslin and I can't lift my arms or breathe, but it's a DRESS! It's finished. It's up on my blog and I'm going to trot across to TMS and plonk it down there too. Excuse me.

Outta here. Bye, y'all!


  1. Well, it looks great, so if you ever have an occasion where you don't need to move or breathe you have something lovely to wear!

  2. I love the fabric.Fitting is always a challenge until you find a pattern that you can use over and over.

  3. o.k I totally sympathise with the grrreat trials and tribulations you had with this dress , BUT , I am still lovin' it !
    I think you look fab ..... and I know I mentioned this on the monthlystitch but just in case you missed it , if ever you want to part with this dress please remember ME,
    : )


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