Dress: Made by me (Dixie DIY Ballet Dress Pattern)
Leggings: Sock Dreams
Socks: Sock Dreams
The lovely Chelsea asked me to share a bit about how I got started on this new sew adventure in hopes of inspiring her to get started on a sewing journey of her own. Well, here is the first WEARABLE dress that I completed, back in early November. And, to be honest, its only marginally wearable. Its a little too short, the waistline is too high, and the material is so cheap that it clings to my leggings awfully, even if I’m wearing a slip. At least I know what to fix next time, but for now, I’m wearing it anyways!
So, here is a little bit about how I got started. I’ve had a sewing machine for a few years, one that my mother bought me when I was in school getting my Master’s degree. I think it was so that I could make curtains or something. At any rate, thats all I had to used it for, curtains and making a few pillow covers. I had a VERY basic working knowledge of it (like, I could sew a straight line). Every few years I would pull it out, very foolishly thinking I could make a basic dress or some pajama pants without a pattern. Turns out that doesn’t work very well. I had made one dress from a pattern with the help of my mother about 10 years ago and it went so poorly that I was terrified to try using a pattern again! However, when I started selling clothes on Etsy a couple years ago I went deep down the blog spiral and started reading quite a few sewing blogs. I saw a lot of ladies making lovely clothes that were EXACTLY what they wanted to wear, not just the kind-of-close-to-what-I-wanted to wear store bought clothes that I was stuck with. See, all this personal style blogging was helping me realize what I wanted to wear, but I couldn’t find it in the stores. Everything was too trendy, or too cheap, or didn’t fit right. How hard could it be to find some basic leggings in my size that don’t have lace panels or are in a crazy color? Anyways, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but I decided that my only solution was to figure out this sewing thing once and for all!
I stumbled upon the Ballet Dress pattern on Dixie’s blog and it seemed like a good place to start. Only three dollars, made of a comfortable stretchy material, and complete with a very detailed sew-a-long. It was perfect! One of the things stopping me from getting into sewing was how formal everything that everyone in the sewing blogosphere was making. And I don’t just mean cocktail dresses (though there are a fair bit of those going around), my lifestyle is SO casual that people would look at me funny if I wore a pencil skirt and a blouse to work (or anywhere else). Dixie’s blog was a gateway to all the independent pattern makers that are making patterns that will work in my very casual lifestyle: Dixie at Dixie DIY, Jen at Grainline Studio, and Steph at Cake Patterns, to name a few.
Anyways, back to the dress. I followed the sew-a-long directions and I had new a dress in one night! Needless to say, at that point I was hooked!
The first step was taping together the pattern after following the printing directions. I added an inch to all the pieces at the center front to increase the size by 4 inches total (you can see my pink pen). It wasn’t the most elegant grading job ever done, but it worked.
I did make a muslin first, as all the sewing blogs had cautioned me to do. I had this crazy 70s polyester double-knit hanging around, purchased at the bulk bins at the thrift store years ago. I tried it on and it was totally wearable (well, except for the crazy pattern)! Success!
So, I made the two round trip to the closest fabric store (Joann’s), bought some very cheap fabric because I was still terrified I would totally screw it up, and made up my first dress!
Looking back I’ve learned a lot since then and am much more bold when it comes to modifying patterns. Next time I make this dress (and I will make it again, you can never have too many jersey dresses with sleeves), I’ll make it longer.
I messed up the cutting so there is a seam down the center front bodice.
As you can see above, I added a small band at the midriff. I think I’ll make that band wider next time. I also added bands to the sleeves based on directions from the Dixie DIY Hot Cocoa Sweater.
Well, this has been the longest blog post ever, so in conclusion I’ll just share a link to Pattern Review, where you can find all sorts of inspiring projects and advice and links to amazing sewing blogs. Also, Tilly and the Buttons is doing a great series of posts on getting started on sewing. It looks like she is going to cover all the basics, so I’m sure I’ll learn a few things myself.
When it comes to sewing, I say GO FOR IT!!