Sunday, 11 January 2009

I am in Sewing Hell

In theory it seemed so easy. "I'll just whip up a nice sundress from an old 1953 Vogue pattern" I said breezily. Four calico toiles later, and it's still not quite right! The pattern is quite basic, a sleeveless dress with underarm bust-darts, waist darts at the front and back, and a full skirt made of four panels. However, the original bodice pattern was such a strange fit on me, that I ended up drafting a basic bodice pattern with the help of my 1950's sewing book "Successful Dressmaking" by Ellen and Marietta Resek. This was a better fit, but there were still strange wrinkles and baggy bits all over the place.

So I consulted another dressmaking book I have, simply called "Sewing" by Honor Gillott. It's from 1973, but has a whole chapter on Fault Identification. Now, I've always thought I had a fairly average figure, I'm 5'5" and an average weight. Turns out I have a Problem Figure. Not only do I have square shoulders, but I also have an erect, sway back, a full, high bustline, and a small waist. Which sounds like quite a nice description, but means I had to add neck darts, shaped front and back waist darts, raise the shoulders, reposition the bust darts, enlarge the armholes, shorten the back waistline, the list goes on. I must say, boobs are a real pain when you are sewing, they are round and pokey, and non-stretch fabric doesn't want to go around them in an attractive fashion without a lot of trouble. Possibly I need to go and do some dressmaking and pattern drafting classes, but right now it's just trial and error. Love that stitch ripper!

Considering how bloody frustrating sewing a dress that fits is, I feel a little more justified about my latest purchase, a wonderful (but expensive) dress from Stop Staring. I tried on a small size the other day in Faster Pussycat, and it looked absolutely amazing, but it was a bit tight across my (giant) shoulders and under the armholes, so I ordered a size medium from the Stop Staring website in the US. I think it will be useful dressed down with a pair of flats and a black cardigan, or dressed up with a pair of black patent high heels, matching thin waist belt, and seamed stockings.


  1. I adore that dress! I could wear it in the afternoon to meet the girls with a cardigan and neck scarf and in the evening with pearls and the mink stole. Lovely. I had some sewing issues today as well, and will blog about it tomorrow.

  2. Wow, I thought I had fitting problems, because I have freakishly narrow shoulders. Good on you for persevering! A garment that fits well is a good starting point. You can take measurements from it.