dressmaking – my first dress

Dressmaking is FUN! Even though it took me many many many hours to draft a pattern (see this post here) and a lot of patience and seamripping and improvising to get this finished I am thrilled by the end result and can’t wait to make another item of clothing! I have never really sewn clothing before so on this project I not only learned to make patterns but also to make necklines, armholes, sleeves, buttonholes, darts and what not!

This dress looks pretty close to the vision I was trying to recreate and I love it! It has two darts at the back (not visible in the picture) and the skirt part is just a big rectangle which I ruffled to fit the length of the bodice (I prefer wearing it with that belt to emphasize the waist more).
It is made out of a silky soft blue poplin (which at 8€ a metre was pretty reasonable for german prices). It doesn’t wrinkle and you hardly have to iron it at all. It was lovely to sew with also.
I sewed it on my vintage Phoenix treadle machine which worked like a dream. I think treadling is it for me…at this point I find it hard to imagine ever sewing on an electric machine again!
I had to use my mom’s Pfaff to make the buttonholes and finish the inside seams with zig-zag stitch and found it so hard to adjust back to electric.
By the way Cal Patch suggests french seams in her book ‘Design-it-yourself clothes. Patternmaking simplified’ which I used to make the pattern. I just haven’t done french seams before and was already overwhelmed by all the new techniques I was learning making the dress…I’m saving the french seams for my next dress😉

To the end I never managed to make the sleeves fit the armholes… no matter how often I altered the pattern they were always too big. I ended up making three pleats on each sleeve but in retrospect I should have ruffled the ca. 5 cm on top…would have looked neater I think.
The part that I really screwed up on is the neckline…I tried making my own bias tape and finishing in neatly but it just didn’t work at all! I came out all wrinkly😦 Also it kind of creases between the neckline and the armholes rather annoyingly. I don’t mind too much though…all in all this dress is a raging success for me and I am so happy with it!

16 thoughts on “dressmaking – my first dress

    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks Julie! I’m actually surprised that it turned out to be wearable too. I was fully prepared for a failure…needless to say I love Cal Patch and her great book now! I guess it’s the start of yet another new addiction, I am already planning the next item of clothing🙂

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  1. Raven

    Oh my goodness – you did such a great job! And I absolutely love your “dirty” shoes! And your new handbag!

    And I learned french seams just a month or two ago, and if I can – you can to. They are fun and so beautiful in clothing. 🙂

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    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks so much! I love my dirty shoes as well…you know the feeling when you bought something pretty and keep looking at it and grinning? And the bag’s just wow…I still can’t believe my friends got me that!!
      Yay for mastering french seams! I really have to learn them too, I guess it just requires lots of thinking before right? Do you make clothing as well or what else do you use the french seams for?

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  2. misspatch

    the dress is beautiful! you should be VERY proud of yourself that this is your first clothing project. i thought you gathered the neckline and sleeves on purpose ;n)
    french seams are really very easy and don’t require any advance planning, the only catch is that you first sew the pieces *wrong sides together* (which is the opposite of the usual ‘right sides together’) and sew a 1/4″ seam. then you flip it inside-out and stitch another 1/4″ seam. very simple once you understand what’s happening, and now you do ;n)

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    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks Cal! If it looks intentional that’s all I’m asking for😉 No idea what I did wrong with the neckline but I’m going to read some more tutorials on that before I start my next project.
      French seams really don’t sound too complicated, I’ll definitely try them next🙂 I have no choice really because my sewing machine only does straight stitch, so it’s the only logical way for me to finish seams without serger or zig-zag stitch😉
      Thanks again for writing such a wonderful book and making patternmaking ‘learnable’ for everyone!!! Can’t tell you how much fun I am having!

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  3. bambooska

    Congratulations on your first dress.🙂

    I don’t sew but my mom does. She always made me nice pieces of clothes that I loved. I wish I had the same skill! My sister learned a little bit with my mom and she already made a few skirts and shorts. You dress looks beautiful! I would definitely wear it. Congratulations. Job well done.🙂

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    1. tidytipsy

      Thanks :)) I pretty much taught myself with the help of websites, online tutorials and books. It’s probably better if someone can actually show you, but it worked like that for me😉

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  4. rosamaria

    felicidades! congrats for your new dress!!! you did an amazing job! all that looks (and sounds) a little dificult, maybe because i don’t make any cloth by myself but time ago i bough 2 easy patterns that hope i can make with some help from my mom…

    love that blue you choosed!!

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    1. tidytipsy

      Thank you! It’s a little more difficult than what I usually do but you should definitely try it…I’m all for learning by doing😉 I’d love to see when you try the patterns :))

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  5. Camille

    This is so fab! I’ll be making my first pattern out of Cal’s book soon (well, I took a workshop with her back in December, but this is the first time on my own!), and it’s so inspiring to see what everyone else has made in the Flickr group!

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    1. tidytipsy

      Thank you! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Isn’t it a great skill to learn? I wish I could take classes as well though, that is always different than just reading a book.

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