Friday, June 27, 2008

The dress that wouldn't be

Just after I started sewing for Addie, her mom Heather sent me an image of a precious dress she'd found on Etsy. It was a simple pattern--A-line with a few big tucks in the front--and was made up in a sweet red-white-and-blue fabric. She said, "I think I've found Addison's Fourth of July dress." And I said, "Hey! I can make that!"

I happened to have a nearly identical pattern. And when I got on line to look for the fabric, I stumbled onto a great eBay bargain--a vintage knit in navy with red and white apples and a red striped border. Gorgeous. Of course I ordered it.

And then the saga began.

  • When I placed the tuck-front pattern on the fabric, I discovered that the skirt curved up on the sides. It wouldn't work with the border. So I unpinned everything and switched to the pattern I used for the little yellow-gingham-and-strawberry sundress. It has a perfectly rectangular skirt. I'd make a different dress for Addie from the pattern Heather loved.

  • When I tried to cut out the pieces, I had to recut several times because the fabric was so incredibly slippery. I couldn't get a straight, accurate cut to save my life, even with my best shears and a rotary cutter.

  • When I tried to sew the pieces together, they curled and shifted and wiggled and squirmed. The little hat, which has dozens of tiny, short 1/4" seams, challenged me for a couple of hours. Then it went into the trash. "Addie doesn't have to have a hat with this one."

  • The bloomers went a bit better. I used spray sizing and my iron to tame the raw edges. I stitched seams open so the elastic would slip easily through the waist casing. I practiced attaching elastic with a zigzag stitch on scrap fabric to perfect my technique. All went well until I tried to zigzag the real elastic onto the real bloomer legs. The 10-1/2" strip of elastic would not stretch enough to take up the full length of the leg opening. What? I carefully seam-ripped it back off, remeasured, recut, resewed. Same result. Started seam-ripping the elastic back off, studying in my head how to overcome this problem. Maybe I should just turn up the leg hems and make casings. And then...I cut a hole in the fabric of the bloomers with the seam ripper. "Addie doesn't have to have boomers with this one." The bloomers went into the trash, too.

  • I'd acquired some skill at making straight seams on this crazy fabric, so the skirt parts and the bodice parts of the dress went together fairly easily. It took a while, because I had to match up the border perfectly. But what with the spray sizing and the ironing and the pinning and the basting, I ended up with a set of workable components. Then I gathered the skirt, pinned it to the bodice, and attached it. Disaster. No matter how carefully I pinned or how many pins I used, stray bits of the bodice fabric would sneak under the needle. I ripped and pinned again. Nope. I ripped and hand basted. Nope. Finally, I sewed about 2 inches, stopped, ripped out any squirrelly stitches, repinned, sewed 2 more inches. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It took three evenings to get the little skirt attached correctly. I was starting to hate this dress.

  • Ultimately, I got all the pieces together, hand sewed the hem and the bodice lining. Put in the buttonholes (a triumph on this fabric), attached the buttons, and held the little dress up to admire.

One of the straps was twisted. How did that happen? Holy carp. The only way to fix it was to completely disassemble the bodice.

So, I photographed the little dress, just so I could share it with you. And then--that's right--I put the whole thing in the trash. No Fourth of July dress for Addie. Grrrrr.

But just to end this post with a smile, take a look at this precious picture of beautiful Addison Savannah and her equally beautiful mom, Heather.


ElegantSnobbery said...

Oh, I'm gritting my teeth just reading this! How annoying and frustrating! I hate when things don't go my way, and that fabric was too cute!!

Gorgeous little girl, though! What a sweet photo!

casserole said...

Oh, I hate it when fabrics won't behave!!! The photo you showed doesn't seem bad at all, but if it's not working out then you did exactly the right thing to just toss it out. Argh.

Janna said...

Dang! That was a painful process you went through with that fabric. Addie would have looked adorable in it, but I'd have tossed it all by then too.