I have completed my first ever dress and it even survived its first meeting with a washing machine!
I used McCall’s Lined Flared Dress pattern design A. The fabric is Kanvas Studio – Galaxy Sky.
As it was my first project, I’m not entirely happy with it, but I have learned a lot and it’s wearable which is the main thing.
I cut up some old fitted bedsheets to make a mockup. It was only to test construction (seeing as how I’ve never used a pattern before) and get an idea for which size lines I would need to follow. Normally, I am a size 8-10 in dresses of this type, but my mockup (in size 8) would not fit at all so I opted for a size 12.
I added pockets. These were a must for me and I’m pleased with how they turned out. I downloaded a pattern and used an existing garment to place them, marking this on the pattern.
The contrast band around the top of the bodice was originally one piece but I didn’t like the way it fell on the left side of the dress so on my second attempt at putting the dress together I made it into two pieces.
The inner lining skirt and in-built petticoat was removed on the second attempt at the dress.
The darts on the bust were increased in size to account for my smaller chest size.
The side seams on the bodice were moved further into the pattern, reducing the waist size. This was done twice. In the end I think I took an inch and a half out of both sides.
Things to improve
Firstly, I would make a better mockup in the first instance. In hindsight I should have constructed a second mockup to test the fit. I had to make this dress 3 times in total to correct fit issues because of that.
The hem turned out quite well from the outside, but the inside was a little off in places. I need to be more accurate when trimming the excess as I just guessed it and this meant I didn’t have enough seam allowance in some places. At least it looks fairly even when worn.
I am pleased with my pockets. From their size to their placement, they work well. However, if I add pockets in future, I need to make sure that the dress has a zip down the back, not the side. The zip goes half way down the pocket seam in this dress which I think will add extra stress to it and could be a problem later. As I have zero prior experience in dress-making it will have to be seen if my thoughts on this are true.
Adding the pockets also meant that the lining skirt had to be removed. I hadn’t thought hard enough about the effects of the additions on the lining skirt and how it fit to the dress. On one side the pocket went through the lining skirt, but on the other this wasn’t possible due to the zip and so it had to go between the lining and the fashion fabric. I don’t think it would have been noticeable from the outside, but I’d have known!
The bodice still doesn’t fit quite right on the bust and needs to be reduced. A padded bra may help but I think it will still look a little baggy.
I need to set my dress form again. Although I used my measurements to set it up in the first place, I’m not sure I put those measurements in the right places. My waist is much narrower, and I think I made the chest too wide.
Things I don’t like
There are very few things that I *really* don’t like. Despite how they make me feel, everything else can be improved with practice.
The first is the lining fabric. It just doesn’t feel nice on my skin. Next time I will use a cotton for the lining. I’m sure this will be more expensive but it will feel nicer and be easier to work with. This polyester moved around quite a lot and frayed easily.
The second is the straps. I don’t like the design on me and they were really fiddly to put in evenly.
Even though it didn’t make it to the finished dress, I didn’t like the in-built petticoat. The netting I chose was either not dense enough, or the pattern didn’t seem to allow enough of the netting to gather down onto the yoke, to give the skirt the shape I wanted.
I am disappointed to find that I have to iron it…
Things I like
I love the fashion fabric. It’s my favourite colour for one, and pretty soft too. The pattern is lovely and although the perfectionist in me would have liked the pattern to match up on all of the seams, as the design is so busy I don’t think this detracts from it at all.
I’m really proud of myself for making bias binding (though it was a pain to do) as this came in handy for finishing the pockets. It’s a bit wrinkly after coming out of the wash, but that doesn’t matter so much – at least the edges won’t fray!
I am super proud that it survived a wash!
I’m planning on making a circle skirt next. It will be made out of a duvet cover that I’ve had since I was a child. I love how soft the fabric is and it brings back some good memories. I’ve always wanted to make it into something that I can use, and now I can!
There are some challenges that I’ve spotted already, such as a paint stain and the material has been worn down in some places (it was a very much loved item).
I definitely have enough material, but I think there might be some creative positioning of the pattern, and extra seams, to ensure the characters on the fabric are not sideways on.