I’ve just completed another sewing project!

I used Sew Over It’s “Elsie” pattern for this dress and the fabric was from a set of curtains that a work colleague had given to me for dressmaking practice.

I’d not used this pattern before and as I hadn’t made anything that had princess seams in it nor a facing, I decided to be sensible and make a mock up.

michelle models a mock up of the chequered dress with highlights over fabric wrinkling at the shoulder and waist
The mock up showing wrinkling at the shoulder and waist

Looking at the measurements of the pattern it looked like I was going to fall in between a size 10 and 12. My ego made me choose the smaller size.

The mock up turned out okay, but it was a bit small.

When trying it on, I noticed it was a little tight around the chest and arm opening. Given that I hadn’t used any interfacing in the mock up (which the pattern called for) and the fabric I was planning on using was much thicker, I decided to go a size bigger for the actual garment.

I struggled a bit with the princess seams but I was being lazy and didn’t pin it so that was my own fault. I also had issues with the pleats but as I hadn’t marked them as carefully as I should that was no surprise either. I planned on being much more careful with these areas when it came to the proper garment.

The pattern was easy enough to follow though, except for the straps. The way the pattern wanted you to make them was very neat and resulted in a great finish, but wrapping my little brain around it based on a very brief description and unclear diagram was a challenge. I think on both the mock up and the final garment I must have had three attempts at each strap. The final garment proved even more difficult due to the interfacing.

Final Thoughts

Things to improve

I think I could have done with a lighter interfacing. I think mine was a medium weight and it has added far too much rigidity in my opinion. A lighter weight would have kept the structure but reduced some of the issues I had sewing the straps.

the inside of the chequered dress showing the bound zip
The bound zip on the chequered dress

I was mostly pleased with my efforts to tidy away the raw edges around the zip. I tried something different this time using a wide, soft, herringbone twill tape which was zig-zag stitched to the folded in seam.

You can see in the image that the join between the back seam and the zip leaves a lot to be desired. A white thread would have hidden these issues, but I’d have still known they were there!

Although the hem looks nice on the outside, the inside could definitely do with some improvement. The bulk from the twill tape caused some issues, and my lack of practice at keeping the spacing between my needle and the edge of the fabric is noticeable.

the inside of the chequered dress showing the hem and one of the side seams neatly bound
The hem and a bound seam on the chequered dress

Things I don’t like

michelle models the chequered dress from the side so that the gaping at the neckline (highlighted purple) is visible
Highlighted in purple you can see the gaping at the neckline

Unless I unpick the bodice and make some heavy alterations, I won’t be wearing this dress. There is significant gaping around the neckline and it is visibly too large for me.

This is such a shame because I really like how it looks on me.

That said, when I tried it on the other day and I had my hair down, it didn’t look nearly as nice. I think this is because, as my hair comes down over my shoulders, more attention is drawn to the ill fit of this area.

I think that it would suit someone with wider shoulders and a little bit more of a bust than my little tictacs can offer.

I’m not sure I’m a fan of the front seam being where it is. True, it is mostly hidden by the two front pleats, but I think it looks untidy. Maybe if I’d tried to match the chequered pattern it would be less offensive to me?

Things I like

I like a lot of things about this dress including the structure it has from the fabric I used. It is not a dress for the summer because of this, but I wear dresses all year around so I like the idea of having one with a heavier fabric for the colder months.

I think I did a really good job on the pockets and the seams. The twill tape worked quite well, even if it is a little wonky in some places.

I’m pleased with the lining and the facing too. They were an absolute pain to sew together due to all of the curves but it turned out nicely.

Next Project

My next project is to create a pair of shorts from an existing pair. They’re some of Tom’s Black Diamond brand climbing shorts which he no longer wears. They had a hole torn along the back seam and I couldn’t find a way to repair them without limiting the movement of the shorts – they need to move and stretch because of all the odd positions climbers get themselves into.