This is the first piece of clothing I have ever made from a bought pattern. I absolutely love it but I admit I was terrified! Irrationally so as surely having all pieces provided along with a set of instructions has to be simpler than the hit and miss guesswork I have been using up to now. There is something slightly - okay incredibly intimidating about using a pattern. It feels like proper grown up serious sewing.
The pattern, New Look 6578, is classed as easy but I spent weeks staring at the instructions barely able to make head nor tail of them. I even read them in Spanish but was still completely bamboozled.
Eventually I gathered my courage, measured up my girl and started cutting out – a lovely brown and white Michael Miller fabric with a voile design of children playing. I was going through a heap of different fabrics with her mentally crossing my fingers she wouldn’t choose something too pink and princessy and amazingly she picked the brown. Little P is a tall slim 2 and half year old so I went for the size 2 pattern but added the length of the size 3. Phewee. So far so good.
I had four pieces for my a-line dress – a front, back, front facing and back facing. I finally figured out that facing meant a sort of lining in the same fabric, in this case around the armholes and neck line. I was still struggling with the instructions, so I decided to dump them and turn to good old google instead.
It threw up this great little video tutorial for a similar a-line dress. The construction was slightly different with a back fastening instead of over shoulder fastenings but it helped me figure out what I was aiming for. Mainly it gave me confidence to just crack on and stop worrying about everything being perfect. The lady in the clip effortlessly slings the thing together. I followed her good advice to pin and iron every step of the way and it definitely helped the finish.
But even after all my careful ironing the facing kept flipping up under the arms, so I ran a few stitches below and parallel to the armholes to keep it in place. I skipped the interfacing so maybe that would have helped. My way worked fine.
I tried a couple of new tricks. In the absence of a serger, I zigzag stitched the raw edge of the facing. It wasn’t perfect but it was okay. And for some mysterious reason I decided to attempt a French seam down the side seams. It was pretty easy and looked lovely.
And of course there were buttonholes to contend with. I nearly bottled out and used press studs. I didn’t have the patience to figure out how to machine sew them so I hand sewed. Here I am looking very serious stitching away on holiday.
They were a long long way from perfect but they work and the beautiful pearly pink vintage buttons from love buttons disguise my poor sewing.
The finished dress is gorgeous. Once I was over my initial confusion it was pretty straight forwards. The fit is lovely but there is zero growing room. Next time I would use less generous seam allowances and add an inch or two to the length. I also realised after the event that I had got my buttons and buttonholes the wrong way round. Oops.
I would definitely make this dress again now I kind of know what I am doing. I have my eye on a lovely blue and white ikat print...