Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Waist Not Want Not

I made a dress, recently, from one of the patterns I requested for Xmas, and I was dismayed to find that it completely didn't work on me. I used the correct size, the right (jersey) fabric. I followed the directions to the letter of the law. I even watched a video made by the designer of the pattern. Twice.

And when I finished, I felt the armscye was entirely too large, the neck too wide (my frame is narrow), the waist unflattering - it just didn't hang. I tried reconstructing it - for 4 hours. Alas, the bodice had a raglan sleeve and my abilities are not yet up to reworking it. Of course, it gave me a good excuse to get a French curve, on the assumption that I'd be able to figure out the geometry.

After waging a little battle with my inner critic, I decided to cut the top from the bottom. You know jersey doesn't unravel, so I knew I'd be alright. I gave the top - with elastic still attached, to my daughter and she wears it with fantastic Flashdance aplomb. Really, that child has natural style in spades.

When she wore it to school, her friends all wanted to know where she got it, and when she told them her mother made it, the were incredulous. (Note: This is not because of the garment's incredible quality, but because nobody's mother sews anymore.) M convinced them by advising them to look for a label. Apparently, when you're nine, the absence of a label is total evidence of an item's home construction.

But that left the skirt to contend with. The skirt was actually the most attractive part. It has a nice, thick hem rib and it hangs nicely. I decided, instead of throwing it away, I'd try to create a rib waist (from some ribbing I had left over having done my shrug - I really should show photos of that item. It's the most successful thing I've made to date...).

I didn't have a pattern, needless to say. But I've read that the amount of rib you use should be 2/3 the circumference of the item you are ribbing. I could only make it so thick - not thick enough, on balance - because that's all the ribbing I had to work with. Nonetheless, I did end up with something one can wear...


  1. It looks really fabulous as a skirt, K. Two requests, though: PLEASE show the shrug. And PLEASE show M wearing the top!

  2. I think you managed to save that project with great style and aplomb. If your daughter has fabulous style, we all know where that came from.

  3. Sal: I promise, will show both. I'm just a bit behind on the photos. And now I'm at home unwell...

    Mardel: Thank you so much for your email. I am totally going to study those links. I guess I'm going to have to learn how to grade patterns sooner than expected :-)

  4. you are amazing!!! so glad you were able turn a disappointment into 2 fabulous AND WEARABLE items! fantastic!

  5. How frustrating - and jersey will stretch like crazy each time you rip it out and start over. Stock patterns always require adjusting, that's why I prefer to drape my own. If you ever want to experiment again, find some cheap remnant fabric that is similar in weight and construction to the actual piece goods you ultimately want. Make up a quick proto in the cheap quality so you can see if there are any corrections or alterations that need to be made to the flat pattern before you cut the good fabric. :-)

  6. Yes, I want to see M in the top, too! I love the lack of tag as evidence of your sewing skills!

  7. I love that you wowed your daughter's friends!

  8. Bel: I've been horrendous with the photo posting lately. I have to pick that up. Don't lose hope.

    J: I'm upselling it a bit, maybe. But that's ok, right?

    Stacy: I've been starting to do that more, because I realize that you make a "starter" garment, one way or another. So I might as well plan for it. Oh, and I ordered some stretch fabric from the Spandex House. So excited!

    Dora: Isn't that hilarious?

    Janet: I'm working it. And I'm praying for you like crazy right now. xoxo

    Wendy: It does put me at the apex of cool.