Tag Archive | fitting

Beachy dress

Apparently I am trying to satisfy some kind of latent desire to live in the tropics with my garment choices of late. Heaven knows nobody can wear this at “the beach” in the Pacific Northwest. We don’t even call it “the beach” here — it’s the coast. And it takes a hardy kind of person to enjoy a day out on the coast, as evidenced by this hilarious commercial put out by a local insurance company.

beach bum

Click to watch the short commercial! You will laugh! Well… I laugh.

I can see the floor-length version of this dress being worn with pretty jeweled flat sandals by a girl with lightly tousled hair and movie star sunglasses as she strolls the hot, sandy beaches of California or Florida. The floor-length version of this dress would not be practical, however, for me as I hike up a steep, gravelly trail through the ferns and firs just to get to my car.

McCalls 6555

McCalls 6555

So, for the sake of practicality and also versatility, I made the knee-length version. My thought was, not only can I wear it during the summer, but in the fall I could put on a cardigan, tights and boots and keep on a-wearin’ it. In fact, that blue Pearl’s Cardigan that I made awhile back might be just the ticket.


The fabric is rayon challis. As you can see, it is a sort of gussied-up stripe print. As you can also see, I paid not a whit to the stripes when I was cutting the pieces. Never even occurred to me to match stripes. I had extra fabric, so I could have matched them. Alas. For some reason, the print never really registered in my brain as “stripe.” I just saw wild swirls and stuff. Fortunately, I think the print is wild enough that I can get away with mismatched stripes. And if not, just nod and smile and play along.

One thing about the print that I’m a little disappointed about, though, is that it hides the pleats where the dress meets the yoke. That was kind of the main design element. The dress also hangs a bit more sack-like than I would have preferred, which I think would not have been so noticeable in the floor-length version. A little belt may have to be employed.

Another small disappointment is that the middle of the back gaps.


This is not the first time I’ve had this problem. In fact, it happens nearly every time I make a dress. Why I haven’t paid closer attention to this phenomenon, I can’t say. But it is apparent now that my back measures narrower than the Big 4 pattern companies think. Obviously, I’m going to have to get a measurement and then compare it to the width of pattern pieces from now on. It should improve the fit quite a bit! What I really need to do is make another duct tape dummy of myself and then make a sloper (a sloper is a sort of base pattern fitted like a second skin to your body, then disassembled and used to adjust the sizing of printed pattern pieces to ensure good fit). All this sewing-your-own-clothes stuff is great and fun, but it’s also a lot of trial and error. I’m glad, though, that there are always new things to learn.


Have you learned anything new lately?

These are not my pants

These are not my pants
Whose pants are these anyways?
These are not my pants
Whose pants are these anyways?
Are these Bobby’s, or Timmy’s, or Billy’s pants, no NOOOO!!!!!
These are not my pants
Are you listening to what I say?

That will make infinitely more sense (well, “sense” may be too strong of a word) if you listen to this song.

Last week, I embarked on my great Pants-Making Journey using Simplicity 2477 (an Inspired by Project Runway design). First time making grown-up pants, first time making a muslin. I was not going to screw up my good fabric. I carefully took all my measurements, just like my book instructed. Then I measured the pattern pieces, just like the book instructed. Astonishingly, it appeared that I would need to make the largest size in the pattern envelope — 20. (A note to non-sewers: Pattern sizes are vastly different than ready-to-wear). This didn’t seem right to me, but you’re supposed to trust the numbers, aren’t you? Isn’t that what measurements are for?

Perhaps not.

You, too, can look like you lost 50 lbs just by sewing pants many sizes too large!

Attempt #2. I dropped down three sizes to a 14 and made another muslin. It was better. Slightly baggy in some {ahem} key areas.

These didn’t fit over my jeans and were much too sheer for a modeling shot. But they look more reasonable, don’t they?

Well… maybe, despite all the measurements I took, I really am the smallest size. That seemed a little implausible, too, but I went ahead and made a muslin in a 12 and, wonder of wonders, it fit! The zipper gapped a little, but I thought, “No problem. I’ll just make that full abdomen adjustment that my book showed me how to do.”

I had run out of sheet for muslins, and, believing to have found the correct fit, it was time to cut out my fabric. At this point, I noticed that the pinstripes were actually two stripes: a white and a blue. The blue was on just one side. If it had flanked the white stripe, I could have folded my fabric in half and cut out two pieces at a time like one normally does. But because of this stripe, I had to lay the fabric out flat and cut out Every. Single. Piece. Twice. It took the better part of a day to accomplish that, making sure that the stripes on the second pieces matched the ones on the first pieces. My back was not happy after that process.

On the first day of actual sewing, all I managed to do was sew the pockets in. I used leftover fabric from my pajama pants for the lining.


On the second day of sewing, I worked on the fly. For hours. The benefit of making three muslins is that now I knew how to construct a fly, but it’s still a time-consuming, fiddly task. And I wanted this fly to be perfect. And it is!

Rather professional, if I do say so myself.

On the third day of sewing, my true love gave to me my pants were sewn up enough that I could finally try them on. And the side ripped out. Not the seam — the actual fabric tore. I’ve never had this happen before! I bought the fabric years ago and I can’t remember for sure what it is, but I’m pretty sure it is some kind of wool. I could do a fabric test, but I just haven’t. It didn’t smell like polyester when I ironed it; I try to avoid polyester at almost all costs. Brocade is the only other fabric I’ve worked with that frayed worse than this, though. It is kind of a twill weave, and wow, it disintegrated quickly on any cut edge. Because of that, when it ripped at the side, all I could think was how I needed to get out of the pants as swiftly and gently as possible so that I could reinforce those side seams. I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to fit. There may not have been anything I could have done at that point.

I proceeded with the waistband and the belt tabs and boy, was it looking good. These were good pants! Look at how perfectly the stripes line up! That is some über-fine tailoring, right there. Oh yeah!

Stripes as they should be

With everything done but hemming the legs, I went and tried on the pants again.

But we had our pants on
But yo these ain’t my pants
Uh, I get ’em off now—–
Um, tight, oh they so tight

Could I get them on? Yes. I could even zip them. I held the button tab together because I hadn’t put a button on yet and found that provided me with a cute little peekaboo hole that perfectly showcases my belly-button. Awesome. Horrible reality was setting in. Where had I gone wrong? Why are these pants so tight? The fatal mistake was probably that I never bothered to put a waistband on the muslins. But that means that I am at fault. So instead, I’m going to blame the kids. Yes, my kids. They distorted my body into this flabby, mushy belly poochiness. Little ratfinks.

If pants are sewn in the woods, do they make a sound?

So now I have a beautiful pair of pants (sans button or hems because, really, what’s the point?) that I can’t wear unless I do crunches morning, noon, and night. Pretty sure that defeated the entire purpose of this project. I know, I know, every cloud has a silver lining, blah blah blah. Unless I can sew another pair of pants out of that silver lining, you can keep your clouds. I need to redeem myself. Crank out something easy that I know I can do flawlessly to bolster my sewing mojo before tackling another pair of pants. Time to paw through my fabric bin…