My First Dress

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I made a dress for the Fall for Cotton sew-along, and it’s entirely wearable. Overall, I’m fairly pleased with myself. Unfortunately the fit is not what I was hoping for. The badly installed zipper doesn’t bother me because I know I could have put more effort into that. The fact that I accidentally made my lining four inches shorter than the outer skirt when I decided to shorten the overall length of the skirt doesn’t bother me because I know that if I had measured instead of eyeballing how much extra length to cut off, it would have been one inch shorter like it originally was. That stuff doesn’t bother me because I know I could have made more of an effort.

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What does bother me is how loose this dress is. I kept debating in my head between thinking that it was too big and thinking that maybe I just have a skewed idea of how much ease a garment should have because most of my store bought clothing is fairly tight through the chest. I think I’ve finally settled on thinking the dress is too big. I need to dig out my muslin and see what went wrong. It could be that I measured my seam allowance wrong while I was sewing. Or it could be that I didn’t cut as precisely and added in a few additional fractions of an inch on every edge. Or it could be that my muslin is also too loose but I never noticed because I wasn’t moving around in it. My mom had been concerned that the dress wouldn’t have enough ease when it was fully lined so we even lined our muslin, and it looked like I should get a nice snug fit. I really am confused by what happened with my dress’s fit.


Despite it’s imperfections, I’ll still wear this dress, because it’s really not that bad. And let’s be honest; I’m going to wear it with a cardigan over it 9 times out of 10. It’s just how I roll.






28 responses to “My First Dress”

  1. I LOVE IT πŸ™‚ The extra space could be useful after a big meal but understand your frustration with the muslin. Hope you figure it out

    Barny x

    1. Hahaha! Yep, I have plenty of room to fill out in the winter with this dress!

  2. Constance

    I agree that despite the imperfection it is still really nice. It is more than I can do in the dress department so, I am impressed.

    And it looks really cute with the cardigan.

  3. irene

    Very nice.Congratulation

  4. Congratulations on the first dress! Big4 pattern sizing is so confusing! Imagine, I bought this sheath dress pattern with 11cm of bust ease in my “size cart size” of 12. Yeah, that sure is “fitted”, isn’t it? Then I had to track down the pattern online because it was on its way to being OOP. So now, unless the finished measurements suggest otherwise, I systematically go down one size from what the chart says, down to a 10. Still, the dress is very wearable, IMO, and the ΓΌber cute cardi hides a multitude of sins. All good, I say. Do you think you might need a FBA? I just did my first one on a muslin for a Sewaholic Cambie and it was easier than I thought…except for the bigger waist dart. Good thing you make muslins! Now you need to make a dress with a circle skirt, like you had planned. Have you heard of GwenHug’s How much fabric reference cards? I did some translation for her so I have a free set but it is a life saver for when I buy online or physically in the US. Still cannot get that imperial system straight, metric girl that I am. Good luck with the next garment sewing project!

    1. Ease on Big 4 patterns does tend to be pretty odd. I measured the pattern pieces and decided to cut a size down for the recommended size. I can’t imagine how big that would have been on me!

  5. It looks great, especially for a first dress!

    As for the imperfections, it looks to me like it’s just a size big everywhere. Maybe your seam allowances could be a bit larger? I always have issues with fitting on big 4 patterns (as in there’s always TONS of ease) but since you made a muslin, it seems like you may have cut a bit extra/not made your allowances large enough… I know it may sound like a drag, but do you think unpicking and taking in your bodice seams would be worth it/help? Oh, also, if it’s cotton, it may shrink in the dryer if you’re willing to risk it πŸ™‚

    Fitting issues aside, the color looks awesome with the sweater, your plaid matching is awesome(I so don’t have that kind of patience), and this looks so cute with your new haircut πŸ™‚

    1. I think taking in the sides might solve the problem, but I am mentally done with this dress. I’m taking notes for future versions of this pattern, but I don’t think I’ll be unpicking any seams on this one.

  6. I think the dress looks perfect! And it looks so adorable with one of your gorgeous sweaters.

    P.S. I LOVE your hairstyle! I’m going to be cutting mine pretty short soon, hopefully I can rock it as good as you!

  7. Congratulations on your first dress! I made my first one a few weeks ago, so I can relate to the frustrations and happiness of making your first one!

    I don’t think it looks bad at all. I think it will be very wearable.

  8. I think your dress looks perfect. I’m impressed that you have a gathered skirt. Whenever I sew (rarely) I try to avoid anything that has to be gathered. πŸ™‚ In such a neutral fabric that dress will look fantastic jazzed up so many different ways. I love it with your belt. Stop worrying about what went wrong. You finished it, it looks great and it fits!
    xXx Helen

  9. New follower here–looking forward to trying one of your knitting patterns (when I get more free time!!!!) I hate it when my designs come out the wrong size. It almost seams like you could slash from lower armhole to waist and shift the whole thing over toward the center. Your waist darts look like they’re placed right, and the bust dart is probably good too–just too far over. So it doesn’t seem like a “one or two sizes too big” situation. Rather, that one part of it is too big. You could shift it over, then re-shape the armhole a little and, if necessary, shorten the bust dart. You would reduce the skirt waist too, in that case, to reflect the new bodice waist measurement.
    Maybe you guys made the whole thing too big when all you really needed to do was a bit of a full bust adjustment.

    1. The bust darts are actually in the right place. In the photo where I’m pinching out fabric, I’ve pulled the dress slightly to one side. The excess fabric is really along the sides.

      1. Yeah…so that’s an easy fix, the best kind!

  10. Congratulations on your first dress, it looks fantastic! Yes, the bodice could be a bit tighter, but it doesn’t look bad loose, and it’s nothing a belt or a cardigan can’t fix. Great choice of print also.

    I just made my first knitted garment ever and it was one of your patterns, so thank you! πŸ™‚

  11. It looks really great and I like your attitude to the imperfections.They’re no big deal. And way better to have a bit of extra ease than making it too small. Now that’s a bad feeling lol. It looks really sweet especially with the cardigan πŸ™‚

  12. Your dress is adorable! Until you mentioned the looseness, I didn’t notice. The belted pics were my faves!

  13. Kat

    It looks great, and especially with the belt or cardigan not noticeable – a fantastic job on a first dress! As a sewer first (since I was…6?ish) and knitter second, I’m much more comfortable with what to expect from sewing patterns. Since you made a muslin and had the fit worked out on that, it is unusual to find your dress much bigger! Some possible culprits : a difference in fabric between final dress and the muslin (does the final dress fabric have some more stretch, or possibly a looser weave than the muslin causing it to pull out of shape when sewn), using a different machine and accidentally sewing seam allowances at different widths, or if you used your muslin as a pattern and cut around it you could have sized up all around. When cutting out Big 4 patterns I usually size down 2 sizes, sometimes more if the ease seems especially excessive. Checking the final measurements on the pattern envelope and pattern pieces is a big help, factoring in my preferred ease. I’ve seen charts like this one on standards for ease and they make much more sense than the 3+ inches in Big 4 patterns:

  14. yay! I just posted about my first dress too! Yours is a bit more elaborate than mine πŸ˜›

    ease is super confusing, i think getting a better fit will come with practice. very difficult.

  15. Uschi

    I have enjoyed your site for several years and am always looking forward to your new productions. I think the dress is quite cute and with your cardigans over it close to perfect. You are so talented. Keep up the fun of being able to watch you.
    By the way your haircut is adorable.

  16. Despite having too much ease, it looks great on you. Maybe you could wear a wide belt (with some elastic) to bring it in a bit more at the waist. I’m always a little paranoid about the final version so I try it on again at a stage where I can still make some adjustments. I’m still working on my Fall for Cotton project. I made a muslin and then I tried on the version made in my fashion fabric. The last seam has not been sewn yet so I was able to adjust two front tucks to allow for more ease. I made an error in the muslin, which is why I had less ease. You can read about it on my blog.

  17. It looks so great! It looks like it wouldn’t be too much trouble to take it in through the side seams if you were willing to give it a shot.

    I always find fitting the hardest. I usually am trying to do it on myself by myself, too! If you ever want a fitting buddy, feel free to give me a holler!

    Ladyface Blog

  18. Do you know how wildly successful your dress is for a first time ever?! It’s amazing!!! I still struggle with fit ALL the time. It’s something that every sewer works on with every new pattern they try. That’s just part of sewing πŸ™‚

    You should be so proud of your dress. It looks amazing!

  19. I had something similar with my Hawtorn. The muslin seemed ok, like I only needed to move the vertical darts; but the final dress came too loose, so I keep thinking that I should have done a FBA. It’s a pity because I put a lot of work there and I’m finally not wearing it so much.

    Yours looks ok, just a bit loose and anyway, it’s more a dress for the Fall, so you’re right about wearing it mostly under cardigans. BTW, I love how the dress and that yellow Marion go together. I should knit one for myself!

  20. Congrats on your first dress, lady! This was a Big 4 pattern, no? I always make about 3 sizes smaller than they recommend, and then do a full bust adjustment. It’s rough, but I’m sure your next one will fit like a dream!

    And either way – you did it! And it’s wearable and super cute!

  21. I love it! This is the perfect style of dress and I love your fabric choice. I really need to get braver and start sewing some dresses!

  22. At a guess, I’d say that your dress fabric is a looser weave than your muslin fabric, and that’s why it’s too big. You need to make the muslin up in a very similar fabric to your garment fabric. You can adjust a pattern for fit, however the choice of fabric plays a large part. A pattern that fits perfectly in one fabric may not fit in another.

    It’s a great dress, and I love the yellow cardi with it!

  23. Great pattern, I love your haircut too!

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