Things I Needed for this Project:
- 3 Yards Poly Satin Fabric (Purple)
- 2 1/4 Yards Lining Fabric
- 2 1/3 Yards of 72" Tulle
- Iron on flower appliques
- Invisible Zipper
Things I Learned:
- If you are trying to sew a long length of tulle, roll one end of it up.
- The colored side of the tracing paper is the side that goes on the fabric. Unless, of course, you want fancy colored patterns.
- Satin isn't so scary to sew on -- I hardly noticed a difference between that and the cotton I worked with on my apron.
- How to sew a rolled hem. I practiced and practiced at creating a blind hem, but I just could not do it correctly. So I decided to try a rolled hem instead, and I must say that I loved it!
- How to install an invisible zipper. Yes! An Invisible Zipper (this is my first zipper install of any kind)! I won't lie, it was pretty scary. But my survival instincts kicked in, and luckily I made it out alive and unscathed (but I think I might have post traumatic stress disorder).
- How to install an invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot.
Lessons Learned the Hard Way:
- Read the back of the pattern completely, that way you don't realize that you are missing the lining fabric for the dress on the day you start your project.
- I cannot get it through my stubborn head that you pin two fabrics on top of each other when you are sewing them together. I keep finding myself trying to pin fabric side-by-side. I spend a lot of time doing this, wind up frustrated, and then realize that it doesn't look like it should. Then I smack myself on the forehead, unpin everything, and pin in correctly in about 30 seconds (which is 1/20th of the time I spent doing it the wrong way).
- Cats absolutely love it when you try to iron a fabric that is prone to wrinkling that is much too large for your ironing board. She kept attacking the bottom of it.
- The Singer Quantum 9960 comes with a ton of zipper feet; unfortunately an invisible zipper foot isn't one of them!
- I am no good at cowls. Actually, that is an understatement. I am terrible at cowls. I don't think I'll attempt another cowl for quite some time. On the plus side, the dress doesn't look too bad with the cowl missing. In fact I think it was just dress B (dress A was the one I originally aimed to make).
- When I sew, all my first instincts are always wrong. Sewing just seems so unnatural to how I think things should work! Fabrics sewn on top of one another, zippers sewn on opposite sides and upside down and all kinds of non-sense. If I ever get this sewing thing down, I'm going to be out of whack with the rest of the world.
And so it Begins ...
The pattern told me to start by creating the cowl for the dress. The cowl is the odd thing hanging from the gold-colored dress in the pattern picture. After looking at the instructions for the cowl, I decided to try something less difficult. This was, after all, the very first piece of clothing I have ever attempted to sew. I needed to start off easy.
I decided to start with the lining of the dress, that way I had a chance to practice before working with the actual fabric. I must say that the cutting instructions were very difficult for this beginner. In all my previous experience (one whole project), all the pattern pieces were laid on the fabric at the same time and then cut. Well that wasn't the case here. Here I had to cut fabric, reposition, cut more, and in some cases I had to fold my already cut fabric. Eventually I did wind up with all the pieces I needed, which is somewhat of a miracle.
So how does this thing go together again? At first I tried to pin the sides of the fabric together (see Lessons I Learned the Hard Way), before finally remembering to pin them on top of one another.
I have a thing resembling a skirt. Yay!
Tulle. I quickly learned to dislike this stuff.
Tulle was interesting to sew on, to say the least. Fortunately it wasn't too difficult as long as I went slowly. Because I am such a genius, it only took me like 15 minutes to figure out that the tulle would be easier to sew if I rolled the other end. Duh. Oh well, another lesson learned!
Well, at least one of the lines is straight!
I think I was getting ready to sew a gather along the top of the tulle when I took this picture. I was getting very frustrated trying to keep the tulle (like 2 yards of 72" width) together and straight. I remember wishing that I had paperclips (which I have since added to my sewing box). Finally I asked my husband if he had any small clamps, and he came back with these. It helped tremendously.
And now we have one pretty, bunched ruffle. This was my first experience with gathering, and all-in-all it worked pretty well.
I had a heck of a time getting the ruffle to pin evenly around the base of the skirt lining. Finally I brought the clamps back, and that helped me to get it even. It also might have helped if I had transferred those markings to the tulle in the first place. Oops :-)
There, now that sucker is pinned on.
The ruffle is sewn on. Score!
Now it's time to get into the real stuff -- 3 yards of purple poly satin. FYI, Hobby Lobby sells this for $2.99 per yard as it's regular price. Combine that with a 40% off one item coupon (there is always one of those available), and you have this gorgeous material for only $1.80 per yard. And there are so many gorgeous colors to choose from! Now, if only there were a magic trick to ironing 3 yards of poly satin at a time without it constantly falling off the ironing board. And I think there's a cat in the bottom of that fabric there somewhere.
I finally get to experiment with tracing pattern markings! Lesson learned -- the colored end of the tracing paper is supposed to go face down.
There, that's more like it. I figured out the my tracing wheel worked well for for transferring these marks.
See? I am oddly proud of my pretty yellow marks.
I learned (after reading a tip elsewhere) to transfer these circles by placing a pin through the hole and then marking against it with chalk. Now if only I knew what I was supposed to do with those dots.
Hmm... odd, two sided triangles? What on earth does that mean?
I've got a partial skirt going on. The excitement is building.
Look! My daughter can even wear it if she holds it up with her hands ...
Ugh, the dreaded cowl. Maybe I would have done better with it if I knew what the dots and triangles were for.
It did not turn out well at all. I made an executive decision to leave it off.
We have a top!!
I was supposed to do the zipper next, but the thought of that terrified me. So I headed for the hem next. I tried and tried to get a blind hem to work, but in the end I just couldn't. So I learned the technique for a rolled hem.
LOVE the rolled hem!
Uh-oh. Zipper time. And not just any zipper, but an INVISIBLE one! The pattern called for a regular zipper, but no way was I sticking a regular zipper in this dress. I was on my own for figuring out how to make this work.
I watched a thousand and two tutorials on You Tube. I browsed blog after blog. I looked in all my sewing books. But no matter what I did, the whole zipper thing just didn't seem right to me. I kept pinning it into place to test how it would zip, and it never worked correctly.
Finally I figured out what my problem was. I kept pinning the left side of the underside of the zipper (see? just saying that is confusing) to the left side of the dress opening, because that was the side of the zipper that seemed natural to pin on. But noooo ... all my first instincts are wrong! Once I pinned the right side (as in, the literal right side and not the top facing side) of the upside-down zipper to the left side of the fabric (can you blame me for being confused), then it all finally worked out.
Shoot, small problem -- apparently I don't have an invisible zipper foot! But at this point I couldn't go to the store. So for my very first invisible zipper -- coincidentally my very first zipper at all -- I had to make due with my regular zipper foot. I sewed slow and as close to the zipper as I could get.
One side attached -- no going back now!
So now I pinned the left side of the upside-down zipper to the right side of the fabric. And by right side, I mean both the facing-up side and the literal right side of the opening in the back. If I ever write instructions for installing an invisible zipper, I'm calling the right and left sides of the zipper and fabric something else entirely!
Yay, it is on! Unfortunately when I zipped it up it wasn't quite right -- I could see too much of the zipper. My loving husband figured out that I hadn't sewn close enough to the zipper on the other side (as shown below). I went back over it with my regular zipper foot and got as close as I could.
That was the last step for sewing! After that I ironed on a couple appliques (one on the stomach, the other on the left shoulder, hidden by her hair). On the plus side, I finished this at about 10 pm on a Saturday night -- just in time for church the next day.
And the back -- a little bunching from the zipper, but overall I am pretty happy with it!
Amber is ready for church the next day. Like childbirth, all the pain was worth it in the end!