At the end of last year, I decided ( in order to improve my sewing skills  and add much needed church clothes to my wardrobe) that  I would make 5 shift dresses in 2013. That was  my goal. I’m talking shift dresses with good quality fabric, fully lined with invisible zippers. It’s now  February and after spending many hours, days and weekends I have finally decided to give up on shift dress number one. This officially  leaves me at zero, which means I’m back at one.

Things started off cool:



then things got real:


and more real ( the lining sticking through the neck!! Oh my!):


So, here’s the story: I  previously made 8( EIGHT!!!) muslins for this usher

Lavender Shift Dress

dress  I sewed this summer. I still wanted to tweak the fit so I made a few more until I was happy. All was fine until I  ironed the wool that I bought for the dress…with steam. I was happily pressing away with the  words (“pressing can make the difference between a homemade looking garment and RTW one” ringing in my ears). Well, Obviously I forgot I was working with wool because by the time the whole thing came together it was stretched waaay out ( the bodice that is). I decided to add pleats to the front and back neckline so I wouldn’t have to remake it. That seemed to kinda work. For a minute anyway…



When it came to attach the lining, I found that the lining  was way bigger than the dress. This is so odd because I cut out the same size for both the lining and the fashion fabric!


I put the lining in only to realize I had no idea how to attach a lining WITH an invisible zipper. Much agonizing and research ensued. Anyway, I finally figured it out! At last, bliss. Ummm, no. I tried the dress on only to realize the armhole was too tight and the darts were kinda weird. None of this happened with my last muslin.  I failed to reinforce the free edges of the wool so my fabric was steadily unraveling and all the picking out I did totally didn’t help. I had picked the fibers down to nil and had very little seam allowance at the shoulder  seam by this time.  You can see where this is going. It  seems there was no way to save this dress.  After I chop up the dress I can probably salvage a pencil skirt out of the bottom. I’m totally bummed because I spent SOO much time on this effort and I was loving the fashion fabric! I also had a hard time finding lining to match and the lining color  was spot on!  All that gone. Although I’m really sad but you gotta know when to hold em’ and when to fold em’ as Kenny Loggins would say :-).

I did  learn some really good things though:

1. Reinforce your fabric edges, ESPECIALLY the wovens that fray.

2. Be extra  careful with the iron and there is a such thing as over- pressing a garment.

3. Learn/know more about  the  properties of the  fabric you’re using.

4.  How to FULLY line a dress- YAAAAY me! (Seriously I was nervous and sick at the stomach just figuring out how to tackle this).

5. How to fully line a dress with an invisible zipper. 🙂

6.  Draft a pattern sloper before tackling any.more.sewing.projects.

I think those are invaluable lessons! I just had a friend help me with my measurements and from the interwebs, I am learning how to transfer those measurements to a sloper.  Once I have this down set, I am going to get started on shift dress # 1!

If at first you don’t succeed, figure out what lessons you learned and put them in practice for your next project.


Happy sewing!