A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The enemy of good

I had forgotten how much I love wrap dresses.  I still own two RTW ones from my working lady days, tucked away as they are in the maybe-I'll-fit-into-it-again-someday box.  They never failed to make me feel stylish and put together when I wore them.  Wrap dresses don't fit into my daily wardrobe anymore, but that didn't stop me from sewing up another Appleton dress the day after I finished my first one.

In hindsight, I think the last one, in a straight size 14 E/F, really came out well.  But hypercritical me just could not leave it alone.  I found the bodice a little low-cut and there were some small wrinkles above my bust.  I also felt the sleeves were too tight and that the bodice was a bit tight across my upper back waist.

So up I went another a cup size, from 14 E/F to 14 G/H. I also added the teeniest sliver to the upper waist on the back pattern piece, and used the size 16 sleeves.  I am not sure which modification is the primary culprit, but I ended up with the same low cut, plus mo' wrinkles, mo' problems.

14 G/H in red, 14 E/F in blue.

Looking at these photos, I think it's got to be the sleeve that's the issue.  I didn't modify the size 14 armhole, but just stretched it to fit the 16 sleeve.  Maybe that's the problem?  I don't really know, so please comment if you have ideas!  The sleeve is also strangely twisty - when I put the dress on I have to shrug my shoulders with my arms straight out in front of me, and turn my wrists inward to get the sleeve to untwist.  I have no idea why.  I did not sew the sleeves on backwards (I checked and rechecked), and I'm at a loss.

On the plus side, my modification of cutting both front pieces the same width (instead of trimming the under layer), gave me more security in the skirt.  I also added 4.5" to the waist tie pattern piece on the fold, which gave me the longer sash that I prefer for bow-tying.  And my 1" lengthening of the skirt allowed me to sew a hem this time.  I didn't lengthen (or hem) the sleeves, though.

This dress does fit better (i.e. not as tightly) across the back.

The fabric is a lovely rayon/lycra jersey recently bought from Fabric Mart.  It was lovely to work with - very stable and substantial.  I think it actually might have some cotton in it too.

The dress is very comfortable to wear.  The neckline really does stay put (with aid of safety-pin to keep the front respectable), even though I don't quite have the bodice fitted properly.  My eyes do go right to the offending folds whenever I look in the mirror (or at one of these photos), but I try to remember that, before sewing, I wouldn't even have noticed the wrinkles when trying on dresses, and I certainly would have bought this one.



  1. Hi, I've been reading your blog for a while now, but never seem to get around to commenting.
    First I want to say that your dress looks lovely. That material is great. And I know what you mean about you would never have noticed any fitting issues before you started sewing. I had exactly the same thought with the top I was sewing yesterday. I wasn't entirely happy with way the sleeves were sitting, they kept twisting. I asked my husband for his opinion and he gave me this blank stare and I realised that no one but me would ever see an issue. Having said that, it looks to me like the armscythe on your dress is slightly off. There seems to be excess fabric pooling at the front of your armhole. I'm guessing that that may have something to do with the size 16 sleeve in the 14 armhole, so if you were to make it again I'd re-look at the armscythe and sleeve head shapes some more, but realistically it looks fine as it is.
    Great dress, and nice work with the modifications.

  2. Looks lovely! I don't know the real answer about the armscye/sleeve either but I completely agree that before sewing i didn't notice things like that in rtw clothing.

  3. I have the same problem with the sleeves and the extra fabric at the front. In my case it's tied up with where the shoulders sit on me. The pattern has an allowance for forward shoulders which has the shoulder seam moved forward - I have erect shoulders and the shoulder seam sits about an inch and a half forward of where it should be. I've done a bit of investigation into how to fix it but think it'd be easier to find something that fits my shoulders (ie just about every other pattern I've ever used) and then do an FBA. As I'm not really a dress person that might be a long time coming...

  4. You look radiant and those shoes, swoon!

  5. The dress looks lovely! It's too bad about the fitting issues. They are pretty unnoticeable when you wear the dress though. It does seem like the armcye is slightly off, like there is some excess fabric there. But I think the dress is still very wearable!


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