Life as a loving homemaker
My younger sister has just turned 20 this month and plans to throw a dance party for herself. One of her dreams is to be a wedding planner like David Tutera, so she wants some practice in planning the decorating, theme, and colors of bigger parties. For this bash she is determined to have a yellow dress to dance in. After she described her unsuccessful attempts to find any yellow dress at all, I offered to sew one for her.
I’ve never considered myself a seamstress. In fact, I took a sewing class in 8th grade where I remember making a pair of boxers and a cardigan. The cardigan looked fine, but was too stiff to wear, and the boxers (which I wore as pajama shorts) had holes all over in them and strings hanging everywhere before they were a month old. Not to mention one leg was wider than the other. Other than that, most of my sewing ventures focused on clothing my dolls, and whatever I did try to make for myself I was too embarrassed to ever wear.
My older sister is the true seamstress of the family. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in that. But she recently moved with her husband and children and is no longer living close enough to help us out in these things. So, I offered. And my little sister, bravely, agreed to let me try. She gave me some ideas of dress styles she liked, but we didn’t find any particular pattern. Honestly, it’s hard for me to get things the way I want them with store-bought patterns. We went straight to the fabric store and bought the fabrics she wanted–using my best guess for how much we would need of each.
I looked up some information on handkerchief skirts, because my sister said she might like having a square skirt, instead of the circle skirt I’d suggested, and that the two layers could be askew from each other to make 8 points instead of four. This is what I found and decided to use as the pattern for the skirt of the dress.
I also found this interesting tutorial about making perfect-fitting bodices using duct tape and old shirts.
So, I taped my sister up and drew a few lines, then cut her out of the tape and used the form to make a pattern for the bodice of the dress. It actually worked pretty well even though I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I gave myself an extra big seam allowance since I don’t have a serger, opting to fold the extra allowance twice and sew it down to hide any raw edges. Zigzag stitches never held up very strongly for me, and left the edges only slightly less raw.
After sewing the bodice and the skirt together and adding a zipper at the back, I tentatively invited my sister over for a fitting, feeling sure that I had made the bodice too small and that the zipper might not be long enough to let her get into the dress. To my complete astonishment, the dress fit her just right! It wasn’t baggy or tight, and she didn’t have any trouble getting into it or zipping it back up. What a relief! A lot of thought, time, and money had already gone into it, and there was just no Plan B if it had not fit.
The only things she mentioned might need a change were the sleeves I had designed. I tried to make them match the skirt’s pointed style, but when on my sister they didn’t drape the way I had hoped they would. In fact they stuck straight out from her shoulders. It didn’t look terrible, but it isn’t what either of us was going for. So, I’m currently in the process of redoing the sleeves and finishing off the hems around the edge of the skirt. Also, my sister had mentioned doing a ruche with some of the top layer fabric along the bodice. I’ve never made ruching before, so this was also a particular surprise when she tried the dress on and the fabric I had gathered and pinned in place looked really nice! I just need to sew it in place and hope none of the pins fall out before I finish.
The dance party is this Friday, so even though I’m publishing this post now, before the dress is finished, I do plan on adding some pictures of the finished project once it is done, which should be very soon.
Thanks for reading about my Yellow Dress project.
Update: Here are some pictures of my sister wearing the finished dress. Not too shabby for an amature without a pattern, don’t you think?