My good friend agreed to be my "guinea pig" and around the same time our local fabric store was having a sew-along challenge.
The pattern said it was Intermediate, but after reading some pattern reviews I saw that many people felt it was explained well enough for a beginner. I figured since it was a sew-along there would be some tips and such. While there wasn't much of that, I knew I could go down and get advice from real people at the store and since there was a deadline I figured it would light a fire for me to get it done.
My friend picked out this super cute fabric combo:
I dove into the project by trying out a muslin version of the bust area. That fit her just great so I went ahead with the "real" fabric. It's so scary for me when I cut out the pieces. It feels like such a commitment!
If you haven't tried a Colette pattern...they are great. I haven't followed that many patterns yet, but so far they are way more vague than this Colette pattern was. The instructions come in a little booklet with pretty good diagrams. The pattern itself was still on the flimsy paper, but of course you can copy that over to better paper.
The piping was something I had never done before, but had already seen tutorials on how to make so making the piping was easy, but attaching it all together with the different fabrics proved to be quite a challenge! Lots of swearing ensued from this step and I almost threw in the towel a couple of times. Another challenge was after I finished the top pieces and was going to sew up the sides, I took it to have my friend try on. Her torso is short and the back piece ended up being way to big! Luckily I got advice right then and there from a mutual friend. (Thank you Kimmy!)
I could not have made this dress without some great Tutorials! Here are some I really benefitted from:
To learn piping
To learn the invisible hem
To put in the invisible zipper
The pattern mentioned understitching and had some info on their blogsite. Really there are some great tips and tricks on the Colette website, even if you are an intermediate sewer.
Some great advice I got from other sewers was first of all from the staff at Hart's "Go slow, take your time" and from my aunt "I have never made anything that I didn't have to take at least one seam out". I won't tell you how many seams I re-did, but let's say it was more than one....
The things I had never done before making this dress but now have tried!
Piping- making it and sewing it in
Pockets on a dress
*I didn't even know what this was! Facings are sewn to the edge of the garment and turned under to create a professional finish. They are most often used on necklines, sleeveless garments and waistbands.
At one point I realized I wouldn't make the deadline for the Sew-along. The prize wasn't huge, but it was 3 Colette patterns, which are not cheap! With the cute fabric and gorgeous model I figured we had a good chance, even with my inexperience! Once I realized I would not make it in time to win, I really was ok with it; I realized that I undertook a huge challenge for my first garment. At that point I just wanted something my friend would be proud to wear, since she was taking a chance on me.
I realized that after a couple of hours of sewing my quality would go downhill, so first of all I took a break from the dress and made my sister a cute tote for her trip. Once I did get back into it, I made limits on how long I could sew at once. No more 4-5 hour blocks. It seems like a lot of time, but if you have a passion, those hours fly by and all of a sudden it's midnight and you really should be going to bed...
Anyway, the moment of truth! I finally decided I couldn't do any more work on the dress or I would go crazy tying to make it perfect. I was very nervous since the back had been altered, this would make everything else "off". I worried this made it not fit her, since it is kind of a hard dress to put on anyway. I'm super excited to be done and that it looks so cute!
I gave it to her and then waited in antici...............pation to see if it would fit. She said she would wear it to work which gave me a little anxiety! Finally she texted me that it did fit and I felt so happy and relieved to hear I had done OK!
Without further ado, my friend and wifey Amber:
Told you I had a gorgeous model! I'm so excited to try this dress again, especially after I've seen how people have modified it in different ways.