23 February 2012

Getting Ready to Sew - Simplicity 2217 (Part 1)

I'm excited to say that I spent my week working on Simplicity 2217: Misses' Amazing Fit Dresses with individual pattern pieces for Slim, Average and Curvy Fit and A, B, C, D cup sizes.
I've actually wanted to try one of these Amazing Fit patterns for a while. I picked up 2217 (and the Amazing Fit skirt pattern 2475, which I'll make one day) at a sale a few months ago. I don't know if the rest of you have taken a good look at these patterns, but I think they're great. After using one, I'm probably going to pick up every other AF pattern I remotely like during the next pattern sale.
Most sewing patterns are made for a b cup and average hips. These patterns allow you to use pieces especially designed for for A, B, C, or D cup sizes and Slim, Average, or Curvy hips without having do to FBA or other adjustments which can be pretty time consuming. Additionally, these line of patterns include a lot of tips within the instructions for proper fitting.  

 Picking a Pattern:
If you're like me, you have a rather large collection of sewing patterns that you purchased on sale. A lot of these patterns were picked up on a whim because they were only $1. This means that before purchasing most of my patterns there were not vetted. So, when I'm getting ready to sew a new garment, I tend to pull out all of the patterns I have which remotely interest me and then I narrow them down. I normally ask myself these questions: What fabric do I want to use? Do I want to wear cardigans with this dress or would I prefer a sleeve? Will I have to wear a cami with this dress? Is this shape going to be flattering? Do I have anything that looks like this dress already?
After you narrow down the field. Run a google search. It's really helpful to know what experiences other people have had with the pattern you're about to try. That's how I knew that I was up for a challenge going into Simplicity 4080, the Kimono. It's good to know what you're up against. Often times, pattern reviews and blog posts will have lots of helpful tips that will get you through the sewing process without as many hurdles.

Getting Started:
So, When I'm preparing for a sewing project, I normally skim over the instructions and measurements info for the pattern first. I will then mark the envelope, remove the contents, and take the envelope with me to the store.  I ended up choosing to use a wool blend that I had in my stash for this dress. So, I pinned a clipping of the fabric to the envelope to take it with me for matching thread.  For this particular project, I needed fabric, thread, a 22" zipper, and a 1" buckle. I actually did not find a buckle that I liked, so I decided to omit the belt for now, I might add one in the future. Additionally, i picked up seam tape, and I will be using lace hem tape from my stash.

This is the thread I picked up.  As you can tell, it's not an exact match.  Sometimes I have to choose the closest thing you can find that will blend in.

When getting ready to cut my pattern out, I will circle all of the pieces I need, so that I am on track while looking for them on the big pattern sheets. I roughly cut around all of my pieces and then fold up all of the remaining pieces and return them to the envelope.

Iron your pattern pieces. Yes, read that again. Iron your pattern pieces. Lowest heat setting. Dry. It will make a world of difference in accurate cutting if your pieces are without crazy creases from the factory folds.

Normally, I do not post pictures of any muslin processes involved in my sewing.  This time I decided it was worth it to include the muslin process in my blog. I used a thrifted blue sheet.  For my muslin, I skipped all facings and the hem. When making a muslin, it's okay to leave out certain pieces but it's important to factor them back in mentally when making alterations. Also, consider the differences between the fabric you're using for your final product and the fabric you are using for your muslin. Excuse the fact that I only have one sleeve and that I did a terrible rush job on the pleats on the bodice. :)

This is my cat helping me get ready to cut out the muslin.  He loovveesss helping. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what fabric I'm using next. When I finished the muslin and pulled out the wool, he immediately decided to sleep on it. Cats, hmph!

My largest concern is that while the bodice fits across the front, the side piece of the princess seam has a bit of extra bagginess to it.

The neckline is without the facing, but I can tell already that it's going to be slightly lower than I would be comfortable with when it's done.

I'm not sure how well you guys will be able to tell this from the picture, but the shoulder is slouchy.

Fit Adjustments (or, What I Learned From My Muslin):
-1- It's not so obvious in the pictures, but it's a tad too fitted at the hips. I prefer plenty of ease in the hip area, so I'm going to add probably 2" for comfort.
-2- I will only be using 1/2" for the hem allowance (with lace hem tape).  If I wanted to use the 1 1/2" allowance according to the pattern, I would need to add an inch (or two) for appropriate length. With no hem at all, this dress is just at my knee, where it is on the model after hem.
-3-  After playing more, I've decided that the neckline with the facings will be fine.
-4- My extra fabric at the side of my bust and my slouchy shoulder will be fixed by taking in the back by about 2". That puts the shoulder caps where the should be and fixes the weird bagginess of the side of the bust. I might be able to take out more, the front of the dress seems to fit more or less properly while the back of the dress just has too much going on. Had DD been available, I would have gone down a number size and up a cup size. Once I pinned out the excess in the muslin, it looked much better.
-5- The sleeves are pretty baggy.  Part of me likes it, the other part of me thinks it's sloppy looking.  I will probably end up taking in the sleeves a little towards the bottom. I will leave this adjustment for after the dress is together incase I decide that the bagginess of the sleeve is not as bad in a darker, heavier fabric.   

  So, now, it's time to get started on the actual dress! :D


  1. Cats always know when you need to move a pattern piece: that's when mine sit on it. I once read a set of sewing instructions. Every other step was"Remove cat."

  2. Yeeaaa, that's my cat. It's okay until he is startled and decides to jump and running, messing up everything in the process. aahhhh

  3. Anonymous27/2/12 11:23

    Get a lace cami and put under your dress! They have the ones that attach to your bra straps now!

  4. Whether it's sewing or knitting, my cat determines how much time I can/will spend working on a project, Generally by sitting RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE!! Aren't cats wonderful??

  5. Anon - Yes! I need those, I really do! I hate the extra bulk of wearing cami but sometimes it's necessary!

    MaryMac - Oh yes! My old man KNOWS exactly where I don't want him to be. Sometimes he just likes sitting in front of my sewing machine. (he also likes sleeping on top of my cell phone or macbook). He's willing to sit on anything that he views as competition for my love. ha!

  6. Look how tiny your waist looks! This is going to be gorgeous on you. I have the same pattern and a va va va voom figure like you do--maybe this dress will get made sooner now. I am frightened by my collection of patterns, it makes me wonder if I'm a hoarder just blossoming. Thanks for talking about your process.

  7. Anonymous27/2/12 20:33

    I made this same pattern in a very dressy fabric for a wedding and I loved it. I received so many compliments. I will definitely be making it again in a nice fabric for work.

  8. Merrier - Thanks, I am definitely liking the shape of this dress! And, yes, I have quite the stock up of patterns. I buy on sale, so whenever I find a fabric I like I usually already have a pattern to go with it.

    Anon - yes, it's a very versatile dress.

  9. Anonymous5/3/12 02:31

    Hello, r u still giving sew lessons please call me 4046716326

  10. Did you ever make the dress from the burgundy material? would love to see it!