One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

Last night, delighted at my productivity, I ran to my husband and declared the maxi dress finished. Well, except for the hem since the bias-cut skirt needed to hang for 24 hours before any hemming. I then hung the dress up and got ready for bed. Just before turning off the lights, I realized that I actually hadn’t tried on the dress since adding the skirt portion. I figured it wouldn’t keep me up too much longer to slip it on.

Little did I know.

The zipper was ghastly. I’d sewn it in as carefully as I could, but I hadn’t thought about the difficultly of sewing something on the bias to something on the straight grain. It was a puckering mess. It was then that I remembered that Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch had written a tutorial on inserting zippers into bias cut skirts. The bedroom light stayed on as the zipper was unpicked.

The rouching was also far from flattering. My attempt to keep it from being a saggy and baggy mess had worked and looked great when the midriff was just part of the bodice, but it looked out of place upon the addition of the hip skimming skirt. Too much poof. The bedroom light stayed on as the side seams of the midriff were unpicked.

Hopefully Sunni’s tutorial will help me get the zipper in properly. But, before that, I have to do something about the rouching so that I can get the side seams back together again. Right now the midriff is still sewn in at the top and the bottom, where it meets both the bodice and the skirt, but the sides are free, which gives me full access to adjust the ruching. My instincts are to pull the bias-cut midriff section taut across the underlining and pin random, smooth pleats in place at the center (as I’ve shown above). I could then prick stitch where I’ve pinned to keep the rouching in place. The piece is still anchored at the top and bottom because those seams wouldn’t change, but the bulk of the excess fabric would end up in the side seams and not across my belly. I can’t imagine that this solution is truly sewing well, which is the goal of my hobby and this blog. My guess is that the proper fix would be to prick stitch the rouched fashion fabric to the underlining a million times. The more stitches, the closer the fashion fabric is held to the underlining, the less poof there is in the midriff.

Overall, things are still on the up and up. The fabric is lovely, and I like the lines of the dress. The wonderful thing about sewing is that nothing is permanent until you cut. And, sometimes, even after you’ve made a wrong cut, you can still figure out a fix (I’m looking at you, linen sleeves). But, I’m going to step back and give this dress a bit of space before I launch into another round of sewing that might need to be unpicked. Instead, I’m going to relish in Tasia’s guidance during the Lonsdale Sew-Along and my monthly sewing class for the next few days. A little bit of hand holding from good teachers is always welcome and appreciated.

Also, if anyone else is attempting to cut and sew something on the bias for the first time, you should check out this article from Threads Magazine. Though it didn’t prevent me from having any problems, it was still wonderfully helpful.

13 thoughts on “One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

    1. I’m pretty sure it’s only an ordeal because it falls into the first-time category for most of it. First time sewing something on the bias and first time ruching. But, there has to be a first time for everything. I’m learning a lot, and I do think it will be lovely in the end!

  1. I wish I could provide some wise guidance in connection with the ruching, but I’m a newbie and have no clue how to “sew well” yet. Perhaps your approach of distancing for a bit is the way to go. But don’t give up! This will be a stunning dress once completed.

    1. Yes, as far as “sewing well” goes, I’m a bit like a ship lost at sea. I am learning a lot from books and the internet, but one of these days I’m going to have to sit down and take a real garment sewing class. But, until then, I always have to remind myself that I’m trying to learn how to do this all well so that I don’t rush past the difficult parts and say it’s good enough. I know it won’t have a long life in my closet that way.

  2. Hey Amy! I saw your post on my blog, so I thought I’d visit yours and say hello. 🙂 I just got lost in your blog so I’m definitely subscribing to it *now* and I also love what you’re doing with your maxi dress. I bet it’s gonna look smashing! 🙂
    (Isn’t picking stitches just the worst!)

    1. Thanks! I’ve been excitedly reading back through your blog as well. And, yes, picking stitches isn’t my favorite thing to do. I do try to use it as a time to reflect. It’s just unfortunate when it keeps me up past my bedtime!

  3. Doh, the bias rippling stinks. I so know the staying up past bedtime thing, over bias trim! I have a project that came to a standstill because I had to unpick so much and it was one of those first-time-everything projects… but they are always so good to have, yeah, like throwing yourself to sea! I hope the waistband works out…

    1. So far, so good with the side seams. Pulling the bias midriff to the sides creates a gathered effect at the side seams, similar to what the pattern calls for at the shoulders. I quite like it. Still nervous about that zipper though.

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