Well, that was a terrible experience.
I want to say it wasn’t all bad, but seriously, this make chewed up so much of my precious vacation time. It was mostly due to errors on my part, but man, I’m glad to be done with this.
This dress is the result of some serious fabric stinginess. This yard of wool has been in the stash forever. I squeezed out a simple sheath dress from Vogue 8667 by the smallest of margins. My plan was an easy, straightforward sew, in which I would focus on precision to make the somewhat muted color come to life.
But first, I needed to change out the zipper. An invisible zip would be way better for a tailored dress, right? Right. Well, I didn’t have one of those on hand, so I went ahead and basted together the lining as a fit test in the meantime. A bit tight. (Note to self: You’re a size 10 in Vogue, dude, 10 IN VOGUE. NOT 8.) I planned to take in a few places and let a few others out, and marked up my wool accordingly.
I was going to change the order of construction anyway to accommodate the invisible zipper, so I threw the directions out and charged forward. I know how to make dress, after all!
(You see where this is going, right?)
I stitched the dress up, unpicking in several places to get seamlines to match up perfectly. I want to take some credit for having higher standards, but really, it just looked like crap any other way. While I’m super satisfied with the result of the restitching and attention to detail, it was the only option.
Proceed to me constructing 2/3s of the dress and then trying to install the zip once I finally got the store. Which doesn’t work once you’ve stitched the shoulders closed. You get this:
Thankfully, I am a capable, competent person outside my sewing room, otherwise my self-esteem would take a major hit. Because I am seriously remedial when it comes to dressmaking. It took me three times of installing and unpicking the zip before I was convinced that it was impossible.
So, 2 precious days of sewcation wasted on this zipper drama, I hit up the store to get a standard zipper. I had planned on sewing the zipper into the side, so that any mismatch on the waist seamline would be less obvious. I measured how long I needed my zipper to be and got the right zip.
Then, seduced by new fabric from aforementioned store, I put the dress away to work on another project. When I came back to it, I forgot about my brilliant side-zip choice. I sewed up the sides and installed the zipper in the back. Where it was several inches too short to even try on. That was a nice moment.
Infuriated but stubborn, I trudged to the store AGAIN. Actually, 2 different stores, because it was New Year’s Eve, and my first choice closed early. Figures. I finally bought the damn 22″ regular zipper and ended up hand-picking the thing.
The previous installation had been okay but not great, and I decided I could do better. And I did. I used the Sewaholic hand-picked zipper tutorial and it came out lovely. It’s kind of a fun process! And as a bonus, I didn’t have to hand-stitch the lining to the zip like I would in a traditional installation.
My fitting corrections, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. The adjustments I made at the top of the princess seams and the center back are great, and the bust fits well, though I needed to take out a bit more at the neckline. I also didn’t manage to let enough out at the sides and waist, and well… it’s a tight fit.
I’m pretending that I planned it that way. I wanted a well-fitted dress, right?
Anyway, as much as I hated the process, I’m happy with the product. It’s a clean, simple, classic garment in a quality fabric. I’m curious to see how often I wear it. I think this might be my new go-to “power meeting” dress. You know, provided I can sit in it and all that…
Since the fabric was gifted to me from my mom’s stash, the total cost, even with multiple zippers, was less than $10. Which, for a school-of-hard-knocks zipper bootcamp, is kind of a bargain.
Though quite a trial, your dress turned out lovely! Well done!
Thank you! It always feels like a trial in the moment, and later I’m like, “Oh yeah, that was no problem!”
It turned out great after all. We all go through that sometimes.
Thanks, Reah. Learning the hard way is still learning, right?