First UFO of the year done

Wednesday, 20 January 2010
It turns out there is quite of lot of things I can sew without my overlocker, including many many candidates from my big box of UFOs (unfinished objects to those of you lucky enough to not be blighted by this affliction). This year I'm going to try my hardest not to create any new UFOs, and attempt to finish more than a few of the existing UFOs. But I'm not making any promises.

I'm off to a good start so far: finishing all the project that I've started and now I've completed UFO no.1 for this year.

It's a very simple sheath dress made from now OOP McCalls 8788, made in a soft cotton in aqua blue/green tiny floral print nicked from my mum's stash. This is a 1997 pattern, and it's possible I cut the pattern out then, but I didn't progress any further than that. I needed to buy lining material and a zipper to finish it, but it's not like me to avoid going to the fabric store, especially when I have a valid reason, so who knows why I never started this at all.

So at the start of summer last November or so I bought the lining and zipper, and sewed it up except for the hem. Then it sat on my dress form for a few month because I wasn't happy with how it turned out. I had cut this out so long ago, long before I became familiar with fitting issues such as my swayback and narrow, rounded shoulders and back then I used to cut the pattern out according to my size with no alterations at all. Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn't. As a result this dress had an unsightly puffiness in my lower back below the end of the darts and above my rear end, because it really needed a wedge shape removed from the pattern before cutting the fabric to deal with my swayback. I could have lived with it as a loose fitting shift dress, but it sort of annoyed me so I had to fix it.

If any of you needed convincing that my method of sewing is to make things up as I go along, here it is: I put this dress on inside out, then I pin fitted by pinching out the excess along my back (you know it's not easy to bend your arms backwards like that!) and then I sewed the dart along those pin lines. And it worked! However, while I was able to taper the dart to nothing at the top, it was still quite deep at the bottom and if I wanted to taper it properly it would have finished at the hem line. I was worried that might make movement a little restricted, so instead I stopped the dart abruptly like this:

Then on the right side of the dress I ironed it into a pleat at the back, so I am hoping to the non-sewing general public it looks like it was designed to be like that. I quite like it too:

And you can see that making that humongously long dart improved the fit at the back dramatically because now it follows my curves:

So anyway, this project is not too exciting or technically difficult since it's really just a well fitting simple summer dress, but it's out of the UFO box and into my wardrobe. And I learnt some valuable lessons too:

1. make necessary adjustments to the pattern before cutting out and not the fabric, it's much easier;
2. princess seam dresses are easier to get a snug fit for a swayback figure; and
3. most projects can be saved by dodgy techniques!


  1. Lovely dress. And the alteration in the back worked perfectly.
    I think getting rid on a UFO is a nice feeling. I don't have any UFOs yet (I haven't been sewing enough for that - and would probably wear whatever wadder I make) but I have a box full of old clothes waiting to be "refashioned". Two old sweatshirts recently made it out of the box - and I felt great ;-)

  2. Is this for your back to work wardrobe? I love the back pleats. Thanks for your comment on my "jackson pollack" dress.

  3. Cute dress! The color suits you well and looks very beautiful on you!

  4. That was a fantastic save! I love the new pleated hem and pleeze that was a "design element" you added not some dodgy technique! :) Glad to see you making good use of your "me time!"

  5. Everytime someone mentions "UFO" it warms my heart.. I once thought i was the only one gulity of starting a sewing project and then abandoning it....sometimes for good reason, and sometimes for no reason at all. Hopefully I too will make some kind of dent in my UFO stash this year.....

  6. I really like your devised pleat situation. I remember hearing once that the way to find a skirt that makes your bum look great is to find one fitted until just under it. Looks like that's what you've done, so I think you're totally within reason to call it an intentional design/fit detail!

  7. It fits you perfectly!! Great job! I need to work on some of my UFOs, too!

  8. Very nice. I love that you turned that dart excess into a pleat. It looks great!

  9. http://dougjean.blogspot.com21 January 2010 at 05:39

    Good for you.... you can't feel it, but I'm patting you on the back! Way to get it done and make it look great in the process! And I must say... mom has good taste in stashables!

  10. Great looking dress and what a great "design element".

    Wish I could think outside the box for those as this is usually why my items end up UFO's.

  11. I think it's a pretty dress and your alteration is a great solution. Yes, it does look like a design element.

  12. Woo hoo - congratulations! You have taken it from slightly boring frock to rather cute. Your UFO box must be getting near the bottom by now?

  13. Oh, this is too funny!! I have that same dress pattern cut out and "mostly sewn" in my UFO stash for the same exact reason!!! You have just made my day by showing me how to fix it - YAY. Too bad my material is not such a pretty color as yours - oh well, I can't have everything.:) Thanks again!

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