testing, testing, 1 2 3

Thursday 3 March 2011
Well my wedding ring made it's way out of Anna safely, with no harm to either the swallower or the ring itself! I'll spare you the gruesome details, but I still can't bring myself to wear it yet and it's still sitting in a bowl of disinfectant. Anna is quite proud of her little tale, if we ask her 'what happened to mummy's ring?', this is what she does:

And then she will point to her rear end and say quite loudly "it came out my bum"! That's children for you, keeping it real......

Thanks all for your empathy and sympathy regarding our little experiment in sleep deprivation torture. It doesn't gladden me to hear that other people have suffered from it, but it is nice to know that others have experienced it and are still surviving and indeed had more children. Mary Nanna - you've hit the nail on the head for me, I feel that other people just have no clue how hard some children can be to parent when their own children are reasonably well behaved, and it gets very annoying when they try to downplay what I'm experiencing.

And thanks everyone for your opinions on those bell sleeves - I knew you would all have an opinion or two! However, I'm still torn, I think they look good but it does seem like a lot going on what with the peplum and pleats of the skirt, plus I can see how unpractical they could be. I guess I'm going to have to make a test garment before I decide.

And speaking of test garments, I forced myself to finish the hem on the dress I made recently as a test for a new pattern only because of my resolve to create no new UFOs. I wore it today too, and in addition to the fit of the dress being nothing special, it was also not that comfortable as it was too restricted around the shoulders. Sigh, such a waste of two fitting muslins and one test garment! But at least my expensive and beautiful fabric I planned to use is still sitting safe and sound in my stash until I find the one.

The pattern I used is Vogue 1914 which is a 1997 Calvin Klein pattern, and is so OOP that a google search didn't even find someone selling it second hand, nor any mention of it all anywhere else.

I chose to make View B, which is the sleeveless version pictured in the centre. Doesn't look like anything special does it? But it was the back view that piqued my interest:

I thought that the curved inset band in the lower back of the dress would greatly help with my issues of excess fabric in that area. But it didn't, sadly. Fitting muslin 1 was cut straight off the pattern: too tight around the hips, too big in the bust, and loads of ease in the front and back (typical result).
Fitting muslin 2: I made a swayback adjustment to both the bodice back and back inset piece, added a few centimetres width to the skirt, took out a few centimetres across the bust, and widened the darts in the front. Still not a great fit.

Having gotten sick of sewing and then taking apart fitting muslins I gave up at this point and made a test garment with further modifications: I put a vertical dart in the back bodice piece, also shortened the bodice by 2cm, and lowered those front darts. Here's my finished test garment:

The front doesn't look too bad in this photo, but trust me there is a lot of puffiness in the front there below my bust near my waist. As you can see from the side shots, I can pinch out a fair amount of excess fabric in both the front and back above my hipline:

Maybe my expectations are too high, I want a close fitting dress that skims over my curves without clinging but when you have very large hips, a small waist and an even smaller bust size it just doesn't work, especially in a woven fabric. I'm not kidding, according to the Vogue measurements my bust is a size 6, my waist is between a size 10 and 12, and my hip is a size 16.

Possibly also the fabric I used didn't help either - it was one of those fabrics that I couldn't decide whether it was fugly or amusing. It's a vintage cotton that came in a bulk lot I bought off ebay quite a few years ago, and the pattern is little brown strawberries and orange flowers:

It's no great loss to have made a dress from this fabric that I will probably only wear around the house!

But this exercise wasn't a complete loss, I did learn some more about my fitting issues that I hadn't realised I had, despite having done a pattern making course where we did detailed measurements:

1. I think I'm short waisted, because by shortening the bodice by 2cm it made the skirt fall over my hips and thighs much better.

2. I'm not so sure I need to do sway back adjustments, since that didn't really help anyway and thanks to pattern~scissors~cloth I realise there are other causes of excess fabric in the back.

3. My shoulders are quite uneven, with my right side being about 1.5cm lower than the left. Sewing a larger seam on my right shoulder piece fixed up a diagonal wrinkle I had across the front, so realising this was quite the revelation. But now that I look at the rear view photos of myself, it should have been clear all along:

4. Those French darts on the front of the dress (a combined waist and bust dart emerging from the side seams - thanks again to pattern~scissors~cloth for the definition) don't suit my figure. Seperate bust dart and vertical contour front darts works much better for me, as do princess seams.

Anyway I've put this all behind me now, I have so many other patterns that I think it's unnecessary to further work on this one when I may have the perfect pattern in my stash just waiting for me to try it. Plus I've already started work on my next dress, which in a major departure from my usual it's in a bright fabric. Vivid in fact! Not at all grey. As a teaser here's the thread I'm using:


  1. Oyy hang in! Your little one sounds like a really exuberant kid and you are right to insist on more support from your doctor. Trust your instincts - you are with her the most. Hope it gets better sooner rather than later for you.
    On a fitted dress front - have you thought about back and front princess seams (maybe coming from the shoulder?)? I think that might give you more scope for fitting.

  2. I like the fit as per the photo... it really does look good in the picture... but of course it's not me wearing it! The color's look good on you too!
    WoWWW... pink... I'm impressed! Way to get out of your comfort zone!

  3. About the dress - the print disguises the fit imperfections well, and I think it looks quite wearable. And I don't think the fit is bad, either!
    May I offer an opinion? I suggest that you forget about Calvin Klein patterns, at least the "vintage" ones. They seem to have been cut for people with very few curves. I remember an article featuring Mr. Klein's favorite model, who was attractive but very much straight up and down. I have a sort of similar shape to yours, and I have never been able to get his designs to fit well.
    I enjoy your blog, and your work is inspiring.

    Lana from Illinois

  4. I'm sorry, I know it isn't funny at all when you are experiencing it, but that story about Anna and the wedding ring made me roll around laughing, especially the bit about her pointing to her bum.

    But much sympathy, and I actually really like your dress (and I think the fabric is so fun!)

  5. So glad to read Anna and your ring are safe. The picture of Anna really captures the moment. Good luck on your next sewing endeavor. I am having similar struggles with a princess seam sheath dress. I may keep trying to work it out, or move on. We shall see.

  6. I love your blog! I lurk sometimes, and I happened on it again today. I must say, I had to LOL when I started reading your post! I hope one day you can laugh about it also. I have two little ones, 1 and 4, and they are both strong-willed. Needless to say, I have a lot of hard days where, like you, it seems like people just don't relate to what I go through. But then there is always a glimmer of sunshine amidst the craziness! I hope you get a lot more sunshine your way!!

    Oh, and I really like the dress!

  7. I think we are very close to the exact same size so I feel you. Before I went back to sewing I could not own any dresses because RTW does not make any dresses that are S/M/L all in the same garment! I think the dress is cuter than you feel right now, but I totally understand the fitting disappointment after two muslins! I have almost given up on dresses without a waist seam due to my extreme size variances; being able to dart extra hip fabric into the waist seam helps. And I infinitely prefer princess seams over darts for a bodice--so much easier to adjust to a small bust.

  8. I'm glad that Anna is well (and so proud of her little adventure) and that you got back your ring.
    I look forward to seeing your new colourful dress! I haven't had much time to sew lately. All I made was a grey (!) skirt.

  9. Here's someone who has been there wishing you the best. Kids are tough... I could tell you stories and I understand completly about people not relating to a difficult child. Just wanted to say it does get better. :) My daughter, miraculously, has made it to 15 and she never slept through the night till she was 7 and sometimes she would be up 2 to 3 days at a time. She still doesnt sleep well but things ARE BETTER....

    Looking forward to seeing your new project..


  10. Glad you got the ring back! My younger daughter swallowed a penny when she was five---I honestly thought she was well beyond that. A two or three year old you expect, it but a five year old? Fortunately no harm done, and as I wasn't particularly concerned with retrieving the penny, no harm done.

    I do hope you get some progress on the sleep-front. Having my kids (who were not bad sleepers at all, really) to a point where I can tuck them into bed and walk away has to be the most heavenly breakthrough in parenting yet (ok, potty-training is a very close second). Just understanding the problem can be a huge help, even if you still don't have a solution.

    And like others, I think the dress looks pretty cute, with the print disguising the fit issues, but I sure wish you a more satisfying fit in your next version :)

  11. Making a muslin or calico is a real pain, but it has saved me from making a few duds in the past. I cheat and only make one sleeve and don't cut out any facings. It is probably not the way to do a test garment, but if I am little unsure after this, I make it up in inexpensive fabric just in case. I made up a short cropped jacket using my test method last year, and it looked like a clown jacket on me. I was so glad I made the calico before using good fabric!

  12. I've just awarded your blog with Versatile Blog Award.
    Take a look at my blog for the award rules.
    Best, AnaJan

  13. And they say marriage can be sh##ty at times! Sorry, couldn't resist the bad joke. Your new dress is very smart. Hope you have plans for a jacket to go it. It is getting so cold these past days.

  14. stretch poplin? my cheaty way of getting a good fit :)

  15. Did you do the Pendrell sew-along? I extended that pattern into a dress, switched in a center back zipper, nipped in the princess seams under the bust, and am quite happy with a fitted dress (with a similar type of large hips/small waist body as you).

    Actually, Pendrell is built with lots of ease, so might not be the best starting place, but I had FAR less trouble adjusting the princess seams than I did getting an a-line sheath (McCall 5799) to something I was happy with.

  16. She's definitely a pistol, but it will serve her well as she ages. It just unfortunately ages the parents as well. ;)

    Sorry you dress didn't work out. I hate it when the frump meister comes to visit. Unfortunately for me it's a frequent visitor.