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The best laid plans

2011 January 21
by elizabeth_admin

Oh the hubris of yesterday.  My fear of jinxing myself has definitely come to pass.  Obviously, crowing about the invisible invisible zipper was too much temptation for the sewing gods. 

Last night was a big sewing night.  I was determined to finish this dress by tonight so that I could wear it when my friend Robin comes to visit Saturday.  We’re going to the Vogue Live Stitches event this weekend.  I pushed forward.  I sewed the shoulder seams, interfaced the facings, attached said facings, connected the left and right bodice halves and finished the princess seams.  And I basted the side seams.

Of course I had to try on my almost done dress right away.  And….

It was too big. 

(Apologies for the crappy pictures.  These were the best I could do at 12:30am.)

I made the size 14 based on my two previous muslin disasters.  For my first muslin, if you will recall, I made a sz 14 with a thin stretchy knit.  It was a blousy, drapey mess.  Wayyyyy too big.  For the second muslin, I used real muslin in a sz 12.  I couldn’t even zip it closed.  So I decided, since I was making it in a stable knit with moderate stretch, that a sz 14 with doubleknit should do the trick. 

I guess, in theory and technically, this dress shall be called my third muslin.  It’s so big, that I think I should have made a sz 12 instead of a sz 14.  Which ordinarily would make me happy (vanity sizing and all), but right now just depresses me.  So, the picture below, I detail for you how this dress is too big. 


The front middle panel is too roomy.  It needs to be taken in at the sides from the hips down.  The neckline is not only too wide, but way too low for work.  There’s no way I could wear this to work as is and I have no idea how to remedy that particular defect.  Also, there’s gaping at the armscye, which may or may not be dealt with when I insert the sleeves. 

Here are some badly taken side and back pictures as well. 

(Wow, these pictures are amazingly bad.  Sorry about that.  That zipper is still invisible though, bless it’s little heart!)

I know I can fiddle with the princess seams and side seams.  I can even, dare I say it, take out the invisible invisible zipper to fiddle with the CB seam and neck line gaping.  But, I ask you, how do I deal with the plunging neckline???

I don’t know if you can tell from these lousy pictures or not, but this dress has some amazing bones.  I think it can be salvaged.  I am just not, usually, the kind of person that has the patience to rework a knit garment.  Unpicking stitches that just disappear into a knit is NOT my favorite thing to do.  I don’t know if I have the fortitude. 

But I love this fabric and I love this dress, so I just may attempt it.  Maybe I can enlist Robin’s help and figure out the fit to salvage this project (unlike my beloved tweed dress disaster).

Now, what can I make in an evening to wear tomorrow???

9 Responses leave one →
  1. January 21, 2011

    Oh, that’s too bad! I can see once it fits, it’s going to look great on you! I’m fairly OCD but don’t know that even that would give me the patience to rip it all out and start again, and I think you might need a vertical tuck between shoulder and bust to deal with the neckline. I’d be tempted to just buy more of the fabric and start over, time being money and all that. Is the fabric still available?

  2. January 21, 2011

    I feel your pain! It is a lovely dress though and I am really impressed by your invisible invisible zipper! There is an alternative option to the seam ripper – eat lots and lots of chocolate and grow yourself into the dress?

  3. Treadle27 permalink
    January 21, 2011

    I’m seriously fashion impaired; but could you go old fashioned and put a pretty piece of lacy fabric in the neckline? Or just a really nice piece of linen-look in a contrasty color?

    A strategically placed scarf also comes to mind.

    I’m just not sure those options work with this style of dress, it’s gorgeous as is.

  4. January 21, 2011

    This is going to look amazing on you – don’t give up!
    As well as taking it in where you suggest, I think you could tape the neckline front and back. It could easily have stretched, but you can also reduce it further by cutting the tape to a slightly smaller measurement and easing the fabric to that measurement. I have some notes on my blog about taping facings in the post ‘facing an invisible zip’ that hopefully helps!

  5. jillnjosh permalink
    January 21, 2011

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I’m with Debbie in that you need to shorten the upper torso. As a quick fix, you might want to unpick the shoulder seams and take up the front a half inch. Any more and you risk your waist ruching going up too high, as the ruching looks like it’s in a good spot.

    I also like Sherry’s idea of taping the neckline. You might be able to use the selvage from the fabric to snug it up. Try steaming the neckline to see if it shrinks up some – if it’s an RPL, the rayon content might shrink up a bit with steam. You could also try taping it to clear elastic to snug it up some, but that won’t work if there’s a lot of snugging to be done – you’ll end up with gathering in that case. If the raising of the front shoulder and taping does not do the trick, can you unpick the first three inches of the ruching and redo them with 1/4″ less, and then take up another 3/4″ at the shoulder with the extra length you’ve created? As a pattern fix, next time you should just redraw the neckline higher, as the general torso length looks right for you.

    The gaping of the armscye might not be noticeable once you get the sleeves in – a sleeved draft does normally look like it gapes when the sleeves have not yet been inserted.

    The dipping in the middle might just be an echo of the ruching. I think you’re fine with leaving it there. The extra on the hip can be taken care of with a judicious unpicking of five or six inches, then basting the curve until you get a good one. Keep an eye on your hem, because it might end up too short in the front after you take it up at the shoulder seam.

    If you feel that the neckline is too wide, you might be able to put in a couple of back neckline darts. If you work on a computer all day (not to mention what hunching over a sewing machine can do to you), you might be developing a forward shoulder posture, which can be compensated for, in sewing, with the back neck darts. It might also be that since you were working with this at the end of the day, your posture was not at its best. Try looking at the neckline fit when your body is fresh at the beginning of the day.

    I think it’s a lovely style on you, and it’s going to turn out fabulously once you get your tweaking done. For future unpicking issues, you might want to invest in a natural daylight bulb/light, such as an Ott Fliplight. They are nice and portable, but provide great lighting for tone-on-tone unstitching.


  6. January 21, 2011

    Oh dear that has happened to me too. Still, better that it’s too big rather than too small. I have had luck before with adjusting the shoulder seam to pull up the front so you may want to try that as a quick fix. It does look like it is going to be a great dress once you have got the fit issues sorted out though, even if it does end up taking 3 muslins….Good luck!

  7. January 22, 2011

    I agree with jillnjosh and AllisonC – try taking the shoulder seams up, I’m sure that would fix the gaping at the front armhole and will probably lift the neckline a little. Do you choose your patterns by your upper chest measurement? By doing that you get a pattern that will fit your neck/chest area well and then you can do an FBA and add extra tissue for width for waist and hips. I used to buy patterns by my bust measurement – never again. I always had gaping back neck and front necks and too much fabric across the upper chest.
    I still have to adjust for a full bust and also the smaller pattern means I need to add extra width to waist and hips but it’s so much easier to do that than to adjust the neck and upper chest.

  8. January 22, 2011

    Oh no!

    It does look like it’s going to be a great dress if you persevere. I definitely echo the back shoulder dart adjustment as you really don’t want to take out that beautiful zip.

  9. January 23, 2011

    Oh. Shame. Lovely dress too. Have no sewing advice to add but your hair looks lovely in a ponytail. Not at all helpful, no.

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