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Yes and No

2012 January 23
by elizabeth_admin

Yes:  Thea did come to my rescue this weekend.

Yes:  We successfully altered the dress.

No:  I don’t have great pictures to show the success properly.

And No: I don’t think I like this dress on me.

As some commentors sharply observed from the pattern envelope picture for B5523…


… the pattern, as drafted is quite loose all over with droopy shoulders .  Check out the back bodice by the armscye!!! Note the smaller (than mine) bust of the model.  Hmmm…

What I saw in my mind’s eye when I saw this pattern envelope picture was not at all the reality of it.  I saw a fitted empire bodice on a floaty pleated skirt.  Yep, not what the designer intended at all. 

I have discovered the following in my journey with this pattern:

  • I really need to upgrade my camera situation (you’ll see why in a moment)
  • I don’t like empire waists/bodices on my figure
  • I love the collar on this dress.  Love it.
  • FBA’s are pretty easy when you figure them out.  It’s just scary making the first slash into your precious pattern.
  • Do not trust that your muslin changes are absolutely foolproof and completely construct your garment with serged seams. 
  • Basting is your friend.  For realz.  Don’t skip basting. 

Thea came over yesterday and we both unpicked what seemed like miles of serged seams.  Ugh!  We did figure out how to make this dress work for me, but I think I may have to re-do the bodice again in a different fabric because we changed the back bodice, shoulder and sleeve so much on this iteration that the sleeve is now a little tight.  And I feel a bit uncomfortable in the dress.  And although we fixed the majority of the problems with the dress, I am still not convinced that I like the look on me.  I thought it looked great yesterday, but when I looked at the pictures I took today, I really don’t see a huge style improvement.  The fit improvement is great though.

Here’s what we did:

  • Sloping shoulder adjustment.  We originally did this on the B5147 sheath dress pattern and I am now realizing that this is something I will need to do on every pattern going forward.  We shaved off about a 1/4 inch on front and back bodice outer shoulders tapering to nothing at the neck. (As an aside, have any other aging females out there noticed that your shoulders slope more and more as you age?  I can’t even keep a purse on my shoulders anymore.  Frustrating!)
  • Shaved the armscye at the front and back bodice and on the sleeve cap
  • If I make this again, I will omit the pleat on the sleeve, it’s a little twee
  • I will need to enlarge the sleeve if I make this again.  That will improve the fit on the front and back bodice.  I couldn’t improve that on this version obviously because you can’t add to fabric that is already cut.
  • Shaved 3/4 inch from the CB tapering to nothing at the side seam to remove the dip in the back seam



back bodice alterations




Front bodice alterations



sleeve alterations sort of (forgot to make to shave off some of the sleeve cap and add the width)


Now I should forewarn you that when I was fitting this dress with Thea yesterday.  All the above alterations “worked” solving the problems we had seen before with the funky set of the sleeve/back and the dip in the back bodice, etc.  However, when I took the pictures today, it seems as if the back dip is still there, but I swear it wasn’t there yesterday.  So I must be standing funny and/or I put the dress on too sloppily.  Also there are some pulls on the front and back bodice which are caused by the too tight arms.   Nothing to be done about that on this version.




In the end, do I like this dress on me?  Not really.  I just don’t have the body type that this dress was drafted for and the look I was going for in my mind’s eye is not really appropriate for the style of this dress.  Will I finish this dress?  To be honest, I don’t know.  I think I need to put it in the magic closet for a while because I am fatigued by this project now.  If I do, I might keep the skirt and make up the bodice in a brick red double-knit I have in the stash incorporating all of Thea’s alterations.

Bottom line though:  it was wonderful to work with Thea again.  It’s so nice to have a fitting buddy.  I wish she could just sit next to me with every project.  I would never have a wadder then.  But then, if I don’t make any mistakes, would I ever learn?  Food for thought.

11 Responses leave one →
  1. January 23, 2012

    It does look a lot better on you now, and most people wouldn’t notice but when a sewing experience exhausts you it’s hard to look at it with a non critical eye … kinda like cooking all day for a special occasion and then not being able to eat anything!

  2. January 23, 2012

    I feel like this dress needs a thick belt. I don’t know why, but I just envision it with a wide belt where the color change happens and I think it could look really good. Which is weird, because usually I am not good at picking out accessories or thinking about a complete outfit. But, well, I think it could be saved if it is styled appropriately (hmmm… that sounds like I have been watching too much Project Runway). On the other hand, I totally understand being exhausted by a project and needing to put it away for a while. Hopefully you can come to terms with this dress and find a way to appreciate it.

    Also, as a side note, I learned the hard way to ALWAYS baste before heading to the serger – one broken blade is quite enough.

  3. January 23, 2012

    Seems like if it helped you figure out what silhouettes you like and which you don’t then the experience was worthwhile. I think the dress looks good but if it’s not your style, it’s not your style. (Personally, I think maternity scared me off empire lines for a while.) Seems like a lot of the patterns you have liked best have had a defined waist at natural waist height— more of a traditional hourglass shape? Maybe you could splice the neckline and cowl from this dress onto a pattern whose shape you like better?

  4. January 23, 2012

    It’s just not your dress. You already know that. I think we know when a garment does or doesn’t work for us, regardless of the photos. I’ve just posted some photos of a top that I know doesn’t look good in the photos, but looks pretty good in real life so I’ll be happy to wear it.

    I’ve just scrolled back up and I wonder if you have considered making it a lot shorter – as in 2 or 3″ above the knee shorter. It could look really good at that length.

  5. Pattif permalink
    January 24, 2012


    Everytime I look at this picture, my first response is that the front bodice is too short. It looks, IMHO, like it is hung up on your boobs and never makes the drop back to your body so that it will never have that skimming effect this dress needs.

    Just my opinion on this dress. The dress is beautiful, but I am not sure right for you.

  6. January 24, 2012

    So sorry the dress hasn’t worked out (although my first thought was maybe you need to shorten it?) But thanks for posting all the alteration details, I love this sort of thing.

  7. January 24, 2012

    I personally don’t think it looks that bad, but if it’s not what you have in mind and you don’t love it it’s probably best to make peace with it and move on.

    Is Thea your sewing teacher or friend (or both?) Can you recommend a good sewing teacher?

  8. January 24, 2012

    When I first saw that pattern, I had the same sort of reaction of loving it. But then I saw some of those pleats and thought… hmm, yeah, it would hide my tummy, but maybe it would look like I was hiding more than tummy. I think it’s pretty easy to see what you want to see in a pattern rather than what is actually there.

    The alterations have certainly helped. I love the front view picture, less keen on the side view. I think I’ll second T.Sedai who suggested a belt. I think that might help with the side view.

  9. January 24, 2012

    Wow! That’s a lot of work going into a project that you realize you’re not crazy in love with at the end of the journey. This is so frustrating! I have many fitting issues very similar to yours, and, although working through all of these is definitely a learning experience that can be useful in the future, it’s hard to not like the finished result of the “lesson”. If you decide not to completely finish the dress, perhaps you could salvage the skirt… for when you’re not sick of looking at it anymore, of course! 🙂

  10. Heather permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Let it go.

    Sigh. It’s just not your dress, you know? But definitely remember what you learned from the experience. Unpicking miles of serging does tend to reinforce the lesson.

  11. January 25, 2012

    Even if you don’t like the dress (even if you don’t like it, it looks like one of those things that’s perfectly fine for the office when you’re not feeling inspired), your alterations have to come in handy evenutally! It is so nice to have developed my set of standard alterations that improve fit. Mind you, I’m sure I could do with a lot more!

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