Making it work

This blue plaid flannel dress was nearly the end of me. I made it back in early January, from Vogue 8851, but the waist and hem weren’t right so I never wore it and it went on the wall in “mock me mode” until I fixed it. Part of the problem was that the cotton flannel has so much give on the bias it was near impossible to keep straight. Each little pleat or dart was a nightmare. Add to that trying to match the lines in the plaid and it’s not a mystery this took me two months to finish. And honestly, the construction is still a bit of an embarrassing mess. This is not my finest work. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I really liked how the bodice turned out and the warm fabric is pretty great for winter.

So the first change I had made to this dress was to swap out the super giant circle skirt for a straight full skirt with pleats at the waist. Big skirts are iffy on my short frame, so I thought this would help. Unfortunately, the waist pleats in the back were really not doing me any favors, making me look squat and lumpy. The pleats themselves were all off as well.

Then there was the hem. On top of everything, I compounded this disaster by hurriedly finishing the hem one morning before work. It was wildly uneven and puckered. The whole lower half was one big, ugly mess.

The part I did like, that kept me going, was the bodice. One happy accident was that the bow-tie neckline was way too low and the bulky fabric turned into one big lump when tied. However, I bought a vintage Bakelite buckle and slipped the ends through it instead. The detail really added to the dress and it helped hide the fact that the plunging neckline went much farther than it should have. I also added an internal side pocket that turned out really well, so that kept me inspired to make it work.

So to fix it, I took out all the pleats in the back and changed it to a 3-gored a-line. I kept the pleats in front as they still seemed to look right with the dress. The new back silhouette was an improvement, but the hem still needed to be addressed.

The massive give on the bias was still a challenge, so I tried using some ribbon hem tape and decided to stitch it by hand while watching the Oscars (I don’t know which was more tedious). But the end result was better than the previous hem, so I guess I just need to chalk it up as a victory. A weak victory, but a victory I will take.

After these past few weeks, any sewing project I have time to finish, even haphazardly, is a success.

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