After the success of Button’s dress and the coming together of the quilts, its time to share a big fat fail with you.

Before I get to the photos in all their hideous splendour, I’ll share my review of the pattern with you.  I think that’s fair.  I’ve waited a while to post this because I didn’t want my review to be coloured by the results, so I’m happy that this is now a considered opinion, rather than a rant over yet another fail.

First up the pattern is printed on lovely study paper that makes tracing it a dream, and it’s well drafted with all the pieces going nicely together.

I did, however have some issue with the sizing. Namely, it turns out not to be designed with us bigger girls in mind, and I think this was half the cause of my problems.  As well as the usual adjustments to accommodate my height and bosom, I also needed to grade the pattern up all over.

In Green Bee’s defence, they do publish the sizes, I just got all swept up in the excitement of the loveliness of this dress and didn’t bother checking.

My bad!  Not the pattern’s.

Lesson well learned.

I also had an issue with the pockets.  I sewed them as drafted and they are teeny tiny.  I can’t get my hands in them properly, never mind a phone.  So if you do decide to sew this dress, please do yourself a favour and add some size to the pockets.

And finally, I found the instructions to be so densely crammed onto the page as to be more hindrance than help.  I think I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Elegance and Elephants and Cake Patterns, who produce clear well spaced instructions with photos or diagrams to illustrate the point.  Amelia’s instructions are effectively just a typed list.  Thankfully I’m at the point in my sewing career where I can toss the instructions and still get a garment to work, but I think a beginner would find these directions lacking.  It’s a shame.

For all that, and for the resulting catastrophe of a dress, I still think Amelia is a pretty dress.  It didn’t work for me for 3 major reasons:

  1. I foolishly didn’t check the sizing before ordering the pattern.  Shiny squirrel syndrome kicked in.  A rookie mistake.  I should know better.
  2. Like the Washi dress, I don’t think this works on my figure.  And that’s not the fault of the dress, the pattern, or my figure.  It just is what it is.
  3. I was rushing to get this finished because, as always, I needed something for an event and was doing this at the 11th hour.  Hence, I ran out of time to keep tweaking the fit.  Though, to be fair, I don’t think I would love it even if the fit was better.  It just would be a better fitting shambles!

Do you want to see it?  Those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now.


Ok…you still here?

Don’t need smelling salts?

Let’s look at what’s going on.

  • A shows the problem at the bust. I added a 3 inch FBA.  In the muslin it looked OK. In the dress fabric, not so much. Because the darts are French Darts, I had a problems actually working out the FBA as I’d never attempted one before…and it shows.  I need more room to accommodate The Ladies.
  • B shows the problem around the sleeves, which are little cap sleeves all in one with the bodice.  Again these are dragging…I think linked to the lack of room in the bosom.
  • C shows what happens when you fit to your natural waist knowing you have a longer torso and really need to fit the waist a little higher to create a better waistline illusion.
  • D is the one that caught me completely unawares.  The dress is cut on the bias.  The fabric is a chambray…red threads one way, white the other.  When you cut it on the bias as a double with the fabric laid on the table right sides together, you end up with a harlequin effect dress.

I can’t even show you the back.  I have waaaaaay to much pride for that.  I know it’s a sin, but lets just say the back is even worse.

And I’ve lost 5lbs in weight since I made this dress…

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

But, there is hope in this.

I was talking to one of the other mums at dance class at the weekend.  She is learning to crochet and was saying that in time she’ll look back on her first attempts and laugh that she could be so thrilled with such a small accomplishment.

I reminded her that even if she crochets for 50 years, she’ll still be learning something new and increasing her skills.  It’s the nature of the crafty beast.

This dress is a timely reminder of some basic rules of sewing that, in my haste to get a garment into my wardrobe as quickly as possible, I conveniently forgot. Namely:

  1. Always, always, ALWAYS check the pattern size.  If you are competent at grading patterns, or have the time to do it slowly, learn the new skills and make it work, then of course you can ignore this.  If you’re in a rush…don’t.  Buy a size that only needs minimal alterations.
  2. Don’t rush the prep.  This would have been a much better garment if I’d taken the time to work out the fitting kinks and make more than one hasty toile before cutting the fashion fabric.
  3. Don’t rush the sewing.  If I’d have allowed myself more time, I could have double and triple checked the fit as I sewed.
  4. Work with the fabric. I’ve got to admit that I never even considered that this lovely fabric would trip me up with this shading.  It’s tantamount to the fabric having a nap, such as velvet.  This would have been much more suitable for a garment cut on the straight grain.
  5. Work with your figure.  I know I don’t have a waist and need to create the illusion of one.  I should have raised that waistline.

This dress is a cautionary tale to all of us.

But it’s not all bad news.  Apart from the kick up the backside to remember the basics of dressmaking, I’ve also discovered another silhouette that doesn’t work for me.  This is A Very Good Thing.  Years and years ago I used to work in sales and sales training and our mantra was if a prospective client genuinely has no requirement for you product or service, then it’s a good “no”.  It’s one more out of the way to a “yes” and a sale.  It’s the same when you’re working out your personal style, as I am.  Every time I make something that has the Fashion Police banging on my door, I’m one step closer to establishing my own Look.

And, of course, I can always chop it up, destroy the evidence, and make pretty things for Button out of it.

Cut on the straight grain, of course! 😉

PS…if you’d like this pattern, do shout.  

I’ll be happy to stick it in the post for you. It’s a pretty dress, just not for me.