Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Simplicity 4014 - The Red Dress

Now I am not normally one who takes bust close ups - but for the sake of info: Close up of strange princess seams and darts.

Well - it is finally done - The red dress is finished! It took a lot longer than I thought it would as I couldn't work out how to attach the lining.

I started out cutting a tiny dress and tiny lining to test out (I am talking doll size) but couldn't get it to work. I tried looking up on the Internet but couldn't find what I wanted for once. There were a lot of tutorials but I couldn't work them out, I was trying to find a video as I am a visual person but could only find text or photos. And still I couldn't work it out. I took days pondering the problem.

I then came across this tutorial from the Green Apples blog of Jessica - the stitchywitch. Green Apples Thanking you Jessica from the bottom of my heart - you saved the day!

At first I just looked at it and said WHAT??? Couldn't work it out and looked again for videos. When I couldn't find a video that showed what I wanted it to, I bit the bullet and followed Jessica's instructions AND IT WORKED!! But then I had to work out how to sew the side seams after the armholes had fabric and lining sewn together. I held the dress up and had a aha moment!

Overall I am pretty pleased with the dress. It is very far from perfect but for my 3rd completed garment - well - I shall wear it. My one real disappointment was that I wanted the seam for the lining to be on the body side so the lining looked like a slip - but once I had sewn the lining to the fabric at the armholes - I couldn't work out how to sew the fabric one way and the lining another.

Thank you also Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic for the idea of lace on the lining - something so simple but I didn't think of it until I saw it on Carolyn's blog.

Of course I won't be wearing it as is - I will need a jacket or wrap to hide the arms. It is way too hot for a jacket so I have put on a little wrap to show how I will wear it:

I shall be making some wraps to go with it.

I also used a tip on the Threads DVD for hemming the fabric - First I over locked (serged) the edge of the fabric. I cut a piece of manila folder the width I wanted the hem. I then folded the fabric over the cardboard as I ironed it to get an even width of hem. The threads DVD then calls for you to cut some interfacing on the bias twice the width you want the hem (plus a bit more - can't remember exactly) and then fold it over and sew it on the open end with the "sticky bit" on the outside. This then creates an iron on interfacing "tube". You trim the edge near the stitches and then iron it into your hem with the stitches on the upper side of the hem. This creates a "sewn" hem with an open channel. This is different from your hemming tape as it has an open channel. I was going to do all of this but guess what - Spotlight sell it already done so I bought some and ironed it in. I thought this would give a real professional look to the hem without the stitches showing through. Unfortunately the hem needed a lot of easing in and whilst this is easy enough to do while hand sewing but not easy to do when ironing in hemming tape! I ended up with puckers. It also seems to "stretch" the mmaterial a little. I may try this again when the hem is not A-line. Has anyone had success with this tape?

Using the cardboard to measure hem length

Problems with easing the hem

See post Weekend Planning for pattern adjustments made.

Things I learnt 

1. How to successfully do a FBA and lower a bust line - I consider it successful because all lined up although it may have been even better if I had realised that the seams were not on the apex. YEAH!!

2. How to line a sleeveless dress! (thanks Stitchywitch) YEAH!!!!

3. How to under-stitch the lining to seam allowance to bring the lining inside of the fashion fabric (thanks Stitchywitch)

4. How to do a stitch-less hem. YEAH!!

5. That you really do need ironing aids if you want a great finish. DOH!

6. That you really should overlock (serge) the edges and then straight stitch your seams and iron them open - not just serge the complete seam. DOH!

7. How to add a bit of pizzazz to your lining by adding some lace (thanks Carolyn). YEAH!

8. That I don’t mind sewing darts now that I have learnt how to. YEAH!

9. That the great sewers out there in blogging land are a FANTASTIC source of information and I have learnt heaps from them. YEAH!

10. Sometimes hand-stitching hems are the way to go. DOH!

11. To make sure you really look at the line drawing of a pattern before doing any alterations. DOH!

12. I really need to buy thread for my overlocker that matches my material. I thought that using the fabric colour on the outside needle was enough - but red charmeuse and lace + black stitching = bordello.
Pattern Review

 Pattern Description: Miss or Plus Size Unlined Coat, Jacket and Lined Dress

I used B dress

Pattern Sizing: 10 - 28 in 2 envelopes. I cut the size 28 and did smaller hem allowance and a FBA.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? I think so.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Instructions were okay. I didn't follow all of them - no zipper.. I also went looking for instructions on lining on the Internet as I am a pretty visual person and I find one dimensional pictures hard to follow. I found some great instructions from Jessica the Stitchy Witch (thanks heaps!!). This is the first lined garment I have sewed and only the 3rd completed garment I have done ( a couple of UFOs including muslins for the 2 dresses I have made).

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the length and the fit. The overall shape is good too and I like the neckline. Jury is out on the side princess seam and dart. I will wear it a bit and see if I like it.

Fabric Used: Red Wool Blend for the fabric and Red Stretch Charmeuse for the lining. Both from Fabric.com

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn't put in a zipper, I would probably do this next time as I made it fitted and it does take a bit of tugging (or maybe I just need to lose a kilo or two!!!).  I lowered the bust line by an inch and did a 2 inch full bust adjustment as per instructions from Fit for Real People book. This was done with a few errors as I thought that the princess seams would go over the apex of the bust but they are not supposed to (Pics on my blog). I added lace instead of hemming the lining (as per Carolyn in Diary of a Sewing Fanatic). Next time I will make the armholes a little bigger as they cut just a tiny bit.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don't know. My original plan was to sew it again but I need to wear it a bit and see how the strangely positioned darts and seams go. I probably would recommend it as I do like the outcome - but be aware that the seams and darts are positioned differently.

Conclusion:  A great learning curve for me but I sure it would be a straightforward and easy to sew dress for those with more experience. Thanks to the bloggers out there in the webosphere whose experiences I learnt from.


  1. Looks good - and for your 3rd garment its friggen fantastic! The bodice fit looks perfect!
    Not sure if you have the colette sewing handbook? It has great instructions for the Truffle dress on how to sew the lining a seeveless dress with no handstitching :)

  2. Love your dress and your post. You have done an amazing job for your third garment. The dress is so flattering, I love red!!

  3. Wonderful job!! I would never have guessed that is your third garment. Very nice fit. Congratulations!

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  5. BeaJay....You are so professional!!! I can't believe it is just your third garment. Your new red dress looks fabulous on you and fits perfectly. I really appreciated all the details in your post too, so interesting.

  6. Hi Bea! The dress is looking good! I'd try pairing it with grey neutral, I think it will work very well!

  7. Your red dress turned out very well and looks great on you. If it's very hot, you don't have to wear a jacket or wrap with it. It looks fine as it is.

  8. You have done an amazing job - I can hardly believe this is your what 3rd or 4th completed item ! already doing lined dresses and FBA s - the sewing world is yours. So looking forward to seeing more of your sewing .

  9. You are doing an incrediblely good job and learning fast! Keep going!! My favorite resource for lining is Power Sewing Skill Series #7, "Linings A to Z", DVD by Sandra Betzina and Ron Collins.

  10. Love your red dress and the shoes! Terrific job on the lining.

  11. You are so welcome! This dress is lovely and I REALLY like it with the wrap. Now that you've worked out the sewing challenges you should make it again in another color or maybe a print!

  12. Wow! What a beautiful job you did! I still need to learn to do a FBA. Love the color red too ;)

  13. WOW...that's a NICE dress! I do not see a problem with your princess seaming. :) And with the little wrap you look very chic. :) Keep up the good work.

  14. Wow! This is gorgeous! (And I love your shoes!)

  15. Wow! Such a sleek looking dress on you!!!!

  16. Cute dress!! I have this pattern in my stash, I need to make up my version.

  17. Oh, this looks great, you've really achieved a great fit. Personally, I think it looks just fine without the wrap.

    I've never heard of the method of using the fusible interfacing tube for the hem - what is the benefit over hemming web? Why would a free tube be better?(I've recently rediscovered hemming web - sucks doesn't it that it's not suitable for hems that need to be eased in a lot? Mind you, I discovered last night that it is fine with a little easing - I'll be posting that dress within the next week)

    For your serger, only the left needle and lower looper stitches show on the outside. When I'm being really lazy, I'll just swap out those two and leave the other two as whatever colours were in there. For some colours that just won't go with the black, white, grey, red, or lt blue I've got in overlocker reels I'll use a regular sewing reel and bobbin as the two to swap in (Usually have to put another bobbin under it so that it turns freely and something heavier on the top of it so that it's not pulled off the spindle).


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