Friday, January 29, 2010

The Red Woolingbone Dress!

It is complete! My very first dress. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I tend to be hard on myself when things don't turn out perfectly, but then I remind myself that if it was perfect, it wouldn't be hand-made. I need to cut myself some slack... this was my first dress for Pete's sake! Take it down a notch! When I first started this little sewing journey I expected to be fumbling aimlessly a lot more and a lot longer than I have been. I think i've been doing darn good with no one teaching me except myself! I have gotten myself to where I'm at, and I MADE THIS BEAUTIFUL DRESS!

It's called the Red Woolingbone Dress! It's made out of this light-weight red/natural mix herringbone wool-blend, hence the name.

The pattern I followed was Butterick 5316, and to be honest I ditched the instructions about halfway through! They weren't hard to follow or anything, I just liked my way of doing things a little better :)

I think it fits my body beautifully, it really balances out my features. I'm relatively busty and the bodice of this dress fits nicely over "the girls" shape, but keeps them from stealing the show. It pays tribute to my hour glass with darts at the waistline in the front and back, and pleats in the front of the skirt. I have done darts before, but these were my first pleats. They were easy peasy. This was also the first garment that i've lined, and boy was that a pain in the butt. I don't think it would have been as bad if it had been paired with something thinner and less stretchy than this wool-blend, but I think I am going to skip the lining from now on and just make a nice versatile slip to wear underneath my garments. The lining restricts the movement of the dress as well. The stretch in the wool means nothing with the lining attached. It's just a lesson of preference and choice, I suppose. This was also the first blind hem I have done. What a useful skill! I watched a video on youtube, read the little excerpt in my machine's manual, attached the foot, and away we went! I will definitely be doing this on many of my skirts in the future, especially my pencil's. And yet another first was setting in the cap sleeves. This was pretty easy, too, yet the illustration in the pattern instructions showed them going in upside down... like the part that was notched to attach to the shoulder was shown being the bottom edge of the sleeve. Luckily, I ignored the picture like I tend to do and put them in how I thought they should go.

A back view of my beautiful zip and a little peek at the ruby lining (in the sleeve):

I think this is my best zip yet!! Hand basting it in first made a HUGE difference in how it went in.

But lets go back to the hem, shall we? I love the length and shape of this hem now, but it caused me much frustration. The combination of the stretchy wool and the taut lining made for no picnic when trying to sew just a plain ol' rolled hem. It started off smoothly, but when I got to the end the wool had stretched, so I had a lot of excess all bunched up on one side of the slit on the back of the skirt. I started to rip it out, but it only tore the lining and made small holes in the wool that stretched open to make big holes. Man, it was a mess. I thought the dress was toast. I spent a good hour and a half ripping out the hem, and only got a couple of inches free of thread. There was only one solution... I had to chop it off and start with a clean slate (and a substantially shorter dress!). So that's exactly what I did, and am I ever glad. I really pinned everything together good, measured everything exactly and tried to keep some of it's length intact. This also gave me an opportunity to try the blind hem, which proved to be a much better choice for this particular dress. I was a little worried that it might be inappropriately short, but its really the perfect length. It doesn't come in nice and sharp toward the knee like in the picture on the front of the pattern (because I hacked that part off!), but I think it still looks to be a good combination of classy and flirty.

All in all, this was a wonderful dress to start with. It had a lot of good basics and firsts for me. I can't wait to wear it tomorrow!


  1. That is stunning! Even though the lining was a pain, the little peek through of the ruby red is just gorgeous.

  2. It's beautiful! To tell the truth, I never do lining in my garments (unless they will be taken off on stage) because I base the outer fabric on a stronger fabric inside like drill. It gives a nice smooth finish. It's great for tight dresses and skirts.

  3. Well done! It looks fantastic, I'm working on my first dress at the moment and this post has been an inspiration, thank you!

  4. Beautiful job,you should be very proud of this dress! It looks great on you.

  5. thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the lovely feedback :)

    Lee-Ann, are you working on the Butterick pattern you mentioned in your blog? I have that one in my stash and would love to know how its coming along!

  6. You did an awesome job! Lining is something that I dread also, you did a great job on the insanely long zipper, too!