Everyone has to start somewhere when learning to sew, and I opted to start with the Vogue 8577 pattern.
I was lucky enough to purchase a bunch of patterns on sale, and got the Vogue 8577 for roughly $2. Downside is that it retails for $25, but you can pick it up for $12 as a ClubBMV member. I decided to go with View C, having the sleeves and mid-calf length.
Being my first sewing project, I pretty much just winged my way through it – of course I followed the instructions. I did have a few fall backs, as should be expected…
Firstly, I discovered that I was sewing my seam allowances too small. As a result my dress ended up several sizes too big. A fashion size 8 ended up looking like an Australian size 12 or 14! And of course I had already sewn the entire bodice section before I noticed the size problem, and didn’t exactly want to deconstruct my entire garment. But it had to be fixed. Pinching (well sewing a decent inch or so) the seam lines seemed to tighten the bodice section around my waist. Luckily I have a large bust cup-size, so a bit of extra fabric worked well in this case for me. Despite this, the resultant dress ended up appearing several sizes too big…
I figured out what I did wrong though. When I started to sew, I never thought to check the 5/8’s of a seam length. I just assumed it was what feel natural; I was lining up the very edge of the fabric to the edge of my presser foot. In the future I’m going to need to look at the guidelines.
Note that it was later that I started reading up about the ease added to patterns by companies such as Vogue, McCalls, Butterick… Many people online actually complained a lot about too much ease being added – far more than design and fitting ease put together combined calls for. It’s common for people to sew a whole size or two smaller than the pattern recommends just to make it fit nicely. If you want to learn how to custom fit your garments to your own measurements, take a look at my review of Fast-Track Fitting.
Secondly, once I got the exterior of the dress sewn, I discovered that unlike the picture above where the dress falls to mid-calf, my dress ended just above my ankles! Am I really that short? I never measured the final dimensions, I made the assumption that it’ll be somewhat like the picture. Another slightly off-length part was my waistband, but it’s hard to tell compared to the pictures; the lower seam of the waistband was two inches above my natural waistline. It makes more sense to me to have the actual middle waistband sit neatly at the natural waistline… Resolutions? Well I can’t really lower the waistband section, but after consultation with family we chose to raise the ankle length skirt to just above View B’s length – my knees.
I know it is common in some countries to have high waistbands – in fact coming just beneath one’s bust line – but for me I prefer my waistband being at my waist.
I chose to take some extra steps. Don’t ask me why, considering it was my first sewing project ever, I just like being difficult like that. Call it a challenge. When I saw the pictures of the dress, I just imagined a lovely lace over a white lining. I just couldn’t get it out of my head.
I ended up cutting twice as many pattern pieces – one out of a plain white cotton-silk blend, and one out of a soft pink cotton lace. I layered the lace over all pattern pieces, including adding little “couture” details inside areas like the pockets. It made me feel so girly!
After all this rambling, let me present my first ever sewing garment (sorry if the pictures are blurry…):