Friday, August 19, 2011

Sewing Project: Circle Neck Dress Disaster

Subtitle:  Who needs patterns anyway?  Me.

Preface:  Winston Churchill once said, "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."  So, let's just say I'm VERY enthusiastic about this project. 

It looks so simple and cute!  Although, seeing it with the distance of a camera I could work at Hot Dog on Stick in it.  Lemonade anyone? 
A circle neck is an almost universally flattering neckline.  I can't wear a scoop neck without looking like a hooker and a v-neck isn't always appropriate and can be difficult to find in dresses that aren't a wrap style (Diane Von Furstenberg's empire has never produced a dress that looked right on me despite claims that they look good on everyone). 
There are some pitfalls to the circle neck- it can look "maternity" very easily and I really do not wish to be mistaken for pregnant.  That would not do good things for my self-esteem.  And while it looks fresh and modern in some fabrics, in others it can just look dated and dowdy.  For instance, in Nancy-Reagan-red polyester gabardine. 

Pinning the back.  The shape of the collar is about the only thing I did well.
Notes about this collar:
-No, that center seam is NOT supposed to be visible.  But I sewed the front and back together the wrong way.  Mistake number two after fabric choice.

-Let's talk about the fabric choice; it is god-awful.  It frayed, a lot, and even with a hot iron I couldn't get it to lie flat at the (poorly) curved seams.  In turn this made the top stitching wonky.  If I'd edge stitched it I would have been in better shape, possibly, though it still wouldn't have been great. 

-My clear failure to cut on the grain properly just made me feel worse for that girl who got sent home on Project Runway last week for failing at the same thing and not being able to produce anything on the model other then a hot-glued feathered hat. 

-The front and back do not line up as perfectly as they should, though really with all the issues this dress has that is minor.

-Only good idea on display here is making the back collar a bit more square and the front rounder.  A totally circular circle collar would look costumey I think (frankly, a little Cleopatra-ey).

-I did use a pattern I drew on copy paper for the collar, however I thought for some reason I needed to have it in four sections (front/back in left/right) instead of just two (front/back whole curve).  I have no idea why I thought this.  It would have been much easier to have just two whole, self-lined pieces.  Also, I forgot a seam allowance when I made the pattern so the collar is not as wide as I'd envisioned. 

-Finished the collar before attaching the dress, which was lame.  I should have left the bottom of the collar open and inserted the dress portion into the seam.  This would have made the collar lie flatter and hid some of the imperfections in my cutting and I wouldn't have that weird seam of fabric across the back on the inside.

Pinning the pleat before I sew the front to the collar.
Arm holes actually turned out exceedingly well.

Finished you can see the pleat looks awesome and the collar looks frumpy.

Thick seams= ugly seams.
 Notes on the dress portion:
-Fabric choice is a very thin, light voile with yellow fuzzy polka dots.  It is totally see-through so I had to double up and make each side two layers.  But I didn't account for that in my cutting.    Nor did I account for seam allowances.  Again.  Surprise, surprise it ended up being too tight across my hips.  The double layers also made the side seams thick and noticeable.  Four layers of voile is still 4 layers.

-The arm holes are actually perfect and fit nicely, covering my bra and everything.  The little pleats I included to make it fit the collar better were actually pretty cute and added a bit of shape to the top.  I'd do that part again.  Maybe some gathering in the middle too.

-The rest of the dress has no shape.  For reasons unknown I cut the fabric straight instead of giving it any sort of line.  I wasn't thinking!  Plus it turned out really short and I didn't even bother hemming it.  I had my sister try it on yesterday since I don't have a dress form and since it's hard to see it well when on me and it was shockingly short (and too big for her).  I should have taken a photo.  Oh well!

Cost:  Mercifully, the cost was incidental.  The low quality gabardine was a remnant I purchased back in Feburary and the voile was $2.75/yard on clearnace.  This took me an afternoon/evening with many breaks to do other things.
Verdict:  Fail.  Insert enthusiasm here!  Why in the world am I trying to design a dress on my own??  Hopefully this is helping me learn or something.
I will probably try this again with many, MANY changes.  Just not today.  I need to recover. 

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