Lesson 1: Always make a muslin. I began this project with a completely different pattern and design idea. The sewing turned out to be very difficult and the fit was absolutely horrible. I don’t know who thinks 4” of positive ease is a good idea for a fitted bodice, but it certainly wasn’t me. The fit was so bad that I decided to give up on that idea altogether and use another pattern. I decided to go back to a pattern I’d used in the past with a princess seam bodice that fit really well. The problem? It was a sleeveless dress, and I really wanted something with elbow length sleeves. I decided to take a shot in the dark, and used the sleeve from the horrible pattern and added it into the pattern that I knew would fit well.
Lesson 2: ‘Machine washable’ doesn’t always mean machine washable. I was more than a little horrified when I took my fabrics out of the dryer. I don’t know what they snagged on, but the crepe back satin had snags and pilling all over it. I was about to cry, but decided that since the lace would cover the entire dress it wouldn’t be noticeable. Proceed anyway!
Lesson 4: Not all lining fabrics are created equal. I bought the lining that was sitting next to the satin in the Special Occasion section, and it is probably the worst fabric I have ever worked with. It didn’t want to be cut with a rotary cutter (even a new blade wouldn’t cut all the way through), it didn’t want to be sewn (a new needle punched holes it in and made puckers), and it didn’t want to be ironed (not even a tumble dry got out the wrinkles). I didn’t like polyester before, and I absolutely despise it now. Next time I’ll shell out money for a nicer lining and not be so concerned with it matching perfectly.
Lesson 5: Always have a definite plan when straying from the pattern. I wanted to make the skirt pouf, so I bought some tulle to sew to the skirt lining. I didn’t really have a good idea how to do it, or even how much tulle I needed. I just decided to wing it, and it was very difficult and frustrating. The awful stitching and haphazard ruffles will never see the light of day.
Lesson 6: Hand sewing a zipper is far easier than machine sewing, especially in a curved side seam. My pattern actually had a centered back seam, but I wanted the zipper to be more hidden, so I thought I’d just put it in the side seam. I already have trouble installing zippers into straight seams, so how was I going to sew one into a curved seam? I asked Mom (the expert sewist) and she said she always sewed the zippers in my formal dresses by hand. So I took my time, used a lot of pins and very carefully sewed it in. It is probably the best looking zipper installation that I’ve done yet. I might just hand sew all my zippers!
So many lessons learned. I hope I will be able to sew more consistently from now on so I can hone my skills and not get so frustrated with every sewing project. Time to put together a birdcage veil!