Saturday, May 3, 2008


Man I don't think I've ever wanted to be finished with something so bad. I started a knockoff of this Michael Kors dress back in January, it was for a friend who lives on the other side of the country so we mailed muslins back and forth getting the fit right. Then she spent another month looking for fabric. The past couple weeks have been spent desperately trying to finish it up, I ran into problem after problem with the collar and hems. I have come to the realization that ripping out and redoing handstitching is my least favorite sewing activity EVER.

However, it is done, and we now have a magnificent wool dress in May. Details, details.



Inside out, from the back. Bias-bound seams: neckline, waistline, and hem.
Hong-kong finish: sleeve hems, armholes

And here we have the source of most of my frustration, the collar. Isn't it pretty? Looks like it just went together all by itself, huh.

Yeah *&^%$#@ right. I had practiced making it several times with the muslins and determined it would need to be mostly handstitched, to get it to work with the invisible zipper. I sewed it to the neckline by machine, leaving out the outer layer when I got near the CB seam, then put in the invisible zipper. I bound the bottom edge of one of the seam allowances, trimmed the other, and handstitched it to the underlining, not once but twice. The first time I unknowingly caught part of the wool thickness in my stitches and when I turned it right side out there were all these puckers.

I tacked down the inside of the collar to the other size of the zip by hand, and then slipstitched the folded collar to the outside of the dress to hold it in place. So the zip is sandwiched in between the 2 layers of the collar, and the fold lays nicely on the outside of the dress.

Collar showing zipper

The collar wasn't the only item to be handstitched twice. I had originally bias-bound the sleeve hems rather messily, my bias tape wasn't quite wide enough to go over the thick parts of the sleeve hems and I had frayed edges of fabric sticking out. I was going to let it go, until I tried the dress on and raised my arms. Those lovely bell sleeves leave no room for messes at that hem, you can see everything. *Sigh* So out came the bias binding and on went a hong-kong finish and another hand hem.

Sleeve hem, hong-kong finished and hand-stitched to the underlining

So as my first 'sew for hire' project, I've learned a few things. Which I was hoping to do. (Actually it isn't really for hire, the only thing my friend payed for was the fabric, I smartly decided my work wasn't good enough or timely enough yet to charge). Sewing on a deadline is hard. Normally little roadblocks would stop me from working on a project until I had thought about it some more. Often another week or two would give me the time to think of a solution to a problem, and I'd pick it up again after maybe working on something else. When you have a deadline (which I didn't really have either, I suck) you have to just keep going. This led to some less-than-ideal results which had to be redone anyways.

If I ever do this again I will take into consideration how much fitting is involved, what kind of finishing to use (I approached this as I would something for myself, which probably wasn't time or cost effective), and what kind of timeline I'd be under. When you have to work on something as opposed to just wanting to, it kind of takes the fun out of it. But I know my friend will be thrilled with the outcome, even if it took longer than we both expected.