4 Ways This Dress Failed Me

So are you as jazzed as I am about The Monthly Stitch June 2014 Challenge – Indie Patterns?

First up: the dresses contest! I searched around for quite a while to find a new pattern that spoke to my design aesthetic as well as being um, “age-appropriate” (hate even thinking like that!). I fell in love a little bit with Salme’s Sleeveless Pleat Front Dress pattern. Tailored but still feminine, and pleats! I love pleats!

Salme Pleat Front Dress made by Sew Maris

I bought beautiful voile fabric I loved. I made sure it was light and drapey so the gathered waist would not create a Michelin-tire-man effect.  I printed out the pattern and glued it together. I did add a couple of inches to the skirt length, but did not bother with my normal “petite-ing the bodice” adjustment. The deliberate blousy style + elastic waist casing of the pattern should handle that issue, right? I forged ahead and cut out my pretty, pretty fabric. I also cut out gossamer-thin batiste lining so a slip would not be needed when wearing this dress. Very soon things started to go off the rails.

Floral voile fabric for Salme PLeat Front Dress by Sew Maris

Failure # 1. Pattern marking fail. I did not cut the front bodice on the fold because the pattern piece did not specify “Cut 1 on Fold.” Sometimes sets of pleats have a center seam included, so it didn’t strike me as odd. Yes, the cutting diagram does show the bodice laid out on the fold, but I never look at those stoopid diagrams. I do however, pay close attention to the pattern piece markings. Since I had leftover fabric, I recut a second front bodice. Only this time in my haste I missed adding seam allowances to the bodice (no SA included in Salme patterns). My fault, not Salme’s. Soooo, I decided to get creative and see if I could salvage this hot mess. I played around with a few options available in my stash (it was about 10:30 pm, so stores were not an option), and decided that centering a grey ribbon down the center front was the best available choice. I finished the entire dress, including making a very nice job of the lining, if I do say so myself.

Failure # 2. Pattern drafting fail. Usually there is a curve at the waist edges and hems on women’s patterns, right? Salme drafted this bodice and skirt completely straight at the bodice waist, the skirt waist, and the skirt hem. No bueno.

Failure # 3. Pattern drafting fail. The front bust dart was waa-a-a-a-a-a-y too low. Like not-even-in-the-ballpark too low. I have honestly never had this problem in a pattern. And since saggy girls are usually more of a problem for us slightly older ladies, and this line is designed by a young gal, hmmm. I had to adjust the dart placement. More no bueno.

Failure # 4. Style fail. Wow. A bag tied in the middle came to mind when I tried it on. So.Very.Not.My.Style. I can envision that a more rectangular body shape might look better in this dress style than I do, but all I know is what I had thought/hoped would be an attractive dress was butt uglyvery unflattering. I also think a neckline change would help this pattern. As drafted it just is not really very pretty on the body. My two cents, of course.

Nope, no pix of me wearing the dress. As a matter of fact, I can’t even show you a pix of the dress on my dress form because we had a fit of cleaning and organizing this past weekend. Dress got tossed into box for Goodwill; box was delivered to donation center on Sunday. Uncharacteristically efficient of me, I know. You will have to trust me, this dress was just soooo sad on me. Time to chalk this up to a learning experience and move on, sista! Sorry Salme, I could definitely forgive a style fail due to my bad judgement/body shape, but pattern marking & drafting fails earn low marks with me.

Coming soon: the indie dress that DID work for me, and absolutely meets the requirements for The Monthly Stitch Indie Dress Pattern Contest! Wheee!

Happy sewing!


33 Responses to 4 Ways This Dress Failed Me

  1. Thank you SOOOO much for this post! I have been eyeing this pattern but I was worried the dress verses my body type. It is refreshing to get an honest review on an independent pattern. So often people only say great things and then I try them and fail. We all have different bodies so not all patterns are great for all of us. I have also ran into vague marking with certain companies and I remember and stay away. I mourn the lost of your beautiful fabric but look forward to you successful dress!

    • Best.Comment.Ever. Thank you so much Vicki! I was a little worried about my negativity about this design, but I tried to be truthful AND fair. Appreciate your viewpoint so much!

      • I agree with Vicki. Why is it that people are too scared/polite/nervous about giving honest reviews of indie patterns? It does little to inspire confidence in independent patterns and (after being burnt myself with another indie designer’s poor pattern drafting) I am reluctant to invest my time in a dress. No matter how cute a dress looks I am never doing it again. Skirts – maybe! Anything with bodice no thanks! I would rather try and draft it myself – and I am no expert but I know I can do a better job than some of the patterns out there.

        • There are some good ones out there ( I like Grainline Studio, for 1 example), but I too get sick and tired of all the “Oh my GAWD this dress is so cute” comments from some reviewers. Clearly some of those people do not own full length mirrors. Or else need new glasses. 😉

          IMHO endless praise is not useful to designers. Neither are mean, unkind comments. Just honest comments, please!

  2. So bummer when that happens. Typical of me, I don’t make a muslin to check it out (I go with the hope it works out philosophy and then I’m always amazed when it doesn’t work out!!! Go figure!) Glad to hear you were able to find the right dress to sew up.

  3. I had my eye on that too. I really want to be able to wear that style, I tried April Rhodes Staple dress which is somewhat similar. No way. Looked awful on me.

    Too bad about the pattern drafting issues though. Why don’t pattern makers use professional testers, ala software?

    Can’t wait to hear which dress did work.


    • Sounds like I might have saved a few people from wasting time and fabric! I have no idea what their pattern testing process is, but agree you professional testers are worth your weight in gold!!

  4. ugh! such a bummer to hear this, especially since i really like some of salme’s designs! i have purchased one dress (the buttonless shirt dress) but haven’t gotten around to it yet. your fabric was lovely though–i hope you can buy more! and thank you for your honest review, it really is important to post these things!

  5. So I’ve only made on Salme dress (the free one on BurdaStyle) and it fit me TERRIBLY. The same as you, the darts were way too low and the bodice was huge in general. I was able to salvage the fabric because the bodice was too big (as opposed to too small) and I actually really like the dress I ended up making. Anyway, I’ve stayed away from their patterns now – which is too bad because some of the styles are really cute!

  6. This was such an informative, helpful and in a weird way ENCOURAGING blog post! Thank you, Maris for being honest about this sewing experience. IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE, right? Now I will be a little easier on myself when my project hits a bump in the road.

    • You are welcome Susie – thank you! Sewing fails DEFINITELY happen to everyone, and it can be for a variety of reasons. Wrong fabric choice, wrong pattern pattern, poorly drafted pattern, blah-de-blah. Sewing is not for the faint of heart!!:-)

  7. Thanks for sharing this “project”, Maris. I bought fabric for a pattern I’ve made successfully twice, then got ‘seduced’ by a new season McCall’s pattern. Spent many hours modifying front bodice so that wrap front wouldn’t gap, only to determine back was way too big. Too many adjustments for my skill level. $20 wasted on abandoned pattern – way better than wasted fabric. Would love to have you teach a class on pattern selection, and choosing appropriate fabric for the pattern (alternatively, have fabric – what pattern to choose?)

    • Ugh, I feel your pain Jann. I did make a video that covers the basics of pattern selection and fabric choice – but there is MUCH MORE that could be told. It is a big subject for sure. But you have me thinking about best ways to present this information. Maybe a Pinterest board…?

  8. I must admit, I would love to see it on you! But I can definitely empathise with all the fails – drives me crazy when patterns don’t specify “cut on fold”; even if they have it written why not use the standard arrow pointing at the fold line? And straight sides + low bust dart, ugh. I’m a youngun’ still with low bust and I have never had the problem of a dart too low, but the picture looks like I would have to move this one too!

  9. I love your blog but have never been prompted to write you before. Thank you for an inspiring post that describes the kinds of sewing problems I experience…..Never give up Ian’s move on is the best advice! One question… Where did you get your beautiful voile fabric? I just love the colors and design.

    • Thank you so much Ann. I bought it at my local fabric store in the Seattle area – Pacific Fabrics. I do not know the manufacturer, but if I buy more I will find out and let you know. Thanks much for writing!

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