Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Learning Curve

Now that I have replaced my first dress with one that is more accurate I have been reviewing the rest of my wardrobe. In doing this I have been amazed at how far I have come in 3 years of sewing. My abilities, skills and knowledge have all increased. Unfortunately, I identified that I had one more dress that had issues. My second dress was a Regency Crossover Gown using the Sense and Sensibility pattern.

As you can see there was not enough fabric, making it hard to walk in and a small demo of how the skirt flies open... thankfully this is a more modest example (there have been far worse occasions).

As you can see from this photo I also had a lot of trouble fitting the crossover. One of the problems was that I had not made my stays till about a year after I made the dress (opps, big rookie mistake... always undies first).

  • Opens when walking, showing off my petticoats (Pattern flaw due to it not having shaping at the bottom of the skirt panels)
  • I had not taken my height into consideration in allocating fabric to the skirt (I have since learn't that I require more fabric due to being 6ft or 183cms, this means that the fabric grabs around my legs making it difficult to walk)
  • No lining on the bodice
  • The crossover bodice's pleats were badly fitted
  • The rear skirt pleats were fitted facing outwards, instead of inwards
  • French seems had not yet been invented
  • Sewing machines had not been invented, so machined seems should not be visible on the outside.
Unlike with my mourning dress, I would hate to just replace this dress. It has a lot of sentimental value as I was wearing it when my husband proposed to me. Thankfully, I had kept the excess fabric so I had 2m of extra fabric to address some of these issues. It will never be perfect, but I was able to address the worse of these problems. I replaced the two straight front panels with flared front panels, to provide more room for stepping. I then reused the old front panels to deepen the back of the skirt, adding to the amount of fabric at the back. I also replaced the french seems with flat fell seems and hand sewed the seems down so that no machine seems are visible.

I have also learnt the importance of toile, toile, fit, pin, fit, reping, fit. sew, refit, sew... to get a perfect fit.

I am now very happy with this dress, especially considering its age and origins.

 It is depressing to remove 3" from the bust of the bodice... I know it was too big and baggy... but still bad for the self esteem.
I think the loss was for the best, however, as it now sits nice and flat.

 The completed/repaired dress. I always look shocking in photos, especially after a long day of sewing.
 Back view showing the new pleated back.

I am also very happy to report that the dress now stays closed. To test it I wore it around the local township while shopping. I think the repairs were highly successful from the trial run. Strange thing is that not one person stared or commented on my lovely dress.... they must be getting used to seeing me garbed strangely.


  1. It looks very nice I think, certainly much better than before :)

  2. Definitely new & improved! Love the color. It's such a good thing to refit & remake dresses (so very period!)...I just don't usually have the patience, so good for you! :)

  3. Thank you both for your supportive comments. I am a lot more appreciative of how much I have learnt over the last few years, as well as being able to keep and continue to use a dress with so many wonderful memories. It would have been a shame to have had to throw it out. It will never be perfect, but I still love it.