I think I’m definitely getting my money’s worth with Simplicity 2444. It’s the perfectionist in me wanting to get it as close to right as I can figure out how to. I really thought I’d nailed the chest bagginess this time, but perhaps changing the neckline brought a bit of it back.After my last version, I overlapped my adjusted pattern by 1cm at the neckline and added it to the waist darts, before redrawing the neckline to be lower and wider. Now I think it should be a couple of centimetres lower.I also decided to try an all-in-one facing rather than fully lining the bodice for two reasons; 1) I’ve not done any kind of facing before, and 2) I was getting fed up of having to trace, pin and sew 12 darts for every lined bodice. I interfaced and overlocked the facing before attaching to the bodice. I did sew the original pleat skirt but it just wasn’t looking right, so I ripped it off and just gathered it. I did my second blind hem by hand because I felt like doing some hand sewing (that lasted about 15 minutes max).For some reason, this is the first time I’ve sewn pockets into any of my dresses, which is wrong because pockets are virtually essential.The fabric is a polycotton I had on my Ebay watch list but then found at Trago Mills for less (£2.18/m) and as a double bonus, I was only charged for 1m of my 2m (I later found out there was a patch about 2cm from one selvedge edge that was mis-printed for about 5cm, so perhaps that was why, but it was small enough not to effect my cutting out). It’s definitely not great quality fabric, but it’s fine for a £2 summer dress. You can’t get a dubiously produced budget high street dress for that!
I’d been interested in having a go at rotating bodice darts, and seeing as Simplicity 2444 was the closest, well fitting pattern to me at that precise point when motivation struck, that was my base. However, it presented problems due to the original dart positions, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if what I did a) was correct or b) would work. I didn’t take photos of my steps as I went, but this is what I did to produce 2 darts that both point towards the bust point (as opposed to the 2 diagonal darts, neither of which point exactly to my bust point):
- Found the bust point by trying on my white & blue S2444 and then marking this point on my pattern copy.
- Mark the middle of each of the original darts at the bodice bottom.
- Draw a line between this middle point and the bust point. Repeat for 2nd dart.
- Measure 2cm down from the bust point to mark the dart apex point.
- Draw lines between the dart apex point and the original ends of each dart leg on the bodice bottom. (Think how clever you are and how you’ll never have to buy another pattern ever again).
I then rotated one dart to be a waist dart with a vertical central line and the other to be a bust dart with a horizontal central line. But then, after all that faffing around, I chose to use some gingham fabric that has a bit of stretch to it, so in the end, I can’t really tell exactly how well my alterations have worked. Fool.
I bought this brown and cream gingham fabric from a fabric shop on Ebay and I’m pretty sure they mistyped the price, as when I purchased it, it was £0.99/m with free P&P. To be fair, I did wait a few days to see if they noticed and changed the price, but then saw that other people had bought some so thought I might as well and could just use it as a muslin. It was advertised as a brushed cotton, but I’m not convinced at all. On the plus side, it’s quite thick so no see-through-ness is going on. The stretch did give me a bit of trouble with pattern matching in a few places, but I was also pleasantly surprised as most of it does match up (although some of my top stitching leaves a lot to be desired).I also drafted a peter pan type collar and a-line, curved hem skirt, both finished with a binding, and a faux placket that I haven’t got around to adding buttons to. As the fabric was so stretchy, I didn’t need to add any fastenings, however when I cut out my pieces, I forgot to minus the centre back seam allowance before I cut it on the fold, which also doesn’t help me see how my alterations fit!I think in a different fabric, it could be wayyyy better, but in this I kind of feel like a dinner lady or a cleaner. It’s been worn around the house a few times because it is comfy and a decent length, but I’m not convinced it’ll ever be worn in public! However, I have another dart hacked 2444 peplum pattern drafted, but it also involves stripe matching and so far is proving to require too much brain power to cut the fabric. Sometime soon!
If you were wondering if I was ever going to sew a pattern as it had been designed, this is the dress. I finally got around to altering the bodice pattern to get rid of the upper chest bagginess, and the skirt is shorter than drafted, but other than that, this is the real Simplicity 2444.Pinching out the excess fabric at the neckline of my blue floral 2444 showed me I needed to remove about 4cm, or 2cm from each half of the bodice. I followed the info in this post from Bernie and I to remove the excess as follows on both the front and back:The fabric is upcycled from a hand-sewn thick cotton sheet I got at a charity shop for £3.50 a few months ago and the lining is once again polycotton from the Remnant House in Bude. I decided to push the boat out and hand stitch an invisible hem (my first) and I’m pretty impressed with how invisible the stitches are. Maybe I should have french seamed things, but the overlocker won out for speed. The OCD part of me is really annoyed that the bodice darts and skirt pleats don’t match up. When I remake the skirt then I’ll alter it so they do, and also see if I can make that centre pleat lie better as this version sticks out a bit on the left.
I drafted a simple a-line skirt for the skirt lining, which due to my lack of fabric (seriously, I need to learn to buy more than 1m of lining fabric) is a tiny bit tighter than I’d like, but still wearable. I think my upper bodice adjustment worked well, although I will take out another 2cm (1cm each side) next time as there’s still a little excess fabric. I do love this dress, but it’s just so white, I’m not sure it’ll get as much use as I want it to!
I’m still undecided about this dress. I like it in theory, it’s my favourite colour and I like that the bodice fabric is a bit unusual, but I’m not convinced that the skirt is very flattering, it’s a little short (for a wedding) and the neckline has stretched out a bit. After I finished it, I realised if I didn’t wear it to my friends’ wedding then I wouldn’t wear it at all, so I guilt-tripped myself into wearing it! So, despite the chest bagginess of the previous version, I still didn’t do anything to solve it, but simply drafted a new lower neckline. The bodice fabric is upcycled from a skirt my Nan had custom made in Malaysia years ago and was bound for the charity shop. I want to pretend it’s something fancy, but I have no idea. In real life it does match the georgette I used for the skirt and the polycotton lining (both from the Remnant House in Bude), and they are all a lot greener than in any of the photos.
The mystery fabric was a bit of a pain to sew as it’s quite loosely woven and wanted to stretch out all the time. I understitched the centre front of the neckline and then handstitched the lining and main fabric together to try to stop the gaping (unsuccessfully).
Cleverly I only bought 1m of lining fabric, so had to cut extra panels to get the width, and then add a broderie anglais strip at the bottom when I realised the dress was virtually indecent without it. The zipper insertion into the skirt confused me for a while and resulted in some crazy construction. I should probably have sewn it into the lining and let the georgette hang completely free.
The day of the wedding was crazy weather-wise; I was woken up to a massive thunder storm and torrential rain, which eventually cleared and by the time I left my sister’s house it was grossly humid so after faffing around with luggage at the venue, I felt kinda icky. But the wedding was beautiful and I am glad I decided to sew my dress rather than get a RTW one.
The second 2444 dress started off as a self drafted hack, using the original bodice back (but with a slightly lowered neckline and narrower straps) and changing the front to a draped/pleated faux wrap. I really thought it would work and perhaps if I’d had more patience it would of eventually, but I wasn’t feeling the trial-and-error-ness, so I re-cut the front to the original pattern just with narrower straps and a slightly lower neckline. The outer fabric is a viscose I originally saw at Trago Mills last summer but didn’t purchase as I was having some dilemma about fabric stashing, and then regretted it as when I went back they’d sold out. But then, fast forward to a trip to Birmingham Rag Market at the end of March this year, and I found the exact fabric at £2.50/m, plus 25cm free as I finished the bolt. I’ve seen it in a different colourway on the Regency Rags Ebay store for £2.99/m and also on myfabrics.co.uk at a wayyyyy higher price. The lining is a polyester crepe du chine from the Remnant House in Bude, also for £2.50/m. Both of the fabrics had the potential to be a pain to cut out and sew, so I liberally doused them in spray starch first, and it was sooooo much easier. I added a waistband just because I like them, and made the skirt of two very gathered rectangles. I wasn’t sure how long I wanted it, so had to cut the skirt bottom once the dress was assembled and it was horrible. I want to say the hem only looks wonky in the photos, but the reality is, I’m pretty sure it’s wonky in real life. As I’d only bought 1 metre of the lining, and had already cut out the wrap bodice front in it, I had to do some creative piecing when I changed plans, but it worked out fine, and actually gave me some ideas for some intentional piecing on future dresses. I decided to use a scrap of (totally unmatching) polycotton for the inner waistband just to give it a bit more structure. The lining skirt is another pair of pleated rectangles using as much of the left over fabric as possible. I changed the zipper to the side, and hand sewed the lining to it after machine sewing the outer fabric, and added a hook and eye at the top. Due to my messing around with the pattern, I’m not really sure what size this dress ended up; it fits better than the peplum, but there’s still a lot of bagginess above the chest (not surprising seeing as I didn’t do anything to fix it). EDIT: I took the photos after it’d been washed (even though I prewashed both fabrics) and the chest bagginess seems to have disappeared, yay! But it’s really swirly and pretty, and I can pretend like the less full skirt lining makes it safer for windy days. I think it would have been dressy enough to wear to the wedding (and actually I think I should have worn it) but in the end I was swayed by the third version’s dressy-ness as I knew this dress would get worn lots anyway.
I’d seen so many lovely versions of Simplicity 2444 that I decided I should splash out and buy it myself. Except instead I stalked on Ebay for few weeks and managed to get it for about £2 including P&P instead of £8+, score! I was hoping this pattern would give me some dresses I could potentially wear to my friends’ wedding, and then also wear regularly enough that they weren’t just special occasion dresses.My first version is made of a pale floral polycotton remnant I purchased for 50p from a charity shop in Bude a few years ago. I’d never gotten round to using it because there wasn’t enough for a dress, and it’s a bit too stiff for the type of tops I normally wear. I decided to use the bodice part of 2444 to test the fit and add a self drafted peplum out of the remaining fabric. I wasn’t sure if the result would a) be wearable or b) be something I’d want to wear, as I’ve never done the peplum thing before. I finished the neck and armholes with a bias binding facing I made out of the scraps (the first time I’ve done it, and I think I pulled it too tightly as it’s a bit puckered), and serged the other seams. I made a pleated peplum by cutting the remaining fabric into two equal rectangles, and then one of those in half again to allow for the zipper, and made the pleats line up with the darts (sort of!). I didn’t want to lose too much length or make the hem too stiff, so it is serged and turned up once. Sidenote: The cows in the field behind my house are possibly the nosiest in the world. Except for one who was far to busy chewing the cud to run over and look at the silly girl taking photos of herself. (Gratuitous cow photos to follow).The fit is a bit loose, and there’s quite a lot of bagginess in the upper chest which seems to be common with this pattern. I’ve worn it more than a few times in the recent hot weather, as it’s quite breezy and cool, yet looks like I’ve made an effort, but it definitely needs some alterations. (Ignore the random chair I’ve been repainting for weeks…months maybe).
I really had every intention of starting this blog in time for Me Made May, so I made my pledge and took photos and wrote imaginary blog summary posts, and felt a bit guilty (and silly) once May had finished and no blog had appeared. But I figure it’s not too crazily late for one big summary post, right?
But for all those non-sewing people, who, to be honest, are the only people reading this blog right now seeing as I don’t have any real life sewing friends, first let me tell you about Me Made May (or copy some stuff from the founder’s blog actually):
What is MMM’14?
Me-Made-May’14 (MMM’14 for short) is a challenge designed to encourage people who sew/knit/crochet/refashion/upcycle garments for themselves to actually wear and love them. The me-made and self-stitched challenges have been taking place for over four years now and they work on both a personal and community level. The participants decide the specifics of their own challenge pledge, so that the month is appropriate and challenging for them.
Based on the amount of me made clothing I have with me in Cornwall currently and to avoid too many repeats, I decided that my pledge would be to wear at least one item of me made or upcycled clothing on 15 days. Which, to be honest, is about a 5-fold increase in what I would normally wear in a month given my love of RTW jersey dresses.
But enough of the waffle, let’s get on with the (very bad) photos, don’t let day 1 and 2 fool you; it deteriorates into badly lit selfies rapidly.
Day 1: Grey, navy & green feather print jersey Lady Skater dress (pattern from Perfect Pattern Parcel #1). I also made my nephew’s green velvet smoking jacket, more info in a future post perhaps.
Day 2: Black, blue & yellow viscose dress (self drafted).
Day 3: Floral cotton lawn top (self drafted) and denim gathered skirt (self drafted).
Day 4: Mystery silky fabric collared top (self drafted years ago) and upcycled cord skirt.
Day 5: Floral chiffon & viscose faux placket top and another denim skirt.
Day 6: Repeated feather print lady skater
Day 7: Upcycled viscose skirt.
Day 8: Navy & cream jersey dress (pattern traced from RTW dress).
Day 9: Floral viscose dress (vintage pattern).
Day 10: Zebra & striped jersey dress (lady skater bodice & self drafted skirt).
Day 11: Repeated skirt from day 3.
Day 12: Wearable muslin floral peplum (Simplicity 2444 bodice & self drafted peplum) and denim skirt from day 5.
Day 13: Repeated feather lady skater again with an even more terrible photo!
Day 14: Repeated skirt from day 7 and knitted cowl scarf.
Day 15: Repeated skirt from day 4.
Day 16: Repeated dress from day 10.
In conclusion, I actually did 16 days wearing at least one me-made item, although towards the end there were quite a few repeats cropping up. It has definitely made me more conscious of choosing more me-made clothes, and in the few weeks since the end of May, I think a higher percentage of my outfits have been me-made as I’ve finished a few dresses from the Simplicity 2444 pattern and an Ava dress from Victory Patterns. More on those later!