Mostly Finished Sewing Objects

A pink linen dress hangs against a blue wall. It is sleeveless, and buttons run all the way down. There are embroidery hoops filled with fabric hanging to the left of the dress.

Mostly Finished Sewing Objects

Recently I mostly finished sewing two garments. I say mostly because they have some finishing touches left that I’m putting off because they also both have fit issues. I’m still very much a beginner at sewing, and even more so at garment sewing. I have a lot to learn and that includes how to fix problems with finished pieces.

Why would I share projects that aren’t finished and have fit issues?

I want to talk about these project now, even though they’re only mostly finished, because after this they’re going in time out for awhile. After working hard on them and having them turn out not quite perfect, if I start tackling the problems now I will absolutely get frustrated and ruin something that should have been salvageable. 

I hesitate to share things like this because it feels a bit defeatist to talk at length about things that have gone wrong. Especially since this is a new blog, and I haven’t written about any of the things I’ve made – and made well – in the past. But as – and I really can’t stress this enough – a beginner, it also feels important to share the parts that don’t go quite as well. 

Also, even though both of the projects I’m going to share are flawed, I actually think they’re pretty decent given my skill level. The first few sweaters I knit were ROUGH. But the last sweater I knit, almost twenty years later, is frequently mistaken for store-bought. Presumably the same will be true for sewing if I keep at it.

Darling Ranges dress

I spent my adult life wearing professional clothes for working in an office, and once I became a stay-at-home-mom, I didn’t know what to wear. I learned pretty quickly that I don’t like to change my wardrobe out for the seasons. Some things are fine to put away for a bit, like heavy sweaters or lightweight sundresses. But for the most part, I like my wardrobe to be year-round, which for me means dresses that I can wear on their own with sandals in the summer or with leggings, sweaters, and boots in the winter. I thrifted a few dresses that work for this, but wanted to add some handmade pieces to the rotation. 

I have a thrifted dress that is a linen/cotton blend. It’s sleeveless with buttons all the way down, and a cinched waist. It’s my favorite, and I want it in more colors, but thrifted clothes don’t work that way. After some Pinterest browsing, I thought this pattern without the sleeves would be very similar to the dress I already have.

A pink linen dress hangs against a blue wall. It is sleeveless, and buttons run all the way down. There are embroidery hoops filled with fabric hanging to the left of the dress.

Pattern: Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielsen

Fabric: Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman in the color Berry

Bias edging fabric: cotton lawn Lecien Memoire a Paris 2019 in Red and Blue Berries

Buttons: Etsy

As a beginner, I found this pattern to be straightforward and easy to follow. The only real issue I had while I was making it was with the gathered waist. Every time I tried it the thread snapped and I had to start over. I even basted in sections as suggested to make it easier, but it didn’t help. Maybe I needed thicker thread? Anyway, I redid it about thirty times before I finally decided it was good enough. “Good enough” is truly the best I can say about it. 

A pink linen dress hangs backwards against a blue wall. It is sleeveless, and ties at the waist. There are embroidery hoops filled with fabric hanging to the left of the dress.

Rather than use the sleeves from the pattern, I chose to finish the armholes with bias tape to make it sleeveless.

A close-up of the armhole of a pink linen dress. The dress is sleeveless and has unfinished bias tape around the armhole. The fabric of the bias tape is royal blue with pink and red berries printed on it.

Sewing the bias tape to the inside of the dress is the only thing I have left to do, but I’m holding off. When I tried the dress on, it fit pretty well with the exception of the armholes. They’re gaping, and there’s too much fabric. I either need to take it in somehow, or see if putting the sleeves on the dress after all fixes the problem. Once it has a chance to think about what it’s done, I’ll give it another shot.

Brumby skirt

I chose this pattern because I saw so many beautiful versions of it on Instagram. I don’t wear a lot of skirts; I tend to lean towards dresses. But I wanted to give this a shot because it looked so lovely on so many different people. 

A gray linen dress hangs against a blue wall. There are embroidery hoops filled with fabric hanging to the left of the dress.

Pattern: Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen [link]

Fabric: Brussels Washers Linen by Robert Kaufman (I can’t remember what the color is, but it’s a very dark gray)

Again, I found this pattern straightforward for a beginner, and my biggest issue was gathering the waist without snapping the thread a thousand times.

A gray linen skirt is spread out on a wood floor. It is very full.
Not an accurate color representation; this gray is very hard to capture

The zipper is also a big ol’ mess. The white zipper was the only one I had on hand that was the right size, and rather than wait to get a better suited color, I thought the contrast between the zipper and the skirt might be nice. It’s… not. I mean, it’s not skirt-ruiningly bad, but if I held off for a different zipper it would have looked much nicer. Especially given that I had some trouble sewing it in, and my stitches on the inside are both visible and heinous. 

A close-up of a white zipper on a gray linen skirt.

I might get a chance to redo the zipper, though, because the fit issue I’m having with this is the waistband. The waistband goes straight up and down. My body does not, so there’s a big space between my waist and the fabric. From what I know from knitting, it needs darts. But everything I’ve read about sewing in waist darts says I need to take the whole waistband apart to redo it, which is why this project is in a time-out. I am not emotionally ready to take this thing apart. 

A close-up of a pocket on a gray linen skirt.

I’m waiting to hem the bottom of the skirt until I get the waist right to make sure it’s even.

If you have any suggestions for fixing either of these pieces, please feel free to point me in the right direction. I would be thankful beyond measure!

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