Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Thoughts on a dress gone wrong

I made a dress from fabric in my stash but it has all gone a bit wrong. Do you want to see some not so great photos of it? The photos of me in it are so awful I cannot bring myself to post them. I used the shift pattern from Sew U dresses. The black fabric is some cotton with a bit of stretch in it. The stripey fabric is cotton that was orinally white with a mint green stripe but I dyed it a few months ago. I cut out the shift dress and then made the yoke and facing from the pattern.

I really, really wanted this dress to work but this may be a case of what I had in my head not quite matching up in reality. Here are thoughts on it so far....

1. I tried to get the pockets sewn on evenly but I think they are not. The stripey fabric just emphasises little errors like this.

2. It is kind of like a huge black sack.

3. If I had a waist I could try a belt

4. I think I should live in a spooky gothic mansion to wear this dress

5. In the sideways view you can see the shapelessness issue AND you can see how the fabric is very prone to creasing

6. The fabric also attracts dust and lint

7. If I lived in a dark spooky gothic mansion the creasing and dustiness would not be visible

8. I could wear this dress for Halloween

9. Damn, I wanted an everyday dress not a costume

10. I think I should remake this dress in cotton jersey

The other annoying thing is my sewing machine is not working properly - I sat down yesterday with two free hours (a miracle for me) and a pile of Christmas sewing, nice and simple. Something is wrong with the bobbin mechanism, and the needle keeps coming unthreaded - is this a tension problem? Any advice? My machine is a thirty five year old Elna. I get it serviced annually but I am beginning to feel fed up with the rattling, the bits falling off, and am thinking maybe I should stop making things harder for myself and buy a newer machine. Mr Minnado has offered to buy me a newer one for Christmas (can I wait that long?) - does anyone have any advice or recommendations? Any advice about my black-sack-gothic-dusty-dress too?


  1. Ha ha! You are too funny. You know I have been considering the shift dress and I have to constantly talk myself out of it because I know it's going to look like a big sack on me (given my shape/height) unless the fabric's drape-y, or I take in the side seams to be less voluminous.

    I think the black and the collar and the arm bands look lovely and it has daily dress potential! If I were you, I would take off the pockets (you're right, lining them up would make me batty!) and shape the dress, perhaps by using the sheath dress pattern to redraw the side seams for a little shape and/or use the waist darts. OR: you can use the drindl pattern, which looks fab on you, and tighten the bodice and gather the skirt, and if you've got any extra stripe-fabric, use that as a waistband. A bit retro, totally comfy. :)

  2. Sorry your dress didn't turn out like you wanted hope you can do something with it. Hope you get your sewing machine sorted x

  3. Ali, your advice is really helpful. I think I will try it with the dinrdl pattern and see what I can make of it. Thank you.

  4. Turn the lights out and wear it in the dark?! Nah - I don't think it's bad at all! It is a comfy round-the-house dress. You're just not used to the shape that's all...? I would wear something with long tight sleeves underneath - maybe even a "thumb-hole" top, and leggings. And big slumpy boots or dare I suggest legwarmers? I think it has great layering potential!

  5. Yes, like Ali, this made me laugh ... but it's not past redeeming. I really like the stripey cuffs & collar, & wonder what it's like with a belt (even a self belt) - but Ali's comments make sense too. Definitely not fancy dress, but real potential to become a favorite everyday dress.

  6. I'm still not sure how to wear a shift so it doesn't feel like a sack. Maybe it's all about drape?
    R.E. the machine have an older Elna too, I really think they are excellent machines, maybe better than anything new out there. I have found the Yahoo groups to be excellent sources of information on sewing machine repair. maybe this one? (

  7. Hi, I like your dress. I think you can fix it by taking the pockets off. Redo the side seams --put a little bend in towards the waist to create an "essence of waist" and put in side seam pockets at the hip level. It can be a housedress.

    for your machine, it sounds like you need to put in a new needle-- make sure the needle you have is the right one for what you are sewing with, and check your manual that you are putting it in correctly (round side front or back or side). Also, oil it. Check the bobbin area and clean out any fuzz. Ensure you have the bobbin properly wound and the thread facing the correct way. Look at where your spool of thread is--see if you need a felt under the spool-- thread can get caught under the spool sometimes. Also Google Ray White-- he is a vintage Elna expert.

    Those old Elnas are fantastic. I don't know if they can be fussy with some of the newer synthetic fabrics or not. There is probably a yahoo group that focuses on vintage Elna sewing machines so you can probably search the Yahoo Group site and get some more info.

    Best of luck with your sewing projects!

  8. Thank you for all the helpful comments and advice. Roobeedoo - the way you describe the way I should wear the dress makes me want to give it a go...Sigrid I do think the fabric was maybe slightly wrong for this shape - it doesn't have enough drape. I have joined the elna yahoo group. It had never entered my mind that there would be such a group so thank you for enlightening me. Kathy - your advice sounds great, I am going to have a good look at my machine (probably next week when school goes back)and follow the steps you advise, I had recently changed the needle and had been wondering if I put in one that was not suitable.
    I am going to google Ray white too.