I love Monopoly. It’s my favorite game of all time. Most people hate Monopoly. It’s frustrating. It takes forever. It makes you hate the people around you. It makes you never want to play another game again.
No one ever wants to play Monopoly with me (see above). Two of my best friends from high school visited me in Danville last week. (My family moved after I graduated high school.) I’m pretty sure before they even got in the door, I yelled “We’re playing Monopoly!!!” Yes, I’m a big, giant kid at heart. This Monopoly game ended like most; I won, Haley stopped talking, and Sarah was so happy she landed on free parking five times, that she didn’t care. This still didn’t fill my void. My sister, Mallory, came home this weekend and we set up the SuperNintendo. We played Monopoly for over two hours. I am finally content.
I sketched a dress earlier this summer that I wanted to make for Mallory. I didn’t know if I’d get to it, since I wanted to make my sequin skirt and lace dress first. I kind of wanted to put it off since it was going to be pattern-making from scratch again. I don’t mind pattern-making for skirts. Pattern-making for tops? Yah, I definitely foresaw a problem or two to say the least.
There it is. Simple enough, right? I originally had thought that I could write this post as a summer high-low dress DIY project. I figured that each step was easy enough that if I took pictures of every step, I’d easily be able to explain it to other sewers out there. After reversing half of the steps and skipping over some altogether, I decided that this would be more of a “look at my errors and learn from it” kind of post.
The first thing you should know about this experience is that Mallory is petite. Not just kind of short, she is one of the smallest, fittest people I know. I have never made anything for anyone smaller than myself. That being said, I based the top of the dress off of one of my tops. I had to make the straps thicker and make the waist a bit larger since it would be gathered into the skirt. I folded the top in half and laid it over the pattern paper. (In this case, I used computer paper taped together. I know, so professional.) After I made sure the widths of the shoulders and neckline and length of the top of the front and back pieces were even, I laid out the pieces to cut the fabric.
Mistake #1: I did not need to make it as wide as I did.
Mistake #2: Lining was a baaaaad choice.
I can tell that you can probably guess where all of these mistakes are going, but I’ll go on anyway. I chose to line the top since I’m awful at finishing edges. In high school sewing, I purposely picked a wide variety of projects, so I could learn a multitude of skills. None of these projects happened to have raw edges that I’d have to finish myself. The theory is easy enough, they just never look right when I do it. By lining the top, the neckline and the arm holes would essentially be finished on their own with minimal effort. So, I sewed the front to the back, and the front lining to the back lining. Then, with right sides together, I tried to sew the necklines and the arm holes of the lining to the outer pieces.
Mistake #3: When sewing the lining, do NOT sew the shoulders.
Why? After sewing the lining to the outer pieces, when you go to flip the right side out again, the shoulders/straps will be stuck inside of the top. This is where I stopped taking step-by-step photos. It wasn’t pretty from here on out. I had to rip out the shoulder seams, bring them to the outside, and resew. Since I suck at hand sewing, I didn’t want to hand sew the lining of the shoulders, so I just folded under the shoulders and sewed. At this point, I started to think lining wasn’t the best choice.
I had her try on the top once the shoulders were fixed and although it was a smidgen too big, I figured it would look okay once the elastic was added in the waist.
Mistake #4: If it looks too baggy on its own, it’s going to be too baggy with a skirt.
Not much to say about that one, other than “lesson learned”. If it’s a bit baggy, just take in the seams a little before the bottom is sewn into the skirt and it’s too late. I cut out the skirt pieces in a similar manner to the top, making the front piece shorter at the middle and angling down, with the back piece starting at the length where it meets the front, angling down. I sewed the skirt pieces together, basted the top, gathered it, and sewed it to the top. I folded down the seam, sewed it, and put elastic in the waist. I then hemmed the skirt, which doesn’t look the prettiest. This fabric doesn’t have much stretch, which made it difficult to fold the bottom hem under all the way around. After it was hemmed, I thought I was done.
Mistake #5: If you made all or any of the mistakes above, don’t expect to be done once its hemmed.
I had her try it on and it was huge on top. The waist was fitted, but the top was just massive. She was swimming in it. Any other smart sewer would know what to do: just take in the sides. But I am no smart sewer. The inside is lined, so I couldn’t take in the sides, unless I ripped the whole thing apart. Mallory said repeatedly she didn’t care what the inside looked like, but I didn’t want to just take in the sides as is and have raw edges inside. It totally would defeat the purpose of lining it in the first place. So, a lot of sobbing, seam ripping, ugly edges, and amateur mistakes later, I called it quits, and we played Monopoly.
Why did I cry? I mean, its just a dress. But for me, it was more than that. It was the first thing I made for someone other than myself and I failed. This is easily the worst thing I’ve ever made and it was for my sister. Even worse, she paid me for it. She was paying me for total shit. I was embarrassed and utterly disappointed in myself. Yes, I learned from it, but it was a crappy way to find out.
It’s better than it was, and she claims she likes it. (I still think she’s sparing my feelings. No one wants to sit and watch me cry for that long, twice.) It’s still a little big at the top, and I guess if I could go back, I’d make the skirt longer in the back. But, if go-backs are in the question, there are a lot of things I’d do differently. See for yourself.
As frustrating as this dress was and as much as I hate it, I realized something funny today. For me, sewing is a lot like Monopoly. I love sewing (most days). Dresses are my favorite thing to wear of all time. Most people can’t sew. It’s frustrating. It takes forever. This dress definitely made me hate everyone in a ten yard radius. It even made me not want to make another dress again. Ironic?