I made a dress!!! And I love it!
I’ve never been too big on dresses… I don’t really have a reason why. I went through a skirt phase last summer and have a dress or two I really like, but overall not a huge dress fan. But I think I’m becoming a dress convert!
I made it using this book – Built by Wendy Dresses by Wendy Mullins. I’d read reviews online about this book (all good) and had seen/wanted this lady’s other book about sewing with knits. I had a left over giftcard from Christmas, so I got the dress book the day it came out. It’s a really good book! If you’ve never sewn before then it’s probably not the best book, but she’s got another book that looks super good that has more basic stuff in it.
She goes through and tells about 3 types of dresses (sheath, shift, and dirndl) and tells which ones work best on different body types. Then each dress has a section in which the dress is done like 8 different ways! And there’s more ideas too so the possibilities are endless!
It comes with the basic patterns for the three types of dresses and in various sizes. (oh – the patterns don’t have seam allowances, which I didn’t really have a problem with probably because I don’t usually use patterns… you just have to remember to do them.) It suggests you make a dress out of muslin first and then you can see what you need to change in the pattern and I fully back that idea! I made my muslin dress and it fit a little tight, but not enough that it needed to be adjusted. I did end up adjusting the armholes and width of the shoulders. I definitely would suggest making a muslin dress first. For sure. I tend to just do things and not really practice… but making the practice dress was definitely necessary.
Things I really liked:
- The section on how to make alterations! It tells what to do if it’s too tight or too loose or too long in each area… And it gives lots of different ways to change the dress by changing the necklines, length of the dress, sleeves, etc.
- The part about deciding which dress would be best for each body type. It’s interesting to read about.
- All the ideas on how to adjust the pattern to make them unique and awesome. I haven’t done any yet, but I’m excited about all the ideas!
- How to do pockets! I haven’t had a dress with pockets and I didn’t realize how much I was missing! Dresses with pockets are pretty much the best thing ever.
- It has some directions on how to gather, and I tried it her way which is also the way I’ve read many other places (do two long rows of basting stitches then gather). It’s never worked for me. But what does work for me is to do a wide zig-zag stitch over yarn and then gather on the yarn… I saw it online somewhere and it totally works for me.
- I also do the zipper different than how the book says to do it. I think to each their own – there’s not just one certain way to do something. Whatever works best and easiest for you is what is the right way.
- I used the largest size pattern thinking it would be too small based on my measurements and the measurements in the book, but it fit perfectly. It says (and makes perfect sense) to pick which size pattern based on bust size and then you can adjust the rest.
- I don’t have a serger, so I just made sure and did tight zig-zag stitching along all the seams to make sure they’ll stay tight and won’t fray too much.
I was really surprised by making a dress. It’s way easier than I thought it would be! The hardest part for me is always cutting out the fabric. It seems to take forever, even though it doesn’t actually. And I’ve made another dress and it has sleeves and they were easier than I thought they’d be too.
I would suggest the book to anyone who has sewn some before. It’s really informative and interesting and easy to follow. And I’m definitely putting her other books of my list of books I would love to get!