Finished summer dresses

Now that I am officially free of the MCAT, the crafting bug has returned in force to ExerciseBeforeKnitting. I have many sewing projects to debut! This first dress is a bit delayed but you don’t mind, do you?

My first dress

Pattern: McCall’s 4768

Last March, I was feeling a little bored of toddler sewing and anxious for summer to begin so I decided to try my first adult-sized garment. Let us just say that the only nice thing about this dress is the fabric: the sewing is sloppy, the fit is off and the pattern was tedious. Nevertheless, I am still terribly proud of it and will wear it in spite of the flaws. This garment taught me how to select future patterns, the importance of combining sizes and how a great print can hide many errors.

I love this dress, even though it's too big in too many places and the stitching is sloppy - I'm really proud of it!

I learned that side darts stretching from the armholes to the hips on both sides look easier than cutting separate pieces for the top, middle and bottom, but that’s a dirty, rotten lie. Not only were long darts harder, they were painfully tedious. I’m quite certain most of the work of this dress is in the darts. Small darts on skirts or at the bust are fine but I am officially done with torso-length darts!

Not a bad first attempt

I also learned not to cut a larger size based on the rationale that it is easier to take in than cut anew. Just because I want a dress to fit does not mean I ought to allow an extra 5/8″ at every seam just in case. With regards to sizing, I tried to get away with only using one size for the top, middle and bottom of the dress; this was a fatal mistake. After careful measurement, I discovered I need four different sizes at various points. Not two, not even three, four. This made me reconsider what kind of dress to choose. If I wanted a fitted dress, a darted, one-piece dress probably was not the best choice. For the next dress, I selected a pattern with multiple pieces so I could customize each to fit. I started this dress earlier this summer and although I had little sewing time, I snuck a seam or two in here and there. I finished this the day after my exam.

New Look 6699

Pattern: New Look 6699

Fabric: Joel Dewberry Ginseng Collection, Spade Damask in Ivory

Since I used so many different sizes, I worried they would not join well together but I hardly noticed a problem. Modifying the pattern to fit was so easy to do and ultimately, more satisfying than cutting a larger size to (sort of) fit. But tell me, does it look like I’m wearing an evil version of the Nike swoosh? That’s what I see in this fabric, although I like the overall effect!


It took me a long time to get these straps right. I still might shorten the right strap a little, as it does not feel as snug as the other one.

Does it look like I'm wearing the Nike swoosh with creepy eyes? Maybe.

I was worried that the middle piece would look strange, since it is cut on the bias when the top and bottom pieces are not. I think the difference adds a bit to the garment overall, plus it makes for a more stretchy piece. My only regret is that the skirt is a smidge too big – I probably should have dropped down one size but having a little extra room never hurt anyone, right?

Midsection detail

This is a weird angle but I wonder if this is how I look to tall people? Specifically, to Aaron, since he is 13 inches taller than me!

This must be what I look like to Aaron

There may be more dresses to come but I think I will stick to faster, easier projects (like skirts) for now. But who knows? There may be time-consuming, harder projects (like quilts) waiting in the wings!

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33 comments so far

  1. Kristy on

    Yay for summer dresses! They both look great, but I know what you mean about fit and sizing issues. You’ll figure it out more as you go along, if you do decide to make more dresses. I like the prints you chose!

  2. Danielle on

    Yep, this is exactly why I stick to skirts. Too much thinking about dress sizes makes my head hurt!

  3. Bertha on

    Wow! These both turned out great! I particularly love the Joel Dewberry fabric! I don’t think it looks like evil Nike, I didn’t even notice the similarity until you mentioned it. You’re such a sewing rock star!

  4. Jacey on

    Love the dresses! Great fabric, as you noted, and quite impressive finished products. I’m sewing a top right now, and it’s very different from little projects!

  5. grumperina on

    Dude, these are totally pro! Fantastic work! I see what you mean about the middle panel of the second dress being cut on the bias. I bet it would look super with a thin stripy print… but I can’t say it’s a problem here, I didn’t even notice that element until you said something.

  6. linda on

    I love both dresses, they look gorgeous! I wish I could sew clothes!!!

  7. tiennie on

    Those dresses are so beautiful on you!

  8. Valerie on

    I am about to embark on my 2nd dress sewing project which is the first dress you show above. I am now officially terrified. The dresses look great, though, so it may not turn out so bad…

  9. Stella on

    Congrats on getting that test behind you! You look fab in these dresses — I love them both but I think especially the first one.

  10. Lawanna on

    Gorgeous Dresses!!!

  11. Chris on

    They look fabulous and you look fabulous!

  12. LizKnits on

    I love both of those dresses… great fit and what great fabrics!

  13. schrodinger on

    Great dresses, and you look great in them! I know what you mean about dresses though, they can be tricky – the first one I made had major zipper issues and I never even showed off my attempt at making a maternity dress, it. was. horrible. Yours just look fantastic though.

  14. whitney on

    The dresses look fantastic! I especially like the second one. I hope I can sew a dress that fits me that well someday!

  15. gleek on

    yes, the fabric on that first dress hides a lot of the flaws (which i can’t see at all!) so huzzah for that! love the second one especially that waist band bias piece. awesome.

  16. Maritza on

    These look fabulous! And funny thing about the evil Nike swoosh. I totally didn’t notice until you mentioned it. It is a little Nike-swoosh-y, but you know, much more stylish. :)

  17. Kate on

    I don’t see the nike-swoosh. I see a smug beaked thing with it’s eyes closed, and the other one is an alarmed beaked thing.

    Ink blots, anyone?

  18. Christie on

    what great fabrics!

  19. Kelly on

    They are both beautiful! Love the fabric, they look absolutely perfect to me ;)

  20. Susan on

    Congrats on being done with the MCAT! Hope it went well.
    The dresses are lovely. I wish I could sew for myself, but I don’t have time or skill.

  21. stacey on

    Those are both stunning. The skirt/top are beautiful! Very tailored!

  22. maryse on

    both of those dresses are adorable. i especially love the print of the second one. i see little bird faces.

  23. Daniela on

    Very stylish and flattering dresses and well executed!

  24. Mandy on

    Wow! I have sewn garments for myself one time and I don’t think I’ll try it again! Your dresses turned out great and I really enjoyed your detailed discussion, too.

  25. lolly on

    They look so fabulous, E~ I love the fit and the casual-yet-dressy look. You did a great job.

  26. Stephanie on

    I love both dresses, and the fabrics of both are very fun! Thanks for the reviews, it always helps me when picking patterns.

  27. lobstah on

    I am so impressed with your sewing prowess! I think both dresses look great on you! I actually think it is harder to sew a well-fitted garment than to knit one…knits just have more give, y’know?

  28. Carrie on

    Those are beautiful! I so want to try sewing clothes, but I am scared. I think quilts seem easier than making a dress like the ones you’re modeling! You look fabulous!

  29. Michelle on

    I think both dresses look amazing on you, and wish I could wear that shape! But I’m older, and don’t exercise enough before knitting….

  30. Beth on

    Both dresses look great on you!

  31. Amelia on

    I am with Kate, I see an oddly hypnotised owl in the dress. The print is just lovely and your sewing seems, to the unknowledgeable sewer that I am, just lovely. You’ve really restarted my desire to sew, I think that I am going to have to throw myself into it one of these days and stop worrying about wasting fabric, ruining patterns etc :D x

  32. diana on

    I love, love, love the dresses!

  33. Alicia on

    Beautiful! They came out great! Well worth the blood sweat and tears.

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