Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Revenge of the Coffee Dress

Regulars readers may recall when I sewed the coffee dress, I was disappointed in the sleeves, and was only intensified when I wore it to work one day.  Basically, they are supposed to neatly hug the sides of the shoulders; instead, even hiked onto the top of my shoulders, the slightest movement sent them cascading down my arms.  I knew it wasn't going to work when I was sewing it, but I followed the pattern anyway.  This is what I get for following the directions exactly for once.
The proper way to fix this would have been to rip out: the hand-stitching on the lining on the bodice, the understitching at the top, the stitching at the top between the bodice and its lining, the sleeves from the bodice, and then the sleeves themselves.  Then fix the sleeves and redo all of the stitching that I had just ripped out.  That would have been the right way to fix it; instead, I ripped out the stitching at the top of the sleeve. 
I then ripped out the elastic.  I should have known better than following the pattern's instructions to use a straight stitch on elastic!
Before I started ripping the dress apart, I measured the slack in the sleeve: a whopping 2.5 inches!  Utterly ridiculous.  And I'm pretty broad-shouldered, so it isn't as if this doesn't fit because I am particularly petite or something.  Anyway, not wanted the sleeves to be too tight, I took off 1.5 inches.
I prefer to use a casing or a zig-zag stitch on elastic.  I went with the casing here because I thought I could hide it a little better.  I just folded the top of the sleeve down (along where the original stitching line) and then sewed it close to the edge.  It's a good thing I didn't trim the seam allowance here (and I remember thinking at the time that it was odd that the pattern didn't call for that).
The original elastic length was nearly as long as the sleeve (another reason their darn instructions wouldn't have worked).  Since I took 1.5 inches off the sleeve, I took off 2.5 inches from the elastic.  I inserted it into the casing and then top-stitched the sleeves shut.  Much fast than ripping out almost everything.
I apologize for the blurriness here; I had to turn off the flash so it wouldn't reflect in the mirror.  The sleeves still aren't perfect, but they're much better.  I wore this to a bridal shower and a bunch of people told me I looked fabulous!

14 comments:

  1. Well, they look really good now-definitely worth the effort, IMO! I think I actually have that pattern waiting to be sewn up at home...I'll take your struggles under advisement when making it up! But the fabric is too cute not to be made into the best dress you can make. :)

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    1. Thank you. Good luck sewing it - I suggest making a muslin of the sleeves so you get a good fit. Or maybe pin them onto the bodice with a safety pin?

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  2. This looks so much better than sleeves sliding off! And thank you very much for using a shortcut, I always feel bad when I don't "do things the proper way" while sewing...

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    1. The "proper" way? Rules are made to be broken!

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  3. It looks really good :D interesting fabric also.

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    1. Thank you. Believe it or not, it's an I Love Lucy fabric.

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  4. Great problem solving! Looks like it turned out to be a perfect fit. There is much to be said for having enough experience to improvise effectively when the pattern doesn't quite get it right!

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    1. Thank you. I like to think of the directions as suggestions. :)

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  5. I always have almost that exact same problem with patterns (and often enough don't catch it until the whole dress is finished). This is a really nice solution, and looks great.

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    1. Thank you. Now we'll both know to be on the lookout for sneaky elastic sleeves.

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  6. in the end it looks really pretty!

    <3

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    1. Thanks - all the hard work was worth it in the end.

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  7. Fun fabric. This whole post makes me wish I could sew, but then it reminds me why I find it so difficult.

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    1. It is difficult, but I find it rewarding.

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