Needing a dress for my friend CJ’s wedding last June (a slow time of year for singing), I decided it was time to work toward one of my crafting goals – “making clothing that fits”. Since I’m a class-taker, I searched and found Diana Rupp’s Girly Go To Dress class at Make Workshop on the Lower East Side. The class promised to take me through the making of the Girly Go To Dress and teach me various techniques including basic fitting.
I feel I learned a lot in this class. Sadly, some of the things were in the ‘what not to do’ category. First – some things I read in the past about sewing and fit are flitting into my mind as I type this… 1) If a fabric doesn’t hang/drape the way you want it to when you throw it onto your arm, it won’t hang the way you want it to when it’s sewn.
There was a DEAL on fabric.com on silk dupioni (one of the recommended fabrics for the GGT Dress pattern specs) and I snapped it up. It’s pretty. It’s also really really stiff. When finished, the dress stuck out on the sides like an alien outfit from Star Trek. A last ditch desperate attempt dry cleaning did not fix this. Sad.
Second lesson learned – that making a dress for your boobs and then fitting it down will mean that – really – the dress will fit your boobs and be huge everywhere else. I’m a size 6-8 in the body (RTW sizing) and a 10-12 up top. I thus chose the ‘large’ size for the dress because Diana agreed it would fit my boobs best. We cut it large and then fitted it on the side seams to make it fit. Sadly though, the end result is a dress that fits around my ribs and across my chest but is huge everywhere else. It’s too wide in the shoulders, too big in the underarm area, too small in the back (weird) and is WAY too much fabric around the hips.
I was very disappointed in this aspect of the class. The dress is a design of her own with sizing of S, M and L (no actual measurements provided) and she’s a small person. She has a Small version of the dress to try on and no others. Naturally the Small didn’t fit me. So it became a guessing game. A Medium seemed like the right choice but she agreed that it probably wouldn’t fit my top. But she had no way to determine whether it would or wouldn’t in reality. She’s been teaching this class a while and my thought was – can’t make a Medium and Large version for people to try on and/or create some measurements (even on the fly) for the thing? She didn’t seem to really have an idea on how to fit someone like me other than make it bigger and sew down the side seams to make it fit. Due to my narrow shoulders this completely did not work for me. I found this lame.
It was ultimately an easy dress to make and it’s cute – or at least the picture is. I’ve since ordered a Palmer/Pletch Full Bust Adjustment DVD so who knows? Someday I may even make it again. But as for the blue silk version, it went to Good Will in August and I wore the RTW dress I’d worn to my H.S. Reunion the year before.
I feel like Diana’s class was pretty good – I did learn a lot about different techniques, how to follow a pattern, etc. but really did not go into fit at all if that’s what you are into. I think I would have done better in a more traditional class – for my personality – perhaps. But who knows. Bottom line is, that I did make an entire dress and it looks great on the hanger (other than VERY stiff). The finishing is beautiful and almost invisible. I had fun making it. It just looks pretty awful on. Which makes it a bummer. But I did learn a lot and thus, I’m calling it a win.
You can see on the right how it’s gaping around my arm pits and too wide for shoulders.
Horribly unflattering back shot. Again, it’s tight across my ribs but then pulling and bunching elsewhere. To Good Will it goes!
Postlude: CJ had been so excited and a huge encourager of my efforts, I didn’t want to show up with nothing handmade. And thus, two nights before the wedding trip, I sat down and created what I call the awesome Lotta Jansdottir ‘Mushmouth’ sunhat (for the rehearsal picnic). Completely ridiculous and awesome. I’ll post on that one next.