Sunday, 24 February 2013


I've gone a bit quiet as I've had a bit of a holiday, but that doesn't mean things haven't been happening..! 

I've been working on the toile (still) for the dress and have stopped as I've hit a bit of a problem...

The dress toile so far...
A. It is too small! (even though I checked the measurements and the pattern is for a size 14 (1970s original)  the top part of the dress is too tight on the waist - the skirt part fits ok-ish although I think once a zip goes in, it will be too tight! (oops - I've been eating too many cakes?!) 

Although I do know that sizes today are different to what they were in the 70s and what was a 14 then is more like a 12 now? I think that's right? In fact I do find that whole thing equally interesting, about how we are all getting bigger as a nation - but I'll save that for another post!

B. I'm not sure that the top part actually suits me even though I love the sleeves I'm just not quite convinced they look right on me...(sad face)

C. There is a big 'puff' thing on the back. I'm not sure why yet! I did find it fiddly to sew the sections into the top and keep them flat so maybe that's what's caused it?? Any ideas?

Puff! Umm not sure why? Thought it would be flat?
On the pattern it only shows the front, but really can't imagine that this is what it is supposed to look like? 

The pattern..

So looking at it now I'm also not sure if the fabric I had in mind would suit this patterns now either? As the skirt is made of four panels that means the pattern will need to match up. 

I am now wondering whether to change the top part of the dress and use a different pattern to make that part and then match that up with the skirt and actually put the zip in the back of side instead. 

Hmmm is sounding like a completely different dress!! What do you think?? Can I do that?

I'm really pleased though that I made a toile first to find these 'challenges' before going straight into the proper fabric and now work out how to solve them. All a big learning curve for me. ;-)

Could do with some advice/ideas please...!

Thank you!


  1. I think you are doing incredibly well ... this kind of dressmaking is way out of my comfort zone and experience! I guess what you finding is that the journey isn't always smooth, but the hiccups are part of the process of getting to a finish line ... it will all work out, it is worth fighting through these challenges and finding the solutions! I hope some 'experts' see this and are able to give you some constructive advice ... but for now, I would just say, well done so far! Press on and learn, learn, learn :)

    1. Aw thank you so much Hilary! Yes indeed it is a journey and there are hills!! All good though - just more to learn really (and to not get frustrated about it all) THANK YOU! ;-)

  2. Not sure I will be any help, but I found on the few bits I have made, that you have to go by your actual measurements rather than what dress size you think you are. So get someone to help you measure waist, hips, bust etc. I did this and I was a 16... You have met me, I am not a modern day 16..! And sometimes I was a 14 on top and a 16 on the bottom, so you have to cut in between the size lines on the pattern. Does any of that make sense?!

    1. That is really helpful - thank you Jen! And yep there's NO WAY I would have said you were a 16!

  3. Wear a girdle. That's what women did in those days.

    1. Hee hee really in the 70s?? Not sure - I've tried those 'support pants' and they just push everything 'up' and not in a good way!

  4. creating a toile for any new garment is a really important part of dressmaking, for all the reasons you have stated; to check fit, to make alterations and to decide on styling. You are learning so much by just doing and yes, you can alter and mix different patterns together to create something that you are happy with... that's the joy of making your own : )

    As for the sizing, most patterns have sizes and corresponding actual body measurements on the pattern envelope (so ignore your dress size). It is often alarming that patterns say we are bigger than the dress size we are used to but just remember it is only a number, what's more important is to get the fit right. Many patterns also include finished garment measurements (e.g bust, waist, width of hem, nape to hem length) These can be really useful as they illustrate the 'ease'(extra measurement to allow for movement) the pattern has been given for each particular size. Before cutting out any pattern i always measure across the bustline, waistline and hipline (minus the seam allowanmces and any darts etc). This gives me the actual finished circumference of each of these measurements that i can adjust depending on my own. You can also measure and adjust the length too e.g. length of back (for bodices), waist to hem length (for skirts)etc. Modern patterns have lengthening and shortening lines that you can add in or reduce as needed.
    I am thinking that perhaps the blouson effect on the back of your toile may be more pronounced on the manequin. Your manequin's back length (nape to back waist) may be shorter than the sizing of the pattern?

    Hope this helps
    Ginny x


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