I recently knocked up this little beauty as my first ever foray into the world of commercial patterns. Not bad, eh?? I was shocked beyond belief that what emerged from the nightmare of fabric scraps and tangled cotton sprawled across the floorboards of several rooms (sorry babe) was a real, wearable piece of clothing that mildly resembled a garment one might actually pay for.
Being that the fabric was called ‘ottoman’ I was genuinely expecting to look like an oversized foot stool.... and I suppose the jury is still out on that one.
So, after (a vastly disproportionate number of) hours hunched over the floorboards (see above) and over my Aldi-special sewing machine, I not only walked away with a surprisingly fab new frock, but a few little pearls of wisdom to share on patterns (note: I use the term 'wisdom' loosely):
1. Snug body measurements are essential.
I really wanted to title this first point “don’t ask Lisa to take your measurements” but I thought that was probably (a) a little too mean-spirited of me and (b) posed the wildly unrealistic scenario of Lisa appearing by your sewing table with both a dressmaker's tape and a mischievous grin at the point of measurement.
Having asked Lisa to help with my measurements – you really will need help here as it is next to impossible to take accurate measurements solo – I selected the 'appropriate' dress size as per the seemingly-simple sizing table on the back of the pattern. What resulted was a dress with the handy feature of ample capacity to store a few 1kg bags of sugar in the bust.
Unless you're bound for a Vegas buffet within the next fortnight - take snug measurements, the pattern allows for a naturally comfy fit.
2. You’re not actually meant to understand all of the instructions.
This was my lightbulb moment. The moment I realised I wasn't supposed to understand the instructions, everything clicked.
No one understands this:
Make peace with it and move on.
3. when things go wrong: dart, dart, dart.
Had it not been for the farce outlined in item #1, you would have had to go hunting on some other plus-sized-friendly sewing blog for this little morsel. After some deep consideration I concluded the real likelihood of a scenario requiring me to snuggle bags of sugar against my ta-tas was probably nil at best (never say never, I suppose). This, combined with the fact I was not blessed with even a fraction of the patience required to unpick the whole damn thing and start again, meant I needed an alternate solution.
Thus began the process of sewing whopping great big darts in at every conceivable angle - including the whole front seam (which unfortunately closed the nifty little v-shaped cut out in the original pattern a bit more than I would have liked), and an even bigger one squeezed in-between the two back bodice darts as indicated by the pattern. I also shortened the bodice length to raise the waistline higher (this sounds like I did something impressive, when in reality, I just put the waistline where it was meant to be in the first place... i.e. on my waist) and scooped out two large sections of the side-seams to create a longer, leaner silhouette. By some miracle, it worked (especially considering the pea and stilton risotto Lisa had whipped us up for dinner that evening).
So, don't be frightened by commercial patterns - you really can make the thing pictured on the front. Okay, I lie. Be bloody terrified but just go ahead and sew anyway. You might just get as lucky as I did.
(This is a shout-out to Diane, just like I promised. xx)
A big dollop of love from my finger tips to your screen (I promise that's not as creepy as it sounds). xx