Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sewing Project: Simplicity 2209

This year, I decided I wanted to make an Easter dress for myself. Not an unusual decision. But I decided it...two days before Easter. And no, I didn't want to make just another knit dress, either!

I've had this pattern for a few months, and actually, I've had fabric for it since my big Mood order for my birthday in February. I wanted to make View B, the dress with two different fabrics for the skirt and top.

From Mood, I ordered a green poplin for the skirt, and a white stretch poplin with vertical metallic threads for the top. The white poplin was kind of sheer and you can see the facings through it, which is a drag, but the stretch is awesome so that made it worth it.

I love this dress. I love the pattern. I do not love zippers (more on that later). I cut the smallest size in the envelope without paying any attention to the measurements (I always do that and because I'm so thin it's never been a problem...and sorry...I just have lucky genes) and this dress just fit. It definitely runs small, so check your measurements! The narrowest part is at the natural waist, and after a big breakfast I was feeling a tad squeezed!

The dress looks complicated, but it's not. It does take a bit of time to mark carefully, because there are two darts in the front bodice, two pleats in the back bodice, two pleats in the front of the skirt and two pleats in the back of the skirt. As I discovered (too late), these elements need to be done pretty exactly. Otherwise, when you join the bodice to the skirt, the opening for the side zipper will not look (or work) right. 

The side zip is meant to be a lapped zipper. For my first time sewing a zipper, I probably could have picked something easier than a side-zipped lapped zipper, but oh well. In the interest of shaming myself into never doing so poorly again, I'll show you some very honest photos of my zipper disaster.

Topstitched on one side? What?

My zipper is not lapped. It's an exposed zipper. Honestly, I don't know if I had enough fabric to make it lapped. The directions were not helpful. Also, somehow my zipper ended up on the opposite side than the directions instructed. If you don't already know how to do this kind of zipper, these directions are not going to teach you (I see Craftsy just added a free class about zippers, I'm definitely taking it). On day two of my self-imposed deadline, I was almost having a panic attack about putting this zipper into my dress. I'd never felt that kind of sewing anxiety before. The whole thing was already assembled (minus the armhole facings and the skirt hem), and there I was, staring at a paragraph of nonsensical directions, an uneven hole where the zipper was supposed to go, and no idea how to do it. I ended up hand-basting the thing in whatever way seemed right, and then sewing it in permanently on my machine. If you asked me for more details, I wouldn't be able to provide them. All I know is that it looks "wrong". Sure, it functions. My husband says it looks fine (and believe me, he would tell me if it looked like crap...he had no problem telling me that the white poplin looked like paper). I left too much space above the zipper and had to hand-sew that closed (twice) and it's all wonky, too.

This was not a good experience. It's really a shame, because the dress is very flattering to wear and I would love to make more. (Update**I conquered lapped zippers here on some shorts!) Maybe I should be glad the pattern isn't a bust, because it will force me to learn how to do the zipper correctly. I have seen some people on Pattern Review moving it to the center back and using an invisible zip instead. I don't have an invisible zipper foot, but if I get one someday, I'll be all over that plan.

Exposed zipper fail.

Ugh. Moving on from my zipper disaster, one other fitting problem occurred. I got the whole dang dress done and THEN noticed that the back neckline was gaping. As I said, I had cut the smallest size, so that was pretty frustrating to discover.

Gape from above.

Gape from the side.

I turned to the helpful ladies on the Pattern Review message board for help (here's the thread if you're interested) and was instructed to put two small darts in the neckline. I would have liked to put two in the facing and two in the bodice, but since the dress was already assembled (and the back facing was sewn into the armhole facings) I had to put the darts in the facing and bodice together.

To make the darts, I found center-back and then marked one inch to the left and right for one side of each dart. First I tried darts that were 1/2" wide, hand-basting them closed and then trying on the dress. A 1/2" didn't remove enough excess, so I upped it to 1", which was just right. The darts were 1 1/2" long, which was a random amount that seemed right by looking at the dress while wearing it.

It might have been easier to try the dress on and let my husband pinch out the excess. Well...maybe easier isn't the right word! Perhaps I got lucky with guessing, but the above alterations weren't too bad and I liked being able to be precise. When the darts were done, I liked how they looked so much that I'll probably just keep doing them. As I said, the pattern already has darts and pleats all over the place, so what's a few more?

No more gape from above!

No more side gape!

The directions call for a blind hem, but I did a standard hem with slightly contrasting thread (actually, it was the closest color I had) and it looks fine.

I made one other change to the pattern, which was to add a pocket on the opposite side from the zipper. You can't add a pocket on the zipper side because it would be right where the zipper is installed. I used a pocket pattern piece from McCall's 6288 which worked well, but it's a tad too low (I just guessed where to put it), so next time I'll move it up a bit. There's another reason to move the zipper to center back...two pockets are better than one!

I did not finish the dress in time for Easter, but it didn't matter because AB chose Easter to have a 24 hour stomach bug (I mentioned Friday that hubby and I had come down with it as well, thankfully we're all feeling better now!). I had it done by the next Sunday and wore it to church, on the first glorious spring day we've had so far (over 70 degrees!). It's the perfect spring dress and it will be hard not to reach for it over and over.

I definitely recommend this pattern, especially if you already know how to do a lapped zipper. I don't have any fabric to make another right now, but I'll be on the lookout (maybe a lovely grey linen??). Somebody please tell me that they've had disastrous results with their first zipper attempt! Is there something I'm missing about lapped zippers in particular? Are they just awful? Spill! 


  1. Love the color blocking, very cute! I haven't tried a lapped zipper yet, i just always do invisible zippers, i guess i'll have to give one a shot! This tutorial looks like it has good photos http://coatsandclarksewingsecrets.com/blogcategory/sewing/sewing-a-lapped-zipper-in-a-skirt-2/ The last pattern i did included 2 tiny darts on the back neckline and i think it helped.

    1. Thank you thank you! The photos make all the difference. I think what's tricky on this dress is that there is still a seam above the zipper, up to the armhole. Maybe I'll save that for last and it will make the process easier.

  2. simple and sophisticated look... you have design this dress very awesomely... i m impressed with you given guidance...


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