finished: taupe wriggle dress in stretch cotton

Princess seams in front and back. A pleated fanshaped vent in the back, two in fact in each of the princess seams.

Straight front panel with handspun silk detail which returns in the patch pocket.

details of sewing:

The princess seam at the side front panel does not match the straight front panel. I sew a shape into the front panel and it doesn’t show in the finished project. Will amend pattern:

Reinforcing the front top with unstretable band:

Treating the seam allowances: stitch, trim so they are neat, fold under, press, sew:

Clip at ridiculous curvy bits:

Armholes are finished with biais band. Pin in place

Stitch (from the RS, right in the fold):

Clip and trim:

Redo parts that looked wonky from the RS. The curve in the armhole is very steep, it’s difficult to sew without catching some fabric here or there. Note how the band is folded at the start, this will fold inside neatly:

Baste in place. I used my machine with a long stitch and low foot pressure:

Pick with the hand. At the steep curve I have to bring the stitches closer to the edge, all the way to the basting line. The biais band just won’t stretch enough to let the fabric lie flat.

Pocket: treat top first, then use a carton mold to press the shape around (using a gathering stitch):

I added a detail with handspun Mulberry silk. Also to sew the folded under top in place and to prevent stretching. This edge was not reinforced with non-stretching tape or band:


a few tweaks to the pattern of the green flowery wriggle dress:
– make front panel straight. 19 cm from top to bottom. This means:
– subtract 2 cm from the side panel princess seams. This gives too much curve at the waist line. The fabric won’t be able to attend to it. I middle the curve with the front panel:
– at the waist line of the front panel there’s a slight shaping of 0,5 cm.
– it needs 2 x 0,5 cm more room at the apex. Given this at the sideseams.
– vent at the back princess seams, not at the side seams.
– lower the back neck line. It creases on the back torso in the green dress, even after we took out some of the length.
– pockets….

– handpicked binding at the arm hole and neck line.
– stay tape at the top of the front panel
– the arm hole is good. Good as a base for a dress shirt. Nice and close to the body, giving maximum range of motion.

The idea is that this too will be a try out dress. To get to the perfect basic dress pattern.

– treated seam allowances by folding them under and stitching. They were too scratchy if I’d overlocked them or sewn a zigzag. Looking forward to giving this pattern a lining.
– bias band at the armholes, unstretchable tape at the front and the neck line
– patch pocket, using <a href=””>this tutorial from inseamstudios</a> and<a href=””>this tutorial</a>
– handsewn details at front panel and pocket, from handspun mulberry silk.

Conclusions after sewing:
– armhole curves too steep  for bias binding, this shape benefits from facing. Teacher says to deepen the hole for future dresses. I’m holding hope that a sleeve will fit in there. (but now I see my previous shirts in my minds eye and I know that that’s probably not the case.)
– after wearing it a while I can say that upper legs have enough space for free movement. This is good.
– use same pattern pieces for a (medium weight) tricot/ jersey. Sew same pattern pieces with 1 cm SA instead of 1,5 cm for wovens plus lining. And a long sleeve? Would be ideal for winter.
– ease the curve at the back, towards the shoulder seam, a bit.


Finished: green wriggle dress in stretch cotton.

I have sewing lessons now. And they help me with keeping track of a project; with not minding to rip out a seam and with all the tricks and practises of sewing a project. I’m a weird case: I know about pattern drafting but I lack experience sewing.

Thanks to the lessons I now have perfected the pattern for a fitted dress, with princess seams in the front and back.

This is the try-out, in stretch cotton:
green wriggle dress stretch cotton sewinggreen wriggle dress stretch cotton sewing
green wriggle dress stretch cotton sewinggreen wriggle dress stretch cotton sewinggreen wriggle dress stretch cotton sewinggreen wriggle dress stretch cotton sewing

It wears really comfortable! Not tight at all. We reduced the most obvious gaping and buckling and found real good princess seams and side seams.
Neckline and arm holes have a facing from bias band. They were sewn with the machine from the wrong side and then stitched in place by hand from the right side.
details green wriggle dress stretch cotton sewing

For walking ease I tried to put in two vents at the side seam but they are not good yet:
details green wriggle dress stretch cotton sewing

The frontpanel has a straight neckline. We put in staytape to prevent it from wobbling.
We put a lot of attention to the connection of this part to the sidepanels. I had to grade the seams considerably, to prevent bulk.
details green wriggle dress stretch cotton sewing

Also seams I had resewn, in a better line, she told me to take out the previous stitching. Just to prevent unnecessary stiffness.

For finishing the raw edges I used her serger/ overlock machine. This fabric frays so it was a good call.
The hem is just turned under and sewn with a straight stitch on the longest length.
details green wriggle dress stretch cotton sewing

I now have a base pattern for stretch cotton dresses. I already have a second one cut which will improve on this one with staystitching, vents at the back and non-stretching band at the neckline. And a pocket.

After that I hope to venture this pattern into a thick knit fabric and into a lined version, for Winter.

finished! Wriggle Dress Butterick 6582



This too is a dress. I am more critical of this one though. The lining and the side seams are not good. There is way too much room around my hips, I could fit almost another set of hips in there. Or those cloggs, the big ones. Around the hem there’s one place where I had to pin up the lining because it was peeking from under the hem. The folding on the right shoulder is not excellent.

The overall form is quite ‘boxy’ and not very flattering from the front. It could be a much better bomb shell dress and I do have the curves to pull that off.

Look what can be had if the bottom is drawn in a bit (I am gathering a bit of the fabric with my hands, at the back):

But hey, it’s a dress! Lovely linnen. I made it myself. Learned lots. I am happy!

Trivia about the shoes: these are my Fit For Handknit Socks Shoes. They are a tad bigger than my usual size. I am wearing them without socks because socks distract attention from this dress (I tried). It was these shoes or those cloggs…

Wriggle Dress: finishing touches, ugly bits.

I am not very subtle with my finishing touches I’m afraid. Whatever got the job done I did. There are some truely ugly bits…. and I am going to show you them.

For the sideseams I got confused about how to combine lining and sewing back and front together and still get a decent finished sideseam. So I just did first things first and I lined each piece separately:

Then sewed them together using the tiniest of seam allowances (on the inside)

Then I got worried that one line of stitching will never hold together two pieces of cloth and seams would be bursting and I’d be running along the street clutching pieces my dress together while trying to hide my face at the same time…

So I sewed a second time over the side seams. Which made them rigid and will probably chafe my skin when wearing them:

Also I could not figure out how to sew the shoulder straps together. How to fold them into each other, lining embracing lining while the interlining was too thick to fold double? Not while there was also width to adjust and those pesky folds on the right shoulder to keep in check.
So I sewed things in place by hand and then ran the sewing machine over it. And then sewed all the little bits and frays in place by hand.
This one has not yet received a go over with the sewing machine. The underside is still running wild. The sewed line you see is a basting that keeps the interlining to the fabric. (too narrow stitch width for basting I know)



Now here come the real ugliest bits:
This is the side seam under one armhole.
I took in the side bust a bit but only áfter I had sewn the side seams in my no-clutching-double-stitched-faux-French-seam style. After I took it in there was about half an inch of seam/fabric flapping on the inside so I decided to cut that away…

I’ll hand stitch over that to keep the fraying in check.

The other really ugly bit is the end of the zipper which the lining does not hide and the finishing of said lining. I tried a handrolled seam but … yeah… not easy.

Also, this lining is such thin and delicate cotton, I wonder how long it will wear. This dress really makes me think about the thickness and sturdiness of the fabrics I combined in it. In a next dress I will be paying more attention to that: match them better.

Well, it is nearly a dress now. I will be wearing it. All that remains to be done is two little jobs and one big one: finish right shoulder strap, do something to that ugly side seam trimming and Hem The Dress.
I’d love to finish it to today, if I can find out a way to hem it by myself.

Wriggle Dress: 2D versus 3D

the back is much smaller than the front:

must have occurred when I had to take in the darts in the back so much. I think the sideseam was still in the middle though…
but now I am sitting here, with the front pinned to the back, and I’m not so sure anymore.

I’m sitting in my halfmade dress because, as I was pinning the seam allowance for the side seams, I felt the desire for pockets well up inside. I hunger for pockets!
So here I am, surfing instead of sewing. Sewaholic has a nice tutorial: sew the pockets close as you sew the side seam. One seam. With a nice roll over to hide the inside of the pocket.

But what fabric to chose for my pockets? My cotton lining fabric is mighty flimsy. Won’t hold more than a hankie and I don’t plan on doing any crying in this dress.

The interliningfacing fabric a.k.a. the sheet is very sturdy. It might distort the soupleness of the dress. And/or show through the fabric and the lining.

Using the fashion fabric for the pockets will surely show…

Perhaps I need to excavate the room where all my fabrics live…to search for something appropriate in weight and colour. A fun pocket, hiding.

Sewing: a basting kind a gal

Today I discovered I am fond of basting a garment!
With the sewing machine set on 2mm or 3mm stitching I just whip up the garment (no seam treatment, just baste together the defining seams: side seams, bustdarts) and try it on.
Ideal for trying out the fit!

With the wide stitches I can take the seams apart fast after I’m done pinning the adjustments.
Or, as I did with the Wriggle Dress -my second dress ever- today: baste together and try it on and pin the adjustments and take the basting apart and baste it again and try it on again and pin some more adjustments and take the basting apart and baste it again and try it on again. I am a beginner.

It was especially the darts that needed the most repinning and when I found them to be good I pressed them, while they were still basted. Then I took all the basting out and resewed the seams in the apropriate, smaller stitch. Easy peasy since the baste line was still visible.
(I do stitch slow and with ridiculous attention so YMMV (Your Milage May Vary))

One dart, ready to be sewed. These are diamond shaped darts. They are to be sewed starting in the middle towards a point, reducing stitch width as you approach the end of the fabric. Try “falling off” the fabric gradually, in a very small stitch width. This reduces puckering. Then you turn your dress around and do the other point of the dart in the same way.

I plan to do this basting thing with a few more dresses that I am trying out, I love it! No toile needed.
Of course, the fashion fabric must allow for all this basting and taking apart. Probably shouldn’t do this with satin, silk or high end linen… and should work from too wide to a good fit. Not from too tight to more ease, that basting line might remain visible.

And: there should be a nice cup or holder to collect the threads while you work.
this is mine, it belonged to my grandmother who was a great seamstress (I didn’t know untill after she passed) and she and I both love birds.

Oh! Last tip to myself: use a contrasting colour thread for basting! This makes it easier to unpick. And it won’t tempt me to leave it in because “it’s already the right line”. 2 or 3mm stitches is not a good width for many fabrics, it will stretch and tear in the seams. Take it out. Yes, use contrasting thread. Good tip. You know you.

Wriggle Dress: fitting one, two, three

I basted the side seams together on the biggest stitch my machine can do and tried it on.

The fitting taught me much:

– should try this is size 12 all around, no extra fabric needed at the bust. Even go to 10. Hips at size 8.

– the darts in the back need to be lots more tight, there’s way too much room there.

– the shoulder straps in the back need to be shortened. (They weren’t sewn yet. I attached one to the right front part with a pin. The other had no partner so I pinned it to my bra strap. Very elegant.)

– hand stitched pleats for the right front will look good.

– this is a linnen dress for Summer so a bit of wearing ease will heighten the wearablity

So I did that. Basted it together again and tried it on for the second time. This time I also added the left shoulder part. The sizing was fine now so I focussed on the shoulder part.


It’s too wide. Even when the armhole will take away some more of the fabric in its seam.

but it looks good with the facing underneath it. Crisp and white.

I folded it in a bit, just to see how it would look off centre. I liked what I saw, it sets off the right shoulder part nicely. It does no longer compete with it.
seam ripper, yum!

I pinned the shoulders better. I was surprised to see how ‘crooked’ it had to be to be straight on me. Here you see the back part on the right and the front part on the left. The front part already has the facing attached, the back part has it lying under it as I had to make the dart in the back go all the way up to the shoulder seam. Because I have a hunchback. Or perhaps something called ‘a sway back’?
Anyway, to avoid a big gaping hole between the top of the zipper and my neck I had to fold the backparts outwards. Into a dart. This makes the shoulder seam more narrow which is fine because I wanted to make the left front part more narrow too. I narrowed the left front piece, making sure it attached to the armhole line of size 12 of the pattern.
See how much I had to alter the angle of the shoulder seam to have it sit straight on me! Hmm. Am I slouching on these pictures??

Anyway: on to fitting nr. 3:

looks alright! (the noticeable bias on the front view is an optical illusion, I have my hips slainted and my right knee forward, pulling the fabric forward)
The back is better now, not so roomy. Still a bit though…
The back view seems to suggest I carry one shoulder higher than the other. This might well be the case or again, I’m not standing straight up. Will try and notice in the future.

It sits very comfortably. Of which the crinkles are evidence since I wore the dress as is for a bit.
Now I’m ready to take apart this dress one last time. Press it. Use the parts to alter the paper pattern. Use the parts to cut a lining. Then the final sewing will begin. With lots of pressing along the way.

Wriggle Dress: cutting the fabric

I spend a day thinking about Butterick 6582. The various aspects, how to approach it, what to solve. I researched the internet, laid out the tissue paper and studied the instructions. At the end of the day I traced a slightly personalized version of it and cut the fabric and the facings. Linen and brand new cotton sheet.

After the sizing fiasco of the Summer Dress (B5603 which advised me to cut a 16 which then was 4″ too wide) I decided to cut a size 12. This approximates the measurements I take from the now fitting Summer Dress. (pictures pending)

Yes, I cut a size 12 but with wider seam allowance at the top of the body. Because of the folded fabric in the upper part of this dress this pattern does not allow for a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment), the fabric has to be already there.

Here’s how my first pattern outcut differs from the oficial Butterick 6582:

As size 12 should cover a size of about 97cm I think I’m good but you never know. I’ll also trim down to the hips a bit.

As per this review I expect to have to raise the hem, the waist and the arm holes. I too am 5′ 4″ (1.61m)
At this stage I already raise the hem but have not decided on the final length yet:

The smaller shoulder part, the left side, I’m going to make without gathering or pleats. Lots of people have complained online that the pattern ends up very high on the front and that it is difficult to make the two sides sit nice or even centered.
So I’ll make one side sit nice: the right one with the folds. The left part will be honest in its difference: flat and off centre.

For this I used the left front facing as a template for the left front fashion fabric.
Here’s the now cut out left front piece atop the original pattern:
No room for pleats or folds.

For cutting the back pieces I folded the fabric double and pinned it. Pins away form the cutting line. I laid my personalized paper pattern (PPP) on top and traced it with a byro or stylo. Yes, a simple pen. The one used for shopping lists. As I don’t want pen residu on my fabric this will remind me to “cut away the line”. The importance of that I learned here from Kathleen Fasanella, the Fashion Incubator.

Wriggle Dress: thinking about it.

Now that my Summer Dress is neaaaaarly finished I’ve started thinking about the next one: a wiggle dress from Butterick 6582. I swore I’d never use a pattern again but I’ll try one more. I already have this pattern and it more probably that it is my mistake than that of Butterick that the first one didn’t work out.

it will be the blue one. No bows. No belt.

I measured my now well fitting Summer dress against this new pattern. It looks like I’ll be sewing a size 12.

Lots of people report troubles with the shoulder piece, especially the gathering and fixing the smaller piece to the front piece. (it is a faux wrap over). The solution seems to be pleats which can best be handstitched.

I would like to use a souple monocoloured fabric for this.

I have some taupe coloured I could try. A friend gave it to me, just as I discovered I look amazing in this colour. I discovered it because another friend knitted this wimple for me, it is taupe coloured:

my camera lied again. It really is not light coloured lilac. It is a midtoned taupe. Not too warm in colour. Looks great when I wear a bright or light accent with it! I expect the same of the fabric.

But the fabric is not cotton and not linen and not silk and not wool…. the pattern calls for lining or facing. The fabric needs it, I’m sure. I’m not very confident about either…

this review surely recommends it and has some other solutions too. Underlining seems a good idea. Lining seems impossible. The interfacing makes people grumpy.

If I decide to cut and sew, I’ll need to remember to start each stitching line with a little back up stitching, to secure the sewing thread. I’m not going to spend hours and hours again securing threads.

hand stitched blind hem?

lots of people comment that the short shoulder piece doesn’t fit nicely. The v doesn’t end up front and centre. The gathering is all frumpy. The neckline is way higher than the illustration suggests.

An obvious solution would be to make the small piece in a different colour. Or attach it purposefully off centre. Make it into a design feature. Make it without pleats or gathering and let the other shoulder take all the credit.

I’m a bit confused. Why not baste the darts, then sew up the side seams and the zipper for real and then finetune the bust darts for a really good fit?