Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Simplicity 2473: Quotidian Fail

In my 2009 roundup I mentioned two fails. This is one of them. This dress is not an Epic Fail such as seen on failblog (warning: not necessarily safe for work or tasteful but sometimes funny), but more of a run-of-the-mill, every day kind of fail. It's wearable, and I will wear it often during cold weather, but I don't love it.

I really liked the look of Simplicity 2473 when it came out. I've been wanting a coat dress for a while without the work of a coat dress, which would be as much effort as an actual coat but at a fraction of the wearing value, and I thought the collar version on this would give the same feel. Perhaps someday I'll try again.

S2473 Thumbnail

I got the fabric, a rayon/wool/linen blend, from Fabric.com for $4.49/yd, so I can't mourn the unloveliness of the result too much as at least it wasn't an expensive mistake. When the fabric arrived it was perfect, a chunky but smooth coat-y houndstooth. I pre-washed (cold water wash, hang dry), because I just don't dry clean. The fabric really fluffed up! Although I didn't lose much length, holy cow did I lose width! It got down to about 38 1/2" wide. I thought the fluffy loft would be well-suited to a coatdress so I kept my original plan, but it made squeezing the pattern out of what had once been 3 yards of fabric into a jigsaw puzzle. I managed to do it with pretty much zero fabric to spare and no scraps larger than my hand.

Back Princess Seams I started with my pattern alterations. First of all, I don't like that this dress has princess seams only on the front bodice. It looks cheap. So I split the back into princess seams as well. Of course, after I got started with the cutting layout on this one I realized that an appropriate subtitle for this post could have been: "Houndstooth is Just Another Way of Saying Matching Plaids" and had a moment of regret for my princess stickling. But in the end, I think it looks so much better that way, so meh. One of the adjustments I really should be doing as a matter of course but never do is narrowing the front shoulder and creating a dart in the back shoulder. I didn't do that here, but next time it will be easier since I've already got the back princess seams, right?

SwaybackNext comes swayback. I split it between the midriff piece and the skirt piece because I find in Big 4 I need a huuuuuuge swayback adjustment and I figured it would distort the pieces less to split it. Had I thought of houndstooth as the stripe/plaid that it is, I might not have done any adjustment to the skirt. I have a whole other grotesque houndstooth matching problem on the right back skirt panel, but on the left back skirt panel you can see the houndsteeth march upward a little bit at center back.



Underlining/Lining When I was still planning this project, after I had prewashed the fabric and it lost so much width I was trying to figure out whether to line or underline it, unsure which would be the most comfortable and best for keeping it from bagging out. In the end I did a hybrid--I underlined the bodice as it would look much worse if the bodice bagged out and lined the midriff and skirt (with a heavy interfacing fused to the midriff). I finished the neckline with bias tape. After a few wearings I can say that this system seems to have worked well.

Collar





After all this planning and anticipating, it turned out that I couldn't use the collar after all. It actually looks ok there in the photo where I pinned it on, but in real life it was way too bulky. And that was pinned on. I literally could not imagine how to attach to the dress (three layers of fluffy fabric turned under to make six layers) without it being two inches thick. It was not going to work.






SideThe back skirt. Ugh. It is horrible. I am not going to repost the picture because it is too embarrassing, so you will have to scroll up. Instead I have posted a side view where you can see how nicely the houndsteeth match up at the side seam. I assume that I had not folded my fabric carefully enough to cut doubled (although miraculously the rest of it is reasonably lined up--I used the lengthen/shorten lines as my "check" as Burda would say). Because I had no more fabric my two choices, when I saw the back pieces, were to mismatch the houndsteeth or to ease the right back piece in so that the houndsteeth match at the side and center back seams, but the panel is on a slight diagonal. I chose the latter, figuring that most non-sewing people would not be arrested by the terribleness of the slight diagonal, but would be more likely to notice the non-continuousness of the stripes at the CB seam. It was a Hobson's choice, and the result is awful. Ugh. I hate it so much. Luckily it is behind me and so I can wear it without obsessing about it. Out of sight, out of mind.

I wanted to trim the seams, not only to add interest but to cover very slight mismatches. I was thinking some sort of fancy black cording type trim, but neither Joann nor G Street had more than two yards of any black trims. So frustrating!!!! I ended up using flexi-lace hem tape in pewter.

This dress was a lot of work and it was disappointing when I was done and unfortunately I can't blame the pattern! It's not just the houndstooth mismatch at the back, although it is truly awful. The fabric just was not suited to a dress and I refused to recognize it. The fit is very boxy, which I can blame on Simplicity and their Ease of Doom, but I have to blame my fabric choice for the fact that I couldn't alter this to fit because the fabric is too bulky. So it has to be worn with a belt, which is fine, but the fabric is kind of bunched under the belt which doesn't look nice. It is just a mediocre dress. It is warm, however, and I am complimented when I wear it. My goal will be to wear it as many times as I can stand it this winter, maybe even every week, and then I can get rid of it at the end if I want.

All photos of this project are here and the pattern review is here.

24 comments:

Angie said...

It's a cute dress!

I LOVE the collar, too bad it didn't work out....

Can you line the back side of the collar with something thin to reduce the bulk?

NGLaLALa said...

I love the lines on this dress! I think the dress is cute. Hopefully, it'll grow on you while you "forceably" wear it. :)

cidell said...

Sigh. I'm mad this dress failed since it's the fabric I needed to make the Anthropologie jacket. I am a bitter, bitter friend.

Anne LO said...

Is the date on this post correct? :-)

Rachelle said...

I feel the same way as you about dry cleaning - if it doesn't survive my washing machine, it doesn't get made into clothing.

I think it's a great looking dress; certainly better than anything I've made. I don't know - invisible zippers, welt pockets; no problem. Princess seams - sweet baby Jean, kill me now. I think my boobs are on crooked, which makes all my princess seams look like a bag of soup.

I think if you ever get your hands on some black trim, even grosgrain ribbon, you should consider pinning it down over those princess seams and trying it on; maybe highlighting those seams might add a dimension that might make you like the dress more?

Because other than the feeling of boxiness, the dress LOOKS like it fits you quite nicely - if you have an ounce of interest left, it's worth a shot to take in a teeny bit of the ease on the lower-center back of the dress (the sort of swayback area), then dress the seams with black trim.

If you're fresh out of give-a-darn, though, I totally know what you mean about wearing it and then letting it go!

Adelaide B said...

Huh. Having many failures of my own, I sympathize. All that hard work and then nothing but disappointment. I question your decision to wear something you obviously dislike, but if that's what it takes to feel like you got something out of this project, then go for it.

Faye Lewis said...

That is soooo cute, and the tights - amazing!

ELMO said...

The wrong fabric will get you everytime... I think there is a fabric conspiracy... I really do.

senaSews said...

I'm so sorry for you! Actually, i do like the dress. It looks great without the collar and i really like the trim.

Kim Hood said...

Its very sad when things just dont work out how you had planned. However, dont be too hard on yourself - other people will not have the 'history' of the making which I find puts me off some things I make and they wont be looking anything like as hard as we do for problems.
Feel proud of your abilities and move on to the next project (which will be wonderful!)

Little Hunting Creek said...

It is cute on you and it's warm and nice and ten times better than bought clothes. I wonder if you can make that collar a button on? Just a thought :)

KID, MD said...

I hate disappointments like that! I actually think that it is pretty cute, and you are right that no one but another sewist will notice the slight back mismatch. The other day I saw a RTW bias plaid skirt with no attempt to match plaids at all. Sad, but true.

Myra said...

Too bad your experience wasn't up to what you expected. I just cut a second one of this pattern out, but with cap sleeves, again in the double knit from Fabric.com in black. Need a LBD badly... I found the pattern worked well for me but only have made it in the stable knit. WHo knows how a woven would be, but I will say the bulkiness of the midriff joining the skirt and bodice with a facing has to be well-graded down. Also, matching patterns, we notice those things, most people do not. Even the Tracy Reese dress out of stripes in the new Vogue Patterns magazine, the stripes look off, maybe on purpose, but it disturbed me.

Uta said...

From what I can see I really like it, but I understand if after all that work it's hard to tolerate any "imperfections". I actually like a bit of a boxy fit for winter dresses; much easier to layer underneath for warmth. Then again, you're nowhere near a dress shortage without it, are you? :)

BConky said...

The style looks nice on your figure. Make it again in a better fabric.

Trudy Callan said...

It still looks cute on you.

Marie-Christine said...

Sigh. I just blew a plaid tunic too, big obvious plaid, but it only took a couple hours.. I adore houndstooth too, but it is a major pain from that point of view.
And I'm glad you didn't attempt the collar, I like the mod collarless look better. I think a black trim would be better than the grey too, although it may be better in person. But can I be honest? I loathe your pantyhose.. It's just too much houndstooth going on with this, in too many directions. Oy veh.
I do agree that the style is generally good on you, and that making the pattern in a drapier fabric would probably give you great results.
On second thought, I think I get into less of a pickle in this particular way because I wash my fabric the instant it gets in the house, it just never hits the shelf in its original state. So I'm less likely to have to rearrange my head after I've chosen it for something... But then it's also because I'm a bad person who often buys fabric without a specific plan.

Cindy said...

I have been wanting a wool dress this winter. I just pretreated wool and had a ton of shrinkage too!
Your dress looks cute with and without collar. Enjoy.

selfishseamstress said...

Awww, I'm sorry it was so frustrating, but it looks cute in the end. It sounds like a finicky fabric. Funny your comment about the princess seams- I made this dress as well and didn't even think about the fact that the princess seams were only in the front. Now I'm going to notice it every time I put it on! BTW, if you find yourself getting sick of the dress (as you seem to imply you eventually will) how about slicing it down the front and making a cute coat?

Reethi said...

Thanks for the review - I have this cut out (with the collar), and now I'm curious about what I'll get...

Carol said...

It's still cute, though.

KimP said...

I know the heartbreak of spending so much time and effort on a project, and then it doesn't come together like you envision. And then, you feel like you have to wear it just because of the effort! I made a wool dress from a Vogue pattern a few years ago and I had the same experience you had. I very thankfully donated it to Goodwill the minute winter was over. Maybe someone else can make some good come out of it!

selfishseamstress said...

BTW- check out my foolproof tip for perfectly symmetrical plaid matching- works much better than cutting on folding fabric- no guesswork :)

http://selfishseamstress.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/perfectly-symmetrical-plaid-matching-works-for-stripes-too/

Keely said...

It's a shame that al that work ended in a disappointment. Thanks for the failblog link - haven't laughed so hard in ages. :)