I am just in the nick of time to share my #FailFebruary garment! Even though in the end I found a creative solution to turn around what was a sad little project, I found it amusing that it went so wrong so many times this month. Maybe I just had to share a fail with y’all, no?
Earlier this month, I was really excited to see the new Zadie dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons hit the scene. I love the interesting seaming and pleat details. In what can sometimes feel like a sea of basic raglan and shift dress patterns, this dress felt fresh and unique to me. I’ve really been appreciating patterns that give us different and interesting elements or seamlines that let us play. The colour blocking possibilities with this pattern in particular are endless.
So naturally I chose two fabrics that barely contrast each other.
I knew I wanted to make this dress up quickly, to both catch the ‘new release’ wave (since I am often years behind haha) and to give myself a cozy but cute winter dress that my wardrobe really needs right now. I didn’t have any fabric on hand so I went on the hunt and it was SO HARD to narrow down what I wanted! Did I want to play with a print? Contrasting colours? Mixing something neutral with something to stand out? I seriously stared for hours at my million online fabric shopping tabs and the colouring sheet in Photoshop rendering every possible combination. Eventually I narrowed down my fabric to this cozy french terry in two soft colours (oyster and ivory) that would just give a hint of the contrast. After one too many bright dresses that are amazing but I never wear, I figured something more subtle would be nice. Plus, I’ve been loving my Linden in this fabric and knew it would give optimal cuddle factor, and coming from Blackbird I would have it within the week. Sold.
The Zadie pattern itself is a really neat pattern. Instructions are clear, and even the tricky corner seaming of the side panels/waistline/skirt was straightforward. (Though admittedly I DID have to hand stitch the corner closed, both my fear and the squishyness of the fabric made it difficult to run my seams right up to the exact point, but it was an easy enough solution). It sewed up very quickly and I loved all the tips and tricks along the way. Just a note for fabric shoppers, as with all Tilly patterns, they only list one set of fabric requirements, so if you are on the lower end of the size range, you don’t need to buy as much as they suggest (though in my case, having extra on hand turned out to be a huge blessing).
I was so excited to bring this dress to reality once I got my fabric, but the further along I got in the construction, I started to get fears about my fabric choice. Even though I chose a medium weight knit, as suggested, I kinda took for granted the bit about the stretch recovery. As I added more and more pieces to the dress I realized how heavy it would all end up being. The fact that the waist doesn’t have a full seam meant that the side panels would be taking the weight of the skirt. The french terry had such soft stretch that my fears were realized as soon as I slipped it on… I had one droopy, sad sack of a Zadie. Womp womp.
This was actually so disappointing, and really a fundamental mistake on my end, ignoring how the design of the garment and the fabric would interplay with one another. I didn’t want to start from scratch, mainly because the fabric is soooo comfy and a great quality, I’d hate to see it go to waste (plus, start the agonzing fabric/colour combination hunt all over again? No thank you). It basically came down to two options; take in all the seams in hopes of letting a tighter fit support the weight of the skirt… or give it the chop. In a traditional fit-and-flare pattern with the seam along the natural waistline, this decision might have been easier to make, as the two halves would be leaving a bit more to work with. But the empire line pretty much determined that if I wanted to use the top at all there would need additional fabric to be added on.
After staring at it on the dress form, asking friends for advice, covering each half with my hand with one eye closed to try and envision what might happen for about 3 days I decided just to go for it. I first unpicked the seams attaching the skirt to the bodice, then measured and marked the halfway point to cut through the side panels. Out came the scissors and soon I had a sweater AND a skirt. Yippee!
To finish the skirt, I dug out an 1.5 cm elastic and measured it around my waist at a comfortable stretch. I then measured the width of the skirt waist to get the circumference of my new waistband and cut it twice the width of my elastic plus seam allowance. I used my overlocker to attach the band on one edge, folded over, and hand-stitched the other edge with an opening to feed the elastic through. There wouldn’t be an easy (or flattering) way to wear the skirt at the original empire waist, but with the a-line silhouette it works perfectly fine at the natural waist.
For the sweater, I decided that adding a wide hem band that ended at my natural waist would be the simplest option and would make it a versatile piece to pair with my high-waisted skirt collection. To make the band I measured the hem of the bodice laying flat, then took the length I wanted the band to be (10cm) then doubled it. I cut two rectangular pieces from those measurements. I sewed them together lengthwise, pressed them in half, then attached it with my overlocker to the top (exactly like the hem band on the Linden). The first band I cut I reduced the width to have extra negative ease so it would sit nice and tight. However it was too small for the top which meant that put together the seam was laughably wobbly, wavy and so sad. Plus whenever I moved my arms it would ride up and not slide back down. SO MANY #FAILS.
After sitting in time out for a week, I unpicked the old band, redrafted the hem band without reducing the ease and it worked like a charm. Phew.
If you want to make this pattern into separates before you sew up the whole thing, just line up the side panel pattern piece along the bodice and mark the seam line. This is where you can cut the side panels, add your seam allowances and repeat for the back pieces. I can make a little tutorial for this if you’d like, since pictures are probably more useful than words. Just let me know 🙂
After all the trials, tribulations and fails, I am actually really stoked about how the cropped sweater turned out! The princess seam details are so unique and unlike anything I currently have, and it will pair so well with my selection of skirts. If I am being completely honest, the skirt was less of a success. The pockets show through the fabric and look kinda lumpy, and the colour doesn’t go with too many of my tops. It is wonderful as a lazy, cuddly, at home skirt, so who knows. I can also wear them both as an ensemble, but I don’t think I will actually do so, especially when mixing and matching can be far more interesting.
I’ve enjoyed following along with everyone else’s projects they’ve shared that have been less than ideal. It’s always reassuring to know that it’s not always sunshine and roses and sometimes projects don’t work out. We can only hope to reflect, learn and become better seamstresses.
This pattern was gifted to me as part of a request to preview the Zadie pattern. All opinions and sewing gaffes are my own.