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Friday, October 19, 2012

Following My First Pattern

 I've been sewing for six months now, so I figured it was time to learn how to follow a real pattern. I've used simple patterns from some lovely blogs like the one from lbg studio whose blog taught me how to make my daughter's pillowcase dress and can follow instructions on how to make skirts like my ruffle skirt from Sew Mama Sew. However, I had yet to brave actually purchasing and following a pattern until I found this one: Simplicity 2019. It was titled "SewSimple" and stated "one easy project" on it, so that sounded like a good one for a beginner like me. Plus, it was cute, only cost $0.98 at Wal-Mart, and had no zippers or buttons. Bonus! I found some inexpensive material at the same time, figuring if I ruined it, I would only be out about ten bucks. The pattern called for 1 5/8 yard of fabric and a package of 1/4 inch elastic, so that was easy enough.

Well, cutting out the pattern was simple, and being the cheap thrifty person that I am, I saved all the larger portions to make the dress in a larger size for the future. Even following the instructions to match up the fabric and cut it out wasn't hard, but I had done that before when I made my own pattern for my half circle flowing skirt, so I was still feeling confident.

Then came the time to start matching up the pieces and actually sewing them together. I guess my first problem was using my kitchen table instead of my dining room table when I began this project. Since I couldn't finish the dress in one day, I had to pick up all my cut fabric and pattern pieces so my family could eat dinner. Some of my cut pieces got disorganized and were no longer stacked next to their pattern pieces, so I had to sort them out all over again.   

Another problem I discovered was in sizing. When I had my daughter try on the top portion to make sure I had the elastic at the correct length, I realized the dress was going to fit a bit snug right off the bat. I had followed the sizing chart on the pattern carefully and didn't make my seams larger than the instructions, so I was really bummed about this. Working hours on a dress only to have it fit for a short time was very frustrating for me.

I'm also bummed for using such inexpensive fabric. It is a cute brown and blue fabric, but after two washes (one for pre-shrinking before making the dress), it already looks a bit faded. I really need to start shopping online for fabrics. If any of you do this and have some suggestions for great sites with good quality fabrics at budget-friendly prices, please let me know!

When doing the elastic, I hadn't read the instructions carefully or remembered those two strips I cut out a couple weeks ago that were meant to help me measure the elastic. I also had trouble pulling it through on spots where the sides seams were meeting up and had to cut my stitching in two places to get the safety pin through and restitch. Next time I will make sure I fold the seems all in one direction and consider that direction when I push my safety pin through.

Okay, so after finishing the hardest part: the top, I felt confident I could do the bottom half with no problem. As I read over the instructions, I realized it was just like those from the candy corn dress I had just made a few weeks ago, so I actually packed up the instructions and went from memory. Honestly, had I never made that dress or any like it, I would not have understood the instructions very clearly. Making projects from other blogger's instructions seems easier than patterns. Part of the benefit is obvious: the helpful photographs.

Overall, I'm very proud of myself for teaching myself to sew and follow patterns now. My daughter loves, loves, loves the dress. In fact, she insisted on sleeping in it tonight instead of pajamas. Of course, I caved and let her since I am so happy she loves the clothes I make for her. (Geez, I might be creating a monster.) I'm thinking my next project should be some winter pajamas or night shirts. What do you think?

What have I learned from this experience? 
  1. Make sure the size is correct before cutting. Don't just rely on the sizing chart and your measurements; actually hold the pattern up to the person you are sewing for, and if you are sewing for a child, it's better to go bigger.
  2. Create a separate station in your house to work on the project so you aren't constantly moving it and possibly forgetting where you left off.
  3. Don't try to work on the project in short increments. Start it on a day you have plenty of time to get through at least a designated spot. For instance, maybe next time I'll do all my cuttings on one day and all my sewing the next.
  4. Be patient when mistakes happen, and be willing to learn from those mistakes.
  5. Use quality fabrics for clothing you want to wear for a while.
While I buy another pattern? Yes! Will I buy another Simplicity pattern? Yes! Oh, and in case you are wondering how I got her dress to be so fluffy, that was my daughter's doing. She had been wearing a tutu when I asked her to try on her new dress. I wasn't planning on taking the pictures that day, but she was in one of her love-to-be-photographed moods, so I took advantage of it. These are just a few of her poses. I actually liked the added fluff the tutu created though she's not sleeping in her tutu tonight. Do any of you have any pattern favorites for new sewers? If so, please share. I'm always looking for new projects.    


  1. You did a great job! That dress is adorable. I'm a new sewer myself and am a bit nervous about patterns... maybe I'll give one a try now!

  2. Fitting and measuring gets easier! Good for you. This dress is very cute and fits your little one very well. Its fun to create new looks from patterns that you re-style yourself. Have fun and Happy sewing.

  3. Hi Bonny,
    Adorable dress, your daughter look precious! I just used my fist pattern too! It took a minute to figure out, and then it was easy peasy. I whole heartly suggest doing some pj's next. The flannel pants take twenty minutes once you figure it out. I think that dress you did is much harder. Thanks for linking up on Super Sweet Saturday.

  4. Wonderful Job !!
    I don't know which is cuter - the dress or your model
    Your daughter is soooooooooooooo adorable

  5. I think you did a fantastic job. Your model is just precious!! It'll get easier as you go.

    I am so lucky in that my Mom taught me to sew at the age of seven. By Jr. Hi, I was making all of my own clothes. I made all three of my sister's wedding dresses. But, sewing can be so relaxing. Just enjoy.


  6. LOVE! It's adorable, as is the girl wearing it :)

  7. love this dress..and the CUTEST little girl in it! your blog is so darling and we are your newest followers! come follow along at Xo

  8. I think for only sewing for six months you did a great job. I think your daughter must be a great inspiration. My 16 year old still likes wearing tutus under her dresses. See her photo here:

  9. I think it looks great! Keep sewing and when she's ready you can sew her prom dress:)

  10. Found you on the mommy brain mixer this week! Following and commenting from
    I hope you'll come check me out and do the same. Thanks <3

  11. So cute -- the dress and the model! I have to relearn the elastic tip every once in a while -- I need a sticky that says: be sure the seams are pressed in the direction you want to push the elastic through! Pajamas are a great for learning how to sew well! Thanks for sharing on Busy Monday!

  12. You are doing quite well sewing! Fabulous job and she is too cute! Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see your prettiness again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  13. WAY TO GO BONNY!!! You totally should be proud of yourself! It's AWESOME!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer... From Dream To Reality!

  14. You did an awesome job! So cute!! Thanks so much for linking up at The Little Giggler!

  15. Wow! What a fantastic job you did !!!!! I'm so impressed ! Just started a dressmaking course but haven't managed to make anything yet!!!!!

    Siubhan@CraftLee x

  16. You've done a fabulous job, Bonny. The dress looks great!!! Sometimes it's hard to work out the correct size with commercial patterns. I find they are often on the large size.

  17. This is so cute!! I agree about it being easier to follow blog patterns, I'm all about the pictures to show me where I'm going wrong. I'm a bit scared of commercial patterns but am thinking I'll just have to give it a go. :) Thanks so much for stopping by my little blog.

  18. This looks great! I can't believe it's your first commercial pattern & you've only been sewing 6 months!

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