The refining process

15Sep12

Recently I made up a pattern three times in the same fabric. I’ve made multiples of a few patterns but never with exactly the same fabric before. I can recommend it: the third dress is a definite improvement on the first. Repeating the project meant I could experiment with techniques to see what really worked. It helps that Burda 116-08-2011 is a seriously quick sew.

The fabric is stretch cotton poplin from Tissu Fabrics. I had it in grey, navy blue, and a very bright red.

The grey dress came first. It has no interfacing anywhere. The high collar at the back is a little saggy as a result.



I added interfacing to the inside collar on the next two versions. As the inside of the collar is cut in one with the dress it wasn’t entirely obvious where to stop interfacing. I tried two different ways. The best one was where I interfaced just up to the point where the shoulder seam joins the collar. (yeah, that’s some impressive poufiness over my stomach there. But that space is good, it means plenty of room for lunch and stuffing things into pockets.)



As it’s a Burda magazine pattern there was little to no detail about finishing in the instructions. I ended up with a lot of overlocked edges showing on the inside on the first dress. Here’s the collar and the edge of the cowl.

Grey dress collar inside edges
Grey dress overlocked cowl edge

I’m not someone who is bothered by messy edges inside a dress if they are a lot of effort to avoid – who’s going to see them anyway? But I realised that finishing the collar more nicely isn’t any extra work. So for the next two versions I pressed the seam allowance on the inner collar underneath and stitched in the ditch from the outside to hold it down. Easy to do and it looks a lot nicer.

Red dress collar finish

I bound the inside edge of the cowl with bias binding on the blue and red dresses. This isn’t much more work than overlocking the edge because my machine’s binding foot is completely foolproof. I say this as someone who still struggles with the rolled hem foot and has given up on the automatic buttonhole foot. Looks a lot neater.

Bound cowl edge

The other thing I changed was the pockets. I can’t blame Burda because I didn’t follow their instructions in the first place, but the pockets on the grey dress are bit sad-looking. No interfacing at all; just a bit of top-stitching to try to keep the edge crisp. This one’s been washed a couple of times which makes things worse.

Grey dress pocket

Here’s the red version, with interfacing on the front pocket edge. Both sides of the pocket bag are understitched. I skipped the top-stitching because it’s not needed. I haven’t washed it yet, but I’m pretty sure it will hold up better.
Red dress pocket

I like all three dresses and have worn them quite a bit over the last couple of weeks, but the red one is definitely a cut above the other two. I doubt I’m likely to make anything three times on a regular basis but I’ve certainly learnt a few things about using interfacing from this process. Anyone else ever do this? Was it useful?



7 Responses to “The refining process”

  1. Your timing on this is perfect-I really (desperately) need a new pair of jeans and I’m looking at either basic patterns that’ll probably be a b*tch to modify or highly seamed stuff that’ll be easy to modify but a bit of a b*tch to sew and fact that multiple iterations will be required has had me shying away from the thing all day X( This is kinda the kick in the pants I needed to get onto it. So thanks.

  2. Thanks for sharing your process. I agree, you definitely learn more with each make. Love the red version!

  3. I love all your versions, Catherine! I confess to not making up three of the same garment in a row, but I do make notes and refer back to my previous versions on the occasion that I do a repeat. There’s always something that I want to change to improve the fit or construction/finishing, and it’s nice to know that other sewistas do that, too. Sometimes not getting it perfect the first time is a personal downer ‘cuz I can be a horrid perfectionist. ;)

  4. Catherine, you are an absolute darling sharing all this v useful info with us. Thank you.

    I really wish I had this pattern but I didn’t start getting the mag until December last year.

    This dress is very you. Looks great.

  5. Thanks for sharing all this very useful information. I love the red version.

  6. Thanks for sharing what you learnt from the repeat experience – these look like the sort of dress that will get a lot of wear. I made the same skirt pattern several times for One Week One Pattern earlier this year (well, the last – 4th I think? – one was too late). I got a lot quicker with it but I didn’t do enough analysis along the way, so it wasn’t till pretty late in the piece that I realised the fundamental shape wasn’t that good on me :-(.

  7. The red dress does look really beautifully finished and I love that cowl neckline. Looks like another terrific pattern to look out for :)
    Thanks for your styling advice re the Japanese top, and I did restyle it!



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