A long drawn out battle with beautiful fabric …

and I’m not quite finished yet!

Let me tell you what’s up …

I have been searching for a pattern and fabric to make a “replica” of my mother’s and aunt’s dresses in this photo.  My Aunt was a seamstress back in Europe and she not only sewed for clients but also for herself and my mother.  She used no patterns and could make anything!  I thought I had the magical combination for this dress with this 100% Rayon Denim Challis I had in my stash – a favourite fabric of mine!


I still think this pattern, Vogue 1395, might work but it doesn’t have the rounded neckline that I want.  Being lazy, I thought I might just make two bodice backs and use those to make the bodice instead.


After all, the bodice back looks similar to my mother’s and aunt’s dresses anyway.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I even added an inch on the fold to make the bodice and skirt more gathered looking.

I was a little short on fabric so I had to plan a creative layout.  

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I folded the fabric with the salvages meeting in the middle so that there would be two folds on the edges of the fabric for the two bodice backs.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Now the pieces fit just fine!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Bodice front and back sewn together.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Time for some self made bias tape for the arm holes.  I estimated, when cutting, making my fabric strips approximately 2″ wide but I then recut them using my ruler and rotary cutter for more precision.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Self made bias tape strips sewn together.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Barbie, my Singer 500 (a Rocketeer), in action sewing on the bias tape.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Some pressing to be done.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Finished – collar gathered and sleeves hemmed with self made bias tape, but …

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I don’t like it.  This fabric doesn’t drape nicely at the gathered neckline, like in my mother’s and aunt’s dresses, and the armholes are too large and gape. I probably shouldn’t have used two backs without checking the arm sythe? 😬

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Actually, these armholes are at least an inch lower, and larger, than the armholes of my favourite “me-made” dress.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I picked open the bias tape and the side seams and tried sewing the armhole in tighter.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

The armhole is nicely finished again, but I’m still not satisfied, and it still feels too big. 

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I don’t have any extra fabric to “fix” this dress, so I’ve resigned myself to chopping it up to make a top.  It’s turned out nothing like I imagined my mother’s and aunt’s dresses would be like anyway!

Well, let’s just walk away from this for a day or two …

To start making a top out of this beautiful fabric, I decided to redraft the neck line with a facing.  I copied the curve of a favourite “me-made” top.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I cut out the pieces and interfacing for the neck facing …

Nice dress!  Thanks, I made it!!

and this time, it was attached with slight gathers in the bodice neckline.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Looks good, but I don’t like it. It’s too high now.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I ironed a fold into the centre of the front of the top.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Cut a slit of about 3 inches in the front neckline and tried it on.  Yes, this might work!  I made a facing for that slit too.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Sewed on the facing and clipped to the corners.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

A perfect slit in the neckline. Much better.  Now to sew down the facings.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Like so.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!


Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

Now back to my sleeves. I cut a sleeve from another well fitting top pattern, even copying the arm sythe.

Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!!

I think I might have salvaged this project enough to get a cute top out of it.  Also on the plus side, it could be said that I had a chance to practice a few sewing techniques along the way.  I still haven’t finished my top yet though. I still have sleeves and hemming to do – which should be easy, I hope!

My mother’s and my aunt’s dresses will just have to wait until a better fabric shows up!

How persistent (stubborn) are you when it comes to getting the specific look you want?  

Happy Sewing!

28 thoughts on “A long drawn out battle with beautiful fabric …

  1. Well-done! Reworking something until you’re satisfied is a great way to learn, I think. I usually wait several months because I can’t face the job right away. Blech.

    1. I’ve been working on this for a while and I’m just getting it done! LOL I love this fabric even though it was the wrong choice here. I’m determined to make something successful out of it, hopefully!

  2. Lol I stick to the patterns, and only ever make tiny adjustments. Once it starts being too different, I look for another pattern. Armscyes are COMPLICATED 3-D maths, I have a maths degree, but know when to walk away!

    1. I didn’t walk away too far… but I did pretty much chop it up and start all over again!

  3. I’m inspired by your ‘never give up’ attitude here, LOL! If I love the fabric, I give it another go in most instances, but I’ve been known to just chuck something in the bin too! It looks like you’re making this one work, congrats!

    1. Thank you! My fingers are so crossed 🤞with this one it’s difficult to sew!

  4. Shame the dress didn’t work out but I hope the top is lovely. I don’t like to give up on my me mades so I’d definitely rework.

    1. It’s so difficult to let go of a project. It’s quite an investment of time and money … and I really like the fabric!

  5. You’ve far more patience than I, Lovely One, and deserve something wearable after all your efforts! xx

    1. Haha 😂 yes … hopefully it all works out!

  6. You can always take up the shoulders to make the armholes fit better or add a triangular piece and no one will know the difference. You can cheat in all sorts of ways as you are the designer. I have projects I have kept in the UFO closet for over 30 years just waiting for the right time to re-discover them…very few things have ever been trashed…probably because, like you, I love the fabric no matter what it becomes. Great photos and explanations for the rest of us and hooray that you persisted!

    1. You’ve given some good tips here! Thanks Mrs Mole! I might take up the shoulders a bit yet. I’ve got another fitting tonight and finally some time with my sewing machine. We shall see how this turns out! I know, it’s very difficult to part with a lovely 😍 fabric!

  7. Your fabric choices are always beautiful. You still created a top. I remember when I created a picture, a good friend said if it didn’t work, I could always cut it up and make it into a collage. You made a top!

    1. Thank you! That’s a good analogy! All those bits and pieces making something else. That’s pretty much what happened to this “collage dress”!

  8. Well bravo to anyone who will “pick out a seam” and redo it. I hate picking out anything. Now picking it out to this degree, my fabric would be in the bin. Done and gone. I love the material and am looking forward to seeing the finished top.

    1. haha … perhaps I am just more stubborn! Well the sewing is done now. A final pressing and then I try it on for photos. Fingers crossed!!

  9. Just keep going and going and you learn loads on the way.
    Hope you like the top when it’s done! 🙂

    1. Thanks Linda! That’s what I plan on doing! 😁

  10. It think it looks wearable. Sometimes I have to put a new piece away for a week or so so I can forget what I think it should look like and just see it as it is. I like the connection back to your aunt and your mother!

    1. That’s very nice of you to say. Thank you! I guess I was hoping for more, so it just wasn’t right for me.

  11. What beautiful fabric. I am so glad that you didn’t just bin it, I would have. 🙂 I am applauding your resilience and creativity and ability to turn a fail into a gorgeous top. I do like that Vogue pattern. Xx

    1. It is lovely fabric. A very light cotton. Too light for the dress! I can’t wait to cut the Vogue pattern out of another fabric. I’m determined to get it right one of these days!

  12. Top marks for persistence and your new top looks great. I always think that an engineering degree is necessary to sort out the armscye, it’s quite a technical thing to get right, so I always copy it from a pattern I know fits. I look forward to seeing the dress when you do make it!

    1. Thank you Sue! When I sew up the dress, hopefully it will turn out fine. I plan on following the pattern much more than I did here!

  13. 10/10 for persistence!

  14. After so much labour it’s always hard to come to the conclusion that was pictured in your head doesn’t come alive. Sometimes the memory is so strong that what ever you make it doesn’t look like what you had pictured in your head. Good luck with your second attempt and saving this one.

    1. You have described the situation really well. I probably will never be able to recreate their dresses perfectly since my aunt made her own patterns and I cannot; but this try has loosen me up a bit for the next attempt. I think it might go better next time! I am really happy with this top in any event!

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