Friends! This year I decided I wanted to do more things. Different things. And so I signed up to write this blog about my first try at a tissue paper pattern. I chose Simplicity S9136. I was so excited to document this process. Let’s get into it.
So first of all, I decided I was going to follow the directions to the letter. Because, duh. And I started this process by squeezing a pattern that called for 2 ¼ yards into 2 yards. Go ahead and laugh, I am. I did it though, just barely. It took some finagling. After I cut out all my pieces, I’m ready to sew. This is the fabric I chose.
First step was to stay stitch. And although I said I was going to do everything to the letter I said, eh, I’m going to skip that part. I skipped ahead to step 2, which was to put in the darts. Easy peasy. Then I started assembling the bodice. The sleeves were split into two pieces vertically. I don’t know if this is a design feature, or was intended to save fabric, but I’m not a fan of it. It’s not a deal breaker or anything, I just didn’t love it. And check out the construction on this. I’ve made a ton of raglans in my life and never have I ever made one that fit together like this.
About the time I finished the bodice I felt like something was wrong. It was quite large. I of course measured myself before selecting my size and cutting, because I have heard about how tissue paper patterns can differ dramatically from PDF patterns and RTW clothing. It was still quite large though. Cue me looking over the pattern envelope again only to realize this was a pattern meant for wovens. *facepalm* At least it is salvageable though. I tried it on inside out and had my 12 year old help me pin it so I could take in the sides and sleeves. These chalk marks are where I took it in on each side.
It would have been better to deconstruct it and take each piece in individually and then sew it back together…but I didn’t do that. Remember how I said I wasn’t cutting corners or skipping any steps? Yeah. I lied to myself about that. One more note about the bodice, I didn’t like the neck construction. It just instructed me to turn it down and topstitch. I was going to cut a facing but I seriously didn’t even have enough fabric left over for that so I was forced to turn down and stitch.
*the actual amount of leftover fabric after I was done cutting the dress.
Now that the bodice is taken in, I could attach the skirt. And I am glad that I took in the bodice first, because this left me able to gather the skirt to the right length and ultimately left me with less to fix later. Supposedly. Attaching the skirt was super straightforward.
And then, my friends, after inserting the zipper, I tried it on. And this is where I got kinda mad. The bodice was SO long. It was not flattering on me at all. And I honestly do love the pattern of the dress, even if I’m not a fan of the construction. Is this a fairly easy fix? Yes. I use pins to pin it where it would look better and once I was happy with the new length I cut the bodice free from the skirt. I didn’t bother seam ripping since I had so much to remove and this also allowed the gathers to stay intact. But I’m not gonna lie. I waited a month because I was super frustrated with this project at this point.
Once I made that last alteration I was definitely much more happy with the overall fit.
I could honestly write a book about my feelings during this project, haha! I didn’t want to do that though, because no one comes to a blog to read a book! I gotta say, I actually think the dress looks pretty in the picture, prettier than real life. Maybe this photo does it more justice than it actually deserves? Life doesn’t usually work that way, so I’ll roll with it.
I did want to take a few minutes to talk about size grading, since that unintentionally because a big part of what I ended up doing here. It can sneak up on you if you’re not careful (ahem, like myself!). There are a lot of reasons why you might need to grade your pattern.
I often have to grade mine for height, since I am 5’9”. A lot of patterns will have a lengthen/shorten line. This is the place where it is best to add in length, rather than at the hem. You can do this best one of two ways. If you are using a projector pattern, you can use a piece of chalk to mark that line and then move it up or down as much as you need and then continue cutting. If you are using a printed pattern, you can actually cut the pattern at that line and then either add or subtract length. If you subtract, you might need to smooth out the line so it blends well. If you add, you can add in an extra piece of paper and then cut it so it blends in well with the overall height and width. Let me show you how I did this with the Dream Tee (dress version).
*here you can see the lengthen/shorten line
I quite literally just cut the pattern in half at that line.
I used a measuring tape to spread these pieces out so the total length would work for what I wanted.
I just used the extra paper leftover from other pages of this pattern to start inserting the extra length in between that lengthen/shorten line.
And here you can see it’s now fully filled in that extra space. I did need to add an extra little sliver on the side to make it a continuous smooth line.
And the result? A perfectly knee length dress for my 5’9” frame that I will no longer have to think about altering in the future. With pocketsssssssss.
I used this absolutely perfect floral pointelle for this dress and if this doesn’t say spring then nothing ever will.
*I realize in some parts of the country/world it may not be spring yet. But I live in Florida, we don’t have seasons here and therefore I believe in dressing aspirationally, rather than appropriately. So, do what you will with that sentiment.
Sometimes you will have a mash of sizes, for example, my hips measure differently than my waist on most patterns. I grade this by curving a line between those two measurements and connecting them. This can be tricky, but I usually just eyeball it. Sometimes you might get lucky and there will be specific marks for waist and hips, other times you might want to compare your own measurements for your hips and waist (for this example) to that of the pattern and use that as a guide. I would actually recommend this if you don’t do a lot of grading or don’t trust yourself to eyeball something. I almost always cut things out on my projector, so I really do just eyeball the measurements. I didn’t need to do that on this pattern, so there are no photos. I promise grading isn’t that hard!
What was the most nerve wracking thing you’ve ever tried? I want to know!