My Sewing Dare, Done!

It would hardly be fair of me to hand out 50+ dares without taking one myself – so I ask trusty friends GingerMakes and Handmade by Heather B to think of a dare for me. Didn’t take long – “Sew a woven dress!” yelledย Sonja, as Heather cackled with glee! (Or at least that’s how I picture it!๐Ÿ˜‰

Ladies and gentleman, I give you me wearing a woven dress!!

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Truth be told, it’s been *cough* a year and half since I sewed something in a non-stretch woven – and that previous project was a dress I basically dared myself to make to see if I remembered how! Never ever wore it. So for this dress, I tried to think about what it would take for me to want to wear a woven dress. I wanted something casual and modern, comfy and summery. Basically, I wanted something that What Katie Sews would make! I dug through her archives, and looks for features I wanted to try – slightly loose bodice, gathered skirt, sassy length.Thanks for being my (unwitting) inspiration, Katie!

As for the pattern, I went with BHL Anna because I already own it and it’s pretty on everyone. My grand plan though was to make it loose and blousy, so I went with a larger size at the shoulders, did my first (horrificly unscientific) FBA, and didn’t sew the back dart. But dear friends, somewhere along that path I ended up with a muumuu!!!

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The Good:ย 

I’d always planned as elastic waist, and when combined with taking off a few inches at the side seams, I managed to get it down to this more wearable volume. Mental note: only add enough ease to sit comfortably, not enough to make it a tent!

good details Collage

Also Good:ย 

I ran short on fabric and had to cut the back bodice in the other direction. I think it looks cool in the end. And look how nicely the front bodice is centred on the print! I’m also quite pleased with the neckline itself – I remembered to understitch (of course I didn’t look at the directions once) and the result is a nice smooth neckline that doesn’t gape. I’m liking the v-neck shape too!

summer winter Collage

Good because I live in Canada:ย 

I think the colours and print work equally well in summer and winter!

Now for the not-so-good…

F%#&ing Rayon Challis!

So nice to wear, so annoying so sew! I did more unpicking on this project than I can ever remember doing before, and it was mostly because the fabric was so light and fluid that I kept catching unwanted fabric under the presser foot. I starched the bejaysus out of the bodice, which helped, and did a gathered skirt so that I wouldn’t have to hang the hem and even it off. Even so, rayon challis, you were not fun!

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Facings, you are the (second) worst.ย 

The only thing I hate more than facings the flip out constantly is sewing bias binding on necklines. Hence, facings. I tacked them at the shoulder seams, but it was not enough.

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SO PREGNIFYING!ย 

I am not, repeat, AM NOT pregnant. But thanks to the gathered skirt, I sure look it! On the left I’m standing totally normally, on the right I’m exagerating… but either way, it’s not the most flattering! Maybe when I wear this dress everyone could just agree to look at me head-on, all the time, forever?

And at that point, all the other pros and cons become rather moot. Pretty as the fabric is, I won’t be wearing this much out and about. For hot summer days lounging about the apartment? Yeah, maybe. But in the end, I’d rather be wearing knits!

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And on that bombshell, goodnight! ;)ย 

Thanks so much to Sonja and Heather for the perfect dare – I did really enjoy sewing this dress up, no matter how much I swore at it… and I’m even slightly tempted to try sewing a lightweight woven again soon (Lizzy, would it be fair to use that shirting you sent me to make an Alder, possibly without a collar, but with buttons, I promise?)

Do you avoid clothes that make you look pregnant? And whyย am I so scared of looking knocked up instead of just a bit fat?ย Am I being paranoid and I should just wear the damn dress?ย These are the mysteries of my mind, people. Hope you are enjoying your own sewing dares!


64 thoughts on “My Sewing Dare, Done!

  1. I’m definitely guilty of the “avoiding maternity look” thing. In fact, the dress I used to make the skirt of the 2 maternity maxis that I did make was a pattern I’ve used before, but went back and took all of the skirt gathers out of because I thought it looked maternity! (Which made it an easy hack!) It’ll be interesting to see how I feel about it once the baby comes, since I’m fully aware that I may have to go for silhouettes with more forgiving waistlines than I usually pick for awhile.

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    1. Also, even if it was a pain to sew, it is a nice-looking dress. The print is fun, and I bet it’ll be super-comfortable for any hot days you might get!

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    2. Given that you look lovely while being pregnant, I don’t think you have to worry about wearing similar styles afterwards for a while! Although my friend was a little horrified when someone asked her when she was due while she held her 4 month old! People, man. Have some tact!
      You are officially full term today, aren’t you! Congraulations!!!!!! It’s almost time for the Woolerbaby!

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  2. I think the dress looks really nice, but I never made anything with this type of elastic waist, I think everyone look pregnant wearing this kind of style… Maybe I could start making them now, since I am actually pregnant, ha! I also hate facings, so I always finish the necklines and armholes with bias tape, I found them surprisingly fun to make and sew… kind of weird…

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  3. This is a petty dress! But I agree, this style makes everybody look a bit pregnant. It’s the high waist – if you drop the waist a bit in this style it helps. It looks very comfy though. If it were me, I’d probably have analysed it exactly the same way you did, then put it in my closet-without intending to wear it, and then find myself wearing it every other day because it was comfy for summer.

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    1. I was just about to say the same thing – empire waistlines seem to do this to everybody. I tend to avoid skirts with high waistlines for exactly this reason, unless it’s a really structured style. I think this dress would be perfect for a really hot day though, the kind of day when you don’t want anything touching your body! The print is great, so hopefully you’ll find a few occasions to wear it.

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  4. I love the dress. The colours are great on you and it looks very comfortable. However I know what you mean about “pregnifying” clothes, I have tons. Because everything hangs off my boobs there is a LOT of fabric down there, plus I am not the most svelte. Should really use this to my advantage and get a seat on the train when it is busy.๐Ÿ™‚
    Anyway, I really do like this dress, could you wear it with a thicker belt, or even shirr the waist so that it clings more instead of going straight out? I do like it anyway and would wear it in a heartbeat. Still not made my dare๐Ÿ˜ฆ xx

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    1. Bahaha – work that bod and get a train seat!๐Ÿ˜‰

      I did try it with some thicker belts, but it just seems wrong to have a heavy belt on a light fabric. I’ll keep experimenting though!

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  5. I definitely avoid the pregnancy look. I will immediately get rid of anything I think makes me look pregnant. Actually I talk about this in my me-made-may post, I have a RTW skirt that is being replaced ASAP! Well done on completing the dare.

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  6. I agree that maybe on your dress if the waist was lower it might help but I am unsure since I’ve never sewn a blousy tops… Maybe you could try the ANNA dress as per the pattern since the sleeves and neckline are very pretty on you! You could use bias tape to bind the edges instead of the annoying facings too…

    For my body type (petite muscular rectangle wannabe hourglass 40-33-40 at 5’2″) , I tend to avoid gathers at the waist and use wider waistband or, even better on me, I prefer a midriff piece to show that I am not just a cylinder the radius of my busty boobs!!๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. I like a midriff piece too! I think that’s one of the reasons I like the Tiramisu dress so much – nice wide waistband! Even my sister’s knit Anna with a circle skirt didn’t look as good on me, so I think it might be time to give the pattern a rest.๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  7. The dress is adorable! I’d wear it if you don’t.๐Ÿ˜‰ And I speak as someone with the same belly-and-boob combination!

    I think the suggestions about waist placement and belting are spot-on. Accessories like the cardigan and the necklace also help change the overall shape perception…

    The other thing I wonder about is maybe lengthening the front a bit — if you look at your side-on photos, you can see that the front hemline is higher than the back. This is partly because the fabric has gone farther in the front (over boobs, back in at waist, back out again) but maybe partly because of where the shoulder seams sit, too. I know a lot of my clothes want to creep backwards on me, leaving that hi-lo hemline effect, so I’m forever tugging them down in front. You could scoop out the back neckline more to let everything sit farther forward, or you could lengthen the bodice and/or the skirt in the front to make everything look level at the bottom. Hey, they do it for ACTUAL baby bumps — and I remember you reaching similar conclusions with your full-butt-adjustments on skirts. Sew for the curves you have!

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    1. Would you believe that I actually SHORTENED the front bodice mid-construction, because I was hoping that the weight of the skirt and the elastic would pull down the neckline to make it a deeper v? But no, the bodice prevailed. I should have kept that inch and a bit of length!๐Ÿ˜›

      I think my other issue is that clothes run for my underbust, because that’s my smallest measurement. See the belt in the cardigan pics? It wasn’t up that high when I put it on, but the waistband has risen up and the belt too. It’s just the way my momma made me, I guess!๐Ÿ˜‰

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  8. I have to admit to giggling madly when you said you chose rayon for your woven. I adore sewing wovens, probably as much as you do sewing knits and am well aware of the fluidity of certain fabrics. Rayon Challis ranks high on my “swear at it until it behaves” list. I agree with everyone so far about the waistline. A belt and a cardi will give you a different, work suitable look. I tend to avoid gathered waists on ANYTHING because they just highlight a thicker waistline.๐Ÿ˜ฆ I like pleats, personally. They fall prettier, accenting a lovely waist rather than suggesting you are in the family way.

    Still, the fabric is fantastic. It’s a shame to get hidden away in your closet!

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    1. Oh man, rayon challis! I will say that I knew what I was getting into… but I figured, in for a penny, in for a pound! I’ve been trying on old makes during mmm, and wishing that I could still fit the rayon challis tops I made a few years ago. I wanted that soft buttery fabric feel again!
      The only time I’ve sewn pleats was on a washi dress, which was the MOST pregnifying dress of all! Maybe I should give them another try sometime.

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  9. This is so pretty!!!! Well done! And way to use a super tricky woven- you really came at this dare full force! This is so cute and so wearable… I’m really impressed! If you made this again you could do with a bit of bigger FBA- that would probably solve your rising waistline in the front- but it totally looks fine as is!

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    1. To my eternal annoyance, I think my fit problems come form shortening the bodice mid-construction! When i tried on just thebodice, it looked better when the front was tugged down a bit and the shape of the v-neck was a bit deeper. I thought since the challis was so fluid, that if I trimmed off some of the front bodice length the skirt and elastic waist would keep the bodice where I wanted it. Nooooooope! Ahh, to have that inch and a bit of bodice length back. On the other hand, it was a fun dare, and I will totally end up wearing the dress this summer! (though not at big family gatherings, because I can see them giving me the speculative side eye if I drink water instead of booze!)

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  10. Your photos cracked me up! Honestly though, in most of the photos (when you’re not exaggerating), the dress looks really cute on you! But I totally understand how sometimes photos don’t accurately present the flaws you see in person (I’ve definitely had that problem when photographing stuff I don’t like: “why isn’t the horrific gaping showing in the photo? no one will believe me!”)

    I sewed a rayon challis dress last year and loved how the fabric draped, but oh yeah, it was so fluid that it was frustrating to work with.

    I have a love/hate relationship with gathered waistlines on skirts and dresses. When I’m standing with good posture I think they look fine, but as soon as I don’t I start to get self conscious that I look preggo. Partially why I haven’t worn my Colette Monetas as much.

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    1. I stayed away from Moneta because of the gathered waist… but then, lady skater doesn’t look good on me either, because the bodice is too long! It’s almost enough to make me envy men and their fomulaic dressing… but then, how boring would that be?๐Ÿ˜›

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  11. Good for you for going through with it all; I’m sorry it didn’t turn out as you wanted. ;(
    I HATE the maternity look. I see over bust gathers or empire waists (which work when you’re pregnant work for about 2 weeks until the girls grow and you end up with the seam cutting straight across your bust), and I want to run, but then, I avoid heavily gathered styles in any place, with maybe the exception of shoulder gathers. If I’m pregnant again, I’m wearing leggings and knits forever!

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    1. “Leggings and knits forever!” <— My philosophy exactly! I do enjoy experimenting with different styles on occasion, but I think for the most part, I know what I like already!๐Ÿ˜‰

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  12. Well done for finishing your dare and handling the tricky fabric! I always worry about whether dresses of that style make me look pregnant too so I know what you mean – on the upside though, they’re usually very comfy for wearing round the house!

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  13. Well, I LOVE the dress! And good on you for following through and completing your dare. I probably need a triple-dog-dare to get my own butt back into the sewing room.๐Ÿ™‚

    You said, “Maybe when I wear this dress everyone could just agree to look at me head-on, all the time, forever?”

    Well, that’s kind of true already. You’re not going to be standing sideways posing IRL. You *will* be talking to people head-on or walking away from them back?-on. And you will be moving, not standing still.

    I say let it “ripen” a bit in the magic closet and try it on again when you’ve got a little more distance. Add a sash (instead of a belt) so there are vertical lines which also have a benefit of helping to lay against the skirt and stop the fabric from poofing out.

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    1. Good points! I always tell myself that “If someone notices _____ (boring detail) about my sewing, then I’m wearing it wrong!” I shall distract people with my big smile and bright jewellery and they won’t have time to look at mah belly!๐Ÿ˜‰
      I’ll try a sash – that’s a great suggestion!

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  14. Ah well, I’m glad I inspired you and I REALLY love the result – I’d definitely wear the hall out of this! And I don’t think it’s at all unflattering from the side view – maybe you’re just not used to the silhouette on yourself. I hope you consider a few more woven makes now you’ve been dared back into it!

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    1. Thanks Katie! I do really love the fabric, so maybe I’ll come around to the cut. In the mean time, I’m quite tempted to make a collar-less Alder or a true bias dress- for some reason I’m quite terrified of collars and have avoided a dare to sew an Archer for years as a result… but maybe I can ease my way in with buttons first! (I know, I know, you post makes it look so easy…)

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      1. It’s going pretty well! Down to the last 3 weeks, and I’ll be working on linings and lace. I have to say the most surprising issue so far has been fitting a close-fitting bodice – I just have no experience with it!

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  15. I think it’s adorable and you should definitely wear it! I’ve been scared of “looking pregnant” in the past but I’m really trying to just embrace my belly – it ain’t going anywhere! It’s always nice to remind people that not just pregnant ladies have bellies๐Ÿ˜› You look great!

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    1. That’s a great philosophy! I do try to remind myself that my body is the same shape no matter how i dress it, so who cares if an outfit makes me think it seems smaller or larger?๐Ÿ™‚

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  16. I think that it is a very cute dress and the colours are lovely. The whole pregnancy/cuddly angle is interesting. I can advise you that you do get ‘to a certain age’ when all of a sudden you are now looking at a cuddly version of yourself and not a ‘possibly pregnant’ version . . . . and then you just don’t care!

    I’ve been making a lot of Tina Givens (http://www.sewtinagivens.com/) slips, pants, dresses and tops and the look is far from fitted, but also far from looking like maternity wear. And I love it๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Ooh, those designs are so interesting! They look fun to wear!
      I think part of the problem is that now that I’m 32 and married, friends and coworkers quite frequently ask me about babies… and if I don’t drink booze at a family event, my family has confesed to speculating about why! I’m sure in a few years it’ll pass!

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  17. I love this post! You know I made that woven dress (as a sizing muslin for my sister’s horrid milk-maid bridesmaid dress). It fits but I never wear it. I feel so twee in wovens! This is nowhere near as bad as you are making it seem. Everyone looks pregnant in an empire line when puffing out her stomach.

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    1. Oh, the milkmaid dress! Oh dear. Challis is a fickle fabric! In retrospect I think it works well when it skims the body, but it’s got too much bounce and volume when gathered! In an a-line maxi or semi-fitted bodice, it is the bomb.

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  18. I don’t think you look as pregnant as you think you do. The dress is really adorable and I love the effect of the cross-grain back bodice. Wear it proudly!

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  19. Looking pregnant, or rather being asked if I am pregnant is my biggest fear! I avoid empire waists at all costs and anything that even slightly emphasizes my belly does not get worn. That being said, I love this dress – the print is beautiful. What if you add a belt?

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    1. I did add a belt in the pics with the cardigan… but it just disappeared up into my underbust! Damn you, belly!๐Ÿ˜› Oh well – I love the print and I’m sure it’ll get worn eventually!

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  20. If it makes you feel better, I’m fat and have never been mistaken for pregnant! It’s very clear I’m simply fat. So perhaps looking pregnant means you’re slim/average weight enough that no one expects a belly on you. A good thing?

    Good job on claiming that dare.๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Indeed – there is something about getting dressed that brings out all our bizarre socially-constructed insecurities!๐Ÿ˜› Luckily we’ve got bloggy friends to cheer us on.

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  21. As a fellow mostly-knit sewist, I have to say that recently I’ve been hearing the siren call of woven fabrics – though my recent rayon challis experience was not as frustrating (though maybe time has healed any wounds…) I agree that some magic closet time will make you love this dress as much as we all do! It’s super adorable from all angles, and anyone can look pregnant when leaning backwards in a low side photo! In real life I’m sure it’s not as pregnifying (which I love as a word coinage, by the way – I can’t decide it if means makes-you-look-pregnant or if it’s a very specific varient of “horrifying”!)

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    1. Thanks Aleah! I like the idea of magic closet time helping the dress metamophize into something more loved!๐Ÿ™‚

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  22. Hey, hey, hey, pretty lady. I love this print on you, too bad rayon is such a pain in the ass to work with. You probably only need to drop the waistline a bit to get rid of the “pregnifying” feeling. (Though I have a fear of gathered elastic waist for just that reason.)

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    1. Would you believe the front bodice WAS longer, and I shortened it mid-construction? Oh woe is me! Should have put the scissors down.๐Ÿ˜›

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  23. I often look a bit pregnant in the styles I like, but some things I have to admit are just ridiculously pregnant-making on me. I used to avoid it, but now if I like how it looks everywhere else I just pull out my best “nope, just fat!” voice and wear it anyway.๐Ÿ™‚

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  24. I have kind of big boobs for my frame and when the top part of a dress with an empire line is too tight, it will easily look like I’m pregnant (and I don’t consider myself fat in any scale). So, I think it’s more of a fitting issue๐Ÿ™‚ I get why you don’t necessarily want to wear it (this is why I need to learn fitting and why I’m sewing in the first place: I hate how RTW looks on me). But maybe try something with a waistband? Also elastic waist is not always the best (I kind of hate elastic waist…).

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  25. I love that fabric. I always tend to sew knit dresses but I’ve recently purchased a bunch of rayon challis for the summer but have been too nervous to sew it up. As annoying as it is to sew, it is so lovely to wear.
    I think the thing about looking pregnant, is that it invites unsolicited comments from others about your body, whereas no one polite is going to comment on your size otherwise. At least, that is the fear for me in the silhouette.
    It looks like you’ve got some good ideas to make it work for the summer though. Lots of lessons to learn when doing something outside your comfort zone.

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  26. Hahahaha! I just had the best laugh! Thank you! Yeah…rayon challis and flipping facings….both hateful beasts. I really like this dress and honestly…that kind of volume would have the same effect on any body. Nice save with the elastic waist and a great way to avoid inserting a zipper. Smart…very smart. I hope you do wear it… it looks great for both summer and winter.

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  27. Hehe, I like the dress on you quite a bit! I have a similar horror of looking pregnant (people ask intrusive questions and want to pet you, doesn’t happen if you’re just a bit fat๐Ÿ˜‰ although I’ve found that I don’t mind so much with breezy summer dresses. And yes, facings. They might actually be one of the reasons I’ve stopped making woven dresses, too.๐Ÿ˜‰

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