Sewing Fail – Graduation Dress


I asked Maggie if she wanted a new dress for graduation an she said she really did but was hesitant to ask me to make one. I asked what kind of dress she was thinking about and she said she would love a wrap dress. I asked what kind of fabric she was thinking and she said she wanted something shiny.

So, I had a pattern in my stash that’s I’ve been wanting to make. It’s McCall’s 7627. I bought this pattern last year but hadn’t gotten around to making it yet.

So, pattern, check. She liked it. Then I dug around in the fabric stash a bit and found a few shiny options. One of them was a metallic grey that is made out of Rayon I believe. It was one that I bought at a discount and it wasn’t on a bolt when I picked it up so I’m not actually sure of the fiber content.

Here’s the thing. It was completely opposite of all of the fabrics that were recommended on the pattern envelope. It called for gingham and cotton and crepe back satin. Fabrics with some body built in.

I should have known it was not going to be great right off the bat when I was having trouble lining up the selvedges and keeping the fabric on grain. I actually ended up cutting the pattern out on the living room floor so that I could pin the edges into the carpeting.

I did sew just the bodie together for a fitting and after I took about 2 inches out of the shoulders we were feeling pretty confident that all would be well.


There are a ton of problems here and they became more obvious when Maggie tried it on. Some were because she is short waisted. Some were because the fabric lacked any body – it would be great for a dress cut on the bias though. Some of the problems, I think, are from a giant cutting line being on the bias and possibly that the pattern piece wasn’t truly on grain when I cut it.

We both hated it. Although it took Maggie a little bit of time to get the courage to tell me. I’m not scary. I promise.

So here’s the plan. Eventually I will get back to this dress. I’ll remove the skirt and the ties, add a waist band and make it a wrap skirt. I think it would be great as just the skirt. But we’ll see.

In the meantime, I cut out a new dress. Stay tuned. I’l be showing it off in the next couple of days.


8 thoughts on “Sewing Fail – Graduation Dress”

  1. Ann Davis

    Wraps are notoriously hard to fit at the bodice. Cut in unstable fabric and it gets worse. Whenever possible, I change the grain to follow the neckline and magically all the “puckering” you see along your neck edge will disappear. But you will have to re-work the waistline and armhole. You will be harnessing the power of straight grain along the neck and the power of bias in the fit over the bust. But the armhole will need some finessing. Nothing will replace a muslin the the fashion fabric, but your end product will improve exponentially. If you have more fabric, hope is not lost for this dress.

    1. Beth

      Thank you for that advice. I’ll try it again with muslin to fit next time.

      1. Ann Davis

        Whatever you cut your fit muslin in, choose something with similar properties to your fashion fabric or you won’t get a true reading of needed pattern adjustments. Or you could just cut with ginormous seam allowances (1-2″) that will allow you to make the revisions on the fly.

        1. Beth

          The next version of this dress will definitely follow the recommended fabrics before going rogue again. Lol

  2. Ann Davis

    Side note: I’m vicariously enjoying your journey of shifting career focus. Hubby & I are looking to retire from full time working and plan to leave Los Angeles and head to the midwest where the grandbabies are. I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me in life- will it be teaching? taking on private clients (t he ubiquitous wedding dress custom business?) or just exploring the wide world of spinning and leave fashion behind. I can’t quite imagine leaving garment making behind. Kudos to you for following your heart.

    1. Beth

      Thanks. It was a hard decision and it’s been a little scary. But I am really loving it all and my husband had commented pleasantly on the change. 🙂

  3. Kathryn Nielsen

    I have heard an idea that when you are working with shiny/slippery fabrics, lay the fabric out flat and spray well with starch. It’s supposed to keep the fabric stiff enough to deal with, and the starch starts to disappear as you sew so you just need to give the item a rise to get the rest out. Hope that might help in the future.

    1. Beth

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll keep that in mind to try on a slippery fabric project.

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