I love me some gingham. When a friend gifted me this vintage fabric some odd 3 years ago, I immediately knew I wanted to make a Marilyn-inspired dress to suit. Normally I don’t mess around with directional print (which you could argue that gingham falls under that category) and circle skirts, but I figured the gingham was small enough to avoid that “upside down smiley face” effect like when you use stripes in a circle skirt for example. Some people like playing around with draping directional prints, but it’s not for me. Anyways.

When I first started on this dress over 2 years ago, I had recently acquired a copy of the bodice pieces (just 2 pieces, ha) from McCalls 9378 and knew it would be the perfect pattern. I was excited to not have to sew darts back then, what can I say?

Also I had pics of this completely unaffordable dress I found at a boutique saved in my phone for God knows how many years and REALLY wanted to replicate it. I still think it’s one of my favourite silhouettes I’ve ever tried on in a store, ever, so I’m still dying to replicate it properly one day. Look at the lack of darts, so good! (Note the Target shopping bags in the background. I snoop boutiques, but I’m a true Target girl through and through.)

So then Demi, WHY does your dress have a bunch of darts in the bodice, thus rendering the dress looking nothing like your inspiration image?

It all comes down to those devilish loop pockets (tutorial here!).

I tend to forget things a lot. You know that saying, “Measure twice and cut once?” Yeah, I didn’t tend to do that a heck of a lot a few years ago. I do it now, and I’m slightly less productive as a result than I was back then due to a newfound fear of failure, but at least I’m not randomly screwing up projects anymore due to little oversights. I cut the pieces out for the circle skirt to perfectly fit my dress and I was so excited and then I realised.. the pockets. I’m cutting into the skirt for the pockets. I need seam allowances for those pockets. So now even if I did tiny seam allowances, I would still be off a few centimetres and the waist of the skirt would be smaller than the waist of the bodice. The bodice that actually fit me pretty well for having not done ANY MUSLIN WHATSOEVER BEFORE CUTTING INTO MY PRECIOUS VINTAGE FABRIC, like the idiot I was.

So the whole project got put into the unfinished projects bin. For years. Lo and behold, I got Invisalign about a year ago and dropped 10kg (don’t be fooled into thinking this is a fitness thing, it’s not, I’m actually terribly unfit, I just skip more meals than a varsity cheerleader because I got lazy to brush my teeth after every meal, so instead of skipping brushing, I opted to skip meals). So the skirt fit now, yay! However… the bodice did not.

I didn’t want to put some big honking darts in the front because I thought that would look odd, so I opted for double darts. Well, they’re not really darts, they’re technically pleats. I made sure to align them perfectly with the piping of the bodice and think it worked out relatively okay technique-wise and sort of mirrors the gathers along the neckline.

While I utterly adore the fullness of the skirt and the gathered neckline, I’m still fairly unhappy about this project. I’m wearing a super-padded bridal bra in these photos because in three years, my bust has deflated like sad little party balloons 3 days after the event, and the bust is STILL too big for me, both front and back.

But because of the piped armholes and the fact that piping was starting to fray, I couldn’t summon the required enthusiasm to remove it, tighten up the side seams and resew piping and lining, and just left it the way it is now.

It’s a failed project in my eyes (despite all the lovely comments I’ve gotten about it, I just can’t wear something that’s several inches too big for me, I don’t find it comfortable and you can practically see my whole bra when I bend over), and that’s okay. I have learned since then to NEVER cut into your good fabric until you make a muslin (or two, or seven), and of course to measure thrice and cut once.

Have no fear, for I WILL be trying again, this time using my sloper with hopefully better results.

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