Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sewing for Myself

I used to sew a lot more for myself in the past than I do currently.  Because, let's face it...after birthing and nursing eight children, my body just isn't quite where I want it to be.  It's so much more fun to sew for a three-year old--they don't have any figure flaws and everything looks so cute on them!  Sewing for myself, however, is a completely different story.  I love it when something I make for myself actually turns out, but there's so much work involved.  First, I always make a muslin.  ALWAYS.  I have learned the hard way that my measurements aren't the standard for what's shown on the back of pattern envelopes.  But even though making a muslin is an extra step, it saves time and frustration in the long run.  I would love to own a dress form would certainly be much easier to fit a garment for myself with one.   But for now I just make do with trying it on over and over, contorting myself at weird angles so that I can view myself in a too small mirror.  But it works!

I've had this pattern in my collection for several years.  It's actually a "missus" size pattern, so it only goes up to a size 14.  But I could tell by reading the measurements that it would work for me.  I ended up making a combination of sizes 12 and 14, and I altered the pattern so that the skirts would be all the same length (instead of shorter in the front and longer in the back, as shown).  I also added an inch to the bodice length, and slightly raised the neckline both in front and the back.

I had all the fabrics I needed already in my stash!  The violets on a white background is a cotton/poly voile which I purchased at Daisy Kingdom at least ten years ago.  I had used some of it way back then to make pinafores for my girls, but I had a lot left over which I never quite knew what to do with.  Because it is sheer, I needed to line it with something.  The bodice and sleeves are lined with white linen, and the underskirt is a fancy, white cotton with rows of white on white embroidery and tiny tucks.

I decided to "fancy up" the bodice by adding a panel of laces.  These are all pieces of vintage/antique lace insertion which I've been hoarding.  I simply cut pieces of lace the size I wanted, temporarily glue-basted them down onto the bodice, and then stitched.  Very easy, and the effect (though hard to see in the picture) is dainty and old-fashioned.

I cut the overskirt shorter than the underskirt, and I also added a wide strip of vintage lace along the hem of the overskirt.  Many dresses during the Titanic era had skirts with several, filmy layers, and I just love that look.

Here's a back view.  Please ignore my hair which needed to be brushed, and had gotten kind of unruly while being caught a few moments earlier out in the rain.  On the original pattern, the back bodice is designed to scoop much lower, but I raised it about two inches.  This dress was fairly easy to make once I figured out the muslin.  Each skirt, however, is made up of seven panels, and I french-seamed each seam, so that I means I sewed 14 long seams two times each, for a total of 28 passes on the sewing machine.  Whew!  I was glad when that part was over.  The back closes with an invisible zipper.

I wore this dress today to a ladies tea at our church.  I received compliments on it which is always encouraging.  Even my 15 year old, who generally wouldn't be caught dead in the clothes I like, wants me to make her a knee-length dress from this pattern.  I'd like to make another one for myself, too, also a bit shorter.  Hmmm, I'll have to go check my stash again and see if I have any more yardage that would be suitable.  All in all, I'm very happy with how this turned out, and am anxious to try it again.


  1. VERY pretty! I love the fabric and the pattern, and the changed you made look very nice. It's nice to see you in the pics as a model! You look great!!

  2. Thanks, Marlina! Now, when do I get to see a dress that YOU make for YOURSELF???

  3. Hopefully sometime soon!! I need to get that pattern and some muslin!!