My project

posted by Deanna

I am working on sewing a dress from this pattern. it’s my first real sewing project and I’m doing it more or less on my own. The one I’m doing is the pink one in the middle. I’m done cutting out the pattern and I’m working on cutting the fabric into pieces, and oh my word! I never realized how complicated this stuff is. Next, I’m thinking that I might want to do the bottom left one except I’ll try to make the sleeves like a short version of the one I’m working on right now. The fabric I’m using is a muted version of the pink in the picture and it has little teeny pink flowers all over it.

Btw, do any veteran, or not so veteran seamstresses have any helpful tips for a beginner?


  1. deb meyers says:

    Machine basting is a wonderful idea, especially for the fitting stage and will keep the ripping out to a minimum.

    I’ve made every sewing mistake there is, and one of them is to not baste while at the same time sewing in very tiny (8-10 per inch) and then needing to rip THAT out. Oh the pain : )

    Do train your daughter and yourself to sew the seams from bottom to top. It really makes a difference in a more pleasing result!

  2. Hey, have you guys ever considered quilting?

  3. Thanks everyone for the great tips! Just to be clear, my 14yo daughter is the one tackling her first dress pattern, but I am not very experienced myself so I’m learning from you all as well.

    She has washed and dried her fabric, ironed it, and cut out all the pieces. She read through the instructions once and we discussed some of the steps. I’ll make sure she reads it at least once more before the sewing begins. I also advised her to machine baste each seam then make sure it’s right before going over it again with a tighter stitch. I’m thinking that this will make ripping out the inevitable mistake far easier. Does anyone think that’s a bad idea?

    My new machine was not very expensive but has a lot of nice features and has a very nice feel to it when I hit the pedal. 🙂 I would like to have another machine in the house since 4 of the girls are eager to learn and we invariably want to work on projects at the same time, but for the time being we’re thrilled to have just one working machine.

  4. I started sewing at age 8 when my mom signed me up for a class at our Singer Sewing store. I made one simple dress during the class, and was able to self-teach from there. If you are not taking a class, perhaps check out a few basic sewing reference books from the library, and consider purchasing whichever one you find most helpful. You can look at reviews on Amazon to see which books others like (Simplicity has one, I think it is available in *paperback*). Also, I sometimes Google for instructions on how to do something new, for instance I learned to sew a rolled hem by hand off the internet. One of my favorite pattern companies is Elizabeth Lee (she creates and sells patterns for nursing (as in breastfeeding) dresses and tops, with very good illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions). See for her website. A website that I like a lot, with many helpful members on message boards is If you get “stuck” at any point in your dress project, invite a friend who sews over and ask her for help. Problems that are hard to describe over the internet or phone are easy to assess in person, especially if you have not yet boned up on sewing lingo. Please do show us a picture when you finish the dress!

    PS, YES know that you will need to rip out mistakes sometimes, usually at least once on each garment, and this is normal for most of us! So get a seam ripper or a good pair of tiny, pointy scissors and keep your chin up!

    Another PS Your machine looks very high end. You might consider getting something lower-end for your daughters to share and learn on, since at least some of them will want to learn too. (My children always want to do whatever I do, especially fun things like sewing). It is a great skill to work on when young, when more time is available for experimentation. Plus you won’t have to re-thread your machine every time someone else wants to use it!

  5. deb meyers says:

    Here from Frugal Hacks …

    This is a lovely pattern, have fun learning to sew! It’s a bit of a challenge for a first timer, but then, you have 8 children so you seem like an adventurous sort : )

    4 tips from a veteran seamstress (me) to keep dress from looking homemade:

    Be certain your pattern pieces are correctly positioned on the fabric grain before cutting. You can’t make a crooked piece hang correctly if it is cut wrong!

    Sew all those vertical seams from BOTTOM to TOP. This causes the garment to hang better.

    Press all your seams open (on the underside), no matter how small, before proceeding to next construction step.

    Read your pattern hints on clipping curves and do it. (In this garment, that would be around the bust, the back neck). Of course, making a trial bodice out of muslin or throw-away fabric would be wise to practice clipping curves, but not many of us do that.

    Have fun!

    Deb Meyers

  6. Looks like fun! One thing my Mom told me when I was learning to sew is that you should plan to unpick *something* in each project. I find that she’s right: no matter how careful I am I just can’t seem to get all the way through a project without a mistake – even after years of sewing. But if I just anticipate it, then it becomes a part of the process & isn’t so frustrating.

    Also, the biggest change in the quality of my sewing came when I finally learned to slow down & put effort into even the tiny details. I used to think that you had the big seams in you were nearly done & it just doesn’t work that way.

    You’ve probably got someone locally – church is great resource for me – that can help you if you get stuck.

    Good luck – I too am looking forward to pictures!

  7. That pattern looks real nice!
    Late 2006 my mum & i made 2 aprons for christmas gifts.
    This year i made my lil’ sis a handbag.

  8. Jody from AZ says:

    Hi Deanna,

    I have tried to sew off and on for the last couple of years. I did some aprons and a few elastic waisted skirts for my daughter. I kind of gave up but you have inspired me! I am going to try again!

    Yes, please post pics when you are done and maybe even as you go along you could give us updates.

    P.S. Hi Kim! I hope you are feeling better. Miss you!

  9. I too got a sewing machine for Christmas. I asked my husband if he’d buy me a cheap one to learn on because if I never became proficient, then we would not be losing a lot of money. So he did. God bless him.

    I’m learning to sew because I can’t stand the fashions for little girls these days. They are way too immodest. I also want to teach my little girls how to sew.

    So I embark on this journey with you. I know nothing about sewing. We are brave souls, Deanna. Please post pictures of all of your accomplishments. I’d love to see them. I plan to post mine on my blog as well when I finally get started.

    Best wishes in your sewing journey.


  10. Sometimes those patterns don’t make a lot of sense at first, or they don’t tell you the easiest way to do things. If you have problems, put it down for a while and walk away to think about it- make sure you really understand what you are trying to do and that you can visualize it. And don’t be a speed demon with the foot pedal! For those inevitable ‘oops, that wasn’t what I was supposed to do’ moments, make sure your seam ripper is sharp- it will be much easier to use. You will do fine. The best thing I learned over time was how to do flat sewing- you sew everything you can flat before you sew it up into circles/tubes. For example, you sew the sleeve onto the shoulder before you sew up the side seams- then you sew the side seam from the hem of the shirt/dress up to the cuff of the sleeve all at once. It is much, much easier than wrestling with the tube of the sleeve and the tube of the bodice at the same time. Good luck!

  11. Hope your project is coming along. I would love to see it. I love the pattern! I teach teenagers to sew everyday check out our ministry blog. I have only recently become interested in garments again because of the teens that I teach. They are so interested in learning. I also seemed to sew better baby dresses and childrens clothes because I hated altering patterns for myself. Just follow the instructions and go for it. I can’t think off hand of where to look for help on line other than look at sewing blogs. Good luck and please post the finished product! I have ended up teaching some classes over the phone with some of my graduate students but that is mostly on quilt. You know you might check Sewing with Nancy. I am sure she has a website maybe even a blog she does have a tv show too just don’t if it is HGTV or what. Good luck

  12. Relax and take it one step at a time. 🙂

    Sewing is like cooking via the dump and pour method. (You know, dump a bit of this and pour some of that…) You can fudge a lot and still have a garment come out terrific, even if it doesn’t look exactly as advertised on the pattern envelope.

    And if all else fails, check out my article: (Shameless plug, I know.)

    Can’t wait to see the final project!

  13. Free sewing and other home economics advice is always available from your local extension office. Every state has a land grant school. For example in Indiana it is Purdue. Then every county has an extension offfice. They are listed in your phone book and on line. They have information on thousands of topics including sewing. Have fun….

  14. I love the pattern!
    Please post pics when you’re done!?

    I am sorry I cannot offer any advice–I’ve only attempted simple things. :0(

  15. Lovely pattern! A couple of months ago I decided to undertake the challange of sewing an apron. I wasn’t as brave and had my mom there to help me. My mom is an accomplished seamstress, who taught herself to sew on an old Singer(she still has it). It looked so easy when she did it. I hope to get my own machine soon.
    The only tip my mom gave me is not to tense up since I kept bunching up the fabric.
    Would love to see a picture when you are finished.

  16. Oh yes, your mom probably already said this one: wash the fabric before you cut it. If it is a fabric to shrink, then you want that done before you start!

  17. What a lovely pattern! Please post a photo when you’re done.

    As for tips, I’m finally patient enough now to actually iron the fabric before I cut out the pattern, and that has helped my finished products. 🙂 I can still ignore their ‘pattern placement’ instructions, but not the ‘grainline’ arrows… Good luck!

  18. I taught myself to sew by reading tutorials online over the last nine months. So, I’m not a lot of help. Although, I really love everything I’ve done so far – even the stuff that has turned out crummy! ha!


  1. […] and I are enjoying our time with Grandma and Grandpa. Deanna brought her dress and has begin to work on it in earnest under Grandma’s expert […]

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