I have always looked at the pre-smocked/shirred fabric and thought it would be pretty easy to make a dress. Mostly I look at the little girl's fabric, but I hate that it is all character prints and I don't want my child to be a walking advertisement for Disney, at least before she is asking for it.
I also always say that I am not a great sewer/seamstress. The truth really, but I know that when there is something I want do try enough, I usually can figure it out with some ingenuity, and the help of some online tutorials. So, yesterday when I went to Joann's and found that the things I needed were already on sale and I still had two 50% off coupons, I took a look around for a project. I saw this fabric and liked it. They only have a couple options in pre-smocked, and they are usually a little too busy for me, but this one was pretty. And it was the right length.
I am in need of a maternity dress and I hate the idea of spending $80 or more on a dress I won't wear for that long. It is also impossible to find a maternity dress that goes below the knee. Everything I have tried on or looked at online is above the knee. So, this was the solution. Make my own. I brought the material to the counter to get it cut and made a generrous estimate of how much material I would need. As usual, she asked me what I was making and I told her I was hoping it would work for maternity. She replied that her daughter had made several and loved them because they are so comfortable. That made me even more excited to give it a try. Comfortable when you are pregnant is hard to come by and all that much more valuable.
I thought I knew what to do, but I took a look online to make sure I didn't cut the material wrong without realizing it and ruin my purchase. I found a lot of tutorials for smocking/shirring yourself and I kicked myself for not thinking of that sooner, but I am not sure I am up for trying that just yet. Maybe on the next dress. Turns out it really is as easy as it seemed. Hem the bottom to the desired length. Mine was already about right, so I just turned it under and hemmed it. Then I took the material, wrapped it around me and got a measurement of how much material I needed. I ended up with about an extra 3/4 of a yard and again wished I had known I was going to do this project before going to the store and had measured. Would have saved me a bit of money. Then I sewed the seam for the back. I tried it on and realized that because the top material is really stretchy, if I didn't want it falling off or gaping in the front, I needed to downsize. Easy enough to do, just taking a few inches off and sew another seam.
Dress done really unless you want straps as I did. I took some black ribbon and held it up on the dress where I wanted the straps and pinned it in. Here is actually where it got tricky. I didn't have someone to pin the back of the straps on because everyone was napping, including my sick at the time husband. So I took a look at the back and saw about where they needed to go and made a guess. Once I had it sewn and tried it on, I needed to raise the back a little to make up for my now showing a bit belly, but that adjustment was easy enough to make. And now done.
I have a black shrug that I will pair with it. I spent about $50 dollars on the dress and belt altogether. (Yes that smocked material is expensive even half off, but I would have saved quite a bit if I had measured before going to buy it.) In the end, less that a dress bought from the store that I would have inevitable had to have altered anyway in order for it to fit right or be long enough. And it wouldn't be nearly as comfortable as this one is. Let me tell you, this dress is comfy! I love how comfortable it is. I will have to iron it, and that is its one downfall. Maybe next time I will get a broomstick fabric and try my own smocking. :) Then there won't be any ironing.
So, now I can say I have sewn my own dress. I don't have to tell anyone that it was the easiest dress on earth to sew, right? But I am pretty proud of that belt. I figured that one out on my own. And that brings me to my 'enough' statement. I stop myself sometimes from doing things because I am afraid I will fail. I create my own stumbling blocks when, if I just went for it, a lot of times I would do just fine. I ran into this last year when I finally decided it was time to finish school. I had a few panic attacks in the first couple of weeks because I was afraid of doing something new. I didn't know how online classes worked and I was panicked that I would miss something or not be dedicated enough. Turns out, I am really good at online school. I love having the freedom to learn when it is convenient to me and not on a class schedule. So enough stopping myself from doing something new and maybe intimidating. Yes, it would have been a bit of money down the drain if I had made a mess of the dress, but I still would have learned something from doing it. If there is something I want to try, I am just going to do it. Enough being my own roadblock.