the I-told-you-so dress

Yes, yes, muslins are good. I’ve come to terms with that now. Despite my reckless impatience, I made a muslin for the bodice of the Dahlia dress (which was definitely a good move, because I’ve seen issues with the neckline floating all over the interwebs on this one). But because of my reckless impatience, I thought that a bodice muslin was all I needed. I tested out the bodice and yolk and called it good. Then I made the dress for real. And when I tried it on for the first time on a Sunday morning before church, I realized it was way too big in the waist. Like, baggy big.


I had set my heart on wearing this dress with the bias-cut yoke to church that day, and so I hacked a fix. I took the non-zipper side seam, pinched it in by two inches, and basted it closed. It was a horrendous hack. Horrendous. But it worked for church. And I even wore it a few more times after that before forbidding myself from wearing it until I took the dress in properly. And it took me a couple of hours to modify it the right way. I had to pick out the yoke lining, each seam connecting the yoke to the bodice and the skirt, and the yoke side seam. Then I had to do the same thing on the other side, that time factoring in the invisible zipper. It was awful.


I ended up taking a half inch out of each seam allowance, for a total of two inches. Had I made a muslin of the entire dress–skirt included–in the first place, I would have avoided this entire fiasco. Alas. That damn invisible zipper took me three tries to re-install correctly, because not only did I have to make sure I was pinning the zipper to the right seam line, but I also had to make sure it the yoke would match up, a task that in initial construction basically took care of itself. If I’d had a time machine, I would go back to early November and leave a note for November Charlotte on the sewing table saying, Make the skirt muslin, woman. Just MAKE IT. 


All that said, I do love this dress. Though these pictures are making me doubt how flattering it looks on me. Maybe next time I make this I’ll cut the whole skirt in the right size. Yes, that’s the most logical move to make here. And maybe I’ll just re-muslin the whole thing, because the more I look at these photos, the more I think that grading in the bodice to the yoke makes funny design lines around the bust. So, yes, maybe this dress is teaching me to just do it right every time.



This dress, in all its classic simplicity, schooled me. And yet I might just try it again sometime. In polka dots. Yes, polka dots feel about right.

PS Regardless of whether or not this dress actually does distort and widen my hips, after viewing these photos and resolving to post them instead of retaking them, I committed to exercising again. Good hell, ladies.

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  1. Andrea
    Posted January 22, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Hi Charlotte – I love it! Great Job!

    • Charlotte
      Posted January 22, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! I’m thinking about making another in flannel for Valentine’s Day (and cut in all the right sizes!)

  2. Jerusha
    Posted January 22, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I REALLY want to make this for my 16-year old daughter. I think she has the perfect figure for it. How do I choose a fabric? I don’t sew much, so that’s a skill I haven’t yet acquired. What did you use? What else would you recommend? (Yes, I know there are fabric suggestions on the pattern, but I’d like your opinion.)

    • Charlotte
      Posted January 22, 2015 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Firstly, I can’t believe Katharine is 16. Secondly, fabric for this is pretty easy to pick out. You’re right that my fabric choice was definitely on the stiff end. It was your basic apparel cotton blend. I’m actually eager to try out this pattern in a nice, cozy flannel. For a 16-year-old something comfy with natural fibers would be the ticket. I haven’t seen many Dahlia’s in a spring/summer fabric yet, but whatever you choose you want something that has a good drape yet is easy to handle.

      Since you haven’t done much sewing, I’d recommend steering away from having to match plaid. Though if you like that look in this dress (which, how could you not?), here’s the link to the Colette Patterns guide to sewing with plaid: Also, a muslin is essential. You can make a test run out of plain muslin just for fitting purposes. Like I mentioned, the neckline can prove tricky in this pattern, so you definitely want to make sure the fit is right before sewing it up in the final fabric. Plus, sewing a muslin will get you familiar with how the pieces come together so that final construction will be a breeze!

      • Jerusha
        Posted February 2, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        16!!! Crazy, isn’t it? Because Sarah was so small, I remember your mom joking that Sarah was going to prom in a booster. It seems she finally grew and won’t need that booster after all!

        Definitely not going with plaid yet, though it is quite pretty for this dress. One would think that a city the size of Charlotte, NC would boast more than a JoAnn’s or Hancock for fabric. Alas, no. I will have to drive 45 minutes to a neighboring city to a large everything-you-could-want fabric store. I hope to find something I like there. Thanks for your help!

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