In which I make a dress that is not "me"


I love blogging about sewing plans, but have to admit that my follow through on those plans is pretty poor. "Let's see, I have a nice sewing list here and.....Ooo look something new and shiny!!!" Yup, that's the way it usually goes.  However it seemed to be in bad form to ignore the plans for my own sew-a-long. Cowboy up already Heather and knock off that modcloth dress! OK fine, but it's going to take forever and I'm going to be slightly miffed at the end of it.
Soooo yeah, this dress.....I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I think sewing is sometimes like that.  Except its the yellow brick road of franken pattern options. "Circle skirts, and piping and buttons, Oh My!"
I'm 100% sure that some of you are scratching your heads and thinking, "What the hell is wrong with this dress? Heather you are cray, cray." Super cray cray I know, because on the hanger this dress looks cute to me too. The color, the little white details and the skirt, all of it is a win. Sitting here now I can picture several people rocking this dress, but I don't really like it on me. It's a little "too cute."
It took the Pinup girl website to make me realize what I should have done. Gored skirt and ruched detail at the bust. Argh so close! Personal style can be a tricky beast some times. Especially when you think you like what you don't actually like.  What is up with that brain?
While I went a little too far out of my personal style zone, this dress might be your cup of tea. Here are all the deets if you'd like to make one of your own.

Bodice - Cambie hacked into a princess line bodice. See below for the tutorial on how to do that. My bodice is fully lined with some Siri lining.
Skirt - Full Skirt option from Butterick 6019.  It's pretty much a standard half circle skirt so you could also draft your own. I had to take just a hair (1/4") off the side seams of the skirt to get it to fit to the bodice. Butterick 6019 does not come with pockets, but it was easy to insert some standard pocket bags into the side seams. I borrowed the pockets from Simplicty 2444 to do this.
Store bought piping was added to the neckline and the waist seam.  I bought a piping foot for this project and  found it resulted in superior results.  I couldn't get close enough to the piping with my regular zipper foot and the piping seam was showing on the outside of the garment. Attached piping foot and the problem was immediately solved.
To wrap this up let me show you how to convert the Cambie bodice into princess seams. This is very basic pattern drafting stuff, so I apologize if it seems like a no brainer.  I wondered a bit if this technique was worth a tutorial at all. In the end I decided yes because a sweet heart princess line bodice is the perfect starting point for so many other hacks.  For instance this tiki number, or this polka dot modcloth design. Eh see, good stuff. So let's get to it....

Tutorial - Changing darts to princess line seams on the Cambie Bodice
1. Starting with the front bodice, find the center of the dart intake and mark.

2. Draw a line from that mark, through the dart point and up to the neckline of the bodice.

3. At this point you might want to tweak the sweet heart seam line to a slightly rounder shape since a seam line will be going through it.

4. Once any neckline changes are complete, cut the pattern apart along one dart leg, then along the newly drawn line.

5. Next cut off the rest of the dart intake.

6. Go in and smooth out the "points" left by the top of the dart. You want the new seam line to be nice and smooth.

7. Time to convert the darts on the back, but first we need to cut down the pattern piece.  Using the top of the side seam as a guide, square a line across the back.

8. Cut the back pattern along this line and discard the top half.

9. Now we'll do the same steps on the back that we did on the front.  First mark the middle of the dart intake.

10. Draw a line through the intake mark, dart point and up to the top of the pattern piece.

11. Cut the pattern apart along one dart leg, then along the newly drawn line.

12. Next cut off the rest of the dart intake.

13. Smooth off any points left by the tops of the darts. On the back this might not be noticeable because the dart is a smaller size.

14. Now that the shaping of the seam lines is complete, you need to go back and add seam allowance to the new seam lines. Once SA is added the bodice is ready to sew.

*Bonus step - You can put any kind of strap on the bodice, but if you like mine the dimensions are 5" x 15.5".

Extra bonus step - Put on dress. Parade around local public areas and have the local residents come out of their houses to stare at you.  Don't mind me, just being awkward. Carry on with your lawn mowing sir.


  1. I TOTALLY understand what you are saying here. I can see your pretty blue dress and in my eyes, it looks gorgeous. The colour is amazing for you, beautifully fitted, and simply pretty. I made an amazing silk Anna a few months ago, exactly the same, couldn't fault it, but despite it fitting and looking beautiful on, everytime I wore it, I felt like I was wearing someone else's dress...a little weird. So after three wears I cut it up and made something new which is much more me! Lucky there's lots of fabric in an Anna to play with!

  2. You know I like sweet and cute dresses so of course I like this a lot!

  3. Oh Cambie! You lure us with your cute ways, but then turn out so... cute! I never wore the only Cambie I ever made - here, go laugh at how absurdly girly it is! I can't even imagine thinking to make that now.
    You look perfectly lovely, as you know, but I won't try to convince you that you LOVE this dress. I hope you do wear it somewhere though!

  4. I would say that technique would have been SO much easier than all the finagling I had to do with princess-seamifying the Cambie top for my wedding dress, but I did end up having to take a dart out of the top to get it to fit, too. Given that I had to add top darts to the more recent Cambie, I should just permanently princess-seam that thing.

    I think it looks cute, and the color is very flattering on you, but I understand what you mean about feeling like it isn't you. Would it help to change up the buttons or add a contrasting belt or anything like that?

  5. I made a lovely dress the other month that I felt the same way about, especially since I'm trying to leave my cutesy phase. It does match your shoes beautifully, though. Maybe if you converted the straps into some kind of halter it would take it a bit more into bombshell territory?

  6. Well, this does look adorable on you, but I'm sure we've all made something that we look back on and just go, "Huh?" My Sewaholic Lonsdale dress is the first example that pops into my brain, but I've done it lots of times- wanted to try something just to try it, but ended up with something that's not my style at all.

  7. www.tresbienensemble.comJuly 31, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I hear you. There are so many styles and fabrics that I honestly LOVE on other people, but I wouldn't be caught dead wearing. Style is a very personal thing. And, that's alright. In fact, it's great!

    The dress is constructed beautifully and is very pretty. Do you have a friend or a cousin of similar porportions that rocks the cutesy vibe?

  8. This dress is adorable but it does seem just slightly off of your regular fare. It amazing how small details can make a big difference in the overall look; both one of my most hated and most loved things about sewing! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  9. Oh you look fabulous! I veto your bad opinions and replace them with my ultimate wisdom. Plus the yellow shoes and pin make me want to swoon. Oh wait there I go... CRASH!

  10. I think this dress is sweet but I get it...not quite feeling yourself in it. Maybe it's the combination of the style and the polka dots? I find that evenly spaced and sized dots make fabric a little too cutesy for me. I tend to go for irregular sized and spaced dots. I can explain why but they are just more me....

  11. I'm worse than you - wearing ANY dress makes me feel like it's too TWEE...

    That said, I think it looks great on you, but totally understand if you don't feel comfortable in it.

  12. Us sewists are an easily distracted group aren't we. "Oh, I saw a lovely dress, must make it and add too much!". It's an effort to keep your head straight.

    Technically, your dress looks great. IT's a lovely fabric, great fit and it's well balanced. However, I know that none of that matters when you're wearing something that you don't feel good in. I take those dresses as a lesson learnt. I hope you can make something out of your dress, refashion or recycle it and make something that you like better.

  13. Pretty dress! I've been there with the not-me outfits too. Try throwing on a blazer or a bomber jacket to counteract the girly-ness of it. Maybe even some boots. Play with accessories and make it you - it's too well made to go to waste! =)

  14. I wonder if you could remake the skirt into something less floofy?
    Thanks for sharing your method to convert the Cambie bodice to princess seams. Someday I'm going to give it another go, and I do think I'd be better off with princess seams.

  15. I'm glad to hear that you've also experience this Debbie. "Wearing someone else's dress," is the perfect description. Glad you were able to salvage your Anna into something you enjoy wearing. :)

  16. :) Can you mash your girls into this one Leila? You'd look a lot cuter in it than me.

  17. Oh yes! You even had a girlie print. It's so odd when we look back on past makes and think, "What the hell was I smoking?' hee hee

  18. Thanks Becky. :) I also had to take in the top of the bodice like you're describing. Probably should have mentioned it in the post. That whole low bust things strikes again.

    I have about a yard more of this fabric. May let the dress sit a bit and then see if I can't tweak it a bit later. Right now I'm not exactly sure what to do.

  19. Cutesy phase. It's hard to stop sewing cutesy cause it's fun. :)

    I could convert the straps and like the look of a halter....sometimes they're hard on the the neck though. Maybe I just need a better strapless bra.

  20. Yes! I've done that too. "Hey this pattern is AWESOME!!!" Then you put it on and go, Ewwwww.

  21. I hear you Michelle. Off the top of my head I can think of about 3 patterns that are really popular now and look great on other people. I still know they would be horrible on me.

    I don't have anyone with similar proportions, but maybe I can change up this dress a bit with some left over fabric. It's going in time out first. :)

  22. The devil is in the details isn't it Megan. :) Reminding myself that statically they all can't be winners.
    Glad you like the tutorial!

  23. It is hard to get rid of things you've made. The "failure" sniff. Oh well, I might be able to savage thing into something else. Or maybe next summer I'll think differently. Who knows? :)

  24. Haa haa haa! Am I as sexy as John Hamm? Excellent /\

    You can some visit the yellow shoes when ever. "Oh pretty shoes, I love you."

  25. Pretty sure the polka dots aren't helping any with the too cutesy vibe. Maybe I should stick with polka dot separates.

    I'd love to get my hands on more irregularly spaced dots. Polka dot pickings have been slim in my neck of the woods.

  26. Thank you. ;) I'm gonna to let this one sit and maybe a fix will come to me.

  27. LOL Helena, that does sound familiar. Some times it's hard to separate someone else's personal style from your own too.
    Oh well, I've had several good makes this summer so it was time for one to be a little off. :)

  28. Mmmmm blazer. I'm almost ready to make another blazer. I will see what's in my closet Brooke. That could be the solution.

  29. Been wondering that myself. It might be possible to cut the skirt down a bit.

    Glad you like the tutorial. The princess line seam makes it a lot easier to pinch out excess fabric at the top of the bodice.

  30. Oh lame, sorry you aren't so keen on it. It looks like a very well made dress but if it's not giving you the woo hoo factor then that's a shame.
    Excellent work on the hacks part of your sewalong though!
    I have a post to go live Aug 15th (my bifday) with my favourite new sundress.

  31. Thanks Amy, I'm glad you like the hacks. :) Can't wait to read your post on the 15th. *Rubs hands together gleefully*

  32. What size did you make? I'll totally give it a home if you really don't want it. :D


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