No So Charming

from sarah the sewist

I should have quit while I was ahead.

Last weekend I picked up the Betsy Ross Patterns’ “Charmed Dress” pattern. It’s not really anything that unusual or special, but it seemed like a nice, classic style dress produced by an independent pattern company. I regularly read the designer/owner’s blog and really like supporting the independent companies, so I’d wanted to try one of her patterns.

This should have been my first clue that this simple, straightforward dress wasn’t meant to be.

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If you could see my face in the photo, you would notice that I’m absolutely perplexed. The pattern pieces simply don’t fit on the two yards of fabric called for in the pattern. I ended up contorting the pattern pieces, and myself, trying to make it fit (I can be a bit stubborn—just ask Josh). Finally, as the picture shows, I got the pieces to fit, but they were touching, so I was cutting it (har, har) very close. Measuring the pattern pieces and the fabric, the math simply doesn’t work.

But I pushed on. Using a Michael Miller pink and brown polka dot fabric my mom picked up for me, I cut the thing out. Following the (really excellent, way better than most you see) directions, I proceeded to sew the skirt together—which went fine—and then the bodice. It was at this point something went very, very wrong. The bodice and the skirt literally couldn’t physically connect to one another. The bodice stopped well above my belly-button, while the skirt ended where it’s supposed to—at the natural waist. It simply wasn’t going to happen. Now, I am not a tall person, so this cannot be explained away by an oddly long torso or something. I would post a picture, but that would be scary for the readers and mortifying for me. There were several other issues (that were resolvable), such as the dart needing to be moved somewhat, but I just can’t get over this one. It’s definitely a first—usually I’m able to at least get to the point where I can sew two major parts of a garment together.

Anyway… What to do? What to do? It seems like this is an entirely fixable problem. I really just need to make a new bodice that’s much, much longer. I could just make a skirt out of the bottom half and call it a day.

Either way, I am very disappointed, as I really like the classic styles offered by the company, and like that there’s a real person behind the business. I almost wonder if I got a defective pattern. I noticed on the web site that the size range I bought isn’t even offered anymore, so I do wonder if there have been others with the same problem, and it’s a design flaw? I’m also really annoyed with myself, because there were many, many points at which I knew that there was something wrong with this pattern, that it wasn’t going to work, but I continued working on it. I really should have listened to my instincts. I have enough “sewing sense” that I’m usually right about these things.

All, in all, here’s what I think of the Betsy Ross “Charmed Dress”
The Good: The directions are formatted in a little booklet, which is much easier to deal with than an big ol’ sheet that I can’t ever fold back correctly; the tone is very friendly, but not annoyingly so; I also like the black pattern envelope (weird, I know); the style is classic.
The Bad: The pattern doesn’t adjust fabric quantities for various sizes, which is annoying and just plain inaccurate. The dart placement is a bit low, and a little more straight on, if that makes sense. I prefer a more diagonal style. There aren’t finished garment measurements or ease amounts included, which I find annoying, but that’s a common gripe I have with any number of patterns.
The Ugly: Uh, the fact that the pieces simply don’t connect? That’s really ugly.

I’ll keep you posted if I decide to re-draft the bodice.

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3 thoughts on “No So Charming

  1. It would really be interesting if you redraft the bodices, and as a result, find out what really went wrong, particularly with the pattern.

  2. If only the length is the problem, couldn’t you add another (maybe contrasting) band between bodice and skirt and then use the same fabric in another place to make it look like it’s supposed to be that way (like binding the neckline or add to the hem?)

  3. You know, Taly—I never thought of that. Something to consider! Good idea… Maybe plain brown, that could look cool.

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