Hot! The “UFO / RW&B / Collar Challenge / UFO II” Dress

A word of explanation before I get started:  People often comment that they like my outtake photos because I’m usually smiling the most.  Or maybe people just like to see real life embarrassment!  Barbara casually mentioned last week that it would be funny if we all did an outtake post.  I took it as a personal challenge to post my most awkward bloopers front and centre, so here is my best action shot:  falling off the retaining wall that separates our side garden from our neighbour’s.  To use a good old Cape Breton-ism, I fell arse over teakettle into his ivy.  Enjoy!

The Facts:

  • Fabric: poly blend, purchased in Cape Town in 2011 = $13
  • Pattern: Simplicity 2591
  • Year: 2009
  • Notions: zipper, piping, buttons = $7
  • Time to complete: 7hrs + 1.5 years + 10hrs?
  • First worn:  October 15th, falling into my neighbour’s well maintained garden
  • Wear again? Yes, but I may make a few more alterations first
  • Total price: ~$20

There are so many flattering versions of Simplicity 2591 out there.  Early in 2011, I fell in love with Farah’s version, which was an imitation of Adey’s version, which was in turn an imitation of this dress.  It appeared to be one of those magic dresses that looked great on everyone, and Pattern Review recommended it highly, so I had to give it a try.  (BTW, has anyone heard from Farah recently?  She was quite active on the community page last year, then had a health concern and now her blog is inactive.  I’ve been wondering.)

Having never made anything quite so fitted at that stage in my sewing experience, I didn’t know that a muslin would be in order.  I cut out this fabric without thinking twice, and sewed up a straight size 12.  The fit was atrocious!  Take a look below:

I even put out a call on my blog for fitting advice, and got a few good suggestions.  I tried (oh, I tried), but it was still ill-fitting after having removed the sleeves, cut the armscye forward, and let out the princess seams by 10mm.  In a fit of frustration, I balled it up and shoved it in the UFO pile.

UFO challenge:  I thought that once I managed to improve the fit, I would love this dress.  It couldn’t be too hard, right?  Enter another few hours of fussing and fighting with the bodice, followed by balling it up and shoving it into the UFO pile.

Red, White and Blue challenge:  When the Red, White and Blue challenge went up on the dashboard, I decided to address this once and for all.  I let out the bodice seams and changed the darts to gathers, thinking that would solve some of the weird fit issues.  It didn’t.  Ball it up and shove it into the UFO pile.

Collar challenge:  OK, this is getting ridiculous.  Just get it done.  Add a collar.  But wait:  there isn’t enough fabric left to draft a collar.  Maybe I could use a contrasting fabric?  That looked so horrible that I didn’t even take a photo.  Ball it up and shove it into the UFO pile.

UFO Challenge II:  This is your last chance at salvation, Simplicity 2591.  If you don’t pass muster this time, it’s into the rag bag for you.

Luckily (and quite unusually), I had 5 hours to myself this weekend, so I bit the bullet.  I admit that there was a lot of second guessing again this time and it almost wound up in the bin again, but I knew that if I succeeded, I would have a decent dress that somewhat resembled my vision. I love the red piped tab and anchor buttons on the front, and decided that it needed a pop of red on the neckline as well, but having no excess fabric, I had to make due.  I hand tacked this red ric-rack on while watching episode 1 of Project Runway Australia and fancied I was taking part in the challenge.

Can I just say that PRA is so much better than the Canadian, American or British versions?  I often like the competitors more, and there seems to be less drama and more sewing pr0n.   Although Alex Parry really needs to cut back on the Botox, n’est-ce pas?  My sister says that if he doesn’t quit, his forehead will slide down over his eyes and he’ll have to cut slits to see.

I’m waiting to see our Kazz show up on PRAustralia season 4.  C’mon Kazz!  It’s in Melbourne!!!!  You know you have a huge fan base already ;)


On the left: photo taken without any direction = focus on the butt and cut off the head. On the right: photo taken with direction = I have a head again!


The fit is still not perfect; in fact, I may have over fitted it because there’s some boob flattening going on, but there wasn’t enough fabric left over to recut the bodice with the proper alterations, so it will have to do.  (Would you believe it, I even went back to the same fabric shop when I was recently in Cape Town to buy more, but the print was discontinued!)  I’ll leave you with the final photo of our shoot this morning, after having dusted myself off and crawled up over the retaining wall:









Vicki used to sew when she was young and free, but then raising young'uns and bringing home (some of) the bacon took up all her time. Now her closet is full of skinny clothes, maternity clothes and post-partum clothes, none of which fit properly. Maybe that's why she started sewing again in 2010.


Comments are closed.

  1. You did it!! It only took a “couple” tries to get it but that’s ok, I admire your perserverence. If I had to guess, just by looking at the photos, I’d say the center front is a bit too wide since the bust seams aren’t sitting over the high point of the bust. You can’t adjust something like this very well on yourself (I know, I’ve tried) so it’s a toughie. The red accents are adorable and in the end you really “made this work”. Now I’ll have to look up other versions of Project Runway (which I don’t really watch any more, got tired of the whining) to see how they are. Yes, I think Kazz should audition as well!

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, since I have a similar problem with most patterns and have to narrow the front. This was originally cut and sewn 1.5 years ago, so I like to think that I’ve improved my sewing skills in that time, but it’s not always the case!
      The pattern pieces on this dress are a bit odd: there is a side panel that looks like princess seaming, but it doesn’t run over the bust apex, which you can see on the gold dress in the pattern cover (sorry the thumbnail is so small). I’ve actually brought those seams a bit too far forward in an attempt to wrestle it into submission.
      And I just realized that it was you who inspired me to do an all out take post, not Barbara. Blame sleep deprivation for my confusion, since I sewed until 1am and had to get up at 6:30am today. You can tell from my closeup photo….

  2. That’s what I call perseverance. Good for you!

    • Well, I just finished completing one of those personality profiles as part of an exercise with the non-profit for which I volunteer. My results told me that I am extremely logic driven, very detail oriented, and highly unlikely to let go of an idea once I’ve made up my mind. It’s a recipe for perseverance, that’s for sure. And group dynamic disaster when conflict is involved! ;)

  3. Love the belt tab! And I definitely agree with you about the pop of color at the collar–I think the little flashes of red really make the whole dress stand out.
    Also, I’m really impressed that you had the patience and the dedication to keep working on this so many times (I would’ve gotten enraged and shredded the fabric ages ago). Wow!

    • The inspiration dresses also had red ric-rack along the bottom hem, and I’m toying with the idea of adding that too, if I hadn’t run out of red thread. Ooops.

  4. You did a smashing job Vicki, love this dress on you and after all the trouble you went through…you look so thin (in a good way) so maybe sewing up a size 8 next time would work more in your favour :P Great save with the collar I would of done the same.

    Sorry you fell arse over tit I did laugh out loud. Very funny indeed.

    I’ve been watching PR, Love Tim Gunn and then I turned on PRA and thought all the smoke and effects was so OTT. I cringed and then Alex Perry appeared? I just laughed it was just so corny. I’d be the one they’d send home for staring at Alex Perry’s face with out blinking- Kazz stop staring LOL! Of course I’ll keep watching it’s like an accident, you just can’t look away. I’m flattered that you think I could manage such a thing haha. It’s never entered my mind, it would be fun. I don’t know if I could handle hearing and seeing myself on telly though. Yikes!

    • I think that I may make it again (after I give my nerves a rest), and definitely use a smaller bodice. I’ve learned my lesson: when first making a pattern that has unusual seaming, make a muslin!

      Oh, that first episode of PRA was so cheesy….meeting in the creepy alleyway, full of smoke and lights…only to find they are around back of Rathdowne Fabrics! (Maybe I’m underestimating the size of Melbourne, but wouldn’t you be familiar with the neighbourhood if you were a sewist?!?)

      I second my nomination for PRA season 5. At least go to the audition and have a laugh!

  5. Love this dress– I bought this pattern a couple years ago on the strength of those 2 examples as well, but haven’t gotten around to making it. The ric rac fake collar is genius! I really have to move this up the list of next-to-makes. And I’m in total agreement, I haven’t seen PRA (will have to find it on line) but Kazz would be a shoe-in.

  6. I saw a lot of this pattern on Burdastyle too, and they all looked good.

    I watch PRA online at this site because it doesn’t broadcast here (and I don’t have TV anyway):

  7. That is so cute on you! It’s such a lovely, classic style, and is fun and youthful without being too young. The pockets are particularly divine. Great rescue – yay for perseverance!

    • Yeah, those pockets are great. That and the side panel detail sold me on the pattern, especially once I had seen the versions I linked to above.

  8. I love what you did with your dress! It looks very cute on you. My favorite parts are the tab, red collar trim, and the big side pockets. Way to go with seeing it through.

    • Thanks Barbara. The more I look at my photos, the more I want to add red trim to the hem as well, so that it looks like my inspiration dresses. It may not be original, but at least it’s done!

  9. I’m so impressed that you managed to make this work so well. I think I might have given up on it. And I bet you learnt lot for future makes too. The red rick rac fake collar really makes it fab.

    • Thanks Tempest – If I hadn’t been using a precious fabric, and hadn’t been using a pattern that was sent to me FOR FREE by a blog reader, I would probably have tossed it. I had to see it through!