Denim Never Dies ~ a Delayed January Challenge

When I spotted TMS’s January challenge was denim related, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to make use of some fabric from my stash. I hadn’t had it long and it was the first time I would use denim. It won’t be the last. I think I probably eased myself in a little, as it was actually a stretch denim that was pretty much a pleasure to work with. I’d bought it from Minerva in the post-Chrismtas sales, and having stumbled across the invoice yesterday I recalled I’d paid just £1.99 per metre.
One of my sewing resolutions for 2015 was to improve on my internal finishes of garments, so I opted to make a Cynthia Rowley pattern which suggested lightweight denim as a fabric.
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As part of this make, I had my first experience of understitching, which turned out to be much easier than I anticipated.
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To counterbalance that success, however, my main issue with this pattern was the sleeves. I followed the pattern meticulously, inserted pleats, lining, understitching…they seemed perfect!
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Until I began to insert them, basted and stitched. They stuck out at a very strange angle which completely dominated the whole effect of the dress. They did not look like they did on the pattern, and even with adjustments or even shortening I just couldn’t work out how to improve them. I would welcome any advice on where I went wrong with this, because ultimately I opted to remove the sleeves completely. This was disappointing because I had spent so much time creating a nice finish on the lining, there were no raw or untidy edges inside, and now I had to just turn under the edges, double stitch and hope for the best.
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Other elements that I wasn’t completely happy with were that the back seams didn’t line up, and I didn’t spot this until the zip was already inserted, which I couldn’t face unpicking and re-doing.
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The bulk of the fabric means it’s REALLY hard to get the zip past the pleats, and I worry that the zip will break quite quickly.
Despite all of that, I have a dress that I love! I am pleased with the overall finish and that I even went to the trouble of handstitching down the lining.
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If you would like to read more about this make, plus a couple of subsequent Cynthia Rowley patterns I’ve sewed up, please visit my blog.
Finally, as I was left with a decent sized piece of fabric from the three metres I had ordered, I made up a simple denim skirt. The first skirt I’ve made, can you believe? Again, aware of my finishes I spent Friday night initally machine stitching and finally hand stitching (I still have a numb finger) some pretty bias tape to cover a raw edge inside the waistband. From £6 of fabric I have two garments I am happy to wear. Success!
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12 thoughts on “Denim Never Dies ~ a Delayed January Challenge

  1. I love that dress! A pity about the sleeves, but it looks SO classy on you nevertheless. I always have problems with lining up the waist seams around the zipper as well, I’ll be sure to try out Sarah and Becky’s suggestions!

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  2. Lovely dress! I had exactly the same problem – went to a heap of trouble to line the sleeves and sew those never-ending darts, and it turned out they looked like a rugby player’s shoulder guards. Not to mention I couldn’t move my arms in them! So off they went and I painstakingly hand stitched the lining and the shell of the bodice together at the armholes 😦 How disappointing.

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    • Thanks for that Siobhan, it makes me feel better to know it wasn’t just me! I wonder where we went wrong so they were so different from the pattern view?! What did you end up doing with yours? Did you find a better way to finish the arms?

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      • I’m a bit suspicious of pattern drafting when it comes to sleeves and I definitely feel the fault lies with Simplicity, not us. I just ripped my sleeves out and threw them in the bin (sigh). Then as the bodice was lined I stay stitched the armholes (both shell and lining) at the seam line and pressed under. That way I had a crisp edge to invisibly handstitch the lining and shell together.

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  3. They look great. Denim is fab! I agree with becky – the only way you can reliably match up zips and waist seams is basting – I sew in the first side, then mark on the other side of the zip exactly where the waist seam should be, pin, quickly hand baste (it literally will take only a couple of minutes) then sew. Works like a charm!

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  4. They both look like great pieces that will mix and match well with a lot of things! And seam matching with zippers takes so much practice. I usually end up hand basting those sections before sewing.

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