Help Me Sew My Way To Victory

by - 10:00

Following up on my previous post about Sew For Victory, I can now show you the progress I have made.

I seem to have been getting on okay, to a point. Here is what the dress looks like so far:

I am having a problem at the moment in getting the dress to fit me (I am standing inside the dress in the photo) - the pattern seems to suggest that inserting a row of shirring at the top, middle and bottom of the bodice will allow you to fit the dress to your body. After studying a number of online tutorials I decided to put several rows of elastic in, but it still doesn't seem to be working. It's still huge!

Actually the pattern has turned out to be a lot harder than I anticipated as it turns out that the instructions are a bit patchy and assume that you can manage to fill in the gaps yourself, which I gather is a common thing with vintage patterns. I did read through the pattern a couple of times before choosing it and buying the materials, and I somehow didn't notice until I started trying to assemble everything that the instructions were a little less instructive than I had hoped. The pattern can be found here

So the question is, what have I done wrong, and what should I do next? I've considered continuing to add shirring in the hopes it will do what I want, or removing the shirring that I've added and restitching it so I can try to pull it to gather the fabric more, and I've also considered abandoning it altogether and maybe using the fabric for something else. 

If anyone knows what I might have done wrong or how I might be able to go about fixing it, please do let me know! I'd love to rescue this if at all possible as it's the biggest sewing project I've ever attempted.


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  1. The pattern says "with shirring elastic stitch and gather .." so I think maybe they mean that you not only stitch with the elastic but you pull the elastic to gather the fabric as well, just like you would do with normal gathering stitches?

    It does look like a LOT of fabric though!

    You can also try posting on the We Sew Retro blog or in the Sew For Victory Flickr group and see if anyone can there can help.

  2. Crikey, that is a lot of fabric!
    Can I ask what the width of your fabric is? Was it wider than the 36 inches the pattern stated? Also, it looks like your shirring is too close together. On the patterns it says that you should space 3 rows of shirring 5 inches apart.
    Don’t give up! It can be sorted- you may just need to lose a few inches in the width.
    Hope this helps. :)

    1. I'm pretty sure it was 36 inches, I measured really carefully! I will definitely double check it though.
      I didn't think there was any way it was gong to pull tight enough with just the three rows of shirring but having never tried it before I consulted the internet, which seemed to suggest that putting multiple rows in close together would make it pull tighter, so I thought I would try three blocks of multiple rows instead.
      I've been away this last week so I haven't touched it, but I'll try to sort it out this week!

  3. I'd say what Renee and Tickety Boo Tupney both said--your shirring needs to be spaced much wider, and it sounds like the elastic needs to be pulled tight as you are stitching so that it creates gathers when you release the tension--that part can be tricky, so sometimes it is easier to pin the elastic fully stretched and then ease as you stitch, if that makes sense. I'm also wondering if you sewed it together on the 44" side (to be 88" wide) instead of on the 36" side (which would make it 72" wide and much less to pull in with gathers).

    1. I've since measured it again and it''d definitely the right width, so that's not the problem as far as I can tell... I think I will try taking the shirring out and gathering it a bit more as I go along and hopefully that will fix it.

  4. Not being a sewer myself, and I do very much apologize here, I can't offer any assistance. I will say however that that is a very lovely fabric and that I wish you all the best is getting to the route of the trouble here, dear gal.

    ♥ Jessica