Operation Sew A Pretty Dress: Mission Complete

Dear Audy,

I’m very excited to announce that Operation Sew A Pretty Dress was a blazing success! Well, not literally, on account of who wants to wear a dress that’s on fire?

The key for me being able to sew without setting off a funtown flare is soft hands. So often, I am tensing part of my body much more than needed and it causes me more pain than is necessary. I have been doing a lot of Feldenkrais audio tracks to break up my sewing periods and the result has been a much better reaction than the one that hit me the day after Operation Sew A Pretty Dress commenced. I am quite pleased and proud of myself for bouncing back from that flare and continuing the project, my determination to find a way to sew without increasing the pain too much has paid off in pretty dress goodness!

20100815 Penelope Dress Funny Face

I have named my homemade wardrobe addition Penelope. She just looks like a Penelope and I do like to name things.

20100815 Penelope Dress

I followed this Simplicity pattern. When I took my measurements I was shocked to discover that I was a size 22, when in the normal world I am sized 14-16, depending on how much the manufacturer wants to mock me. Numbers are just numbers though, so I went ahead and followed all the directions for size 22. I was super relieved to find that the sewing skills my mother bestowed upon me as a teenager have stuck. I wasn’t too sure if I would remember what to do, this was the first pattern I had tried to follow in over a decade! There are certainly a lot of failed clothing production attempts tucked safely away in the past, where they can’t horrify anyone anymore (and may I take a second to sincerely apologise to everyone forced to view the ever so loved by me fluffy, leopard print pants, circa 1999ish).

Penelope didn’t come about via a sweet smelling walk through a rose garden. I had a slight setback when I followed the instructions incorrectly while I was sewing the bodice, not realising I was working on a vague assumption that the zipper would go at the back of the dress. Hindsight pointed out that this was especially clever of me, considering that every dress in my wardrobe zips up at the side. All was not lost, however, some careful unpicking and rearranging left me with a bodice that, thankfully, fitted onto the skirt.

The second major hiccup came during a quick fitting check before sewing in the zipper. It was clear that Penelope was far, far too big for me. The sizing chart was a liar. That, or I am a bad measurer, or there is a third option… Penelope wasn’t meant to fit correctly straight from the pattern, she wanted to give me a little space to think creatively and make her fit, without destroying her in the process. I slept on it and would like to thank my morning brain for giving me the solution, like a trustworthy voice through a megaphone. The dress was pleated already, so there was opportunity for more pleating. I fixed my sizing issue like this:

20100815 Penelope Dress Back

I hemmed her to sit around my knees and then, hey presto! New dress. I was incredibly excited to have her finished in time to wear her to a beautiful wedding that I attended yesterday. I really didn’t wanted to drag one of my old faithfuls out of the wardrobe again. Penelope saved me from that undesirable plan B. Penelope is the bestest!

I am looking forward to planning my next stitchy mission. It’s so nice to be in control of my pain enough to create again. I have missed this!

Love & Zig-Zag Stitches,

P.S. Thanks for all the thoughts and discussion on my last post, I shall do some more thinking on that topic and elaborate sometime soon!

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  • 14 thoughts on “Operation Sew A Pretty Dress: Mission Complete

    1. Carly Findlay

      Well done! You are so talented. I wish I could sew like you. I am sorry that the dress didn’t come without a flare, but am glad you wore it to the wedding.
      PS: commented on your Ability in Disability post.

      1. admin Post author

        Thanks, Carls! Appreciate both comments, but well, you know…. (vague personal reference)

      1. admin Post author

        Thanks, Margi! I missed sewing a lot, it’s very exciting to be thinking about more projects, I have another wedding coming up in a month, I think I shall need another new dress!! Much love xx

      1. admin Post author

        Thank you! I’m not sure what to make of the lying patterns, I think it might take making a few to discover where I need to make adjustments…hopefully I won’t have to throw too many on the ‘never quite worked’ pile, I much prefer the pile where they get finished and named ;P

    2. Tracey

      Oh my!! Penelope’s absolutely gorgeous!!

      Well done … I’m such a shocking sewer, though you’ve inspired me to give it another go! :)

      1. admin Post author

        Thanks Tracey! It’s always worth giving it another go, sewing is one of those things that seems a lot harder before you start than once you’re in the middle of the stitchy puzzle. You can do it!! :) xx

      1. admin Post author

        Thank you!! Penelope might get to go out again to see Joss…I really don’t see me shopping between now and then! ;D

    3. Jeanne


      Congratulations! The dress is gorgeous! I can’t even sew on a button. (Literally, you wouldn’t want me to try to sew a button on for you. It would fall off… promptly). So, I’m very impressed! I can’t believe how quickly you got it done! Great work!! 😉


      1. admin Post author

        Thanks, Jeanne! I am pretty surprised by how quickly I got it done too, it was all in the pacing and hand tension…now I can’t wait to start the next one! I can sew on buttons, but if you ask my prince, I’m really never very prompt about doing that (he has several buttonless pairs of pants that he likes to blame me for ;P)! Hope you are doing well!! :) xx

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