Green Bee Amelia – FO 16/2013

After the success of Button’s dress and the coming together of the quilts, its time to share a big fat fail with you.

Before I get to the photos in all their hideous splendour, I’ll share my review of the pattern with you.  I think that’s fair.  I’ve waited a while to post this because I didn’t want my review to be coloured by the results, so I’m happy that this is now a considered opinion, rather than a rant over yet another fail.

First up the pattern is printed on lovely study paper that makes tracing it a dream, and it’s well drafted with all the pieces going nicely together.

I did, however have some issue with the sizing. Namely, it turns out not to be designed with us bigger girls in mind, and I think this was half the cause of my problems.  As well as the usual adjustments to accommodate my height and bosom, I also needed to grade the pattern up all over.

In Green Bee’s defence, they do publish the sizes, I just got all swept up in the excitement of the loveliness of this dress and didn’t bother checking.

My bad!  Not the pattern’s.

Lesson well learned.

I also had an issue with the pockets.  I sewed them as drafted and they are teeny tiny.  I can’t get my hands in them properly, never mind a phone.  So if you do decide to sew this dress, please do yourself a favour and add some size to the pockets.

And finally, I found the instructions to be so densely crammed onto the page as to be more hindrance than help.  I think I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Elegance and Elephants and Cake Patterns, who produce clear well spaced instructions with photos or diagrams to illustrate the point.  Amelia’s instructions are effectively just a typed list.  Thankfully I’m at the point in my sewing career where I can toss the instructions and still get a garment to work, but I think a beginner would find these directions lacking.  It’s a shame.

For all that, and for the resulting catastrophe of a dress, I still think Amelia is a pretty dress.  It didn’t work for me for 3 major reasons:

  1. I foolishly didn’t check the sizing before ordering the pattern.  Shiny squirrel syndrome kicked in.  A rookie mistake.  I should know better.
  2. Like the Washi dress, I don’t think this works on my figure.  And that’s not the fault of the dress, the pattern, or my figure.  It just is what it is.
  3. I was rushing to get this finished because, as always, I needed something for an event and was doing this at the 11th hour.  Hence, I ran out of time to keep tweaking the fit.  Though, to be fair, I don’t think I would love it even if the fit was better.  It just would be a better fitting shambles!

Do you want to see it?  Those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now.


Ok…you still here?

Don’t need smelling salts?

Let’s look at what’s going on.

  • A shows the problem at the bust. I added a 3 inch FBA.  In the muslin it looked OK. In the dress fabric, not so much. Because the darts are French Darts, I had a problems actually working out the FBA as I’d never attempted one before…and it shows.  I need more room to accommodate The Ladies.
  • B shows the problem around the sleeves, which are little cap sleeves all in one with the bodice.  Again these are dragging…I think linked to the lack of room in the bosom.
  • C shows what happens when you fit to your natural waist knowing you have a longer torso and really need to fit the waist a little higher to create a better waistline illusion.
  • D is the one that caught me completely unawares.  The dress is cut on the bias.  The fabric is a chambray…red threads one way, white the other.  When you cut it on the bias as a double with the fabric laid on the table right sides together, you end up with a harlequin effect dress.

I can’t even show you the back.  I have waaaaaay to much pride for that.  I know it’s a sin, but lets just say the back is even worse.

And I’ve lost 5lbs in weight since I made this dress…

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

But, there is hope in this.

I was talking to one of the other mums at dance class at the weekend.  She is learning to crochet and was saying that in time she’ll look back on her first attempts and laugh that she could be so thrilled with such a small accomplishment.

I reminded her that even if she crochets for 50 years, she’ll still be learning something new and increasing her skills.  It’s the nature of the crafty beast.

This dress is a timely reminder of some basic rules of sewing that, in my haste to get a garment into my wardrobe as quickly as possible, I conveniently forgot. Namely:

  1. Always, always, ALWAYS check the pattern size.  If you are competent at grading patterns, or have the time to do it slowly, learn the new skills and make it work, then of course you can ignore this.  If you’re in a rush…don’t.  Buy a size that only needs minimal alterations.
  2. Don’t rush the prep.  This would have been a much better garment if I’d taken the time to work out the fitting kinks and make more than one hasty toile before cutting the fashion fabric.
  3. Don’t rush the sewing.  If I’d have allowed myself more time, I could have double and triple checked the fit as I sewed.
  4. Work with the fabric. I’ve got to admit that I never even considered that this lovely fabric would trip me up with this shading.  It’s tantamount to the fabric having a nap, such as velvet.  This would have been much more suitable for a garment cut on the straight grain.
  5. Work with your figure.  I know I don’t have a waist and need to create the illusion of one.  I should have raised that waistline.

This dress is a cautionary tale to all of us.

But it’s not all bad news.  Apart from the kick up the backside to remember the basics of dressmaking, I’ve also discovered another silhouette that doesn’t work for me.  This is A Very Good Thing.  Years and years ago I used to work in sales and sales training and our mantra was if a prospective client genuinely has no requirement for you product or service, then it’s a good “no”.  It’s one more out of the way to a “yes” and a sale.  It’s the same when you’re working out your personal style, as I am.  Every time I make something that has the Fashion Police banging on my door, I’m one step closer to establishing my own Look.

And, of course, I can always chop it up, destroy the evidence, and make pretty things for Button out of it.

Cut on the straight grain, of course! 😉

PS…if you’d like this pattern, do shout.  

I’ll be happy to stick it in the post for you. It’s a pretty dress, just not for me.

32 Responses to Green Bee Amelia – FO 16/2013

  1. alice says:

    Ouff! Is all I can say to that my dear! Lessons well learnT! x

  2. priscilla3 says:

    Wow,I loved your opinion on the dress. I have that pattern but haven’t attempted it yet. Your review of wear the pattern went wrong was so instructive. The shading on the pieces was something I think everyone would miss unless they were forwarnned. this pattern looks like a muslin should be made first to tweek all the adjustments.I thank you for all the details you shared with us.Also we are always harder on ourselves then we should be, and we learn more from our mistakes then our successes!

  3. Sad to see that this didn’t work for you but you seem to have learned a lot from the experience.
    I agree that every failure is one step closer to magnificence – just think how happy you are going to be when you get there 🙂

    • I am learning (albeit slowly) to embrace the process of sewing. I’m very much a “results” person rather than a “process” person and that doesn’t work with dressmaking! 😉

  4. Such a shame – interesting though as it reminded me that friends often ask “how do you know if it’s going to suit you when you’ve finished?” and it’s a good question. I guess we learn from experience that certain styles suit our shapes, but sometimes we make something with hope in our hearts and great excitement and it’s just not right 🙁 Hope you had something to wear for the event!

  5. Anne W says:

    It’s never nice when patterns don’t work out, but it is good that you have eliminated another shape that doesn’t do you any justice. One great outcome is that little button can now have a chambray skirt from mummy’s dress… ;p

    • It’s great because I’ve since seen other patterns with a similar shape that, although I really like them, I know won’t work, so I won’t be wasting time and fabric. It’s all good progress.

  6. K-Line says:

    I love this review. So considered (unlike the bulk of my reviews :-)) I do think that dress is not suited to you – and it’s no one’s fault, as you well know. But the harlequin thing is fascinating. Would never have considered that.

  7. dokucug says:

    I really love it that you are able to find the positive in this make! And your points are excellent reminders for all of us, I reckon!

  8. You win some, you lose some… hey doesn’t Button always win?!

  9. Susan says:

    Yes well, she ends up with this pretty fabric too! 😀 I definitely feel you on the grading and alteration pain. I’m sorry this one didn’t work out. I haven’t done an FBA on French darts either, I will remember to do a bit of extra research!

  10. Kelly says:

    That is too bad! I have had my eye on this pattern for a while now, the dress on the pattern envelope is so cute, but I haven’t seen anyone else make it up. I always find anything I sew hastily doesn’t work out and I end up frustrated- but I still do it! Someday I’ll learn my lesson 🙂 Thanks for sharing it anyway!

    • I think I’m going to change the well know adage to “sew in haste, repent at leisure”. It’s certainly true for me. But it’s certainly helping me to formulate a way forwards for what I sew.

  11. Oh bugger! Sorry about the dress Evie but you’re so right about the lessons learned. Fascinating about the chambray ‘nap’ thing. I’m about to zoom into my sewing room and check out my Claire Schaeffer fabric sewing guide book shortly !!

    Love the colour on you but it will look lovely on wee Button too.

  12. DebbyLA says:

    Those that are creative, succeed more but also also have more failures as they are willing to experiment! Bravo for sharing!
    I’ve never had a bias dress turn out well.

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Thank you for this comment! This certainly didn’t work for me….but I did learn a lot so it was worth it.

  13. Jackie DeCesaris says:

    I too found this dress impossible in sizing…and I checked before. The measurements for the L actually correspond to the XL ! Further, the darts, as you mention don’t work out. I also found the directions very jam packed. I did make a muslin and the results, after much fussing were so disagreeable I trashed the project. I wish I had researched the pattern first. But I would say : avoid.

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      Thanks so much for your comment. I feel so much better about my attempt now. I agree that this is one to avoid. Which is a shame because it held such promise.

  14. Paula says:

    I am always up for a challenge (and might also be a sucker for punishment), so I plan on trying to make this dress, taking into consideration your experience with it. If you still have the paper pattern, can I buy it from you?

    • Pendle Stitches says:

      I wish you good luck. I do hope it works for you. Sorry but I don’t know if I’ve got the pattern still….it’s all in packing boxes at the moment pending a house move. If you’re not in a rush then do feel free to contact me in a couple of months, when I’ll be in a position to check for you. If I’ve got it you’re more than welcome to it!

      • Paula says:

        Good luck with the upcoming move! I am in the process of moving as well, so I know the feeling of not being able to find anything. This also means that I am in no big rush to add more stuff to the move pile at the moment, I am just always scheming about my next project. Half the fun of sewing is planning, don’t you think? 🙂

        • Pendle Stitches says:

          Moving is grim! Hopefully not long now. I hope it’s the same for you. I love planning….sewing and otherwise! 😉

          • Paula says:

            I’m finally settled into my new place and getting back into sewing. How about you? Any chance you stumbled across this pattern during your move? 🙂

          • Pendle Stitches says:

            Hi Paula
            Glad to hear you’re settled in.
            I’ve emptied every single box now and haven’t come across it. I’m so sorry! I must have thrown it away in a fit of pique!