May 5, 2015


Most of the time, after making a garment for the first time, I think of ways to improve it for the next time: different fabric, different modifications, different sizes. Sometimes, I make the wrong decisions! (But luckily they can still turn out okay) :D

Pattern: Sewaholic Saltspring
Size: started as 12 (bust) / 8 (waist/hip) - more information below
Alterations: Lengthened skirt to midi length, alternate straps from pattern, used bodice lining pieces only to remove blousing
Fabric: Paisley silk from Angel Textiles

The first time I made the Saltspring dress, I made a size 14 in the bust, and a 10 at the waist and hips. Sewaholic drafts for pear shapes (of which I am not), and so the sizes I make in their patterns are always a little funny. For some [unknown] reason I thought the first version of this dress was too big. I honestly have no idea why I thought this - but I left a note to myself to make a size 12 (bust) / 8 (waist/hip).

I bought this silk at my favorite garment district store - Angel Textiles, and immediately had Saltspring in mind (this dress is directly inspired by this Anthropologie dress). So there I was, tracing off a new size from my hardcopy pattern (lining pieces only, to remove blousing), and then I went about cutting out my silk. I merrily contintued sewing the bodice together (lining & shell), sewing the straps (more on that in a bit). AND THEN - I tried it on. My beautiful silk bodice. Was. Too. Tight. *cue tears*

It totally makes sense to climb trees in Swedish Hasbeens, right?

Panic went through me - I was wearing this to a family wedding - and I sat staring into the mirror trying to figure out what to do. It was almost hard to breathe, it was so restricting! And of course, I had to make this mistake in silk. Because I had sewn the two layers together at the arms and neck line, I sewed new seams that started just below the top (on top of the previous line of stitching), curved them out towards the serged seam allowance, and curved them back in at the waist to meet up again with my previously sewn seam. I then unpicked my old stitches.

This ended up giving me about an extra half inch or so in the bust area, which made a huge difference! In hindsight my first Saltspring fits me fine, and I don't need to make future versions any smaller.

For the skirt length, I decided I wanted more of a midi length to match my inspiration dress. I followed Caroline's instructions on the Sewaholic blog - I lengthened the knee length skirt by 10", and I did a 2" hem. I also included (like Caroline) two side slits - which start about 12" above the 2" hem. I really love the length, and the slits give the skirt more movement.

For the straps, I chose one of the options Caroline mentions in the sewalong - I cut short amounts off of two of the straps (I left the other two longer), made a little loop and sewed that into the front, with two straps coming from the back to the front. I also decided to add a little something extra by adding a few gold beads onto the ends of the straps before knotting. Bling bling!

I love my second iteration of this dress even more than the first (which was worn to death and is sadly in the "repair" pile because the straps got wrapped around my washing machine's center spinning thing [technical term] and ripped). I actually just finished a 3rd knit version with braided straps which I wore on Day 2 of Me-Made May!

Have you ever had a tragic mis-remembering of how a pattern fit you the first time around (and hopefully a happy ending)?


  1. That is why
    I’m too afraid to work with expensive fabric, I’m way too afraid that it would
    not fit. Maybe I will try it once with a pattern that I have made already, at
    least then I’m sure than the fabric would not be wasted.

  2. Yep! I once had a top come out slightly too big, decided it needed to be smaller and drastically over-corrected... the result was a super tiny top. Now I know the power of 1/4" corrections. So glad you were able to rescue your beautiful silk!

  3. beautiful dress, it looks really lovely on you. Please could you tell me how you dealt with the zip?

  4. This is gorgeous and the silk must feel so dreamy to wear! I'm so glad you were able to save it!!

  5. I definitely recommend making something at least once before you start in on expensive and nice fabrics! Just make sure to accurately make notes to yourself :D It's totally worth it though in the end!

  6. Thanks, Laura!!! I totally forgot to include what I did with the zipper! Tasia has a really great write up here ( - basically I just removed the 5/8" seam allowance from the center back, and cut the back piece on the fold. There's enough room in the dress for me to slip it over my head. Hope that helps!

  7. Oh Noelle - that's a problem for me frequently... making too drastic of changes! Now I try to just shave little bits off at a time (well not in this case - but in other cases). I'm so glad it could be saved too - I didn't have enough fabric to cut another bodice!

  8. Thanks, Heather! The silk is sooooo awesome... I have a silk Archer I want to make but I'm sort of scared of to start it (mostly because it has a lot more pieces than this dress)! haha

  9. Oh great save! I would have cried too! I haven't made this frock before, but always loved the look of it, especially with the extra blousing removed like you have done. Past Sarah seems to be a bit thinner than Current Sarah, so my issues have sometimes been making the assumption that things will fit the same! I'm trying to remember to re measure more often!

  10. Really sweet! I love the longer skirt with the splits. You reminded me I need to dig out Saltspring for summer - I want to try the bodice spliced onto some pants to make a jumpsuit too!

  11. Thanks, Katie!! A Saltspring jumpsuit would be amazing! And I have jumpsuits on the mind too - I was thinking of attempting a Southport + Hudson mashup... :D

  12. So nice! Thanks for the inspiration - just bough the pattern to make one to wear for my friends wedding. Love the fabric you used. Perfect summer dress :)

  13. Thanks Ingrid!! And that's awesome that you're going to wear a Saltspring to a wedding too - it'll be great!