Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Scuba Wiggle Dress (Has Finally Surfaced...)

Hi everyone!

I am very happy to have finally finished this dress. It's been worn by my mannequin in a state of near-completion since at least the release of Trainspotting: T2 (I know this because I remember having some friends back to the flat after the cinema who admired it).

This is the wiggle dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, and I've been planning to make it for at least 3 years... I finally got around to it, then had a bit of a mental blockade about finishing it when I tried it on and realised that my pattern placement wasn't quite what I wanted. I'd managed to place lighter colours for the side front panels, which ideally should be darker for the most flattering effect, and they were almost mirror images but not quite symmetrical. There's also a bit of off-centre mirroring on the back. I was a bit underwhelmed after trying it on and discovering it was a bit of a boxy fit.

Sometimes it takes a while to get into the right frame of mind to get around to adjusting fit on something you feel ambivalent about, and even though I knew it would be easy enough, I just couldn't find the enthusiasm for it. Eventually I decided to use the Easter weekend to appeal to my boyfriend and get him to help me pin out the excess on the seams.

I made this up a size smaller than my measurements to account for the stretch in the scuba (the pattern is intended for wovens, but I was inspired by this version from Sabine Sibille Sews) – it's a 6 in Gertie's sizing chart. I thought about doing an FBA and a swayback adjustment on the pattern, but instead just made these tweaks to the seams after it was basted together, as there are two double-ended darts each side of the back pieces, one on each of the side fronts, plus princess seams on the front to play with. I ended up carving in a bit on each seam and dart to nip in the waist a bit more, and taking a fair bit off the side seams over the hips as I think Gertie drafts for a bigger hip to waist ratio than I have.

Once that was done I was a lot more pleased with it and it was a quick dash to the finishing line after all those months languishing! This is one of those fabrics bought with the pattern in mind, and the pairing kept cropping up on my seasonal 'to make' lists but just kept getting pushed to the back of the queue for some reason. I'm actually really pleased with the finished result though, I wore it to Easter lunch at some friends and it was flattering and comfortable all day, and being scuba it wasn't too constricting after a big meal!

t's funny that I lost faith in this one more than once because I actually think it's a winner and have some more scuba to make up another one, bought at the same time as this digital floral print (both from Mermaid Fabrics on Mare Street's Narrow Way in Hackney, a regular lunch hour haunt of mine when I worked in that area a couple of years ago). I have wavered and thought to make something different with the leopard print version (some of which has already been made into a pencil skirt) but with the success of this I think my instincts were right, and it's actually pretty satisfying to have a project that I know will work really well for it. It's a nice shape, works for lots of occasions, and I like the kimono sleeve with gusset details which was a new technique for me (not very easy to spot in the pictures below).

Other than tweaking the fit this was really easy to make, and I followed everything as instructed except for using an invisible zip instead of a lapped one because of the bulk of the scuba. I basted everything together on my sewing machine and when happy with the fit overlocked all the seams. Next time I'd probably have to hand-baste the walking vent though as the needle did leave marks – I'm lucky that I was taking in all the other seams rather than letting them out really – maybe my needle was too thick?

I didn't transfer any of the fit adjustments onto my traced off paper pattern so will have to go through the same process on my next version of getting a volunteer to pin me in a little (although I have a rough idea of how much came off and where, I'm sure there'll still be a bit of trial and error). The only thing I might change is to bring in the neckline a little as it is wide enough to show the straps on some of my bras.

Very glad to have finally made this and am looking forward to more occasions to wear it before the weather gets too warm for a close-fitting scuba sleeve! Has anyone else cleared a long-in-the-works project off their list recently?

NorseOtter xx


  1. Love this. I was thinking of a scuba wiggle but put off by lack of experience and not sure about the underarm gusset. Clearly it's possible and can look good so will have to give it a go!

    1. Thank you so much Laura! The underarm gusset is actually quite a fun technique to learn, and this dress is so easy to wear in scuba. I'm quite tempted to make another one up straightaway now that I've finally got this one finished! Hope yours turns out great!