Can you agree that after almost 20 years of experience a project should be a lot easier? I am about to repeat history and share one of the first dresses I made and some of the struggles I remembered while making it again almost 20 years later.

In 2001 my mother and I were supposed to make my wedding dress together. This would have been the first dress I ever made. When my mother got ill and couldn’t make the dress she decided to give me the pattern, supplies and an old Singer sewing machine that I used to sew on when I was a teenager. My mother felt bad and bought me a beautiful blue paisley dress from Stein Mart instead.

After getting married I ended up making the wedding dress myself. It was complex and definitely advanced. I took a lot of my questions to Hancock fabric for help and Hancock wound up hiring me. I was lucky to work with such great ladies that were so full of good advice. After that wedding dress I learned a valuable lesson, start much simpler and work your way up the skill ladder.

For my second dress I chose a dress that had no closures, but too many ruffles and elastic. I had all kinds of little problems because I didn’t have the experience at this point. Fast forward to today, with so many more dresses under my belt, I decided to remake that second dress. I am astonished how much I learned and how easy it felt. These are just a few of the challenges I had making that simpler dress that I remembered when trying it years later.

Fabric Knowledge – My other dress was made of cotton and cotton is easy to sew although it doesn’t drape nicely. It’s a bit stiff for the bohemian look I was looking for.

Elastic casings – My first dress I did not make the elastic casings wide enough and it got stuck in the dress. I had to open up seams to get it through. I now know each casing should have at least 1/2″ extra because elastic also has width which takes up room.

Measurements – This time I already knew my sizing and didn’t have to spend hours wondering why I was a 10-12 in patterns and a 6 in ready made clothing off the rack.

Fittings – I bet I didn’t fit the first dress, not even one time! The new dress I checked at least 3 times and especially once before sewing the elastic down.

Amount of fabric – I bought extra but it was still not enough because I was still learning layout and didn’t realize it takes a lit of fabric to make clothing.

Ruffle – A lot of patterns have you fold the ruffle in half. This is nice because it adds weight to the bottom and you do not have to hem it. I now know if I am short on fabric not doing this can save me a yard or two. Simply hem the bottom edge.

Belt – I skipped that this time, too.

Time – The first one took me almost a week to make in my mothers sewing room. I remember she would let me use her serger. I loved that serger so much that it was the first new machine I bought.

Behind the scenes~

Megan Fiely Art is having an art auction and all proceeds go to the Dayton tornado victims.

Copy and pasted from her page

???Auction 7 is a dress. This dress is art. This art is a masterpiece!???

Imagine my excitement when Tracy reached out with this donation! The dress fits up to size 8, 36 B and has a groovy 70’s flare. More info about this dress can be found at…/11/a-quilt-to-retreat…/

I need you to message me privately with your bid. Please specify that this is Auction 7! Bidding starts at $100. Bidding ends at 4:00 EST tomorrow, Monday June 3, at which point I will ask for PayPal payment. Tracy will arrange a local handoff or ship if needed. As soon as the money hits my account I will deposit it into the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund and send you screenshots so you know it’s legit! Happy Bidding!


Thank you for Reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!



Tracy McElfresh
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