Every Size 10 Differs
The Mirri Dress is quite a simple pattern featuring a faux wrap and a shawl-like classic collar that creates a modest V neckline. It’s a quick enough pattern for me to screw up and redo, and boy did I. The first dress was made with Designer Hidden Leopards Knit, which was love at first sight for me! I’m a woman down right dedicated to animal prints and green is my favorite color – what more could I want? Well, that’s the problem with first loves, it’s where we make all the mistakes.
I typically wear a size ten, so I did not measure myself before making the first dress.
I put a lot more trust in the sizing system than it deserved. Even buying clothes off the rack, I take three size options into the fitting room because of fit inconsistencies. For example, I don’t even try with Forever 21 anymore. If, by chance, they have better sizing options than the ambiguous ‘small’, medium’, and ‘large’, a 10 fits me like a 6. It’s a mind game! And it’s saddening how the clothing industry uses inconsistent sizing to shape our beauty standards rather than us defining beauty for ourselves.
My ultimate take-away? Measuring yourself. Even for off-the-rack garments this is a necessity because the numbers and letters are arbitrary. What’s important is that your garment fits with the flare you’re looking for.
Don't Measure Yourself, Have Someone Measure You
When I finished the first Mirri Dress, my measurements were so far off that it fit nearly 4 inches too small. I was devastated – such beautiful fabric and I’d botched it! Learn from me folks – do not attempt to measure yourself, have someone else measure you.
When I was an alterationist, I would kneel at the hem of bridal gowns and – as excited brides dropped their shoulders and turned their heads in order to watch me set the pins – I’d watch it grow longer before my eyes. Their posture was important to the pinning process, and any twist or turn could cause me to shorten their hem too much. This same principle applies to taking one’s measurements. I’ll admit it – I was holding my breath, I stretched my shoulders up and I easily could not have been measuring the widest parts of myself. These movements affected how the garment fit.
I wanted to remake the Mirri Dress to better fit me with a more season-appropriate fabric – the Art Gallery Fabric’s Strawberry Lemonade Knit! The Hidden Leopard print was more of a jersey material with a rayon blend that brought more drape. This caused the fabric to cling to my body, accenting parts of myself in a way I didn’t love – and that’s okay! Clothing should make us walk taller, so I wanted more structure and less cling for the second Mirri dress.
Because all my seamstress experience is in alterations, I never even crossed paths with grainlines. I never needed to! My job was to take something already made and make it fit. So – on my first go-round with the Mirri – I cut some of my pieces slightly off grain, which makes altering this garment nearly impossible.
While my size discrepancy was a silly mistake, it was fixable. My plan to adjust the leopard Mirri Dress was to lift the skirt at the waist by 3ish inches. Since I’d opted for the longer version, the skirt flared wider as it draped down, and lifting that skirt at the waist and adding a small gusset to the side seam of the bodice would give me the fit I deserved. BUT that grainline mishap was damning. If your garment is not cut on the grain, which means parallel with the selvedge of your fabric, it will cause it to twist out of place once washed.
Sewing with Knits
On our Confident Stitch YouTube Channel, we have an entire playlist dedicated to sewing with knits. I sure wish I’d jumped on that band wagon before embarking on the Mirri Dress, but all mistakes were lessons hard learned.
On top of the sizing and grainline issues, I used a straight stitch and cotton thread. I learned quickly that, when sewing with knits you need to use a zigzag stitch and polyester thread to allow the seams to stretch. My straight seams broke with very little effort and had to be redone.
However, when remaking the Mirri Dress, I tested different lengths and widths of zigzags with polyester thread on a scrap piece of the lemonade knit until I could pull the seam without breaking it. My second Mirri is definitely much stronger and holds up better for dancing and twirling!
Ew, Raw Edges
When approaching this pattern, follow your sewing gut and have confidence in your abilities. I enjoyed this pattern very much bet there were a few places where I found the directions a little unclear. For example, step 2 guides you through attaching the front bodice facings to the skirt. It photo demonstrated folding the edge flush with the waistline to hide raw edges inside the dress. This helps create a nice draping neckline with a fold on each side. But the instructions say to follow the pattern line.
Following that line the first go-round exposed the raw knit edge at the side seam, so I followed my intuition on the second dress. Before attaching all layers at the waist, I made sure my fabric at each side of the bodice was diagonally folded, creating a point. This hid all raw edges and let the front drape nicely, never exposing the wrong side of the fabric.
What to Expect from Wardrobe by Me
Wardrobe by Me is a great line of patterns, but it requires more basic knowledge than I had. The instructional booklet is short, which is great for those who are familiar with putting a dress together, but this line does not cater to a learning sewer. Tilly and the Buttons, for example, writes a paragraphs worth of directions for each step, which I’d recommend for beginners. But Wardrobe by Me had no directions on the cutting process and the step-by-step instructions were one, maybe two sentences long. At the same tine, their diagrams were very detailed which helped me along the process. Ultimately, the pattern is a simple one so when stumbling with the directions, keep calm and use your tailor’s intuition.
As you can see from the pictures above, the Mirri Dress looks just as good in a drapey knit as it does in a structured one! Depending on your taste, you could make your Mirri using the flowy Designer Floral Viscose Knit in Orange, the more stable AGF Windsong Joy Knit in White, or – for a more winter-y dress – the Designer Velvet in Black!
Beauty is Immeasurable
I learned a lot during this repetitive Mirri process! Naturally, we want to see the smallest number because we’re conditioned to believe beauty comes in small packages. That’s such a shame because I have one of the most rockin’ bods I know. My sister – 112lbs. soaking wet – serves our country, carting rucksacks and artillery longer than her body. She absolutely slays that game. Every year, she earns promotions and honors and, despite her size, she’s a woman who occupies all the space in the room. Sizes—big, small—they’re meaningless and they cannot categorize us by our abilities or beauty. And from now on, when it comes to measuring myself, I’ll celebrate my size because its mine – I’m not interested in being anyone else.