Toiles & Triumphs

This is the story of how a terrible toile morphed into a TNT pattern.

My husband Jeff runs a small advertising agency here in Charlotte with his dad. The agency has been around for decades and has had major successes as well as weathering some pretty tough economic hits. A recent major success has been winning the 2016 Best of Show and Best of North and South Carolina awards at the Pro Ad Awards of Charlotte.  One of the honors of this award is that the winning agency is responsible for the theme of the next year’s awards ceremony.

I’ll bet you are wondering what any of this has to do with a dress pattern review, right?

I’ve been going to these award banquets with Jeff for the last two years; this will be my third event. The first two themes were Hawaiian and Super Heroes- I was on point for the Hawaiian theme with a Sis Boom Jenny Dress but I was a little stuck with the Super Hero theme. I ended up making a tasteful cocktail dress out of Butterick 5982 which turned out to be a good choice as we ended up having the after-party at the Punch Room in the Ritz Carlton (Ooh la la!)

Sis Boom Maxi Dress and the Butterick 5982 with self-drafted petal sleeves
This year my husband chose a BBQ theme for the party and I couldn’t have been more inspired!!! For some crazy reason however, I originally chose Butterick 6015 as my event dress.

Terrible idea.

As you can see by my toile, the bust is waaaaaaay too small and shallow; even after EIGHT (!!!!!) adjustments, nothing made this pattern wearable for me by any stretch of the imagination. Terrible, humiliating photos below.

So after some whining and cussing, I decided to look for an alternative pattern for the picnic inspired event. After sifting through my pattern stash and looking to the Curvy Sewing Collective TNT Patterns for inspiration, I finally settled on Simplicity 8096.

And then there was light, and it was good.

This pattern was one of the easiest patterns I’ve sewn in a long time. I still made a bodice toile (Once burned, twice shy) and it was as perfect of a fit as I could have hoped for out of any Big Four pattern.  The only adjustments I had to make involved the shoulder straps ( I have tiny little shoulders), raising the neckline about 5/8ths of an inch, and shortening the hemline. The skirt is still a bit longer than I would like ( think tea length) but it was made for a work function and the design is sort of Fifties inspired so I think it works in this particular incarnation.

I used fabric from the Cotton + Steel collection and I lined the bodice with a very light cotton voile I found at JoAnns. The buttons on the front are from my grandma Hembree’s notions. I also used some of her old-timey hem tape as well.


The only complaint isn’t really a complaint but more of a confusion. The elastic that is meant to keep the garment from gaping under the arms is nice, but the directions were as clear as mud. Also, they asked for 1″ wide elastic, YIKES! After a brief conference with Tanya Maile Hughes (Check out her version of this dress, stunning!)  I decided to wing it with some 1/4″ elastic I had laying around and sort of did my own thing, irrespective of the directions.

In conclusion, I will definitely make this dress again. The straps, as promised by the pattern literature, do indeed cover my bra-straps. The elastic, once I figured out my approach , snugs up against my underarm beautifully, and more importantly, comfortably. I feel like I could wear this garment without a cardigan confidently, which is saying a lot.

I hope to show off pictures from the event in my next post. For now, happy weekend to all my Sewcialist friends.


22 thoughts on “Toiles & Triumphs

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    1. Hah! The duck photo is just something I snapped in Milwaukee when I was there for Alma’s baby shower. I wasn’t sure what image to use, sooooo duck!!
      A TNT pattern is a “Tried and True” pattern”, something you’ll make again and again.


  1. What a wonderful article! I really enjoyed your review! I love to sew. I’ve made several wedding dresses, including my own and especially love making Christening gowns! Looking forward to more from you!


  2. It looks awesome, and I’m REALLY looking forward to doing mine now. I’m going to use the 1/4″ elastic like you did here rather than the 1″ it calls for. And I bet wearing a petticoat under it like I do with my full skirts would be a good look.

    I wish Butterick would get it together with their bust fitting, though. Even the samples in the book fit poorly. It’s a pet peeve of mine.


    1. Other sewist that I’ve spoken with say the same thing about the bust fittings of Butterick. After I made this post I actually went through my pattern stash and purged a bunch of patterns that I know will be a beast to fit. Why go through all the machinations of fitting when you can have a relatively stress free pattern like this one available?
      Also, don’t worry about the invisible zipper, this one fit to a tee but I’ve ripped plenty of them out repeatedly. If you want my help on that part, you can work on your dress and bring it to my place to work on the zipper!!


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