Sara Campbell dress – one ruffle too many

11 Jul Sara Campbell dress – one ruffle too many


“Why don’t you wear something you made?”

Was Hub’s comment a compliment or criticism?
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”
“It’s just so drab.”
“We’re going to a funeral visitation…..”  but I changed.

I was wearing a Sara Campbell linen dress purchased in 2010; one year before I began sewing clothes again.


The dress does not fit and serves as a reminder of how I settled for ‘good enough’ during my RTW days.


It’s too big in the top, a little snug in the abs and the double bottom ruffle is just  not flattering.

If I stood with perfect posture and sucked it in, the dress looked fine, but one wrong move led to –


To no surprise, I had barely worn this cute and well-made dress. Did it really take me 4 years of sewing to understand why?

I knew the dress could look much better and began by opening the shoulders from which I removed two inches.


Suddenly, the waist was comfortable, the abs were not tight, and the entire proportions of the dress had changed. But that ruffle……………
As much as I love ruffles I knew this one had to go.. or did it? The double ruffle was stitched separately and the large one came off first. Aha!

IMG_0054The single small ruffle was compatible with the tailored features of the dress. Removing the 5″ lower ruffle  changed the dress from cutesy to stylish, and is a much better proportion on me.

IMG_0063No more slippery shoulders and no more unnatural positions!

001 facebook_cover (1)Moral of this story: Never sacrifice Fit for Fashion!

Best wishes for a great weekend 😉

NEXT POST: Guest post from RTW Faster Vernelle Nelson



  • Dawm Presta
    Posted at 08:17h, 11 July Reply

    Amazing! Absolutely amazing!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:11h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Dawm! Very much worth the 1 1/2 hour time investment 😉

  • Bernadette O'Brien
    Posted at 08:18h, 11 July Reply

    Fit and proportion are the keys. I wish more people were aware of it and demanded it. The refashioned dress looks great!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:13h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Bernadette and I agree! What’s happened? There was a time when people were more attentive to fit.

  • Kathy
    Posted at 08:19h, 11 July Reply

    What a fabulous transformation!!! Your newly altered dress looks wonderful on you!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:14h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Kathy! 1 1/2 hours from start to finish. 😉

  • Marla Cooprider
    Posted at 08:30h, 11 July Reply

    Was this dress a petite? Just wondering. So cool that all you had to do was adjust at the shoulders and then fits! 🙂

    The dress looks nice on you!


    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:16h, 12 July Reply

      Hi Marla,
      This dress was not a petite which explains a lot. Does Sara Campbell offer clothes in petite sizes?
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Mary Glenn
    Posted at 08:36h, 11 July Reply

    It’s amazing how that one shoulder adjustment can really make something fit better. Really nice dress.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:17h, 12 July Reply

      I agree, Mary! I’m surprised I didn’t get this 5 years ago 😉 Sewing has certainly made me very aware of fit!

  • Julie Starr
    Posted at 08:37h, 11 July Reply

    Voila…and just like that you’ve cured all that ailed this cute, cute dress. I have made this same adjustment countless times on sewing patterns to raise too low armscyes and necklines. Great save, Sarah!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:18h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Julie! 🙂

  • Fran Giacobbe
    Posted at 08:38h, 11 July Reply

    A great post! The original fit was really not bad but you worked your magic and made it perfect. You continue to inspire!!!! Thanks!!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 07:20h, 12 July Reply

      Many thanks, Fran! The original fit was OK. Now that I sew and am so aware of fitting, it was no longer acceptable. Had I made the dress, I would have been disappointed with the fit 😉

  • Irene
    Posted at 08:39h, 11 July Reply

    What a wonderful “save”. It would have been a shame to let this dress languish in the closet. How often one sees women in stores picking through racks of clothing, wishing that certain details on an item were different to make that item “perfect”. How lucky for those of us who sew, that we can change these details, or better yet dream up and make exactly what we want.

  • Laura Casey
    Posted at 08:58h, 11 July Reply

    Oh you are SO right…fit and proportion are everything…and you get it when you sew for yourself….you learn so much more, in what skills you have and to hon them, and learn more……to have “just what you want” ….I just bought a very cute yellow/green linen top with grey small dots which sucked me in…..wore once…too tight through the bust, added gussets to each side in grey…along with adding a little elongated triangle on one of the pockets….now it’s edgy and more importantly fits! Hurray…..

    PS: Keep the brown linen ruffle, you’ll end up doing something with it!!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:42h, 12 July Reply

      What a creative solution, Laura! I’ve already tucked away that nice linen ruffle for a rainy day 🙂 Many thanks for your comment!

  • Linda Moon
    Posted at 09:15h, 11 July Reply

    Sure that is the same dress? It looks totally different!

    I would have taken both ruffles off and worn it as a tunic, but leaving one on is perfect!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:44h, 12 July Reply

      LOL! I originally planned to remove both ruffles for a tailored look but really love the small ruffle along the bottom. It’s me , I guess you’d say 😉
      Many thanks for he comment, Linda!

  • Beth Huntington
    Posted at 09:19h, 11 July Reply

    It always amazes my how just a few little changes can make a world of difference. Great post to inspire the rest of us to make those simple changes and enjoy our clothes again. 🙂

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:46h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you so much, Beth! You’re one to know after hundreds of refashions 🙂 🙂

  • MaryEllen
    Posted at 09:38h, 11 July Reply

    Wow changing something seemingly so small makes a huge difference . Pretty dress

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:47h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Mary Ellen!

  • Ruthe Ploskunyak
    Posted at 09:53h, 11 July Reply

    Such a nice way to salvage a dress from the back of the closet to the front of the runway. Very nice inspiration for the rest of us to revisit the things we loved once, but rarely wear.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:48h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you for this nice comment, Ruthie! How I love your choice of words – salvage a dress from the back of the closet to the front of the runway – may I quote you?

  • Martha Ann Murray
    Posted at 10:03h, 11 July Reply

    You proved your point well! What a great transition!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:48h, 12 July Reply

      Thanks so much, Martha Ann!!! 😉

  • Brenda Hobart
    Posted at 10:05h, 11 July Reply

    Perfect as always.

    Wish we were neighbors, I could be inspired and learn so much from you.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:49h, 12 July Reply

      How sweet, Brenda 🙂 Blogging is the next best thing!

  • Andrea
    Posted at 10:06h, 11 July Reply

    Excellent transformation!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:50h, 12 July Reply

      Many thanks, Andrea!

  • debbie iles
    Posted at 10:08h, 11 July Reply

    What a change. Great job.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:51h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Debbie 🙂

  • Patti Hall
    Posted at 10:39h, 11 July Reply

    Great save!!! What a difference those two inches made in fit. Thanks for another great lesson!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:52h, 12 July Reply

      This is one of my favorite saves as the dress was too cute not to be worn. Many thanks for your comment, Patti 😉

  • CarolinasCallin
    Posted at 12:14h, 11 July Reply

    Well done! Isn’t it amazing how just tweaking the ‘fit’ a bit changes so much! Love the end result after your changes – and hopefully you’ll actually enjoy wearing it now! Love this: “Why don’t you wear something you made”…! Perfect!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:54h, 12 July Reply

      LOL – first time for everything 😉
      Many thanks, Cheryl! It truly is amazing to discover how much difference a small change makes.

  • Barbara Carlon
    Posted at 12:24h, 11 July Reply

    I need to do that with more than one of my handmade garments! You’re right about the fit, now it’ is flattering and fashionable!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:55h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Barbara! Handmade or RTW – it’s no fun wearing clothes that don’t fit 😉

  • sharon jester
    Posted at 12:25h, 11 July Reply

    Amazing, the changes you made, makes the dress look beautifully on you.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:56h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you so much, Sharon!

  • justine
    Posted at 12:28h, 11 July Reply

    Great alterations work! Amazing how the too long straps ruined the fit and how much better it looks now.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:58h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Justine 🙂 Too big can look equally as bad as too small.

  • Joyce Love
    Posted at 13:00h, 11 July Reply

    So much better!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:58h, 12 July Reply

      Many thanks, Joyce 🙂

  • Cissie Wellons
    Posted at 13:21h, 11 July Reply

    Great save, Sarah! Susan Khalje always says that fit starts at the top! Your simple alteration at the shoulder certainly proves that point!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 11:59h, 12 July Reply

      Yes she does – the shoulders! Many thanks, Cissie – hope you are having a great summer 😉

  • Starla LEster
    Posted at 13:31h, 11 July Reply

    What a tremendous difference two small changes made! It’s almost unbelievable….like magic. The dress looks perfect on you now!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:01h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Starla! Amazing how much difference a good fit makes 🙂

  • Mary Funt
    Posted at 14:22h, 11 July Reply

    Your revision looks SO much better. Funny how after solving your own fit issues, we sewers become very critical of fit. RTW just doesn’t cut it any more. I find myself analyzing the fit of most garments I see. Great job!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:02h, 12 July Reply

      I couldn’t have said it better, Mary 😉 Many thanks for your comment!

  • Teresa Davey
    Posted at 14:57h, 11 July Reply

    Love how just a couple of subtle tweaks make all the difference! You’re inspiring me to take another look in my closet and see what needs adjusting…

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:03h, 12 July Reply

      Many thanks, Teresa! I hope you find some goodies just waiting for a remake 😉

  • Karen Helm
    Posted at 16:55h, 11 July Reply

    Oh my goodness – so much better, Sarah! (Or perhaps that should be SEW much better!) This is a perfect example of a worthwhile redo.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:03h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Karen! 😉

  • Helen Peemoeller
    Posted at 16:57h, 11 July Reply

    I too have to shorten straps on a ready-made dress like yours. Let me share a problem I had. As I was trying the dress on and pinching the straps to see how much to shorten them, my husband kept saying, “Raise them more.” I did, and then discovered that I had made the armholes too tight, so I had to go back and add in some of the strap length that I had just removed. Thank heavens, I had not cut off the excess. Just a warning to anyone who if faced with a similar alteration. Your improved version of the dress looks much better than it had. Congratulations on a splendid remake.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:04h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Helen for your comment! Excellent advice you offer 🙂 🙂

  • Mary Carroll
    Posted at 18:30h, 11 July Reply

    presto chango! That looks GOOD.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:05h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you so much, Mary Carroll!!

  • Sew, Jean Margaret
    Posted at 23:51h, 11 July Reply

    Your minor alterations have transformed this dress from ordinary to extraordinary. Well done!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:06h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Jean! The dress has certainly been transformed into a wearable garment for me 🙂

  • Clarinda
    Posted at 02:45h, 12 July Reply

    Ahh, you have encouraged mad to tackle a disaster from a couple of months ago which looks like a frumpy, utility article and the not cutesy summer frock I had imagined. Thank you!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 12:07h, 12 July Reply

      Sometimes it’s best to let something rest for a while. Good luck with your redo and many thanks, Clarinda, for the comment!

  • Patty Sampson
    Posted at 12:35h, 12 July Reply

    As a newly retired alterations specialist/dressmaker your post about the ill fitting Sara Campbell dress reminded me of the sign I always had hanging in my fitting rooms….”Ready-to-wear” usually isn’t”.
    Your blog posts are always fun!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:11h, 12 July Reply

      Congratulations on your retirement, Patty! What a fantastic quote and thank you so much for your comment 🙂

  • Kathy Crawford
    Posted at 13:20h, 12 July Reply

    I think that your hubby had become accustomed to you wearing your me-made clothes that fit impecably but didn’t know how to say that. I am getting back into sewing after buying expensive clothing for my plus-sized body. They fit somewhat but I keep thinking about ways to alter them so that they will fit. Now if I would just get started!
    I appreciate all of your pain-staking reviews.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:13h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you so much, Kathy for your comment! I think you’re right – you know, I’m not sure if even I realized the drastic difference 😉

  • Alice Elliot
    Posted at 15:07h, 12 July Reply

    There is NOTHING better, apparel-wise, that being able to alter one’s own clothing!!!! What a difference 2″ and losing a ruffle made.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:15h, 12 July Reply

      I agree with you, Alice, although I feel somewhat inadequate when it comes to alterations. I almost took this to the alterations shop, but am glad I tackled it myself. I doubt I would have addressed the ruffle which was the icing on the cake 😉 Many thanks!

  • Tomasa
    Posted at 16:18h, 12 July Reply

    Your dress certainly is not drab anymore!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:16h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Tomasa! I think it’s kind of fab now 😉

  • Myra
    Posted at 17:04h, 12 July Reply

    Too cute Sarah! Now you’ll be able to get a few more wears out of ths lovely, lovely dress!

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 18:17h, 12 July Reply

      Thank you, Myra! I can’t believe I let it hang for so long in my closet without addressing the issues 😉

  • Linda M
    Posted at 20:26h, 12 July Reply

    There is nothing better than fixing something purchased (or previously sewn) so that you can finally wear it and enjoy it! Nice job! Such a improvement!

  • Jet Set Sewing
    Posted at 20:34h, 12 July Reply

    That’s a big improvement and it looks great! Nothing worse than having something nice in your closet that just doesn’t work. I’m like you…it wasn’t until I started sewing again that I realized I always bought separates due to my short waist and fuller hips (ahem).

  • Linda Galante
    Posted at 01:18h, 13 July Reply

    Wow. You’ll be able to wear that dress more now. What a smart move to tighten up the shoulders, It changes the looks so much. It’s great how you ‘saved’ such a cute dress with some simple changes.

    • goodbyevalentino
      Posted at 08:16h, 13 July Reply

      Thank you, Linda! I will be wearing this dress as much as possible now 😉 There’s nothing like a good fit!

  • Lisa C in Dallas
    Posted at 08:34h, 13 July Reply

    Hubs comment was certainly a compliment! You know what styles and colors look great on you and it’s easier to do that when you’re creating the sensations yourself. (You, not me!) Great job!

  • Sharon kane
    Posted at 14:43h, 13 July Reply

    Great remake and the shorter length looks perfect on you! One question though, when constructing a garment seam allowances are supposed to be trimmed, layered…so, do you mark your existing stitching lines before you disassemble the garment so the new seams will be correct?

  • Alicia @ Pandora Sews
    Posted at 10:38h, 14 July Reply

    Back when I had to pay for alterations instead of doing them myself, this was the number one alteration I had to have made. Just a few inches off and the clothing fit so much better.

    Great choice on taking off the second ruffle. Took the dress from cutesy to polished.

  • Marguerite
    Posted at 11:15h, 14 July Reply

    Wonderful save! Although the fit was off, you did gravitate towards a flattering style for you- sleeveless and empire waist! It once again proves how RTW (and most patterns) are cut for the long waisted figure. I have raised the shoulders on a few dresses myself. My MIL was always flustered when shopping thinking her hips were preventing jackets from buttoning at the waist. When I held up the shoulders like you did, she realized she was very short waisted and voila, the jacket would button. Needless to say with this new found knowledge she had me sew her several jackets!

  • DebB
    Posted at 19:31h, 17 July Reply

    What a great transformation! Isn’t it wonderful that sewing can give us the critical eye to see what a garment needs in order to work for oneself, and the skills with which to accomplish the task. Well done!

  • Anne
    Posted at 18:37h, 18 July Reply

    A great transformation. Well worth your time investment to get a great looking dress.

  • Linda L
    Posted at 10:48h, 19 July Reply

    It looks like a new dress! I like all the refashioning and fitting adjustment you made!

  • Susan Taylor
    Posted at 19:17h, 19 July Reply

    This is why I think sewing is a life skill that everyone should know! Even if you don’t have time to sew a whole outfit, you have the ability to tailor something that you purchased. Love this post!!

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