So, my first piece of clothing! My plan was (and is) to start with the most basic things possible, then start moving up through the difficulty levels, so I went looking through the pattern books for something straightforward looking. I went for New Look 6377, view D.
Then I spent a while walking round in circles at my local haberdashery/fabric shop before deciding to go for a black cotton moleskin, on the basis that cotton is pretty easy. My usual style is to wear quite plain clothes with block colours, and luckily for me these fabrics are apparently much easier to sew than fabric with prints or patterns on! Then I chose some purple ribbon for the edging - there's not much choice in 5cm ribbons anyway...
This was my first time that I remember using a pattern, but I think I must have sewn things from one with my mum when I was younger. I spent a while trying to work out what on earth the sizings were on about. So the back of the packet has a size chart, where I came out as between an 8 and a 10 based on measurements. Pretty much all my clothes are 6 (yeah, fast metabolism) so I thought this was odd - but then the measurements of the actual potential finished item printed on the pattern pieces bore no resemblance to the packet sizes, and I was back at a 6 again.
I'm no fan of ironing.
Thing I learned: keep trying on what you're making to make sure it is the right size! Once I had sewn the whole bodice with lining to the skirt, I tried it on properly and discovered that the bust bit was bizarrely pointy where the darts finished. So I had to open it up and sort that out. Apparently straight lines for that is not the best.
Then, when I was going to put the zip in at the end, I found out that the bodice was way too big! I ended up just taking it in down the back seam in a lazy way, with a couple of inches taken in at the waist and tapering up to the top. But then I overcompensated, and the final thing is a bit too tight around the ribs. So either the measurements on the pattern were off, or I have no idea how much ease is needed (likely), or how a couple of inches more translates to actual bagginess (also likely).
I also didn't realise until I'd finished the dress and had been actually wearing it around that because I had to take it in unexpectedly at the back, the halter straps are in the wrong place and are too far towards my shoulders. This has the side effect of stopping the front lie properly flat sometimes, like when I had my coat on top.
Another thing I learned: look more carefully at the pattern picture next time. This dress, despite being halterneck, is very modest in terms of torso coverage. In fact before I hemmed it, when it was still below my knee, I looked like a nun. There is a full inch of fabric above where my bra stops; maybe this style would suit larger busts better? If I made it again I'd make the bustline lower.
The moleskin was quite thick for it as well, there was a lot of fabric around the top where the ribbon goes.