Alterations to the pattern:
I bought the pattern to fit my upper bust measurement as I always do but that ended up being the top size in the envelope (12). Now I always have to add for my hips (and more recently my waist) but I usually have larger guidelines to follow. This time I worked out the difference between me and the body measurements on the pattern, divided it by the number of vertical seams and added that amount at the appropriate places. On the bodice I was able to just swing out the side seam at the waist the required amount and join it back to the existing armhole. The skirt was a bit more complicated because of the pockets and pleats so I just slashed the pattern in a clear space (between the pleats and the pocket) and spread the pattern the required amount. It wasn’t that hard but as usual I put WAY too much thought into it! It fits the bottom half of my body and the pleats look to be in the right place so that is good enough for me.
After my toile I made the following additional alterations:
- Lengthened the dress by 8cm (it finished well above my knee – not a good look with high heels or sitting on a church pew with your thighs exposed, yuck!)
- Made a full bust alteration (fba) which allowed me to lift my arms, and I filled in the front armhole ‘scoop’ a little as it looked a bit funny to me and brought the sleeve too far onto the body. Now the sleeve hangs nice and straight from the shoulder line. I am always wary of sleeve alts as they can be a bit of a can of worms but this turned out well so yay!
- Removed the pleats in the back bodice and skirt. On the skirt I converted the pleats to darts, I think there was an article in Threads a while ago if you need instructions on that but really I just extended the pleat lines until they met at a point and then fine tuned them after the dress was together. On the bodice I started a really complex process of closing pleats and swinging fullness into the darts (there’s me over-thinking again!), in the end I figured there was plenty of room in the bodice with the pleats pinned out so I just pinned them out of the pattern place and kind of squished the piece flat. That could have been an absolute disaster but fortunately it wasn’t!
As I fully lined the dress I didn’t cut the facings. I put in the pockets and sewed the skirt and skirt lining (without pockets of course). Then I sewed the darts in the bodice back and front and constructed the bodice. Next I sewed the dress and lining waist seams.
The next step was to insert the invisible zip and the lining. (I cut off the seam allowance from the lining cb seam in the zip area, tapering back to the original edge at the bottom, then I sew the lining to the zip tape before I do anything to the neckline. Having trimmed off the seam allowance makes the lining pull back into the neckline and you never get fabric stuck in the teeth. This is an industry method I picked up somewhere and I use it all the time on facings and linings now. I might do a tutorial on this one day if anyone’s interested, but I never remember to take photos as I go!
For the neck I laid the fabric and lining together before forming the pleats. I sewed the two layers together at 1.5cm then used this as a guideline for applying a bound edge. That is I laid the raw edge of the binding to the stitching line, sewed a 0.5cm seam and trimmed back to the first line of stitching (essentially removing the seam allowance). I then flipped the binding over, tucked in the raw edge and hand sewed it down.
I made up the sleeves and lined them, then sewed them into the lined armholes. I bound the raw edges to neaten them.
This fabric is silk, but not great quality so the vertical seams frayed like a bitch. I didn’t want to risk a ridge from overlocking so I used a zig zag stitch to finished the seams, the lining is a tightly woven habutae so it didn’t need anything. On the hem I cut some bias lining to make a Hong Kong finish then hand sewed the hem. The lining had a machine sewn hem and finishes about an inch shorter than the dress.
This dress came out really well, it’s flattering and was very easy to put together, I would probably make it again (in a day time fabric for work) but there are a couple of similar styles in recent Burda magazines that I am more likely to try!
Now I am on to the jacket, which I’ll post about very soon, and my news…well you’ll have to wait a couple of days for that too (Must. Finish. Jacket. First.)