Earlier in the year, I planned to make a new dress for Easter. Sadly, I had a fair amount of issues with my muslin and I ran out of time, so I shoved it aside and got sidetracked by newer projects. That was all fine and dandy until last week when I had to face reality. I have two woven dresses in my closet that fit me right now and one of them is not what I would call a great fit anymore. I decided to resurrect the Easter project, same pattern, same fabric.
I used Butterick 5995, a now out of print wardrobe pattern. The dress is a fitted princess seamed style, with a scalloped neckline to add some interest. I retried the old muslin from April on and I swam in it, so I started over with a fresh tissue fitting, which showed the need for a half-inch FBA on the size 10 bust. After some debating on the skirt section, I decided to go with a size 12 for the seam between the princess seamlines and a size 14 for the sides. There’s no particular reason for that choice, but my measurements are between the two sizes, closer to 14 at the waist and 12 at the hips. I recut a full muslin and I was happy with every piece except the bodice front and the bodice back. The center front had a puddle of fabric below the bust and a gaping neckline. The back had even worse gaping. I pinched out a quarter-inch at the edge of the scallop which fixed the front. I had already taken out a half inch in length before making the muslin, but I decided to take another half inch out of the bodice to line the waist seam up with my waist. The back neck was fixed by pinching out neck darts, which is where I had been stopped last spring. With the fabric I did not want to sew in the darts, but at a half-inch, they are too big to just smush out and hope that it works. I finally decided to close the neck dart and rotate it to the upper portion of the back princess seam. I had expected it to really change the shape of the back piece, but interestingly enough, other than the now shorted neckline edge, they look really similar. The altered piece is straighter into the armhole, but it’s really subtle compared to the dart.
I went ahead and figured I would cut into my fabric and hope that it would be close enough. I used a polyester jacquard from Hancock’s that I picked up last fall. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was to sew with and to wear. I normally prefer natural fibers, but I would sew more of this in a heartbeat. Which I’m going to have to do as I have another four and a half yards of it in the stash. I always buy too much yardage. Except when I buy too little. Yeah, moving on. I lined it with some green polyester grossness that Hancock’s called baby silk. It’s shifty, static-y, and does not press properly; in short, everything I hate about dealing with polyester. But the color was the best match in the entire store and because as part of the same fabric collection as the jacquard, but bought in the spring during one of the spot the dot promos, cheaper than anything from the lining section. Have more of that stuff hanging around too.
I cut the dress out single layer so I could try to match up the pattern as best as I could. I deliberately did not aim to line up through the side seam as trying to get the six pieces for the front and the eight for the back was already a bit of a hassle. You will note that I was less successful at having the center back perfectly mirror and the right side back bodice piece is not a mirror for the left because the way the pattern repeats I would have to had to cut a random small section out of the middle of the rest of the length and I want to try to make a matching jacket, so the section I ended up cutting is an inch offset and preserved a greater length of fabric for future use.
The actual assembly was not too bad other than the lining seemed to grow in relation to the dress and had to be chopped back down a bit to behave when finishing the armhole. The scalloped neckline came out mostly all right, but I am a little unhappy with the fit through the center bodice still. I should have interfaced the bodice as the fabric bags out a big in the front. Also at some point my alterations have shifted the armholes in a bit too much as the very top edge of my bra wants to hang out and I think it’s leading to a bit of tightness above the bustline. However, I will say that’s me being picky and noting changes for the future when I make dresses with armscye princess lines, but that in general it’s not something that’s going to affect my wearing of this dress. I didn’t bother to rethread my serger to finish any of the seam allowances, so when it came time for the hem, I needed a nice, non-bulky way to stop the fraying. I realized that I have a spool of Hug Snug rayon seam binding that was the perfect color. I had messed around with the Hug Snug for the first time making the ballgown in October, but wanted a better execution. Enter the bias binding foot. I like the hem finish as it’s tidy and secure.
Overall, I’m happy with how this came out, but the pattern is not without its flaws. Namely, to keep it easy, there is no walking slit or kickpleat in the skirt. I don’t mind a straight skirt, but this dress would have been well served with a pegged hem. In order to be able to walk, I couldn’t do that, and I didn’t cut for making my own kickpleat. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but if I had thought it through I would have done so. The end result is that while I was expecting a fitted sheath, it’s reading a little bit A-line on me. I don’t mind, but I am secretly a bit happy that I think I have enough leftover fabric to make another dress after I make the jacket, and I’m sure that I have a pattern somewhere in my collection for a darted sheath dress with a kick pleat. One could argue this fabric is too distinctive to have multiple dresses of it, but I’ve never let that stop me before.