I took some extra days' leave at Easter, and was quite productive because I made this dress! It's Colette Patterns Crepe Dress. I bought this pattern a couple of years ago, but have only just made it now.
My fabric is cotton lawn from ebay here, on the selvedge edge it says "Great Flowers Designs 40 by 40s superfine cotton lawn". It's £6.99 per metre, I ordered 4 metres (to be on the safe side!), and used 3 metres. So I now have enough leftover for a top. I see they have it in red and white, so I may have to order that. It's lovely fabric, note the back of the skirt in the photo below - I've been wearing this all day, then took my photos, and it's hardly creased.
I went with a size 0 at the shoulder and size 2 at the underarms, grading out to size 6 at the waist. I probably could have got away with size 4 at the waist, but the waist tie pulls it in a bit. I made a toile of the bodice, and was delighted to find that the bust fitted, therefore I didn't have to do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA). Colette Patterns draft a larger bust size than standard patterns, so this may explain why my FBA on my Peony dress made it too big.
In my excitement I failed to notice that the bust darts are a bit high, and only realised when I made the bodice in my polka dot fabric. But I can live with it, and it's not like the sewing police are going to arrest me or anything! I wonder if this is an issue with Colette Patterns because I was re-watching The Great British Sewing Bee last night (yes, re-watching :) ), and it was pointed out that the bust darts were high on Lauren's lovely Colette Macaron dress in the final challenge.
I shortened the bodice, and also the width of the waist tie by 3.3cm, and also widened the skirt. One of the two things that made me a bit meh about this pattern is that the skirt isn't as sitty-out as I'd like. I'd read about the slash and spread method of skirt altering in some of my sewing books, so I thought I'd give it a go.
Above is the traced original pattern piece, I've marked the grainline with a red arrow (PicMonkey don't have doubled-headed arrows - sorry). I ruled a line through the grainline right to the top and bottom of the pattern piece.
I cut along this line from the bottom to the top, but not cutting right to the top edge. I left a little bit that will act as a "hinge". Then I taped one side of my pattern piece to my cutting mat with some masking tape. Did you know you can buy 4 rolls of masking tape in Poundland for £1? Just saying.
At this point I dug out my Madeleine Skirt pattern pieces (might have been a bit easier if I'd ironed them first!). Having made three versions of this skirt, I knew it was the width I wanted. I placed this pattern piece on top of my Crepe skirt piece, lining up the corner of the waist and the side seam with the edge I had taped down. I weighted this down with whatever was handy, and then gently moved out the un-taped side of the Crepe skirt piece until it lined up with the bottom edge of the Madeleine skirt piece, then taped the Crepe skirt piece so it wouldn't move about. If you didn't have another pattern piece to measure off, you could just eyeball it until the gap is as wide apart as you would like.
Then I took away the Madeleine pattern piece, and filled in the gap with more paper. The next thing was to draw in the grainline. On this pattern the grainline runs down the centre of the pattern piece, rather than being parallel to the centre front/back. I measured how much I moved the cut pattern piece apart (see below photo), and marked the middle of this. I then drew a line from this point straight up to the hinge on the top of the pattern piece. This then became my new grainline, which I have marked with the red arrow in the photo above. I'm no expert on this, but all I can say is that it worked for me. I hope that all make sense, because I'm not very good at explaining things.
|The red arrows mark the edges of where I cut the pattern, and the vertical pencil line is the bottom of the grainline.|
And here's how wide it turned out!
Another new thing I learnt was the pick stitch. I had been reading Gertie's Crepe Sewalong, and came across this post on attaching the armhole facings. Because the capped sleeves are part of the bodice, the facing is a strange shape, and it would have been very tricky to understitch. At the bottom of Gertie's facing post, she has added a video on how to pick stitch this facing. It was so easy to do, that I did the same on the neck and back facings.
I decided to underline the bodice, because I really didn't think this cotton lawn would be that warm for where I live. I used some white cotton lawn for this. Then I decided to underline the skirt because I was afraid that a renegade gust of wind could catch the wrap-a-round skirt, leading to much embarrassment! I used white polycotton for this; and, yes, the underlining was very time consuming.
Then I got all fancy and finished the wrap skirt edge and hem with some white ribbon.
The second thing that made me a bit meh about this pattern was the waist tie. I'm not a big fan of waist ties in general; in my experience they tend to come un-done, or get caught on things. Plus the one on this dress made me think of a little girl's party dress, which was not the look I was going for. But maybe I only think this because I'm small. Anyway, I thought about it for quite some time, and came up with shortening the waist ties so they overlapped a bit at the centre back, then adding buttons to fasten.
Below are the front and back of both waist tie ends. I made some bias tape, and made the buttonhole loops from instructions in my Simplicity Sewing Book that came from my Granny.
I absolutely love this dress, and can see more in my future. It did take a lot of time to make, but it was definitely worth it. I wore it today with a green cardigan, and got lots of lovely compliments on it!
I'll leave you with an action shot of the skirt. It had to be done, resistant was futile... :)