Life has been so busy for last month and a half or so that posting about my sewing and adventures had no choice but to be put on hold. However, things have calmed down now and I have plenty of blog content that just needs time and inspiration to be crafted into posts. To that end, I present a new dress!
This dress was years in the making. It’s story started four years ago when I was on a mission to add prints to my wardrobe and found this cotton print. It’s a nice weight for a dress: mid-weight and opaque. It’s a bit hard to remember, but I’m pretty sure I started work on it pretty quickly. My plan was to use the bodice from Butterick 5880 with a vintage-inspired skirt of my own creation.
The skirt shape I started with was slightly A-line and gathered into the waist. I’d cut it nice and long, I think in case I wanted a deep hem or tucks. It was decidedly calf length. I knew I didn’t want the notches in the neckline of the bodice and I was thinking of a boat neck shape, so the original bodice was also very high on my collarbones.
When I tried it on… it was so dowdy! I was horrified! It was also a little large. (No pictures, I was too horrified!) All together, I couldn’t even begin to see how I would make it wearable. I stuck it in my UFO pile and let it sit there for years. Every summer I would tell myself I would make it better, but it took four years to feel mentally ready to tackle it.
This year, I started by removing the offensive skirt then fitting the bodice, which turned out to just be taking in the side seams a bit. I took apart the skirt pieces and took stock of what I had to work with. I hadn’t used all of the 3.5 yards I’d purchased, so I had a yard or so uncut to work with as well as the pieces I’d taken apart. In the end, all I did was to shorten the skirt pieces to a flattering length and pleat them to the bodice instead of gathering them. Originally, the skirt was just two panels, but that didn’t have enough oomph for me, so I set out to cut as many more as I could. Unfortunately, due to the fact that I’d cut the original skirt pieces so long, I could only cut one more skirt panel from my extra fabric. Boo!
I was thinking of pleats all around the waist, but I couldn’t find a way to make it symmetrical and pleasing to me with only three panels. It put seams in odd places and just wasn’t working. In the end, I decided to make the front mostly flat and keep the pleated oomph in the back. It looks smooth and A-line shaped from the front…
But the back has lots of pleats! I love the fullness! Too bad it couldn’t be that way in front, too. Oh well. Next time!
I also changed the neckline. I abandoned the idea of a boat neck (save that for another dress, I think) and changed the neckline to be a wide V shape, a style which I really like. Opening up the neckline helped balance the overall look.
The dress is almost entirely machine sewn. Since it’s a casual cotton dress, I machine sewed the hem and the arm openings with a narrow hem and put a centered zipper up the back (and I’m pleased with myself that the pleats extend all the way to center back despite the zipper and it’s all nicely stitched!). The neckline is finished with bias tape that is invisibly stitched by hand after being turned. All of the interior seams are serged. Also, the dress has the bonus of pockets! Keeping the seams at the sides allowed me to easily put in side seam pockets, which I topstitched in keeping with the other visible machine sewing.
And at long last, a happy clover dress that brings a smile to my face instead of frown! It was glorious to get it off the UFO pile and even better to wear it!