Saturday, 28 March 2015

Sprig Cotton Sun Dress

This was the fabric I decided I could definitely wear and therefore shouldn't leave in Spotlight:

And at $5 a metre it seemed silly to leave it when I could practice my sewing and make a wearable dress for about $30, notions included. 

Having got the fabric home it wasn't difficult to determine what pattern to use. I'd bought a selection a while ago when they too were $5 each as opposed to the usual $30+.

I wanted to test the raglan sleeves of the dress and this seemed like as good an opportunity as any. Particularly as this dress planned to be slightly mid season as opposed to the height of summer like the wrap around I'd already slaved over.
However for a sun dress, the idea of a pencil skirt is hopeless and so it needed adapting.

If the pattern is a relatively basic one I always feel the need to adapt it.
Stuff this idea of making the pattern 'as is' first and then adapting it. Experience has told me that rarely works as so much tweaking needs doing just to get a decent fit, so I may as tweak a little more while I'm at it and make something I'd be more interested in wearing.

In aid of this I have a file of features from vintage dresses and patterns. Dresses that are too small for my figure but which I decided, if I can't wear them I can at least replicate the part of them that made me like them in the first place.
An ever expanding list might I add.

Having decided on a full skirt, I got distracted by the back. This is not a pattern I own, but changing a high neckline to a deep V on my existing pattern cannot be difficult... can it?

It wasn't. But buttons down the back also look cool.

So, I suppose the finished dress may end up looking a little like the white one in the pattern below, just without the collar.  

But back to the dress at hand.
The pattern is a slightly strange one, with delightful raglan sleeves, but four fiddly pieces that deal with the underarm bit. It took me a while to determine the best way to achieve the desired pointy join, but of the eight necessary joins (four for the lining), only one is a little iffy.  Unsurprisingly, I'm not really one for following the instructions.

Surprisingly, getting a snug fit on the bodice wasn't as difficult as I'd anticipated. Having made a mock-up, I discovered I could easily pull the waist in by about 2 inches on each side.

Drafting up the button flap (I'd forgotten to include it in the original bodice piece) and sewing it in place I decided it didn't work as well as I'd expected. The pattern of the fabric and mother-of-pearl buttons, while beautiful in theory and in their own right, looked out of place and fussy when laid in place on the dress.
So, they were untacked and pulled apart and the dress continued on without them.

Mum was a little worried that the 12 buttons would go to waste as they are rather lovely ones, but I've already though of a possible project for them. We'll see...

As the fabric shouted 'sun dress', well 'Spring dress' actually, and I like my sun dresses to have full skirts, I cut off two pieces of the desired length and simply pleated them so they met the circumference of the waist.

The original pattern called for a high neckline at the back and a side zip. Now the first sounded boring and the second was just unacceptable. I detest side zips as they are difficult to fit perfectly and seem like far too much effort when the alternative is a simple back zip (invisible zip naturally).

With plans for a deep V back, this made a back zip a simple adjustment.

In fact the most interesting part was actually determining how far down my back the zip should start.
It had to cater for a bra strap, but positioning it so it barely covered my bra strap I found it rendered the top half of the bodice too loose, regardless of how tight and fitted the under-bust bit was. Moving it up barely an inch made all the difference and made for the snug fit I desired. From there, sewing the edges up and putting in the zip were easy.

Final task was the hem of the skirt. I'd already decided I wanted a wide hem, partially to help weigh down the light cotton skirt, and settled on a width of 4 inches.
However what with my uneven hips, the hem ended up tapering down to 3 inches at my right hip.

With the dress complete I decided to give it a test run at an afternoon of Sculptures by the Sea. As I'd hoped, the hem was heavy enough to preserve my modesty even though we wandered out on to the pier and the sea breeze was already in.

And with almost a metre to spare, I wonder if my little niece needs another dress...

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