Continuing on from 2017 being the year of the shirt, perhaps 2018 will be the year of the shirt dress?
There’s always been a gap in my wardrobe for a work appropriate dress suitable for really hot days. This gap has now been filled, and very much in the nick of time too – as it’s been a warm summer.
I cut a size 14 to muslin, just over a year ago. But I couldn’t get the front button plackets to even meet across the front (let along overlap!) – quick was the realisation that I’d need to wait until I finished breastfeeding before I tackled this… Seriously, boobage volume whilst breastfeeding is insane. Sure enough when I tried my year old muslin on just before Christmas in 2017, it fit.
Well, sort of.
My muslin showed I needed to drop the waist a good 5cm and the skirt length raised about 2 cm. It does appear to be very short-torso in the bodice. And if I was really honest – it possibly needed a full bust adjustment. Enough significant changes to warrant a second muslin, rather than just tweaking with the fit on this one.
Except when I went back to look at the pattern pieces – it actually has the waist marked 4cm below the waist seam – so this high waist was intentional, and I left that change off, just altering the hem length accordingly (although since wearing it a few times, I now wish I hadn’t messed with the hem length!).
I ended up not doing an FBA (even after partially making my way through the instructions by Cennetta from Mahogany Stylist, which are excellent – btw – especially as I find such fitting alterations to be beyond my mental capacity since becoming a parent, so having her pictures was pure gold). After spending a few hours wearing my muslin around the house, I decided it would do. It obviously doesn’t have the ease across the bust that is evident in other people’s makes, but I can live with it.
I love the hidden button placket – my buttons are from Buttonmania. Another-post-them-in-a-sample-of-fabric-to-match-buttons too job. I’m really pleased with the match, even though they’re for the main part hidden from view!
That neckline is a lovely detail, with pleats emanating from the centre back seam, and sitting around the front of your neck in a similar fashion to a shawl collar. I found that the bit of fabric folded under really needed to be tacked down to the underside as far up as you can possible go, to maintain a nice shape at the front. The three pleats are tricky to seam match – I figured 2 out of 3 was perfectly reasonable!
I had originally intended on sewing this up with a Liberty cotton tana lawn in the yellow floral Claire-Aude ‘D’ print. Coming from a revolving wardrobe palette of blues and greys, this felt risky, and not in a good way. I justified the risk by wanting to use up a stash fabric and this was the only thing both suitable and lengthy enough for this pattern. Which takes up some 3 meters of fabric!
I rather wish I had had the ‘C’ variation of this in my stash instead – this is far more in my comfort zone than the yellow. I reckon I pull off the yellow ok-ish, but it’s not amazing. And certainly when it comes to getting photos – the light has to be perfect to actually convey that. Otherwise it does have the tendancy to wash me out a wee bit.
But just before cutting, nerves got the better of me, and I ditched the yellow, and bought a different Liberty – June’s Meadow, in the grey colourway. Which was frustrating because it meant having to wait for it to arrive in the post! I at least managed to start on a muslin for my next project…. This fabric is far more in the comfort zone, and highly unlikely to make me look washed out.
The tana lawn has been underlined with organza, because I think this is a pattern that really benefits from a fabric with body to really highlight the shaping – hence why I suppose the recommended fabrics are broadcloth and linen. Organza underlining obviously delivers that in spades.
Interestingly, Susan mentioned to me during January’s-just-past-class that Australian organza is really smooth – too smooth – which isn’t ideal for underlining as it’s not ‘grippy’ enough. Since then I’ve worked with both types and I’d agreed – but it sure does work well for underlining if you’re not planning to line your garment – and no way was I intending to bother with that for this. I’d also just gone halvies in a bolt of organza with Sarah, so I’ll be using it up regardless!
The pattern lists only 150cm wide fabric as the option (requiring a 2.7m length), presumably so you can cut the belt in a continuous piece. Liberty is around the 136cm mark, and I managed this pattern with bang on 3m. My belt is cut in 3 pieces – intentionally, so that the two seams in the belt line up with the side seams of the dress, keeping the illusion of a continuous length. Probably not something that really matters in a busy print such as this, but in my mind’s eye whilst I was dreaming it up, it mattered. It’s a huuuuuge belt though… and in my mind definitely requires’ wrapping it around 1.5 times (which is how you see it on me in this post) – the mid-point of the tie is lined up with my centre front.
The location of the pockets in this dress are just fabulous – bang on – but the pocket bag definitely needed additional room so I could have my whole hand in there. Even after adding additional length, I wish I had also added additional width. But, I do love that they just melt into the shape of the dress without detracting from the silhouette. And their angling makes it super easy to get your hands in.
Which is the main reason I’ve had this pattern floating around the top of my to-sew list for several years now – it achieves great shape, without being form fitting. There’s plenty of room to move, but it’s not a sack dress.
I also just LOVE the hem facing. Such a lovely way to finish things off. And that the hem is ever-so slightly curved into a hi-lo, but not that you’d notice when it’s on.
Two problems with the design though – it 100% needs to be worn with a skirt slip. I wear it with the last two buttons undone (because I like to stride – and quickly! – and this means it doesn’t strain much when I’m sitting, as the skirt is pegged) – but it means everyone is going to get a significant view of your underwear when you sit. So after wearing it once, I also made a slip skirt (that sounds a little more modern and less fuddy-duddy than a petticoat, doesn’t it?) in a pale grey silk. One Problem solved.
The other problem – I suspect I ballsed the instructions for the sleeve – the way I read them, it had you fold the sleeve cuffs over, meaning the wrong side of your fabric is on display…. no thanks! But no other review mentions this so perhaps I just messed up interpreting the instructions. So I sort of did a wierd origami thing to make that not the case. If I had my time over again, I’d sew separate cuffs I think.
Otherwise, I’m well pleased with it :) And even better, I wore it first to a 2nd round job interview on a scorching hot day – and I totally got the new job :D