This blog’s been a little while in the writing; the problem has been getting photos. Somehow, between flu bugs and kids’ birthday parties, there doesn’t seem to have been a spare daylight hour to take decent photos of late.
So, apologies in advance that some of these are courtesy of Gertrude, my dress form!
My make today is courtesy of the lovely Lucy at Sew Essential. She contacted me a couple of months ago, offering some more fabric and a pattern to make something for me this time (hurray!) using something from their wide selection of plain fabrics.
This is something I’ve been working on of late: I’m so easily sidetracked by the pretty prints but what I actually need are some plain colours and they can be quite hard to source.
The fabric I chose was their medium weight crepe in a luxurious teal colour. And seriously, you need some of this in your life, it is fabulous! So soft and lovely, I love it!
The pattern I chose was this Vogue pattern, V9197.
The interesting thing about this pattern is that it comes with different bodice pieces, depending on bust size. You measure both bust and high bust: the difference between the two dictates which version of the bodice you cut out. For myself, I went with a C cup and based on my measurements, I cut a size 14.
I got a little bit spooked, partly because I wasn’t entirely sure that I’d chosen the right size as it doesn’t state whether you pick based on bust or high bust. In the end I went with bust and I think it was the right way to go.
I was also slightly spooked because, instead of a waist and bust dart, this bodice has a single diagonal dart coming in from the side seam, which isn’t something I’ve sewn before. However, the pattern calls for a lining on the bodice which I’d already decided to make into a full lining, so I decided to use the bodice lining as a toile of sorts.
The lining, by the way, is made of a polyester pongee (don’t ask me how to pronounce that, I might giggle!) which I quite often buy in bulk when an online sale presents itself. It’s a very smooth but not shiny lining which works really well with cottons and crepes as a lining and is washable: total win.
I took the time with this one to mark not just the pattern markings but the seam allowances using my dressmaker’s tracing paper and wheel. The markings were really clear on the lovely crepe fabric. I also used an invisible zip rather than a lapped zip, which is just personal preference.
The pattern indicates that you should have to gather the back bodice shoulder slightly to fit into the front bodice: I actually didn’t find that to be the case in either the lining or the bodice so just sewed together as normal.
The only vaguely tricky part of the make was the curved bodice darts: I practiced on a scrap, I did the lining ones first and I still can’t get a smooth finish at the end of the dart in the final fabric. I’m giving up as a bad job, but if anyone has any tips for this shape of dart, I clearly need them!
I took in the sides on the bodice top to get a more fitted look around the waist and I’m thinking I may unpick some of that, as it’s now a little tight when I lift my arms. I also think that, next time I make this, I would replace the gathered skirt with a pleated one. I’ve made a few gathered skirts now as I like a full skirt, but I’m not a huge fan of the extra bulk it gives around the waist. It’s a minor point though.
The crepe was a joy to sew with, although it was a little delicate and could be easy to snag e.g. with basting stitches on the zip. I was expecting that with this slightly looser weave fabric and it wasn’t hard to avoid. Given the lovely range of colours this comes in, I can easily see me ordering more of this in the future!
The dress also features my all time favourite design of in seam pockets. I intend to wear this for the office, so the addition of a pocket big enough to put your phone into for meetings is an absolute bonus.
As far as the cup size thing, I think it actually worked pretty well here. This is the first pattern in a long time where I haven’t had to make any adjustments to the shoulder area in order to avoid a gaping neckline. Admittedly it’s also a high necked pattern which does tend to improve things, but I’m still really pleased with that area of fit.
I’m really pleased with how the top stitching around the neckline sinks into the fabric, giving a really lovely, smart finish. The simplicity of the plain colour actually makes that stand out all the more, and I think it looks amazing with a solid black belt and a statement necklace.
All in all, there are a couple of tweaks I’d make to another version of this pattern, but I’m happy with the finished dress. Thanks so much for giving me such lovely fabric to work with, Lucy, it was a joy!
Fabric and pattern provided free of charge by Sew Essential; notions, lining fabric and opinions all my own.