Hi there everyone!
It’s taken me a little while to write this post; no particular reason, just life deciding to get in the way. But I’m here now, so I thought I’d share the details of the dress I made myself for my 40th birthday dinner.
Yes, that number is still smarting little!
Anyway, the pattern I chose is the Deer and Doe Belladone (and I know you’re shocked that I chose a DD pattern again!) I have a longstanding love of their patterns and this one in particular has been on my radar for some time (check out Madame Tifaine’s fabulous versions for some inspiration if you need it). I made it up in a stretch cotton fabric, with a kind of abstract, palm leaf type print, which I picked up from B&M Fabrics last summer for something daft like £5/m.
I love sewing with stretch cotton and have come to the conclusion that I don’t do this nearly often enough. What’s not to love; great structure, feels soft and comfortable, quite often has a very attractive sheen, and enough stretch to be a little forgiving on fitting issues?
I have an older version of the paper pattern, bought from my local independent habberdashery, so it only includes the version with a cut out back. I understand the latest version has a closed back too, which actually I think I’d normally prefer. The Deer and Doe blog has a full tutorial on how to draft your own back bodice piece from the two separate pieces, and I went through all of that without difficulty.
And then decided to sew the open backed version first anyway.
I was between sizes for this make, so blended the front and back bodice pieces, smaller size at the top, bigger towards the waist. The pattern calls for quite a lot of bias binding; for once, I decided to use shop bought rather than making my own, simply because the fabric is quite bulky. I bound the neck and arm holes for this version.
The first thing I would change in another version is to use a lot more bias binding. I used it only where specifically instructed, which means, for a stable fabric, not on the overlapping back bits. And as soon as it was all sewn up (ie far too late), I decided it would have looked better had I really emphasised that design feature. Next time!
I had some problems with getting the top back bodice pieces to fit anywhere near my shoulder blades. Looking around online, I’m not the first to have this issue, and to be honest I was expecting it. I often have to make some kind of upper bodice back adjustment. I’d tell you what adjustment I make, if I knew it had a name? Honestly, I usually just wing it and move the zip placement!
In this case, I ended up getting Mr RW to pin the upper bodice back pieces at the neckline so as to make the lower sections of the triangle lie flush against my back. This meant that I ended up, instead of them being like this;
they were kind of more like this;
I basically put the binding around the neck, lopped off enough of the points of the triangle to level things off, and carried blithely on. Clearly I need to make a few further adjustments to the pattern pieces before making another, but it worked well enough and I was up against an advancing-age deadline!
The pattern instructions are extremely brief, which is kind of OK; I could have used a little more guidance on the best way to insert the zip so as to end up with the top neatly finished and the cut out being a nice diamond shape; I ended up resorting to good old trial and error. There was a fair bit of unpicking and some interesting language involved in the process, let’s just leave it there.
Other than that, this dress was a great sew. The pieces came together beautifully, the fit was good and I absolutely love the front pockets. I really do wish I’d cottoned on to the bias binding sooner and used more of it, but then I would have had to go shopping because I had about 2cm spare left at the end as it was.
The seams are all finished with the overlocker and I did a small hem (because once again I failed to notice how short the dress was before cutting out; I would consider making it longer another time). And in this cotton sateen, which has a good amount of body and hence holds its shape well, I love the shape of the skirt.
I felt amazing wearing this, and yet it’s not so smart that I won’t wear it again. Mr RW kindly whisked me out to Blackhouse for my birthday meal and insisted on the full lobster (LOVE lobster) so all in all I felt very spoilt; the dress totally felt appropriate to the occasion.
The final cherry on the cake is the fact that this was also on my #2017makenine list so that’s another one crossed off!
I definitely need to make a few more dresses for my wardrobe to feel complete; this one is a worthy contender for multiple makes status.
Pattern: Deer and Doe Belladone blouse
Fabric: 1.5m (150 wide) of stretch cotton from B&M Fabrics
My measurements: Bust 36″; waist 30″, hip 41″
Size cut: 40 – 42
Adjustments made: blended between sizes between bust and waist; adjusted the fit of the upper back bodice in a massively unscientific fashion.
Another version might benefit from an inch or two adding to the skirt if I want to wear it without tights.
Make again? The chances are high!