Ever since making my polka dot version of the Laurel blouse from Colette Patterns I'd had a plain black version of the dress variation on my mind. I'd had such success with the style and fit of the blouse on me that I'd been dreaming about it in all kinds of fabrics and variations to be honest! For this dress I used this gorgeous wool sateen from Mood Fabrics and only needed just over a metre. It's kind of like a fairly lightweight suiting with a small amount of stretch, I bet it would make a lovely pair of trousers. It's hand is very smooth and it was lovely to sew with. I pre washed it on a gentle cycle in the machine as I was hoping this would be a big success and I'd want to be able to easily and regularly wash it. Then I gave it a good steamy press and it came up beautifully. It didn't need any other special treatment and I finished all the seams on my overlocker.
Once the basic shift was assembled and before the sleeves were set in I popped it on to assess the fit. To be honest it felt like a bit of a tent and not the flattering, figure skimming shift I imaged. Comparing the pattern pieces the width of the dress and blouse are very similar but I think the blouse still feels flattering with this much ease because of the shorter length and the fact that you are not hiding any of your shape below the waist. A bit of pinching and pinning later, I decided that it could be salvaged by taking it in down the side seams. I took out 1" on the double from each side seam from the waist to hem and graded out to nothing at the underarm as I didn't want to loose any ease across the bust. That's 4" in total that I removed from below the waist!
I drafted my own facing for the neckline (as I did for the blouse) instead of using bias binding to finish it as recommended by the pattern. I don't often have much success with this technique and trying to get the binding to sit flat around this shape of neckline on my first version of Laurel was a total nightmare which I ended up giving up on. I still had some trouble getting the neckline to lay flat but clipping, under stitching and thoroughly pressing the edge sorted that out. I also caught the facing down with a few hand stitches at the centre front and back and shoulder seams to prevent it trying to flip to the outside.