So this dress is actually a muslin...and a pretty poorly fitting muslin at that! But I LOVE it. And I have worn it out more than once, admittedly largely because I was determined to have a dress like this to wear to Christmas parties but ran out of time to make the sequin/velvet/other-extravagant-festive-fabric version. Luckily the black is pretty forgiving when it comes to poor fit/poor construction, especially in photos! It's highly probable that this will be worn again too (as I most likely am not going to get around to making that glamorous version any time soon) and I figured that makes it worthy of being shared with you guys.
It was much too lightweight for the bodice though. That fitted shape and those sleeves need a little bit of structure so I underlined all these pieces in silk organza. I know, I know... silk organza for a muslin?! I had high hopes that this would end up wearable and it's one of my favourite sewing techniques/tricks so any excuse to get that in and I do! I really enjoy the hand basting and seeing the difference that the organza makes to the shape of the garment.
I'm generally not a fan of a gathered skirt as I don't like all that bulk around my waist so I adore that this skirt has a yoke that sits snuggly around the upper hips before the gathering starts around your bum. Ot means the skirt still has an amazing fifties style fluffy fullness but still has a slimming effect. It's hard to see in the photos but in the flat picture of the zip above you can see the bodice, yoke and gathered skirt portions clearly. The fine viscose I used helps with the bulk of the gathering along that seam line too.
As well as not being a fan of wearing a gathered waist I'm also not a fan of the process of gathering! Has anyone got any tips for making this quicker/more enjoyable? I've done the quick trick of gathering under the machine by pushing the fabric under the foot with the end of your seam ripper when gathering meters and meters of tulle on my tutu course...but that method doesn't work when you're trying to make even gathers a particular length on something like this.
|Sleeve construction and under-stitching|
I was really intrigued by the construction of the sleeves when I first saw the design but they are actually very straightforward to attach, just like you would any other sleeve. There is a small piece of elastic attached to the seam allowance across the of the sleeves to hold them in place which would work well if I had got the tension right when sewing it on! I found it tricky to tell how tight to pull it and should have gone tighter but I didn't want it to end up looking bunched up. However, the fact that it is attached to the seam allowance rather than the lining or fashion fabric itself really helps to keep a smooth finish on the outside.
Having the elastic there does make the under-stitching along the neckline tricky as you don't want to catch the elastic in the straight stitching and prevent it from doing it's job. The under-stitching is absolutely essential for this style though, the lining would definitely keep making it's way out of the neckline if you skipped this step. I also under-stitched my pocket openings to keep those pocket bags in place and it also adds a bit of extra strength to a seam which sees a lots of wear.
|(Yes I have just discovered the burst function on my camera...)|
There is so much to love about this dress, I'll definitely be making another and attempting the nail the fit. I love how it flares out from below the hips when dancing and did I mention that there's in-seam pockets too! The design does also include a simple gathered skirt and also a version which includes a shoulder yoke and optional long sleeves for those of you who don't want to/can't go strapless. I absolutely love Pauline's velvet version with the dotted tulle yoke! I've got my eye out for fabric like that now.