More than six months ago, a coworker gave me several huge trash bags full of fabric. Not all of the fabric was my style pattern- or color-wise but it was all my style price-wise!
One of the fabrics was a sort of abstract floral pattern that was probably printed in the mid to late 90s. I had about three yards of it. I also had an old pattern in my stash that I wanted to use for the Pattern Review stash contest.
So I put the two together and magically got a dress! Ta-da!
New Look 6001 With Major Changes
(The front of the skirt is actually smooth, but there was a breeze.)
Actually, I traced out the dress pattern in March or April and then let it sit…and sit…and sit until I had a sewing date earlier this month with Competent One from my sewing class. While she worked on drafting a bodice for a wedding dress, I marked off seam allowances on my pattern. Then I used fitting techniques from Dressmaking for Real Women and Pattern Fitting with Confidence to change the pattern sizing and do a full bust adjustment.
I debated making a muslin since the fabric was cheap and not something I was completely in love with.
Always make a muslin, even if only to run away from the hospital-gown looking result.
Run Away From the Muslin
I had adjusted the dart, but it was too pointy. So I tried several different things (including a total mistake that ended up looking…well, to quote my sewing teacher, “very feminine”) and decided to gather the bodice.
I sent the photos to Competent One, who suggested I remove the gathering at the waist, too. She suggested I turn the skirt into more of an A-line.
I measured the gathered amount compared to the midriff band. It was 1 1/2″. I then drew two 3/4″ darts from the top to the waistline. I cut to the waistline, and cut from the hem to the waistline and closed the wedges at the top to open the wedges to the hem.
The fabric was a strange width (41″) so the amount I was able to open the skirt was limited by the lack of fabric. I still needed to get rid of 3/4″ width at the top, so I cut a wedge out from the center waist to the center hemline.
I widened the skirt in the back the same way, which was slightly complicated by the fact that the back was cut in one piece. Still, I thought it through and figured out how to make it work. I did change the sides in order to make up for the fabric jog.
I also added in-seam pockets. I always buy dress patterns but never sew them because I want pockets. That was a quick fix.
I didn’t make a second muslin, since the fabric I was using wasn’t super expensive. I used the abstract floral print, but didn’t have enough to make the full dress. In fact, because the patter had a direction, I had to cut the cup pieces out single layer. I made the neckline, midriff and ties in black cotton.
I did discover that I had made a mistake fixing the jog in the back, and the sides didn’t match up. I ended up drawing a new seam with my French curve and I think this accident made the dress fit even better!
I had expected to hem the sleeves and skirt as directed, but instead I used bias quilt binding on the skirt and extra wide bias binding on the sleeves. I love how it turned out. I feel like it looks like stained glass!
I took my time with the binding and didn’t need to redo a single inch of the five yards of it!
I wore the dress to Mark’s birthday party and to work and got a lot of compliments, but it felt really good when a perfect stranger said, “Cute dress!”
I also discovered that the neckline hugs my chest perfectly! I can actually bend over in this dress and the neckline stays in place. That right there makes this dress a winner!
I have a few other fabrics I’m thinking of doing this dress in, and I think it would make a great “first silk” project.
I adjusted the pattern Sunday, cut out the muslin Monday, made the muslin Tuesday, readjusted the pattern Wednesday, cut out the fashion fabric Thursday, and finished the whole thing by Saturday night. I solved problems that came up without gnashing my teeth, and I think taking time was a huge time saver!