When I was visiting Texas over the winter holidays, my sister (yes, the one I went to Miami with--my only sister) showed me this pattern that she had bought for herself. I hadn't seen it in the book and really liked it, so the next time I was in a Joann I picked it up. After my experience with Simplicity 3775 I am all about midriff ruching, and I liked the interesting shape of the midriff here, the surplice top, and the tie option.
When I found the fabric in January on G Street's $2.97/yd table (a nice, heavy, good quality knit) I immediately thought of this dress. I wanted to get it done for Miami so I put it on my Spring sewing list. I had fun with the print; I don't know how noticeable it is but the arrows go down on the bodice and skirt (I felt like this was the most slimming direction) and up on the midriff and the ties.
I think this is the first Palmer Pletsch pattern I've sewn and I was suitably impressed. There is a whole sheet of instructions on alterations, and many alteration lines on the pattern pieces, including (yay for me) bust adjustment lines and swayback adjustment lines. My only grip is that there are detailed instructions for a Full Bust Adjustment but not even a mention of a possibility of a Small Bust Adjustment, even though it would take only a sentence. It's hard enough being small busted in a culture that prizes large breasts so highly as "the" way to be attractive, and little things like this--although I don't know how "little" failing to acknowledge that I actually exist is--are just so frustrating and discouraging. But I will try not to hold it against them because I've had to work out how to an SBA on my own. It's very easy, just cut along the marked bust adjustment line and overlap.
However, a small bust generally needs a shortened wrap as well, which the adjustment lines don't take into account. I actually cut it out and sewed it up as drafted, but found that the wrap was a little gapey for my taste. I ended up taking a wedge out of the center back neck (which is part of the front pattern piece), which tightened it up. Next time I will cut it out with the pattern adjustment shown above.
I didn't like the instructions for the midriff, which call for the overlay, a stay, *and* a lining. That is just way too many layers! Instead, I constructed it the same way as I did Simplicity 3775. I cut out only one set of stay/lining, sewed the side seams of the stay and of the overlay, put in the gather seams on the overlay side seams (but did not yet pull them up), lined up the stay and overlay along the top and bottom and stitched them to the bodice and skirt, pulled the overlay gathering threads to fit, and stitched in the ditch along the side seam to keep it gathered. I feel this results in reduced bulk at the side seams (too much bulk would defeat the purpose of the ruching!).
At first I didn't intend to use the ties, but when I finished it I found that the shaping of the front midriff provided a lovely frame for showcasing my round belly. Hmm. I didn't use the pattern piece for the ties, just cut them the length of one of my scraps. I folded out pleats at the tops of them and sewed both to the bottom of the center front midriff, instead of one on top and one on bottom. They don't show up much in my busy print, but I think they provide enough obfuscation to do their job.
I put in the hem and sleeve hem using fusible web, because I didn't want to have lines of stitching. It worked well.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.