I loved Simplicity 2724 as soon as it came out, and the cute versions that have been made since then (such as Story of E and Danville Girl). Meanwhile, back when I received the amazing Carol Collection I fell in love with these two fabrics together. I'm not really sure why they were so adamant in being used together; while the blouse fabric is the same color family as the skirt obviously they are many shades apart. But I really wanted them together in some sort of shirtdress arrangement. When I thought of cutting the ruffles out of the striped fabric on the bias, I had to use this pattern.
The first thing, of course, was to alter for a small bust. I narrowed the bust dart, but decided to leave the lower pleat alone. It is not very wide and seemed suited to my bust size. After sewing up the dress, I had to shorten the bust dart by about an inch and a half, as it was overshooting my bust. I don't do many horizontal bust darts (or many bust darts period!) so I don't know if that should be part of my standard SBA or is a quirk of this particular pattern.
Now it was on to construction. The instructions for the ruffles are needlessly complicated, though they will spare you a visible line of stitching (I think). You are supposed to first press in your fold lines. Then sew one gathering stitch through both the ruffle and the turned under allowance, and one gather stitch just through the ruffle. You're the supposed to sew the single layered gathering long edge of the ruffle down right sides together, then turn it right side up and topstitch the other long edge (as far as I can tell). With a lot of gathering plus a bias cut ruffle this was just not going to work for me. I just ran the rows of gathering stitches through both thicknesses on both long edges of the ruffle and topstitched both sides in place. I don't feel like I lost anything by having two rows of stitching, though I it does change the look a bit from the way it was drafted (which Story of E and Danville Girl faithfully followed).
When I read through the directions a while back, I was very confused. I had in my head that this was a shirtdress, and it was having you do all this finishing at the neckline and I was wondering how in the world you were going to put in the button loops after you'd already applied the facing.
When I sat down to actually make the dress, I realized that it wasn't designed as a shirtdress, it only has the look of it. The bodice center front is sewn to the neckline, and the facing is short and goes only to the center front seam line. I had my heart set on this being a shirtdress, so I lengthened the facing to extend all the way to the bottom of the blouse portion and sewed button loops to the right side and sandwiched them between the facing and the fashion fabric.
After I completed the dress I saw that I needed an underlap as my skin was showing between the buttons. Very tacky! So I just cut a rectangle of fabric, sewed the top edges, turned, and serged the long edge. LOVE my serger for this. If I didn't have it, I would have to have turned in that long edge, which would have created bulk. However, serging raw edges is a very RTW technique so it doesn't look homemade (I think) this way. I topstiched it in place by sewing over the inner row of stitching on the ruffle, so there is no visible stitching line. Had I thought about it before applying the ruffle, I could have hidden the stitching line underneath.
I intended to make this sleevless, but when I was getting close to finishing I thought sleeves would make it a little more professional for the office. Although the pattern offers several options for sleeves, they were not enough for me! I have been curious recently about what kind of sleeve a half-ellipse would make. Using an Ikea sheet as muslin, I cut out the shape on the fold (so it's actually a full ellipse, with the fold serving as the sleeve hem). I pinned it in place and found it cute, but trying it on I saw that even a sleeve like this benefits from more fullness in front and less in back. If you click on the photo to enlarge, you see that while the muslin is symmetrical, the actual sleeve is narrower at the back and fuller at the front.
When I installed the final sleeve, it was sticking straight out a little too much for my taste, so I folded out and sewed down some inverted pleats to tame the futuristic look. I finished the armhole edges by running bias tape all the way around the armscye.
Making this pattern, I realized that the Big 4 armscye does not fit me at all. The past several projects I've made it is just SO TIGHT and I have to lower by about half and inch and scoop out from the front and back. What I need to do is start narrowing the shoulders (which I think would be the same thing as scooping out from the front and back) and lowering the armscye as a matter of course. Cidell keeps getting on my case to make a sloper, and after this I definitely see the value in having a reliable armscye that I can slap on top of any project and trace out.
This was the most time consuming of my Four Projects in Four Days. I wasn't sure I was going to make it and I probably sewed a little later than I should have (I have instituted a strict "pencils down" rule at midnight), but I got it done and was ready to do the next project the next day!
I am really loving the result. It's cute, but because it has traditional blouse shaping at the top is completely appropriate for the office. I feel like it's a less formal, more everyday wearable version of the BWOF 11-2007-106 shirtdress, which I wear for meetings with opposing counsel and visiting dignitaries.