When I bought this fabric in Hong Kong I thought it was snowflakes and that I would need to make a wintery dress out of it. I don't know why I thought snowflakes when each "flake" has many more than six points. I finally decided that it looked more like dandelion seeds or fireworks than snowflakes, and that the batiste-weight cotton was more suited to a Spring/Summer dress than a Fall/Winter dress so in my frenzied run-up to Spain I decided to move this up the project list.
The downside of the batiste weight is that it was no fun to sew. The needle kept breaking threads in the weave the way that silk chiffon does, even when I used a sharp or a ballpoint. This was particularly a problem on the overlay, where a lot of the sewing is on the bias because of the shape of the piece, so the thread snags would run along the longest possible line on the piece. It also had to be entirely lined, but that doesn't bother me too much. I'm glad I'm writing about this one so long after the fact (sewn in September) because now I've mostly forgotten my frustration and am just enjoying the dress.
The pleated overlay sits on top of the front bodice and is sewn as one with the bodice at the shoulders and waistline. In the editorial photo on BWOF, the overlay neckline and bodice neckline are the same so the bodice doesn't show at all underneath the overlay at the neckline. However, when you click on the dress form photo the bodice neckline shows. I'm not sure which way it's supposed to be, but I sewed it as drafted and my bodice neckline shows.
Anyway, you finish the neckline and diagonal lower edges of the overlay before attaching it to the bodice. The instructions are concise (BWOF says "Allowance of bodice front extends at neck edge"); I figured out this meant I needed to attached the finished neckline edge of the overlay right along the stitching line of the bodice, so that the bodice seam allowance is exposed beyond the overlay. The lower diagonal edge of the overlay begins below the armscye at the side seam, so you need to baste the raw armscye edges of the bodice and overlay together. I wouldn't normally go to the trouble of basting, but I had trouble keeping the pieces together here.
Rather than use BWOF's facings, I lined the bodice with batiste, and finished it in the usual way for sleeveless dresses (leave side seams and center back unsewn; assemble fashion and lining fabrics by sewing shoulder seams; place right sides together and stitch along neckline and armscye; turn right side out through strap tunnels; sew side seams). In stitching the lining to the neckline, be careful not to catch that finished neckline edge of the overlay in the seam allowance.
The pattern is designed so that the pleats are folded and sewn into the lower edge of the overlay, but it was billowing and gaping over my bust so I stitched them up almost all the way to the bust, which I tried to capture in this closeup. The batiste really worked me over here and the lines are wonky as hell, which really bothered me when I first made it (I was rushing to get everything done for Spain and didn't have time to go in, undo, and deal with it). Now that I have distance I really don't care!
The overlay could have used an SBA here (shortening along the neckline as I normally would for a wrap style), and it gapes a little in wearing, which annoys me. But because it's just an overlay it doesn't show anything, so I'll live with it.
This dress is a real winner. The lightweight cotton travels beautifully--very comfortable to wear in hot weather and easily washed in the sink and air-dried overnight. I don't know that I necessarily would have gone straight for batiste, but this could have a lot of bulk in anything with a much heavier weight, so I kind of lucked out there.
Since I didn't make this until September I was sad that I'd get so little wear out of this dress this year. But then I realized I could totally wear it through Fall with tights and a cardigan! I could also wear it as a jumper. So many possibilities and now I'm excited for wearing it a little bit longer.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.