I bought this fabric from Vogue Fabrics last year; when I bought cotton batiste from them I figured I might as well throw in a fun fabric if I was paying shipping anyway, and it was only $3.99/yd. It's a beautiful cotton voile with a very subtle sheen and a texture I have decided is really large scale swiss dot. Amazingly, when I purchased it I had it in mind for Burda 04-2010-105 and did not change my mind in the intervening year. Well, in one sense I did--I meant to make this as the blouse but in the end couldn't resist making it a dress.
I raised the neckline by 1.75 inches, and correspondingly altered the ruffle piece according to Eugenia's helpful instructions. Raising the neckline is easy as the neckline is just a slit along the center front.
I made an SBA by narrowing the bust dart. I ended up adding vertical waist darts before sewing on the skirt, because it was just too big in front for my taste, but luckily the bust still fits well and is not too large. I also did a broad back adjustment. I thought I might want to sew the back dart up higher to control puffiness, but the loose fit of the dress doesn't require it. You can see the fullness I added in the back view, but it doesn't look terrible and I have plenty of movement.
I did not make a swayback adjustment to the pattern, as the bodice is cut off right at natural waist. I make my swayback adjustment just below natural waist, so I assumed I would need to make it on the skirt rather than the bodice. I basted (all right, I didn't baste, I just sewed) the skirt to the bodice and whoa! Horrifying swayback dip in the back bodice. You can see the line of pins there where I tried to mark a straight line (it's a little high). I took off the skirt and pinned it back in place with a larger and larger seam allowance in the bodice CB, tapering to nothing extra at the sides, until I got it right.
I checked the new position by tying a piece of elastic around my waist. The waist either still isn't straight or I have a tilted waist. I never understood what "tilted waist" meant but seeing the elastic I think I get it now. I ended up shortening the bodice by 1.5 inches at center back. That is some swayback!
The voile is very lightweight so it had to be lined or underlined anyway. Because there is a yoke I went with underlining, using cotton batiste from Vogue Fabrics. To finish/line the yoke, I used the burrito method from KBenco's blog again, and the yoke turned out gorgeous.
The rest of the bodice was underlined. So I would have lovely finished side seams, I used the faux Hong Kong finish method of cutting the underlining 5/8 inch wider than the fashion fabric at the vertical seams, serging along the vertical seams right sides together, then turning out and letting the excess underlining fold over the serged seam.
Burda wanted you to finish the armscyes with bias tape before putting on the zipper. That seemed like a missed opportunity to tuck the ends of the zipper tape into the bias tape finish, so I waited until the zip was in. I had been undecided what method to use to finish the armscyes, but in the end I like the binding. I used every little scrap of the fabric and each binding is made up on 3 very short bias lengths sewn together.
I got into a little trouble with the neckline. First, I really did try to be all neat and precise with the point at the bottom of the neckline, but in the end it's all held together with indiscriminate zigzagging and Fray Check. Thank goodness for flounces, which were easy-finished with a serger rolled hem; they cover a multitude of sins.
Second, when I went to sew on the collar, it was way too long. Like 3 inches too long. I did not cut any extra off the vertical slit of the neckline, though I did take a 1/2 inch seam allowance at the upper edges. Nobody else mentioned the collar not fitting onto the neckline, so it must have been some imprecision on my part. It was thoroughly annoying.
I drafted a back facing for the neckline. I wasn't going to like it with a front facing and then the back neckline finished only by turning under the seam allowance of my (now inexplicably shorter) collar. I did the Sunny Gal Studio method of finishing the edges of the facing: sew shoulder seams of facing and interfacing separately; serge facing to interfacing along outside edge, with non-glue side of interfacing to right side of facing; turn right side out and then fuse interfacing in place.
To get the facing to lay flat, I had to notch it. Does anyone else hate notching around curves? I feel like it is going to make the garment fall apart on the first wash. I notched around the collar, but fray checked every single cut.
I did a catch stitch by hand to stitch the facing to the underlining all around, so there was no chance of flopping.
For the skirt, I used rayon satin from Fabric.com's massive sale of Vera Wang fabrics last year. I wish I'd bought 20 yards of the satin, as it is lovely and luxurious as a lining. To reduce bulk, I pleated the skirt lining rather than gathering it as for the fashion fabric.
I had limited fabric left after cutting the bodice. I could either have a shorter-than-I'd-like skirt cut on grain, or a crossgrain skirt at a length I prefer. The "swiss dots" are ovals, and the ovals on the bodice are sideways (grain). I debated for a while, but decided I'd rather have a longer skirt and ovals in a different orientation; I figured it would be a rare person who would notice the orientation of the ovals.
I kept the full length of the fabric and took a very deep hem to give weight to the skirt. The hem is a full double fold, and I stitched the edge of the fabric in place right at the fold so that it couldn't crinkle up in there after washing. Then I did a machine blind stitch for the hem.
Love this dress! The gray is a sophisticated color that offsets the flounces. I happened to catch the famous Seinfeld "Puffy Shirt" episode recently and wanted to make sure I didn't go down that road! I purposely kept a bit of ease at the waist, even with the added vertical front darts, so on hot days I can wear it without it touching me and making me sweat.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here
Some commenters accused me of being a gray-hating colorist (lol) with regard to my Simplicity 2615 Prison Matron Chic. But really, I don't hate gray! I think it's a great color, sophisticated and a blank slate for bright contrasts. Above you can see that I used this dress with orange and hot pink; it also looks great with red, lime green, yellow, teal...just about anything but brown. I also made this gray dress a couple years ago, which is still in my closet (though I admit I'm kind of over it, but only because I did a bad job on the neckline of the underlying bodice; it is kind of bulgy and too low).
Really the issue with that dress is that I know this is what it looks like in real life. It actually does not look as bad in the photo is it does in real life. Trust me, it is like two sad tiny little boobs and then a bigger belly punctuating a duct-tape expanse.
Now that I've made the voile dress, I am going to officially give up on the Prison Matron dress. A couple people mentioned they would like it on that post; leave me a comment letting me know how to get in touch with you and I'll send it on (I'll do a drawing if more than one want it). Keep in mind that it is hemmed fairly short for 5 foot tall me, with not a ton of allowance to let out. I'm keeping the sash, because I will wear it with other things, but will send you the leftover fabric so you can make your own.