As mentioned about my backless walkway dress, although I have avoided boatnecks in the past as unflattering to a small chest, I found that I really liked the neckline on that dress. I liked it so much that I immediately made a back-ful version of it. The bodice is from Burda 08-2009-128.
I bought this fabric from Fabric.com in May 2010. This print is part of the Alexander Henry "London Calling" collection, a not so subtle attempt to cash in the public's love for Liberty of London. At $8/yd, it was pricey for me. I was disappointed in the print when it arrived, as I expected it to be more saturated. I don't wear much by way of pastel. The fabric itself is nice, though nothing like Liberty lawn. It is thicker, a little coarser, and although was listed as 100% cotton has a small degree of stretch that can only come from lycra. That said, it is still nice fabric. Anyway, I couldn't picture this as much of anything because of the pale colors, but it seemed perfect for this project.
The full-skirted boatneck dress is a classic look, which is partly why it appealed to me. Although I guess by "classic" I mean "50s" since both of these images are 1950s. Audrey Hepburn is genuine '50s, of course. She is the ultimate wearer of the boatneck. Betty Draper is meant to be in the 50s. Yes, I am finally watching Mad Men now that I have the Netflix. I've only watched the first two episodes, but I felt it was too perfect that she was wearing this dress in the second episode as I was working on this post!
I have one more of these planned. I made this one in the last few days of the One Pattern, Many Looks contest last month and briefly considered trying to bang the next one out, but decided to wait. I think I will lower the front neckline slightly in the next version.
I found when I muslined the front bodice for my backless dress that the neckline was much too wide. I consulted Fit for Real People, which I finally purchased, for a narrow shoulder alteration. I had to bring in the shoulder 3/4 of an inch, and after completing this version see that I can probably bring it in another 3/8 of an inch for a total adjustment of over 1 inch! I knew I had narrow shoulders, but wow. The photo on the right is not the actual pattern piece, just an illustration I quickly drew up. The pencil is the original line and the purple is the new shoulder. I basically just moved the shoulder over, then redrew the armscye and neckline, tapering to the original line.
Because the fabric has a little stretch, I didn't want to lose that quality by using non-stretch lining. I visited the stash and found this light blue with black pin dots and a little stretch. Perfect! I used the all-machine clean-finish technique illustrated in this post. I took the opportunity to make a video of how to turn it right side out! I'm not going to be winning any cinematography awards, but it hard to do this yourself with a tripod and know exactly where the frame is.
I'm happy with the way the lining came out. Trimming the armscye and neckline edges of the lining 1/8" before lining up the cut edges of the lining and fashion fabric and sewing really makes a difference. It creates such a lovely turn of cloth, as you can see on the straps and the armscye at left. The polka dots also turned out really cute with the fashion fabric.
When it was finished I found that the back neck was rather gapey. As back neck darts are a common feature of 50s patterns I figured adding them would look appropriate rather than an ad hoc fix (ahem). The darts worked perfectly to snug up the back neck, but created a little bit of gaping in the front neckline. This is what makes me think I should narrow the shoulders even more.