I bought this swiss dot fabric from Kashi at Metro Textiles in NYC two years ago for $5/yd. Although it wasn't expensive, for some reason it had almost become too good to use. I just think it is so darling. However, of all my fabrics, a swiss dot is one of the most replaceable and I confirmed that it is available online--and even for around the price I paid for it when I looked a couple of months ago--and decided I needed to challenge myself to come up with a project.
So I put the project on my project list and didn't give it too much more thought. Until, that is, I realized it was a week to my birthday and I had nothing to wear! I mean, of course I could re-wear one of the millions of pretty dresses in my closet, but I love having a new birthday dress each year. The serger was threaded in white, I evaluated my project list in terms of what could get done quickly but still be festive, and this project emerged the winner. Not a very glamorous way to choose a birthday dress, but I love the result!
The weave of the swiss dots is horizontal from selvage to selvage. As this is a voluminous dress, I didn't want to increase my perceived width with sideways stripes, so I cut on the cross grain (except for the midriff piece, so it would act as a "belt").
I didn't have enough fabric to cut the giant collar on the bias as directed, but as the cotton batiste fabric is very lightweight I wasn't concerned about drape. In fact, I was afraid there would be too much drape, so I backed the fashion fabric with a slightly narrower collar (cut on cross grain as well) cut of silk organza, which incidentally takes a serger rolled hem like a dream. This is a puffy collar, to be sure! The organza definitely makes sure it stands up straight.
All pieces of the dress are underlined in cotton batiste; the swiss dot is extremely lightweight and sheer. In addition, I lined the midriff and skirt with rayon satin. This is a dress I can see working for Fall with a long sleeved tee underneath, so I wanted to make sure it wouldn't stick to tights. Rather than sew the skirt lining to the midriff lining, I sewed both midriff and skirt lining to the upper seams of their respective pieces.
I left the last couple inches of both unsewn on either side of the zipper so that I could stitch them to the zipper tape, rather than having them under the zip tape for more bulk. I admit this is where I ran out of time for my actual birthday. All the public parts of the dress were complete (just barely!), but I did not have time to do the hand-stitching to make the inside nice. I took care of that this weekend.
The pattern comes in two views: this ruffle neck version, sleeveless, and a neck binding version with a sleeve. Loved the sleeve so I decided to add it to this version. Of course the bodices of the different views are different, and the armscye is not shaped the same. But I was on limited time here and decided to cut out the version I knew and assume I could ease the sleeve into the wrong armhole. In retrospect, it would have been just as easy to correct the neckline on the other version. As it turns out, I didn't have any trouble easing the sleeve into the armscye. However, I cut a size 4 sleeve to match my armscye and really should have cut larger. I had to let out the sleeve's underarm seam to get room for my bicep. It fits, but is noticeable while wearing.
My second problem was that I didn't think to do a broad back adjustment. Curses! I don't have any trouble with the first version, but of course it's sleeveless, which gives me the range of motion I need. With the sleeves I definitely need more room across the shoulder blades.
I moved the zipper to center back, because I hated the way the zipper coil created a bulge at the side seam in my original version. I sewed the center back seam from the neckline for about 2.5 inches below the neckline seam allowance, so as not to interfere with ruffle application, and then inserted the zip. To give myself as much room across the back as possible, I sewed it with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance (much narrower than the zipper tape). It helped a little.
My other change was to raise the neckline 3 inches in cutting just to make sure I had plenty of coverage. I cut two of those inches off after the dress was assembled. My neckline, in addition to being raised, is also slightly narrower at lower center front than the wide U as drafted. I am 1000% more comfortable with the neckline on this one, which does not show my bra.
Unfortunately, the expensive matching rose trim I bought for this fabric didn't go with this project, so I'll have to come up with another use for it.
But I love everything else about it! It was so fun for a birthday dress. I wore my "tiara" to work and met up with friends for a fabulous outdoor happy hour at Poste after.
I got myself the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid and have already made one batch of ice cream, chocolate peanut butter. Unbelieveable. And I am hoping that my gift from my mom arrives today--you will all be jealous. All in all, a very good birthday this year.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.