Pattern: Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen, size XS
Fabric: Viscose filament twill with bluebirds and pansies print, £13.50 for 2.5 metres, but I only used 1.7m (found on eebaay)
Other: 12 red buttons from the 1940's, from Clover Crafts and Curios (eebaay seller) £3.20 for 16.
What I did differently:
Last time I used this pattern, I wasn't completely happy with the fit of the bodice.
This time I made the following alterations:
To the darts:
- Lowered them by 1.2cm
- Narrowed them to measure 3cm either side of the central line (instead of 4cm)
- Lengthened them by 3cm along the central line
- Lengthened it by 2.5cm to fit the fronts at the side seams
- Took 2.5cm seams and cut away the excess fabric
- Added a length of cotton tape to the edge of the bodice as I stitched the waist seam, to support the weight of the skirt
- Cut it in one piece to omit side seams
- Lengthened them by 4.5cm
- Stay-stitched the edge before I added the bias binding (top tip - thanks Dixie!)
- Stitched a length of 1-inch wide cotton tape inside the facings to reinforce the buttons and buttonholes
- Used the same satin bias binding I used for the neck facing to finish the hem.
I fell for this fabric the moment I laid eyes on it, and knew it would make a lovely swishy dress.
However, it was very slippery to work with, and I added reinforcing lines of cotton tape wherever I could, to help support the weight evenly as it felt like it would stretch out otherwise. That's why I cut the skirt in one piece, to avoid saggy side seams.
I may have cut the back bodice slightly too wide due to the fabric slippage issue, but it is drapey enough for me to get away with it. Back darts might have been a good idea, but it's OK.
When I read the list of alterations I made, it sounds a bit intimidating, but I still reckon this pattern has a lot to offer a non-expert sewist. The instruction booklet and Megan's sewalong blog posts cover all the construction and fit details you could ever need.
Personally, I learned an awful lot from re-drafting the bodice to personalise the fit. I feel ready to tackle a more complicated dress now, instead of sticking to separates out of fear of the unknown world of bodices!
The only thing I would do differently next time is to stitch up most of that buttoned front instead of working 12 blinking buttonholes which I will never need to open or close! There is half a day's needless work right there!