I have gone far too long without telling you about my most favorite of dresses. It took FOREVER to finally get pictures–and let me warn you: they’re not great. They’re significantly less than great. Now that my first wave of wardrobe sewing is nearing a finish, I think it would be well worth the time to get out with my camera and learn to use it properly. But, for now, let’s talk about the dress!
It is dress that was born from the failed Sew for Victory Dress that I made to wear to my friend’s wedding. In the week leading up to the Sunday afternoon affair, as I was finishing up the bridesmaid dresses, I began to feel queasy about wearing my pseudo-40s getup in public. Not that it looked terrible, but that it just wasn’t comfortable to wear.
And if there is one thing that you want to be as a single gal at a friend’s wedding, it is comfortable. Okay, maybe “gorgeous” would be a better first choice. But, being overdone smells of desperation, I think (I have very specific opinions on how to handle singledom. I won’t go into those here), while being comfortably cute says, “I didn’t need to try too hard today. Because I’m totally fine with how my life is going. Bouquet toss? No, thank you. Unless the bouquet is full of chocolate covered gummi bears. In that case, get the crappity-crap out of my way.”
So, I started looking at my fabric stash and my patterns. I picked out Butterick 4443 because it looked very simple and didn’t require a lot of fabric. And then I remembered some totally adorable fabric I’d bought along with my SFV fabric and thought maybe I could whip out view A in just a couple of days. However, the fabric I’d bought had a very big, bold print and I didn’t want to have to worry about pattern matching and centering and all that.
I can’t say precisely when the idea hit me. I believe I was looking at the sandals I’d bought to go with my dress, and I had pulled out the necklace I wanted to wear. Or maybe I caught a glimpse of this little bag I had made from scraps of Swiss dot. Somehow, a vision came to me and all I could do was succumb.
Using the bodice pattern from B4443 and the tiniest of scraps left over from this blouse and the aforementioned bags (seriously, I had significantly less than a yard) plus some scraps of the cotton voile lining I’d dyed for the dress, plus the existing skirt from my SFV dress which I had to re-pleat to match the circumference of the bodice waist, I managed to cobble together this tiny little miracle of a dress.
There are wrinkles above the bust due to an incorrect bust curve, but I simply didn’t have the brain (or time) to make them disappear.
When first researching the pattern, I discovered that Jenny (who hasn’t written in a long time, sad face) had found a way to sew in a corselette to keep the bodice secure. Since I’m not one to be happy about my clothes randomly falling off, I decided to give her method a try. Her tutorial is very simple, so putting the thing together was a cinch. I made a few changes, however. Because I chose to put my zipper at the side seam in order to work with my skirt, I didn’t put boning at the sides. I also chose to sew a simple hem at the bottom rather than enclose it in bias or stay tape.
In the end, however, I decided not to use the corselette after all. The boning gave the bodice a really strange shape–like a breastplate–and, to my knowledge, there would be no jousting at the wedding. So, I just followed the pattern directions and fused interfacing to all the bodice pieces. I also staystitched all the pieces to avoid stretching across the top even though it’s mostly cut across the grain. I wasn’t taking any chances.
Once the dress was all but complete (I just needed to insert the lining), I tried it on and put it through a rigorous stress test. I walked, ran, jumped, rolled on the floor, played with the cats, did jumping-jacks–everything I could think of. I kept it on for well over half an hour. Not only was it super comfortable, but it also did not budge. I think that my full bust plus full abdomen help keep it in place. I did notice that on the day of, the bodice did seem to stretch just a tad, but not so much that it moved out of place. I didn’t have to hoist it up once!
Unfortunately, I seem to have lost a bit of weight and now the bodice is a bit loose around the waist and it causes a lot of wrinkles. It is possible that the waist has stretched, so I’m going to wash it and see if it gets its shape back. I do have some thoughts about the pattern itself. There is a ridiculous amount of ease–especially for a strapless top! I had to take in every seam by at least 1/4″. If you decide to make this pattern, I highly recommend that you measure the pattern pieces before you choose your size.
I feel like this is one of those happy accident dresses that never would have happened if I’d planned it, but because of the trippy little journey, I ended up with something uniquely me. (Also, notice how it fits into my color palette!) The only sad thing is that I don’t really ever get a chance to wear it, and now that it’s fall, it’s time to put it away until warm spring weather. Let’s just hope that next spring is full of afternoon tea parties and glitzy brunches.
So, what about you–what was your most serendipitous sewing moment?