This blog post is all about my new dress. This is a floral version of the Plaid Rockabilly Dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. I have recently discovered a passion for dresses, especially now that I have a fitted bodice pattern that fits me properly, and, of course, a book of endless variations!
I used patterns from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. I attended a dressmaking workshop with Gertie earlier this month, where she personally fitted the basic bodice pattern to each student. I made up a dress using that bodice and a 3/4 circle skirt (also from the same pattern book). I love that dress so much, so I decided that I definitely needed to make more!
In the past I have been very disappointed with fitted bodice patterns, and usually I have ended up being discouraged and losing my sew-jo. Having a bodice that fits changes everything though, and makes dressmaking a joy, just like it should be. And to top it all off – it is great to have a set of patterns to use the same bodice that has already been fitted with variations so that I don’t have to start from scratch each time.
I used the same bodice pattern for this dress, I made one small modification – I raised the centre front of the v-neck by about 3/4 inch. The neckline of the lemon dress is just a touch too low for my preference, especially for a dress that I wear to work and to pick up the kids from school etc (not that its stopped me from wearing it – nothing will stop me from wearing that dress!). So, I just redrew the line using a french curve ruler – the v-neck isn’t a straight line, it is slightly curved.
I did make a toile in calico, I did the full bodice and a single sleeve only. The lemon fabric is a cotton sateen, which has a little bit of stretch, but this dress is made with a cotton poplin – which has absolutely zero stretch on the straight grain, so I wanted to make sure that the bodice would fit properly, and I wanted to make sure that I liked the puff sleeve. It turns out that I liked it very much, and no further modifications to the bodice were needed.
I swapped out the all-around pleated skirt for the side-pleated skirt. I am not a fan of having extra bulk at the front, I don’t think its flattering on me. Fortunately, all the skirts are interchangeable with the different bodice patterns in this book, so there really should not have been any problems.
However, when it came time to attach the skirt, it didn’t fit! I’m not sure if I made a mistake when transposing the adjustments made to my bodice pattern or not, but whatever it was, it didn’t fit, so I ended up with only two pleats at each side on the front. I had to ease the skirt in ever-so-slightly to make it fit the bodice, but that was a better fit than before. The back fit perfectly without any adjustment required.
When I made my toile, I didn’t do the seam binding on the sleeves, which I should have. The sleeves are just a little bit tight, I haven’t yet decided (which probably means I won’t) whether or not to take off the binding and do new binding with an extra half inch – yes, just that small amount. They did end up looking very neat and tidy, with a small amount of hand sewing to secure them to the inside.
The Fabric and Trimmings
The main fabric is a cotton poplin from Gertie’s line by Fabric Traditions, currently available at Spotlight. I cut the front bodice out carefully so that I didn’t get any unusual pattern placement at the bust. I had a try at some pattern matching down the centre back seam, using the method that Gertie demonstrated during the dressmaking workshop. It was pretty close, but not quite exact, and I completely forgot about doing any pattern matching from the front down through the skirt – I will have to work on that next time.
However, I am pleased with my rapid skill development at inserting lapped zippers – something I was never able to do before. Believe it or not, when I first put this dress on to take photos, the zipper actually broke! So I had to unpick it, and insert a new zipper. And you know what? It wasn’t a problem, it went in easy – and I think it actually went in better the second time around.
In the book, Gertie uses a plaid fabric for this dress, and cuts the plaid on the bias for the exposed facing. Because this fabric has an all-over print, I didn’t think that cutting it on the bias would have quite the same visual impact, so I used a coordinating scrap from Gertie’s polka-dot and rose border print cotton sateen – its actually the last bit left over from the dresses that I made for my daughters with Gertie’s leftovers from the workshop.
I used some vintage cotton lace in lieu of the ric rac, its a coordinate of the lace that I used for my daughters dresses – when I was working on both of these projects it never occurred to me just how matching they are! I guess that it all just seemed to work for me.
I used the lace again on the hem. This hem is slightly curved, I did deviate slightly from the book’s instructions to sew it up. First, I finished the raw edge with the overlocker, then I ironed up the hem. I actually used a nifty new tool that I acquired recently – a Dritz Ezy-Hem. After ironing, I stitched the hem up, then I applied the lace over the top of my original stitching line.
In the end I really like the sleeves, I don’t normally like this length of sleeve, and I’ll admit that I was worried it might look a little bit too ‘twee’ with the puff sleeves – more like something I would dress my daughters in when they were toddlers, but I do like, and I really like the length that this dress is. I didn’t alter the length at all, and I’m a bit below average height, but I like this length on me, its quite flattering, and works with the fullness of the skirt.
However, the thing that I like best about this dress … the thing that makes it my current favourite dress … is that is has pockets!
I love this inseam pockets, they were easy to add in, and make this dress so practical for a mum-on-the-run like me. They are definitely going to be included for all future dressmakings.
So, I hope you enjoyed the story of this dress and thanks for reading.