Ahhh Megan, how I love you!
I wear this dress ALL THE TIME. It goes to work, it goes to the pub, it goes on glitzy nights out with celebrities (OK it doesn't, but it COULD it so COULD).
This pattern is from Tilly and the Buttons 'Love at first stitch' which is a marvellous book complete with full sized, thick paper patterns in a proper pocket on the back cover.
I made this quite some time ago so I'm afraid my exact memory of the process is a little sketchy, however, I thankfully chronicled it's equivalent make in different fabric so I've included that here, you can just ignore the fact that the patterns aren't the same.
So here we go!
Here is the picture from the book so you can see the original pattern before I made it, and changed the neckline
I have learned from bitter experience that the round neckline is not my friend (perhaps it and the selfie are in cahoots with each other?) plus I have a gorgeous dress that I love with a slash neckline and I fear it is not long for this world so thought I’d doctor the pattern a little and try to replicate the neckline on this.
A new technique I have learned thanks to said book is that of tracing a pattern using dress makers’ carbon paper. It’s wonderful for many reasons but two of them are that you don’t have the cut the pattern up so can use all the sizes endlessly and you can copy the exact markings onto your fabric without the hassle of tailor tacks. You pop a bit of brightly coloured carbon paper between pattern and fabric and use what is essentially a tiny serrated pizza wheel to run over the line, thus transferring the lines to your fabric in washable format. The patterns included in the book are printed double sided and pieces overlap so as to make the most use of the paper, it’s therefore either a choice of tracing the whole lot onto a massive sheet of paper and then cutting it out or tracing wheel. I picked tracing wheel, it wins.
Second new technique is that of making a toile (twal?) - a practice version of the important bits of the pattern (in this case the bodice and sleeve) to check fitting without messing up your posh fabric. I’d never done this before but dutifully did what I’m usually terrible at and actually did what it said in the book rather than cutting corners. It paid off; I discovered that it actually fitted pretty well but the toile allowed me to mess around with the neckline and check it didn’t destroy the whole dress (that can happen) before committing to my lovely fabric. I have to confess to being quite impressed with myself. I managed to copy the neckline for the existing gorgeous dress, relocate it on the paper pattern AND adjust the neckline facing without cocking it up! Hurrah!
As you can see it only has one arm and isn’t what you’d call ‘finished’ but it did exactly what it needed to do.
I got to the point of putting the zip in the real dress before realising I didn’t have the right one so had to make an emergency dash to Peter Jones to buy an invisible zip and corresponding foot for my sewing machine. I’ve never fitted an invisible zip before and there was a quite a lot of “now this is really quite tricky but take your time and deep breaths and it will all be fine” in the book so I wasn’t holding out much hope of this being successful. I have to say that invisible zips might be my new favourite thing - not only does the totally counter-intuitive method of fitting them make you feel supremely clever when you’ve worked it out but they also look so darn good!
Well…short of talking about every single stitch (and let’s be honest I’ve done that a bit too much already) there isn’t much more to say other than I finished it and bar some slightly more puffy sleeves than I intended, I am rather pleased with it (obviously I wasn’t trying to pattern match but I think it probably would have looked better if I had - this would, however, have required shed loads more fabric and that costs money so mix and match it is!
Like I said,these dresses are so comfortable, so versatile and are always commented on whenever I wear them - a definite staple of my wardrobe.