I was lucky enough to be given the Deer and Doe Sureau dress pattern for Christmas, along with two metres of Liberty Mitsi Tana Lawn to make it with. With the arrival of Spring and the prospect of warmer weather it seemed like the perfect project.
I have put a bit of weight on over Christmas (and beyond). I’m not exactly sure how much as I haven’t weighed myself in six months but my clothes are getting a little too snug around the waist. I struggle to get through winter and the prospect of dieting in January is just far too depressing so I have been binge watching Netflix and comfort eating (mainly chocolate) to get me through those last cold dark months. Now Spring has arrived a switch has been flipped in my brain and I am now craving Olives and Beetroot so hopefully some of the extra padding might start to drop off!
The point is that I’ve been a little bit worried that any new clothes I make will end up being too small. I decided to do the sensible thing and retake all my measurements (honestly and without breathing in!) which I hadn’t actually done for two years!
I wasn’t going to cut straight in to the Liberty without first doing a trial run so I decided to use some drapey wine viscose twill from the stash. I thought I would do things properly this time and cut the bodice based on my high bust which came out at 44. There was a two inch difference between this and my actual bust measurement so I did a 2 inch Full Bust Adjustment and graded out to a 46 at the waist. I also shortened the bodice by an inch. There are gathers down the front of the bodice which are joined on to a ‘faux’ button placket. I distributed my gathers evenly between the pattern markers. I also added another placket on the inside, sandwiching the raw edges to keep things tidy. The fabric was a bit fiddly to sew as it kept moving around (it was a bit like trying to tame an eel!) and it seemed to stretch out and grow with every seam I sewed. Once I’d sewn the shoulder seams I decided to try it on for size, it was huge, a good two inches either side on front and back. It was then that I realised that maybe I didn’t need a FBA because I hadn’t taken the button placket into account when I measured the bodice pieces! I had also significantly underestimated the amount of ease in the pattern. The unstable fabric choice didn’t help either (on a side note I have some of the same fabric in Aubergine to make an Aubepine just so I could say ‘Aubergine Aubepine!’ I’m having second thoughts now as the chances of getting those pintucks straight are headache inducing!)
I took the side seams in as best I could but had to start recutting the armsyches. I was at this point contemplating throwing it in the bin but decided to see it through to the bitter end. I tried it on once it was assembled and it was ‘wearable’ but looked a bit frumpy (like a charity shop find that was a couple of sizes too big) My solution to this was to chop 3 inches off the bottom (I have been spurred on to shorter lengths after my weekend Doris) which made it a bit better skirt wise. The bodice was still a bit too big and gave the distinct impression of saggy boobs. This was mainly due to the unnecessary FBA but the gathers and the drapey fabric really didn’t help. It’s wearablebut but proved that I have seriously overcompensated my fear of making it too small!
After my first learning curve I decided to give it another go. This time I chose a nice stable cotton. I cut a 44 at the shoulders and graded out to a 46 at the bust and waist (this time I didn’t do a FBA) I also shortened the bodice again by an inch. The cotton was a lot easier to work with and it came together well. Another thing that bothered me about my first dress was the lack of pockets. The pattern has a 16 inch side zipper but I found that I could easily get in and out of my first dress with the zip pulled only 3 inches below the waist. I decided to fit a shorter zip and add side seam pockets below. I added a bit of a curve to the waist darts which has made a lot of difference to the underbust. I also concentrated the gathers higher up. The fit on this version was a lot better, the only mistake I made was forgetting to staystitch the neckline which has stretched out a bit. I also got a bit carried away with the hemming and it is possibly a little too short but it’s fine with tights. The stability of the fabric also highlighted that I don’t really need to shorten the bodice.
So for the final version I am going to:
- Cut staraight out of the packet! 44 shoulders and 46 bust and waist.
- Shorten the side zip
- Add side seam pockets
- Move the gathers down a bit so they are in line with my bust apex
- Curve the waist darts again, I’m amazed at the difference this made and I may start doing this with all waist darts in the future.
- I want to add a little cuff to the sleeve, I like little cuffs!
I’m starting to realise that a lot of my blog posts seem to be chronicling all the mistakes I make along the way, I may have to change the name or tagline to ‘Helen’s catalogue of sewing errors’!
Hopefully the next post will be a perfect fitting liberty Sureau (fingers crossed!)