I do like pretty summer dresses, I know I need trousers and tops, but I just couldn’t resist making this one first.
I bought Vogue pattern 8997 pretty much as soon as I saw it, I love it’s simple, elegant design. My original plan was to make this in my red rose fabric, but I didn’t have anywhere near enough fabric, it’s a very fabric hungry pattern. I went into B&M Fabrics store in Leeds for some thread and fell for this magnolia print, it’s a quilt weight cotton, I just thought it was so pretty and at £6 a metre I could afford to get the 4.5m the pattern envelope called for.
What I didn’t realise is how much extra you would need with a one-way pattern. The eight skirt pieces are about 27″ wide and they should be cut with the grainline right down the centre, so they all had to be cut out individually on full width fabric. I was well over a metre short! I fiddled and fiddled, I tried to work out just how noticeable the pattern was, I even tried it sideways. I was tempted to do the front pieces one way and the back another…after about an hour of fiddling I decided to try laying it out again to see exactly how much short I was. I realised that by laying the pieces very slightly off grain, maybe just by an inch, I could place the pieces a lot closer together. I managed to cut it out with an inch to spare!!!
My other issue with cutting out was the sizing. The pattern comes with cup adjustments, which is great for a fitted bodice like this. My confusion was that they ask you to measure the upper bust and the full bust and then subtract the two to work out the cup size, whereas I always thought it was full bust and under bust for cup size. Anyway, I measured as instructed and my measurements were both 36″!!! I decided ignore their method and to go for a c cup as that’s what my bra is. I then checked the actual dress measurement and found that a size 14 (for a 36″ bust) measured 39″, I really didn’t want 3″ of ease around my bust, so I went for my usual plan of size 12 bust tapering to size 14 waist and hips. It fits beautifully!
Once I’d got past the traumas of cutting out and sizing, the actual dress went together very easily. I lined the bodice and french seamed the skirt to make a neat finish inside. I used an invisible zip, mainly because there wasn’t a zip that was anywhere near matching the pale blue. I haven’t used an invisible zip for ages so I quickly googled it to remind myself how to insert it. I read the instructions through twice, noting the bit that suggested checking it’s not twisted before you sew the second side. I stitched the first side, checked the other side hadn’t twisted, stitched it on…and then realised what they meant by twisted, I’d turned it the wrong way and yes, you guessed it, I twisted it!!! Warning, invisible zips are very fiddly to unpick!” The second time it went in fine, only then I had a blip between the end of the zip and the back seam so I ended up unpicking the back seam and restitching it!
The skirt on this dress is wonderfully full, it’s almost a full circle skirt, the hem measures over 5m!!! I wanted to keep as much length as possible as I do like my summer dresses long. I was tempted to stitch it with fuchsia pink bias binding, but it would be just my luck that the colour would run the first time I washed it! In the end I pressed a narrow hem and then stitched with a decorative stitch, I used the one that looks like a blanket-stitch scallop. It’s very secure and it looks pretty.
I love my magnolia dress, I’ve got a posh lunch at Swinton Hall next month with WI, I think it will be perfect.