Going back as far as college, I’ve had a couple of birthday traditions. One which I have just given up this year is to color my hair the night before my birthday so that I wake up on my birthday without any grey hair, but this past year I have started letting my natural hair grow and letting my grey hair show. The second has always been to have a birthday dress. I started with buying myself a White House Black Market dress for the first few years, then things started changing. I would either buy a dress I absolutely loved and couldn’t live without, or make myself something something I would love just as much.
When Phee got in the stretch twill fabrics, I could not have been more excited. I was back in my land of experience, and had so many ideas on what could be made with this fabric. I then ran across the Lila + June Picnic Dress and I knew this pattern was going to be it! One of my favorite dresses that I used to wear all the time was navy, so I knew I wanted to use the navy, but I also wanted to use the coral, so I did some color blocking on the skirt of the dress. This dress has darts, gathers, spaghetti straps, and an invisible zipper. I was ready to take all of these things on after not having sewn a fitted dress like this in far too long.
Muslins are Key
Anytime I’m making a dress with a fitted bodice, I’ll sew a muslin of the bodice first. I went with my measurements for my muslin, making sure to use the stretch twill. I only sewed up the lining without straps or the exterior of the dress, the lining is where the darts are. I found my measurements to be too large, so I sized down for my final dress to the next size down, although after getting the dress completely together I found some additional issues. I suggest completing both the lining and the exterior of the bodice for your muslin, as this will help you find any other things you can’t see with just the lining.
Finding Additional Fit Issues
After I added my zipper, and tried my dress on, I learned that I should have taken more in at the waist, and done some sort of hollow chest adjustment to account for a gapping neckline. I have had a gapping neckline on woven dresses in the past, but I’ve always just dealt with the issue in a different way and it didn’t occur to me that It would be an issue on a dress of this style.
Fixing the Waistline
I picked out the stitches on my waistline 1″ to both sides of each side seam. On the bodice I took a greater seam allowance toward the bottom of the bodice and blended this toward the original seam. I pressed my seam allowances on my bodice and bodice lining as directed by the patter. Since I had added pockets to my dress (yes, I added pockets), I decided to gather the skirt a little more along this area instead of re-sewing this seam. Then I re-did my waist seam.
Fixing the Neckline
I used some clear elastic, slightly pulling as I triple zig zag stitched it to the wrong side of the lining of the bodice between the straps. This was an easy fix for a big problem, and I didn’t have to take things apart or re-cut any pieces to make the fit better. To help keep the lining turned to the inside after the elastic was sewn in, I stitched in the ditch a few stitches between the center front panel and the side panel at the top of the bodice.
I was working on adding a built in bra so that I didn’t have to wear a strapless bra with this dress. After making two fit versions of the Orange Lingerie Esplanade that weren’t quite perfect I ran out of time on getting a perfectly fitted strapless bra. I lightly attached the lining of the bodice at the waistline by hand so that I can easily pull that out once I have the best fit on my Esplande so I can attach it into the dress.
I added pockets to my dress! During the time I was working on this dress there was a sew-along happening around the same time. You can find the details on adding pockets over at Social Dee’s Part 3 Picnic Dress post. I did use a pocket I already had from another pattern, and made it a little bit larger, but I followed sew-along’s post on where to place my pocket.
I love Phee’s new stretch twill so much! I already have many more plans for it, including making some GreenStyle Moxies for my daughter for PE this fall. This fabric has so many different applications and I can’t wait to see what everyone does with it.
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