I’m so pleased to finally share this dress with you. I think I offered enough teasers of it here, here and here to pretty much show the whole thing before revealing it. There wasn’t even a special reason for holding it back, it’s just that I built up to it in stages and wanted to wait for good photo opportunities seeing as I love the dress so much.
Luckily I made this dress just in time for Hawaii – perfect photo chances if ever I saw them! (In fact I took about 700 photos in the 6 days there – don’t worry I won’t force you to look at them all!) But it was such glorious weather for posing!
I started with the bodice of a vintage pattern – Simplicity 5954, but took it in a couple of inches at the side seams and then adjusted the location of the bust darts. I kept the shape and size of the back bodice as I knew the extra fabric would be enough to be an overlap for the button placket. Then I raised the front neckline to be a scooped boat neckline.
I tried to line up the pattern in the middle and chose a line that would stand out and draw the eye as the fabric doesn’t actually repeat when cut in that width. I’m SO pleased with how well that centre line matches from the bodice to the skirt.
As much as I love this fabric (and it’s always extra satisfying when it complies with my stashbusting pledge), I wanted to add a bit of a contrast to it around the neckline. I spent a while deciding how to do this before finally settling on some black applique around the neckline…this involved making A LOT of my own bias binding, A LOT of measuring to check the celtic design would fit symmetrically (I did print a design and drew around it as a bit of a guide, but I had to keep moving it to get the size I wanted). Typically, once I had this idea in mind I didn’t want to wait until I had all the necessary equipment – I’m sure this would have been easier with some kind of fusible bondaweb or something, but instead I relied on HUNDREDS of pins. Literally about 100, I wish I’d taken photos of this step, but I was far too focussed! Once I’d pinned down the bias strips, weaving them in and out, I sewed down either edge of the strips = sewing binding down with 4 lines of stitching.
Then I attached the skirt to the bodice, because I wanted to keep the stripes completely vertical I decided to pleat the rectangle rather than gather the fabric as it was too thick. I also made some more bias binding which I sewed on like an inside out facing to make a nice neat hem, which I think also balanced the hem with the neckline.
Just to make even more work I then chose the smallest possible buttons and decided to sew them close together – just look at all those buttons! I love them!! I feel sure that Betty Draper would like this dress, especially the shape, even if she didn’t like the fabric.
And then we got to take lots of lovely photos outside the beautiful Iolani palace in Honolulu. It was rather nice to be wearing lots of my own clothes in all of our holiday snaps.