I can now confess that I was starting to doubt whether or not I was going to get this completed in time as the days were ticking by and I was struggling to find that elusive 'free' time to knuckle down to some serious sewing, but I somehow got there with days to spare!
I knew it needed to be completed by the weekend, as there was going to be very little/no oppurtunity for photos after this point. This is a wee photoshoot of the dress literally hot off the sewing machine. The weather has not been kind however and the day could not have been gloomier for such a springy dress. Booooo!
My gorgeous suede shoes started to suffer on the soggy grass, so had to be removed for their own safety.
Yes, that is a hand stitched zip you see before you!
I made some alterations to the pattern. Not too many, but see the dodgy seam in the below picture? It went right across the wrong part of my bust and this is without the addition of the band. Those crazy darts would have been visible by the way! I don't think the picture quite conveys how weird it actually looked, but trust me, it was a bit obscene.
I recut the lower bodice pieces extending them by 3.5 cm on top and chopped that much from the yoke. This was an easier pattern alteration than trying to get the seam to sit under my bust. I also added the bow to the front to make it a bit prettier, rather than on the back as the pattern states.
I love the pocket bags in the side panels. They look like the are as deep as the panel, but are in fact normal sized pockets.
When it came to construction, I ditched the provided instructions, which were fairly vague anyway, and did it my way.
Rather than line the bodice in the traditional sense I underlined each bodice piece with a plain white cotton lawn. This not only offers extra support to the seams of this very close fitting dress, but also gives a smoother exterior finish, making it less likely to crease.
The 1.5cm seams were all folded in half and tucked under, so that the raw edges were contained and handstitched down.
I bound the neck and armholes with bias tape and handstitched this down too. The handstitching is concealed to the interior as it only goes through the underlining and not the main fabric.
I wish I'd covered the inside of the zip with a cotton tape facing. It looks a bit messy to me now that everything else is complete, but that's just picky as no-one else is going to see this.
I think the pocket bags were supposed to be french seamed, but I just sewed and overlocked the seam, as I did for the whole of the skirt construction. Time was running out, so I applied a less refined, but neat finish to the skirt.
I attached a cotton tape to the waist to act as a stay. This was stitched with a slip stitched along the bottom edge and herring bone along the top for a little bit of movement.
The fabric that was sent to me by Offset Warehouse is such a good match for this dress. It is drapey and wonderfully soft. It was such a good feeling to work with an organic fabric, as this is not something I normally consider when selecting fabric. It has a vintage, heirloom quality to it and has produced a garment that I will treasure and wear with pride for as long as I can fit into it.
I could gush all day long about the profound effect it's had on the way I work. I wanted to respect the fabric completely (as I should always) and put a lot more effort into the finish than I normally would. I've never even hand sewn a zip in before!
This dress has been sewn for the purposes of a competition, but I honestly feel like I've already won by being sent the fabric to make this dress in the first place. Thank you Offset Warehouse and thank you Scruffy Badger for selecting my design. This has been, dare I say it, great fun!