This is the second project I was talking about in my last post. The pattern is the Pastille dress from The Colette Sewing Handbook. I thought it was finished then, but it turned out it wasn't. It's a long story, feel free to skim and/or just look at the photos!
Basically it was all down to the fit of the bodice back. This seems to be a common problem with this pattern (a lot of it was my fault though), but also I made a complete mess of the pleats. I'm going to break this down into sections for ease of reading.
Fabric and Belt
For the skimmers! The fabric is a gorgeous cotton lawn from ebay, the pattern is called Iona. I bought it here, and it also comes with a blue background. My belt is from White Stuff; at £22.50 it is a bit pricey, but I really loved it and thought it would go well with the fabric.
Bodice Back and the world's biggest Sway Back Adjustment
Gosh, where do I start with this! I made a toile (as I always have to do due to fitting issues) and made a sway back adjustment of 3cm at the waist. It looked ok, but it turned out that it wasn't. I think the problem was the fabric I used for the toile. It was an old duvet cover which was polycotton and had a slight stretch to it. I used it for the toile of my Darling Ranges dress, and with hindsight, can now see why I had fitting issues with the back of it too.
Anyway, I made up the back in the cotton lawn, attached it to the skirt and bodice front, and pinned the zip in - there was a huge hunch in the middle of the back. But at least I hadn't sewn the zip in! Now, it was at this point that I should have stepped away from the dress for a few days to consider what to do; but no - I waded on in there, and it all went to hell in a handbag.
I decided to mimic the curve that happens at the bottom of the bodice back when you do a sway back adjustment. I unpicked the bodice back from the skirt, and basically pinned the two together in a curve up to the centre back until it fitted. I blithely sewed it together, hacked off the excess fabric, and finished the rest of the dress, all the while thinking, "my cardigan and belt will cover the worst of it, la-la la la la".
It hung on the cupboard door waiting for me to take some photos, but every time I looked at the back, it seems worse than the last time I looked at it! It started to feel like a guilty secret, which made me think of The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. Honestly, the phase "hot mess" does not even begin to describe it - fur-lined, ocean-going disaster is closer to the mark! There are no photos of this by the way; if there were, the sewing police would confiscate my machine for my own good.
I was quite miffed about this because I loved the fabric so much, and the front is lovely. Would you have a look at that sweetheart neckline -
I am belligerent enough that I refused to let it be a wadder, and as George Michael so eloquently put it, "If you're gonna do it, do it right...", so I ordered another metre of fabric and spent some quality time with my stitch ripper. Let me tell you, unpicking all the back facings was not fun.
I made a new skirt back, and a new toile in cotton fabric. This time I did a 6cm sway back adjustment at the waist, and another 6cm sway back adjustment just below the underarms. I also lengthened the back darts by 4.5cm. The result was a pretty good fit I think, but the fitting was all done by pinning the skirt back and toile to the dress front, which was really quite ridiculous, what with the back facings flapping about!
|You can see here in the print on the fabric how the sway back adjustment at the waist has affected the back waistline.|
Back number one had a lapped zip, but guess what, that was a disaster too! I used the Mastering Zipper Technics class on Craftsy, which is great. The instructions are a breeze to follow, my problem was on the second side of the zip (the side with the lap). In the video, it's a short zip attached to two pieces of fabric, there is no garment front to think about. The lap is sewed with the zip closed, but because I was using a 22 inch zip, the front of the dress was getting in the way. I ended up having to open the zip to sew the lap, and it was a mess! But I was in full on "my cardigan and belt will cover the worst of it" mode at that point.
By the time I got to the zip on back number two, I just wanted it finished, so I used an invisible zip. Now, even if I say so myself, I think I'm getting pretty handy with an invisible zip. This one went in perfectly first time. I know I've posted this before, but this tutorial from By Hand London is the best how-to on invisible zips that I've come across.
The armhole facings on this pattern are similar to the ones on the Colette Crepe Dress pattern. When I made my Crepe dress I used a hand-sewn pick stitch to understitch the facing because I thought it would be tricky to understitch them on the machine due to the shape. I used a tutorial video from Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing - scroll down to the bottom of the page. On this dress I understitched on the machine, and it was really easy. I just put the machine on the slowest speed, and it worked first time.
Here's my top tip on the pleats, do what it says in the instructions. I thought I'd be really smart and sew the pleats up before sewing the back seam; my reasoning was that it would be easier, turns out I was wrong. The pleats didn't match up at the back seam, and it looked like a dogs breakfast. There was no cardigan that was long enough to cover that!
- Full Bust Adjustment of 2cm
- Waist dart lowered by 1.5 inches
- Neckline raised by 1.5cm
- Back neck lowered by 4cm
- Aforementioned mega sway back adjustment - 6cm at the waist, and 6cm just below the underarms
- I like my skirts to be just below the knee, so I lengthened the skirt by 1.5 inches.
I wore this to work today and I love it. I'm glad I stuck with it, but I'm very glad to have it finished!