Yesterday was my birthday and I was mighty spoilt! I am currently writing this post on my brand spanking new MacBook Air courtesy of my awesome Husband :) My parents gave me a Lady Valet dress form as a combined birthday and christmas 2012 present and I am the proud owner of a 1kilogram box of praline chocolates. This could end badly...
Anyway, let's talk about this dress, and more importantly, the pattern itself...
I think there are quite a few of us who have this pattern in our stashes. I've certainly had it for about a year now and was originally inspired to get it when David and I were in town and I saw the exact dress design in a shop window. It was made out of some fabric that I have the vintage twin of (a turquoise polka dot cotton) and it looked so great on the mannequin I bought the pattern that night.
Before I touched my lovely spotty fabric though, I wanted to make it up in a navy cotton knit first for 2 reasons - I wanted to test the pattern and I really wanted to practice sewing with knits a bit more. I finally got my fabric about 2 weeks ago and the dress was added to my list.
The one thing I would like to point out before I get into the review properly, that I was a bit worried about and that none of the other reviews I had read mentioned, was, for lack of a better term - 'boob-gatherage'. AKA, the gathers in the bust gathering into the recess between and on either side of your boobs leaving you with smooth boobs on top and major pools of fabric all around them.
You know what I'm talking about and it looks weird. It also doesn't matter how even your gathers are on the top and bottom, their natural inclination is to move to either side of or in-between your bust.
To prevent this, I ended up wearing a slip with mine and tend to wear slips with all my dresses anyway. Doing this, I found that I didn't really have too many issues with boob-gatherage. However, when I was trying it on, mid-construction, without a slip, it wasn't pretty folks. So I would suggest wearing a slip or singlet to prevent the uneven gathers when wearing it. Alternatively, you could draft another pattern piece with no gathers in it, that fits straight across your bust and insert that piece under the gathered bust. I couldn't really be bothered with that though...
The main construction issue I had with this pattern was getting the sizing right. There are so many conflicting reviews about which size to cut. I ended up reading so many and getting bogged down in them, that I eventually went with my gut and cut 2 sizes smaller in the gathered bust and 1 size smaller all over. I had a lot of fabric and so it wouldn't have been an issue if I had needed to recut any of the pattern pieces had I got the sizing wrong. Luckily I didn't have to worry about that as the dress fit perfectly.
I found that some of the instructions made constructing the dress harder than it needed to be. On the lower bust, they ask you to tuck the top and bottom edges in and then topstitch it to the top bust and skirt. Personally, I think that doing it that way would be so much harder to keep your seams straight and neat and so instead, I stitched them right sides together first and then top stitched. Yes, you are doubling up your stitches, but it ends up looking neater and you've strengthened your bodice this way.
There was also a part about using tear out interfacing on the top gathers. Hmmmm, I ignored that bit.
The only slightly difficult section in the dress is making sure your bust gathers are even to begin with. To ensure the right fit and distribution of gathers, once I had attached the bottom bodice to the lower gathers on the top bodice, I put the incomplete bodice on my dress form. I pinned the shoulders in place where I wanted them to sit and then gathered my top bodice in. I found that this worked really well to make sure I was happy with the amount of gathers in there, that they were evenly distributed and that I liked the where the neckline sat.
I have to be honest, I didn't really like dress to begin with, but it did grow on me quite quickly. It's so comfortable and it's the perfect travel dress! David and I went away for the weekend and spent a few hours in the car before we took these where we were staying (they had chickens!! Pictures below!) and you wouldn't guess.
I do need to wear a belt with it but I would probably wear one anyway. It was a quick dress to make up and I'm quite sure that another of these is in my sewing future. Vintage turquoise polkadots, here I come!
If you have any questions about the dress please let me know in the comments, I'd be glad to try and answer them for you.
Now, onto the chickens!! This dress is so versatile that you can go from Travelling Movie Star to Chic Farm Girl in one foul (fowl?) swoop :)
Turns out chickens don't come when they are called. Much like cats...