For those of you who have been following along with the Sew-along Mum and I finally got around to finishing our dresses. Phew, yippee... now for accessories!!
Here's our experience of making B6556.
As a general rule I tend to naturally opt for princess seam bodices, mainly because I find them to be more flattering. Therefore I had a feeling that this dress was going to present some challenges! The toile stage definitely did take some time, but Mum and I tackled it head on. I think it is a really worthwhile exercise to take the time and get a darted bodice to fit well. Once you get the pattern spot on you can use it to compare to other patterns or just swap it out for the one you know fits - job done! Furthermore it is very easy to convert a darted bodice to princess line too - perhaps something for the vlog when it launches.
Instructions for constructing the dress can be found on Gertie's blog, here. We also followed along with the B6556 sew-along group on facebook. Here the bigger than C/D+ cup ladies did need to do a full bust alteration (FBA) and did seem to need a bit of help with sorting their darts out. Gertie did a great post on reducing the FBA slightly if you end up with bust 'flaps'. See here.
After making the bodice I did have a slight annoying fit issue crease on my left side. However I am pleased to report that after inserting the zipper combined with the weight of the skirt the crease almost disappeared.
I am also usually an invisible zip kinda-gal, however I bit the bullet and did a lapped zipper as per the instructions. There is something really lovely about a lapped zipper, but I also feel there is more room for error, especially if you don't do them often. Perhaps I just need to sew a few more! Just make sure you don't skip the interfacing stage!
Around the same time I made the dress I also watched Alison Smith's Craftsy Couture Dressmaking class which inspired me to do a few things differently.
- Underlined the bodice with calico to add structure to the fabric
- Added boning to the calico layer at the front and back
- created a balanced waist dart due to thickness of a fabric
If you haven't already guessed I highly recommend this Craftsy class. I am realising that I am a bit of a structure queen and if I can add boning and underlining I happily will. Perhaps as I get older and everything begins to head south I feel it helps to create a more desirable silhouette or perhaps I just enjoy getting the pliers out:)
I also added belt loops at the waist so the belt stayed where it should.
Mum also used a Craftsy class for help with her full bust alteration (or adjustment) and contacted the teacher Jenny Rushmore who suggested making the french dart into bust dart. This is a great class if you are new to bust alterations.
In summary these were the alterations I made:
- Used size 12 and graded out at waist slightly
- Did a FBA but ended up reversing this to a very small 0.5cm (if that!).
- Lowered bust darts
- Moved waist darts to point to apex
- Gape dart at neckline (pinched out excess at neckline and opened out waist dart to accommodate)
- Sewing darts - For me I found sewing the waist darts as straight lines rather than curved (as the legs of the darts are drawn on the pattern) to result in a much better outcome
- Armscye - pinched out excess at the back as making the sleeveless version
- Sway back alteration
- Full Bust adjustment 2.5cm
- French dart to bust dart
- Shortened bodice by 2.5cm
- Moved bust apex down by around 2cm
- Gape dart at neckline
- Next time she will also do a sway back alteration
After a few selfies, toiles and frustrations it's fair to say that mum and I got there in the end! There are a few things we would do differently if we made it again (for Mum the sway back alteration and I would pinch out the crease on the left side and lower the armscye slightly), but overall we were both happy with our dresses.
I can't recommend sewing a garment as a sew-along with a friend or a family member enough. I find it really does spur me on to make sure I don't fall too far behind and when you come against questions of difficulties nothing beats talking it through with someone in the same boat.
This is a really beautiful classic summers dress that I think is very flattering. One I think I'll definitely make again.
Thanks for reading,