Carolina Mae is a pretty shifty character. She was reluctant to become a rayon challis dress, but she eventually volunteered to be sewn up in this gingham shirting, which was part of a recent pre-cuts sale at fabricmart. Having already assembled, traced and muslined the bodice with a high neckline. I took the top edge of the bodice in a quarter of an inch then cut out the size M with a 24″ sleeve and a 42″ length from my gingham.
Then stupidity wouldn’t let go. You know that time when you know you should stop working because you are tired. That was me. I really wanted to wear my new gingham maxi to my spinning guild meeting, but housework meant a late start and not nearly as much progress as I’d hoped. The bodice and skirt were complete, but needed to be attached, and then have a zipper added and the bottom hemmed. The instructions called for attaching both the bodice and bodice lining to the skirt all as one with a 1/4″ seam. This seam could then be finished. It seemed like a very sloppy method and having sewn the Made by Rae Geranium Dress, which nicely sandwiched the skirt between the two layers, I wanted to go with that. It was a trainwreck. Straight lines were hours behind me when I tried to fold up the lining hem 1/4″ and catch it by stitching in the ditch below the front waistband after using a 3/8″ seam to attach the two I missed a lot of the lining waistband. Two tries later I set it aside. This did allow for a try on and convince me that the gathers needed to be converted to pleats to minimize the pregnant belly effect.
It felt like a lot of work went into the bodice and the many ways it might not fit and would need to be altered, but that after that the simplest rather than the best methods were employed for the design and instructions. The long sleeves where huge and the skirt had more than enough fabric to go around my waist twice, gathered at the waist. Still the bodice is nice and I love the options, but I ended up making a quite a few changes before being happy with the dress. It was worth spending a couple of early hours picking out the layers of messed up stitching in order to make them.
The first change was to add pockets (The Mendocino Sundress Pockets are my go to) 8″ below the waistline. Then I worked out pleats and decided that some of the waistline fabric simply had to go. Trimming 3″ from each side (12″ total) and grading it down to the pockets using the hip curve on my French curve made that easy. Gingham was awesome for making these changes too. as I could count down or across squares to line things up. Six front and four back pleats did the rest of the work smoothing out the waistline. Then using the method described above I created a clean interior. Finally, the switch to an invisible zipper gave the back a clean finish and taking in the binding on each cuff 4″, re-gathering and re-sewing the cuffs took care of the gigantic sleeves.
It was all worth redoing to get the dress desired. Maybe next time I’ll stop when I should have. If I had, the dress might have been done in time.
What changes would I make in the future? I would move the pockets up an inch or two, use the included low neckline for warm season garments and raise the back neckline for cold season garments. Possibly bring the shoulders in half an inch and definitely do away with partial under stitching on the bodice. There is no reason it can’t be under stitched entirely again creating a better finished garment.
Now to find out what flannel I have that could be used for this.