This past Saturday, I finally accomplished my two main goals for this month:
1. I finished The Birthday Dress!
2. And I turned 30!
It was a superbly relaxing day, followed by an evening that included probably the most delicious steak I’ve ever eaten, (thanks again for taking us all out, dad! <3 ) and some birthday drinks and lively camaraderie with my awesome friends and family!
And now for the skinny on the dress. It’s not without faults, (though, what is?) but I’m happy with the way it turned out, and I just love wearing it. Mmm…silk charmeuse. Purchased a few moons ago at the lovely Fabric Mart.
After my second muslin, I took care of the gaping issue that was happening at the neckline, but it was still way too low cut for my comfort level. I’m not afraid of showing some skin, but this was just too much. So, I created a modesty panel. Some of the other versions of this dress I saw on Burda’s website had modesty panels, but they were straight across, and I felt like it took something away from the design of the dress. Thus, I opted for a V shape.
So, how did I make the modesty panel? I honestly mostly eyeballed it, measured a few places, and came up with this pattern:
There are so many internal lines because I kept looking at it and thinking it needed to be bigger. And it ended up working just about perfectly! I sewed the top seam, trimmed/clipped and pressed, and then serged the three remaining sides. I attached it by sewing the bottom middle of the panel to the seam allowance of upper midriff/bodice seam. Then, I pinned the sides to the inside neckline of the dress until it looked right, and sewed by machine right underneath one of the neckline pleats.
Speaking of serging, here’s the inside of the dress:
I really wanted to treat this beautiful fabric with the loving attention it deserved, but due to the gathering in many places, and plain ol’ time constraints, it just wasn’t possible to finish the frock with french seams.
Another issue I had was with the bust gathers. In my second muslin, the bust looked perfect, but in the finished dress it kind of looks like I have some weird, low nipples. This is the one part of the dress that I’m not so happy with, but it’s the only thing. I had some issues sewing the neckline pleats (major fabric distortion – wish I had taken a picture…it was so horrifying the way the neckline was just hanging there!) so I imagine that could have something to do with this nip-ish. This is a good argument for using a fabric that actually mimicks the hand of your final garment fabric, instead of just cotton muslin. You can see the issue from the side in the two following photos:
The pattern called for an invisible zipper, but I could not for the life of me find one in a matching color at JoAnn. So, I bought a normal zipper and decided to install it in a lapped fashion, per the awesome Ms. Gertie’s instruction. I figured it just made sense, being a vintage-inspired pattern. I even went the extra mile and hand-picked (AKA hand stitched) it.
Remember the hunchback on my muslin? Got rid of it by shortening the whole bodice 1/2″ and then doing a 1/2″ swayback adjustment. No horizontal removal of gathers or pleats required! :)
Burda’s instructions for hemming the skirt and sleeves were to sew 3/8″ away from the edge and then trim close to stitching – AKA leave it raw. I was a little wary of this approach, as I suspected my fabric would fray and the edges would look like crap. However, I decided to give it a try anyway (except that I sewed 1/4″ away and didn’t trim close to the stitching). After trying the dress on a couple of times, this is what the sleeves and hem looked like:
Not cool. I decided to do a baby hem instead, which you could imagine was kind of a pain in the ass on sleeves that were already attached. Nothing a documentary on Rasputin, plus a couple episodes of British TV shows via Netflix can’t handle. I guess I’m a wee bit slow, as it took me a couple of hours to do this part! This work also happened to occur on the afternoon of my birthday. I didn’t have any other plans besides sewing, and I knew I would get it done in plenty of time, so it was actually a pretty relaxing task.
I used this tutorial as a refresher for the baby hem, and am quite happy with the result.
Also, I just love the sleeves in general. So fluttery and feminine. When I had them first sewn, they seemed a bit too voluminous, but some steaming set them right into place!
And lastly, the back! The upper back pleats were a little tricky to sew straight, (should’ve used some sort of spray starch for all of these pleats, or underlined the fabric to give it more body) and I ended up having to cut two backs because the pleats were totally crooked on the first one!