This is a dress I made towards the end of the summer last year. There was so very few social gatherings of any sort last (and this) year that being invited out for a couple of drinks in a friends garden one evening actually inspired me to make a new dress!! I do love my comfy clothing but after so many months of only really wearing joggers and sweatshirts I was actually craving wearing a dress. However on the actual evening the temperature dropped and I didn’t wear the dress in the end. I’m hoping as we approach the summer months this year I will have more opportunity to wear it.
This dress pattern appealed to me when I first saw it because it looked stylish, feminine and comfortable. The pattern is McCalls 7969. It offers two lengths, a maxi and a shorter length. There are various sleeve options with and without frills and the option to add a frill to the hem. I opted to make the maxi version with the bell sleeves and no frills.
Another reason for choosing to make this dress was that I had discovered the pure joy of Rachel Parker’s beautiful designs for Dashwood Studio. I was carrying several of her designs on a viscose base in my online shop. Each time I cut a new order made me love the designs more. As I watched the rolls diminish rapidly I decided to indulge and go for it before it was to late!
I always make a toile because sadly I am not a standard size. Over the years I have got to know the areas that are going to cause me the most problems when dressmaking. Namely always the bust. I have a small back size but a fuller bust. Even though this is a looser fit and the pattern has dual sizing I knew it wasn’t a guarantee for a good fit.
I liked some of the style features on the pattern like the gathered sleeve head. This is something that I thought might help with how the dress fitted across the bust line. With more ease of movement in the sleeve there might be less tightness over the bust area.
I made my toile in calico. Normally I would use a fabric similar to the fabric I plan to use but I knew that calico would be unforgiving when it came to fit. Sure enough I could see straight away that there were pull lines over the bust. There are no darts in the bodice pieces so I located the bust point and marked this on the toile.
I re-drew the front bodice piece, marking the bust point. I drew lines out to the shoulder seam, side seam, front line and waist seam. I cut this from the waist line up and out to each point adding the fullness I needed at the bust point. I then created a dart from the waist seam to the bust point. I re-toiled in a fabric similar to the viscose and it worked perfectly.
On the finished dress I hand stitched the wrap together with a couple of discreet stitches at the front where the dress lay naturally. I’m not sure if this is something that happens with everyone or more with fuller busts, I often find a wrap style like this will fall open when leaning forward – a little to widely!!
The neck is finished with a narrow neck band that is hand finished on the inside. Sometimes hand finishing can feel a bit laborious but generally it is always worth it. I think this is a much nicer finish. If I had tried to machine this I feel it may have stretched and distorted the neckline.
I am ready to float round in this dress when the weather allows, even if its only in the garden!