Monday, 31 August 2015

Sew Over It - 1940s Tea Dress

I completely forgot to post this one! This was my Spring for Cotton make, as mentioned here way back in April. I wrote some of this post before my laptop died and have only just remembered it....

I had been thinking about a 1940s style dress for a while and when Spring for Cotton came along it was the nudge I needed to buy a pattern. I couldn't find an original vintage pattern that I liked in time for the challenge, and having never sewn sewn from one before I decided to purchase the Sew Over It vintage style 1940s Tea Dress. I'm glad to say I did, because the style is just what I was after.

The fabric came from Stitch Fabrics, it's called Sea Shell Lawn. My sister bought tickets for a girly day at the Sewing for Pleasure & Fashion Embroidery & Stitch Show at the NEC in Birmingham in March. I got it then along with a few other lengths of fabrics. The fabric was really lovely to work with. Nice and crisp when it needs to be, but soft and not easily creased too.

I was a bit of a late comer to Spring for Cotton and although I initially didn't think I would actually finish on time, I surprised myself by being able to complete the dress (minus the hem and buttons on the front) with enough time to take a photo and post it to the Spring for Cotton flickr page on the last day of the challenge. Yay! I'm feeling really bad about not managing to post this now:-s

The alterations I made to the flat pattern didn't really take too much time once I'd made the first muslin of the bodice. I only made two bodice muslins and there were enough panels in the bodice to make any final fit alterations if there were any.

I made the first muslin cutting a size 12 at the bust and hips and grading to a 14 at the waist. After the first muslin I made the following adjustments:
  • Hollow chest adjustment (a tuck of about 2cm along the neckline). But I think I would only do a 1cm tuck on the next dress as it pulls a little. 
  • Lowered the centre front bust panel by 4cm. And took the same out of the lower bodice panels.
  • Added an extra 2.5cm to the length at the shoulder (adjusting the facing with the above alterations.
  • Moved the bust gathers more to the centre front, otherwise I had gathers where I didn't need them and it all looked very strange,
  • Took 1.5cm out of the width of the front bodice from the middle of the shoulder down to the waist, not at the centre front (as the shoulder was a bit out too - yes, perhaps a 10 would have been better - I think I may go back to compare my altered pattern pieces to the size 10!).
  • Altered the sleeve pattern to be a cap sleeve using the first half of Heather B's tutorial here.

After making the whole dress up I also made the following alterations:
  • Took in the dress by 4cm at the centre back (as I was inserting the zip), grading out to the middle of the back bodice (which should remain a 12 on me) and taking more in at the skirt hem (9cm in total!). Perhaps I should have graded from a size 10 out to a 12 at the waist
  • Hemmed the sleeves and skirt with black bias binding.
I enjoyed making the dress and felt confident in the adjustments I'd made. The instruction booklet was clear. I used the Sewalong pages too, which were helpful when I needed a bit more information. I knew how to put in the invisible zip and did it on the first go. Although I wish now that I had run down the zip one more time to get a bit closer and to get the zip a bit more invisible!
:-( Invisible zip, not so invisible

Hazard of taking your own blog photo's - trying to get yourself in the shot!!

I struggled a bit with the facing - especially the point on the 'V'. I think I aligned the centre front at just the edge of the fabric, and not with the seam line oops, I wont do that again! It was rather fiddly and had me cursing for a while. But it looks fine in these photo's.
The one thing I am really annoyed about is my decision to not pattern match the fabric. Because the fabric is busy, I thought I could get away with not matching it. With hindsight I see I should have definitely matched on the centre front of the bust panels. It just looks like I badly matched it rather than actually not bothering!
Tusk! no pattern matching going on here.
The idea with Spring for Cotton is to use 100% cotton fabric and to try to use 100% cotton, or vintage notions. Well, I managed with the fabric, but not so well with the zip and buttons. Although, maybe in the 'make do and mend' style of the 1940s I did reuse buttons from a ready to wear item which came with three spare buttons (very generous!), which I always collect in case I might need.

I love the idea of 1940s style, vintage and dresses. I'm not 100% confident about wearing this one. I do really like the dress on me. Maybe it's just not within my comfort zone and I will need to wear fitted dresses more often for me to feel comfortable in them...
I think I was twirling round, I wasn't falling over, honest!

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