Hi everyone! Wedding season has started and I am in desperate need of more formal or semi-formal wear. When two of our friends planned their wedding in June, I wanted to make a fancy-but-not-too-fancy dress. I pictured a vintage-inspired floral dress, perfect for a tea party on mismatched chairs in a lush green garden. I wanted sleeveless, below the knee, and with a lower back. But what about the fabric? The invitation said business casual so no formal gown…
This tulp fabric is perfect! When I found above tulip fabric in a recent Knipmode sewing magazine, I just had to get it! I picked the red variety, however – I want to make another one with a lemon print and I don’t need that much yellow in my wardrobe.
For the pattern I picked something I made last year – the Simple Sew Grace dress. I had done a lot of modifications to the bodice so making it again was the perfect opportunity to do the work once and get the results twice.
I made this cute cactus seersucker dress with it but there were a couple of things to address. First the armhole was still gaping quite a bit. The skirt was nowhere near long enough so I added a 15 cm border to the hem.The bodice itself also sat quite high, making the waistband (there really is one!) ride up under my boobs.
I addressed this problem by adding 2 cm to the armhole and drawing a natural line back to the side seam and shoulder seam.
Then I changed the two darts to princess seams – something that is way more flattering on a large bust anyway.
Finally, I used a waistband I drafted for one of my skirts. For a big girl like me a straight waistband is not flattering at all and was a problem for me during my first dress. I also made the pockets bigger, because bigger is better!
I cut every piece from the fabric using 1.5 cm seam allowance.
After cutting the pattern I made a modification to the back, lowering it like the design I had in mind.
I also cut the front skirt panel wider, to accommodate the extra 9.5cm full-bust adjustment. The back panel was left the same. Both panels are 2 times as wide as my waist bands. I also lengthened the skirt to measure 75 cm.
I wanted to line the white, slightly see-through fabric with itself yet I ran short on fabric. I grabbed some thin cotton, cut a quick facing for front and back and solved it that way.
I used interfacing for stretch fabric on the inner waistband pieces.
I used seam tape to stabilize the arm- and neckhole of the facings.
Then I serged the pockets and three skirt pieces (one for the front, two for the back) with my trusty Singer serger.
Stitching the pocjets on. I also used seam tape on the pocket entrances to prevent sagging.
Finally understitching all pockets.
I loved working with this fabric so much, I took nearly 100 pictures!
Then I stitched the side seams, including the pockets, together with a straight stitch on 1.5 cm seam allowance. I also stitched the pocket opening through the bottom 5 cm to make the opening smaller and prevent stuff falling out. Now these pockets are pretty deep so it probably wasn’t necessary.
I stitched the lining to the facing using a 2.5mm stitch.
Then I clipped and pressed the seam allowance upward.
Topstitched it down using a 4mm stitch.
Here’s the lining all done! I also clipped the curved seams of the princess seams.
Repeated stitching the princess seams and back darts on the outside pieces of the bodice.
Then I stitched the shoulder seams of the outside bodice together, and the shoulder seams of the lining. I placed the outside bodice on the lining, right sides facing and shoulder seams pressed open, and stitched all around the armholes and neckline. If you want to learn more about this technique check out Sew Over It (which also has a tutorial on how to draft your own facings as the Grace dress does not come with one).
I trimmed and clipped the round seams so the seam will look nice and crisp with no puckers.
Finally, I stitched the side seams together and the bodice was ready for fitting.
Happy to say the bodice was pretty much perfect! Time to stitch the waistbands – one for the outside and the interfaced one for the lining.
Sandwhiching the bodice between the two waistband, matching the interfaced one to the lining. The waistband was only 1cm too big in the back, which I snipped off.
After stitching and pressing, I serged the center back seam, cleaning everything up right away! I love my serger.
I gathered and matched the skirt to the bodice, then stitched it in place.
I pressed the gathers up and topstitched the waistband.
Then I inserted the invisible zipper in the back – I have to admit it took me 2 tries to get the waistband seams to line up perfectly! I also stitched the center back seam.
After a quick fit I trimmed the hem where necessary – I believe I trimmed 6 cm in the front and 2 in the back. I used that orange device in the top left, it’s a skirt hemmer! So convenient when there is no (boy)friend to pin the hem level for you…
I hemmed the skirt with a double 3 cm hem. At this point I was kind of rushing to get it done on Sunday evening, as the wedding was on Monday afternoon… I finished hand-sewing the zipper ends in the morning before the wedding, LOL!
Here is the result! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! All the fit issued I had are gone, and the dress is a gorgeous mid-calf length now. Of course there are a couple of things I’d do differently next time, like deepening the neckline on the front a little bit more, but overall I’m thrilled with the dress.
The back could also be scooped out a little more. I will definitely be making this dress another time.
Thanks again for reading,