Like my alliteration? Let me break it down for you, I’ve been making this dress in between revising and practicing for the interviews I have going on at the moment. I feel a bit guilty about spending much time sewing as I really need to give myself a good shot, so I’ve been choosing projects that I think will be pretty quick and simple.
I started with the fabric choice – I was given this gorgeous fabric by Marie at the recent London Meet up as part of the swap (hence swap in the title). I knew I wanted to make a dress, but which pattern? I had thought about using my block, but then I happened upon this lovely dress pattern by Salme patterns called the Sonja dress (more alliteration). The best thing about this pattern? It’s FREE! That’s right, you can download it here.
So the choice was made, and I’m so glad I chose it. I love the shape of this dress!
Now, free fabric, free pattern, I make that a free dress!! (well, apart from the zip I guess…)
Talking of zips, once I had decided to use this pattern I knew I wanted it to have an exposed zip. While I love the print on the fabric, it appears to either have a huge repeat or just not be symmetrical in any way. I gave up trying to match it and decided a big exposed zipper would hide it all I have also liked this design extra for a while but haven’t attempted it yet. I do think exposed zips are probably on their way out, but not before I’ve had a go! And to be honest I really need to have another practice, so be prepared to see more exposed zips! I used this tutorial from burdastyle which was easy to follow. After my last experience with a chunky metal zip, I decided to interface the hell out of this one to make sure the same thing didn’t happen – and it must have worked. It sits pretty perfectly
However, do not be fooled into thinking this dress is as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. Well, for the most part it is but I made a HUGE error when making it! Just to prove it says this clearly on the instructions I took a photo. See how it clearly states that the pattern does not include seam allowances? Well I didn’t… I only realised after I had cut it all out…
In another aside, I used Marie’s technique of folding over the paper pattern to get to the correct size in order to preserve the pattern but to avoid having to trace. She explains it much better here. I am now a convert to this way of doing things, so simple!
Back to my seam allowance issue… So I had cut it out without seam allowances!! To make things worse, I had cut out the smallest size around the waist – so there really was NO wiggle room. Remember how I wanted this to be a quick project? Well it undoubtedly would have been had it not been for this mistake. I decided to persevere and sewed it all together with a 3/8 ” seam allowances (by keeping the edge of my presser foot in line with the edge of the material) apart from the zip (obviously!) and zig zagged all the seams immediately to make sure they were strong. I used a 1/4″ seam allowance on the straps. To my surprise it fitted ok, if anything it was a little big! I had graded out at the bust to a size 10 but found that I didn’t need this as it actually made the dress gape.
So I took it in a couple of cms on each seam (meaning I got rid of a total of 8cm’s across the bust). This solved the issue – no gaping. When it came to putting in the zip I also found that it was too big across the neck so I needed to take some more out there too. Basically, there was no need to grade out at the bust and neck. Next time I think I’ll just make up the size 6 with no alterations. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence!). Even with the extra width at the bust and neck I still didn’t have any seam allowances at the waist – it would have fitted perfectly had there been some! So I ended up sewing on an extra piece of fabric so I had something to attach to the zip. As I was having an exposed zip, I could cover the join with the zip, perfect! It does mean that the inside of the zip looks…interesting, but luckily no-one will look there (hopefully). Next time I can do it perfectly!
Aside from this silly fitting issue – which was totally my fault – the dress was really easy to sew together. The instructions are short and sweet, but to be honest that’s fine as there’s not much to trip you up when you put this dress together, as long as you ADD SEAM ALLOWANCES! (just making sure you’ve got that ) It’s a really cute shape – I was worried about such a high and halterneck neckline with my larger bust, but actually I think it looks ok. I think I will make it again when I get some more interesting fabric, at the very least so I have a perfect version!
I love my new party dress, and am wearing it to my friends birthday party in a couple of weeks, I can’t wait! Thanks for the fabric Marie