Last summer, armed with new found knowledge of facings, buttons and sleeves from the MadeByRae Beatrix sewalong, I decided to tackle a basic shift dress pattern that I bought many years ago and never used, New Look 6095.
The pattern appeared to be very straightforward with one exception: I took the directions out at some point in the last year and misplaced them. Yikes! So I had pattern pieces but no instructions. This didn’t end up being a big problem although later this year I found the pattern online and bought it again so as to be better equipped before I make it again. The dress is a very simple shape with darts in the front and a neckline that is very similar to the Beatrix style and with two diamond shaped darts in the back to create shape and make the dress somewhat more fitted than the other styles I have made this year. I made version A but I took the sleeves from the pattern and added length to them using the Beatrix sleeve as my template.
The front is one piece cut on the fold and the back is two identical sides which I ended up cutting on the fold as one piece by mistake (I tend to do this) and then cut into two separate sides.
The advantage is that the pattern matching is awesome when you do it this way although I didn’t plan it. I used this beautiful Cotton and Steel fabric which I love.
I ended up making three muslins to get the fit right. Yes this was time-consuming but since the basic pattern was only three pieces it wasn’t terrible, although I did go through a lot of fabric making the muslins (I am now cutting them up to use as lining in other projects.) What I learned is that you sometimes have to play around with the fit for a while and just because your waist is smaller than the shape of the dress, it isn’t necessarily flattering to taper to the waist too dramatically because then your hips seem larger.Yes this should be intuitive but it was really interesting to make these tiny adjustments and see such a change in the shape which is why I ended up having to do it three times!
Based on the patterns measurements I should have worn a 14 or 16 which is not my normal size. I think I originally cut between the 12 and 14 lines. I ended up scaling back down closer to a 10-12 but I ended up using the dart placement per the larger size pattern placement as the darts placement is different depending on the size. When I sized down, I sewed the darts where the smaller size dictated but then found that the fit wasn’t as flattering so I ended up making a smaller size with the dart placement per the larger size. Now that I have the pattern adjusted the way I like it, what I need to do is to trace it onto tracing paper (on my long to do list) because it is currently a hodge-podge of tissue paper pattern pieces with some added paper with some of the lines re-traced. I plan to make it again at least twice starting with the beautiful fabrics below:
Sewing this pattern and playing with the fit taught me that that even small adjustments can result in a big change in the shape and drape of a garment. By experimenting, I got a nice fit for everything except the neckline which I should have adjusted as it does gape a bit in the end. I will fix it next time!
I drafted a facing for the neckline and sewed across the shoulder seam to tack it in place as Rae teaches in the Beatrix sewalong.
I used a Moda turquoise fabric for the neck facing and to face the hems.
My hem facing ended up smaller than planned because I used too narrow a facing strip. I used this Moda fabric all summer to face and line several projects and I was almost out when I got to this dress.
One could use a zipper but I decided to try a button loop because I had a large turquoise button that I thought would work well. I followed the directions for the hand sewn button loop in the Sewaholic book: Sewtionary which is a great resource. I am really happy with how it came out in the end. I drafted a little facing for the button opening. I just sort of made it up and it works.
I an happy with everything except the neck gaping but I know how to fix that using the hollow chest adjustment technique that I used making the Beatrix. I will be making this again soon and this time will have the instructions. Woohoo! I am interested to see if it makes a big difference. Changes I will make to the next version: wider hem facing, hollow chest adjustment and slightly longer sleeves. Otherwise I am really happy with this. It works well with sandals in the summer and with boots and tights in the winter with an olive green cardigan.
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