14 February 2013

Stash Busting: A Dress, For Me?

I can't remember the last time that I actually made a dress for myself. Others, yes, but me, no. Well, actually I can remember, but it was quite a while ago, and I don't wear it because I don't like how it fits.

I was browsing the blogosphere recently and came across Meggipeg, and her review of a new dress pattern by Savage Coco: Elegant Escape Dress. I instantly thought that it would look great made out of some printed linen that I picked up last year (there's one for the stash busting!

Now, apart from the odd client's sewing, I haven't actually made anything from a commercial pattern since before I studied fashion design. In fact, I have a huuuge stack of patterns that I built up over time that I haven't had the heart to get rid of, despite knowing that even if I were to want to make something from one of them in the future, the patterns are probably all too small, thanks to my post baby belly that just won't budge.

So, back to this dress. I've avoided making dresses as I want something with a bit of shape  that isn't tight across the stomach, but don't want to wear a tent. When I had a regular 9 to 5 office job, I wore dresses and skirts all the time, with the majority made by me. Pre children of course. So with just a little hesitation, I headed over to Savage Coco's website, printed out the pattern, and started taping it together! This is also the first pattern that I've made from a PDF pattern. I'm feeling a bit like a dinosaur now, the last time I bought a pattern there weren't options on how to get them. You walked into someplace like Lincraft or Spotlight, looked through their pattern books and hoped they had the right size in stock!

The pre-amble to this pattern reads like it was designed for me, with both the height and bust measurement matching my measurements. Nevertheless, I decided that I should make a calico toile just to make sure that I wanted to go through with this dress, and make sure it would be something that I would wear.

Now, I know this is meant to be a loose dress, but when I had my boring calico dress on (with a gaping back, no zipper) it did feel a little roomy. I decided that a few adjustments were in order before commencing on the real dress. The pattern has a section below the arm on the fronts that is eased onto the undearm gusset. I moved this up so it lined up more with my bustline than my ribcage. I also wanted to remove a little of the roominess. I took out about 1cm from the centre front and removed a slight curve to make it straight. I also took out about 5cm at the waist from the centre back, shaping down to the hips, and back up to the neckline.

The fabric that I used is a printed linen that I picked up at a clearance sale last year. A local fashion store had recently sent their production off-shore, and were clearing out 20 years worth of leftover fabrics and trims. I picked up a few trims, and scored just over 3 metres of this linen for just $25. Bargain! After searching through my stash for some lightweight cream coloured cotton to use as lining, I gave up and decided to leave the dress unlined. To finish off the armholes and neckline, I debated making facings, but instead cut some of my fabric into bias strips and did an inside bind. I also tried something else that I don't often do - binding the seams instead of overlocking. I've been wanting to make something with bound seams for a while, and I really like how the binding looks. I can't wait to make something else with bound seams. I'd love to do something with a funky printed bias binding to add a hidden surprise.

The inside, showing bound seams and the back of topstitching
I love the topstitching on this dress. I followed the recommendation of using 2 reels of standard thread at the same time. My only issue was the tension didn't stay the same on both threads and I got quite a few loops in the topstitching.

Doing the topstitching
Overall, I'd say this dress is a success. I just hope we get a few warmer days before summer disappears so I can wear it at least a few times!

(Apologies for the crushed look in the photos. Perhaps if I'd been able to take photos as soon as I'd put it on  in the morning the dress would have still been in pristine condition!)


  1. Your dress looks great! I am very flattered that my version inspired you to make a dress after all this time :) Love the bound seams and your fancy topstitching gizmo. Thanks for letting me know about it and linking back to me x

    1. No, thank you for finding this pattern in the first place! It was just what I needed to get me back into making dresses for myself. It's a pity summer will be over soon, I could have made some more!

  2. Andrea, you've done the Heroine proud! I'm so glad the Elegant Escape is just the ticket to get you out of trousers and into a dress. Thanks so much for making it up!
    Savage Coco