The Luau Maxi Dress that Wasn’t

IMG_0005Because I didn’t buy enough fabric and I ran out of time. The party was two weeks ago. I finished it yesterday.

IMG_1674The inspiration and pattern choice: I had a vision of what I wanted from this dress, and I almost got there.  I’d seen the Sloane maxi dress from Lily Pulitzer and thought I could make something similar.  I liked the midriff, the v neck and back and overall shape.  I thought that Simplicity 1102 could be altered to be close, though the skirt would definitely be fuller.

https://i2.wp.com/images.patternreview.com/sewing/patterns/simplicity/2015/1102/1102line.jpg

This dress doesn’t look that great to me on the envelope cover.  But when I looked at the line drawings, I saw possibilities. The bodice is fitted, eliminating gapping, the midriff was about what I wanted, only the skirt was too full.  The sleeves are awful, but I thought I would work with view C and lengthen to maxi.  Of course, I bought the fabric requirement for view C without thinking.  That’s okay – I like it, even though I didn’t do as well a job as I would like.

IMG_1636The fabric!  This is from Gorgeous Fabrics, called Boldly Go, in a silk-rayon matte jersey.  It has a nice hand, drapes well and is easy to sew.  I was nervous about the bold print on my body, so perhaps that’s why I’m okay with the shorter length.

Changes and Construction Notes:   I made a muslin of the bodice. Since I’m smaller through the shoulders, with a smaller bust, I was worried about fit and gaposis.  What surprised me was how modest the V was!  I ended up lowering the V by about three inches and widening it by folding back the pattern from the bottom of the V up to the shoulder line (and narrowed the shoulder on the inside by about 1/4 inch).  The pictures show some gapping on one side – this is a function of how I’m holding the selfie stick. This was a very clear case of less is more when it came to the dress – less coverage was definitely more flattering.  I also wanted to see if I could eliminate the zipper – but could not.

I wanted to remove some of the weight of the skirt.  I feared that much gathering would bring unwanted questions about children.  I liked the skirt from McCall’s 7121, but didn’t want to go quite that narrow (I laid the matching pattern pieces on top of this one to get a sense of what I wanted).  I carefully folded out 4 inches, along the grain.  I did this by folding out one inch midway between the CF and side seam and CB and side seam.  So far so good.

I had also seen a dress in a window in Santa Fe that had concentrated the gathers at CF.  So I did that as well.   This was a mistake.  I didn’t make adjustments for the grain, and now the skirt side seams hang forward, toward the front.  I should have tested this with a muslin.

Ugh! I didn't like this insertion method for the invisible zipper.
Ugh! I didn’t like this insertion method for the invisible zipper.

As for the instructions – they are fine, but if I make this again, I would not follow them, as I think they lead to less than professional results.  The lined bodice (lined with a sold out Gorgeous Fabric knit lining and the tricot interfacing from Fabric Sewing Supply) is finished almost completely before attaching the skirt and zipper.  By completely, I mean the lining is stitched down to the fashion fabric at the midriff.  This means that the zipper is inserted so that you can’t stitch the lining to the zipper tape and hide it.

Other changes:  I did the ruching and the underlining by hand using a small running stitch.  I also did a narrow machine rolled hem instead of a 1 1/2 inch hem.

IMG_1673Final notes:  I love the fabric and it’s so comfortable to wear.  Doing the muslin for the bodice meant the perfect fit there.  I have so many other things I want to make, but I might revisit this one down the road.  I wore it to the salon today and received many compliments!

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