This dress was the main thing I had to get finished in November, in time for the New Craft House Winter Party which was the first weekend in December. I did finish it in time, but it did spill into December as I was hand stitching the lining down on the Thursday before the party, which is early for me!
The fabric came from this dress which one of my work friends gave me as it didn’t fit her. It was a bit big for me, and not really my style. But I loved the fabric, so set about unpicking all the seams. Because the skirt was so full I did end up with some quite big pieces of fabric to cut my new dress from. I reused the zip and I’ve saved the boning to use at a future date if I ever need boning for something. The dress was completely lined in black shiny lining fabric, which I reused to line the bodice of my dress – there wasn’t enough fabric or any need to line the skirt.
The original dress had pockets, which I also unpicked and reused, even though the pattern I used didn’t originally have pockets. You can never have enough pockets! At the New Craft House Party everyone whose dress had pockets got a cheer when they did the best dress fashion show, and I can definitely understand why!
The pattern is the By Hand London Sophia Dress – By Hand London really are the best indie pattern company for party dresses. I made the size 6 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist, and I cut the skirt out in size 10. In a break to my usual modus operandi, I made a muslin (well, actually I made 2) as I thought I would probably have to do a small bust adjustment, as I have done before with fitted BHL dresses.
Because of the shape of the darts on the bodice of the Sophia Dress, I did kind of fudge the bust adjustment as I didn’t want to affect the darts’ shapes so I took a 1cm wedge out underneath my bust, from the boob out to the armpit. I also extended the bust darts by 4cm, making sure to make them straight as I didn’t want to ruin the great style lines of the dress.
I don’t know if I ended up over-fitting the dress or whether I should have gone a size up at the top of the bodice and done a bigger bust adjustment, but the bodice ended up very snug – like so snug it wouldn’t do up! So I reduced the side seams’ seam allowance to 1cm instead of 1.5cm and this helped – I wanted it fitted but not so tight I couldn’t breathe! It was still maybe a little tight, but it was pretty comfortable.
Usually the place where I have to make adjustments to a fitted pattern is on the back because I have a fairly narrow back, but this pattern fitted me pretty well right out of the packet. I took a 1.5cm wedge out of the back straps, taking the widest part from the side of the strap towards the centre of my back, tapering to nothing on the arm side of the strap.
I did, however, do something very odd to the back of the dress I think when I was attaching the bodice to the skirt. I don’t know what I did, but when I then put the zip in, I made sure to line up the waist seam on both sides of the zip, but then the bodice really did not line up at the top of the zip and so neither do the darts which should match across the zip. I didn’t notice until I had stitched the lining to the bodice because The Boyfriend was kindly zipping it up for me and I didn’t zip the zip with the dress off my until it was completely finished and I was giving it a final press. Lesson learned! But it’s not tooooo noticeable – though in typical sewist style, I pointed it out to everyone at the party! Does anyone else do that? When someone says ‘I like your dress’ you point out all the things you did wrong!?
There is a sort of weird bulge over my tummy, but that’s just room for eating!
I added the pockets into the side seams right at the top because I thought them being on my hips would look the better than if they were part of the way down the side seams.
The next time I get invited to a Winter party I’ll definitely wear this dress again! Do you have a go-to festive party dress? Did you make one this year?
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