In just a very few weeks, I’ll be teaching the BabyLock Totally Stitchin’ School at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion, in Huntsville, Alabama. This dress is one of the two projects I have planned for the school, and it’s dreeaaamy. I made this version out of a to-die-for Tula Pink voile, so it’s soft and creamy and amazing (and the same fabric the School of Art Fashion will be providing in the classroom kits!). The pattern is super well-drafted and went together really smoothly–plus, the dress is crazy comfortable and easy to wear. Win!
The front has a deep V-neckline with facings, plus a gathered lower bodice edge that connects with two piped panels. The panels make the mid-bodice lay nice and flat, and combined with the elastic ruching in the back, it gives an easy fit that is flattering without requiring anyone to suck in too much. The sleeves are gathered to a cuff that’s loose enough for movement (I despise a tight cuff around my biceps), and there are slight gathers where the upper bodice meets the back yoke at the shoulder seam that are really soft and flattering. See how just the fit of the dress makes me channel my inner Tyra?
This is that piping detail at the front. The two piped panels are interfaced, for some structure, and the edges connect to a gathered panel at center, so it all has lots of soft movement without being constricting. My favorite part is that I feel slimmer and like I get some good waistline definition, but I don’t feel at all self-conscious. There’s also an underarm invisible zip to make the whole thing easy to get on and off.
The back is simple and feminine, but timeless. I think I could wear this dress as easily as my daughter or my mother (although they’d both do it in a different colorway). The two bands of elastic in the center back give that waistline definition and plenty of room to move around. The upper yoke is flat, and connects to the upper back with more soft gathers–it might be my favorite part of the dress after that piping detail.
See how simple that elastic is? Just a casing on the wrong side of the back, with 3/4″ elastic, but it makes such a big impact on the fit. I don’t have much of a waist naturally–turns out I’m a banana*–so I’m grateful for anything that makes my waist look curvier and me look slimmer.
The hem is actually a shirt-tail hem, so it’s softly curved, plus it’s very on-trend with the slight asymmetricality of the front vs the back. I think I’d like to do another version with a straight hem, too, just to see the overall impact that would make on the dress.
The School of Art Fashion group will be putting this together in two classroom days, and then moving on to a fantastic pair of pants. There are still spaces left if you want to come hang out with me for a week in late July! You can be a secret agent, which is how I feel anytime I put on my sunglasses while wearing a pretty dress–Undercover Mama:
*I was always taught that bodies are classified into three types: the apple, the pear, and the “ruler”, which was more of a straight-up-and-down shape. Because I’ve got some hips, but they don’t measure more than 10″ bigger than my waist, I can’t be a pear, which I thought made me an apple. Turns out, apples have a waist measurement larger than their hips, so I’m not an apple, either. Recently, I read that they’ve dispensed with the “ruler” and added the “banana,” for people who have a waist less than 10″ smaller than their hip (waist more than 10″ smaller than the hip is a pear) but not larger than their hip (apple). I guess that makes me a banana.
Narelle @ Cook Clean CraftJune 18, 2012 at 7:37 pm
You are really “smizing” in those photos! (Oh my, I watch way too much ANTM!)
Love the dress! It’s a really flattering design – I need a dress that defines my waist. It sounds like lots of little details would take a while to sew. How long do you think it would take for the average seamster to make (including seam ripping time)?
DeborahJune 18, 2012 at 9:11 pm
Hee! Smizing is fun. That Tyra–I don’t even watch the show, really, but I think she’s hysterical (but also whip-smart, which makes it more interesting, yes?)
I’m so glad you like it! It really was fun to make. I took about three relaxed evenings to do it: cut out one evening, did the front with the piping the next plus part of the back, then did a slightly longer session to add the elastic and the sleeves. All told, I guess from taking the paper out of the envelope to hanging it on the hanger, finished, was around 10 hours–which includes trying it on three times (there may have been some posing & swirling), snack breaks, and an episode of Dr. Who on Netflix. Very reasonable, I think, for a dress that really does feel fantastic to wear. FWIW, I did cut a size smaller than called for, because it looks a bit loose on the cover model and was described as “loose-fitting,” but I wanted a more silhouetted shape. With the elastic in the back, I figured I had some fit margin, so I rolled the dice; worked out great!
BrookeJune 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm
Oh I’m so happy to discover a name for my figure. I am also a banana and have only about 4-5 inches in difference between the hips and waist measurements- so fun when trying to figure out pattern sizing. I think I need to try this dress pattern out! Too bad I live to far from Alabama for the class. Now to get my hands on some voile…
SparrowJune 19, 2012 at 11:23 am
That dress if fantastic! And I love the fabric choice, too!
As for the body shapes thing; I always thought that was pretty silly. I mean, we aren’t fruits. We’re all people shaped, as far as I’m concerned. lol
KelliJune 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm
Another banana over here! Glad to hear that–at least bananas are considered skinny…. haha!! Love the dress, so cute on you!
DeborahJune 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm
Bananas unite!! 🙂
Thanks so much–I’m glad you like the dress! It makes me feel like I’m wearing something super expensive, but then I get to say I made it, too. Woot!
Susan PonteJune 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm
I am signed up to take your school. It will be my 5th year at SAOF. You will love it. I have a question about the sizing of the pants pattern. If you could email me, I’d greatly appreciate. Thanks. Looking forward to meeting you in July.
Susan PonteJune 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm
I am signed up for your school at SAOF in July. It will be my 5th year. I am bring my youngest daughter this time. You will love it. I have a question about sizing for the pants especially, so if you could email me or let me know how to email you, I’d greatly appreciate it. Looking forward to meeting you in July.
DeborahJune 21, 2012 at 10:15 am
I’ve sent you an email, and looking forward to seeing you in person! This will be my first year at SOAF, so I’ll need you to show me some ropes, I suspect. 🙂
Rachel at Stitched in ColorJune 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm
Come on, Deborah, we all knew you were a banana 😉 Or, at least, anyone who’s met you can’t doubt it.
Technically, I’m a banana too, but I keep the sunglasses on pretty often.
DeborahJune 21, 2012 at 10:15 am
Ha! If by “banana” you mean, “goofy and occasionally ridiculous,” then yes, I think everyone knows I’m a banana! 🙂
NikkiJune 21, 2012 at 2:36 am
What a great dress! It looks so comfy and easy to wear and i love the piping detail. Did it really only take 3 evenings? I tend to lose interest in my sewing after that length of time but I think I’ll have a go at this 🙂
DeborahJune 21, 2012 at 10:19 am
It really is amazingly comfortable, and was not terribly challenging to sew–just took a little concentration. I spent more time cutting and edge-finishing than anything else, I think! The details on the front and back will keep your interest–when you break the steps down, it really is just “make the front,” “make the back,” “sew side seams,” “add sleeves.” You’ll have fun!