Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sewing a 60s Mod Dress

I recently used my Cashmerette Upton dress pattern for the first time in order to complete my Dress Like Your Grandma Sewing Challenge.

One of the big selling points of these patterns are the different cup sizes so you don't have to do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA).  Last year I made the Washington using the larger cup size, but it didn't quite work for my figure, as I usually make use of the FBA to add extra to the front waist, making it better fit my belly.  Using their larger cup size, then grading at the waist, added the extra to the side which is not where I need it. So this time I decided to go back to the old method, choose a size based on high bust and then do an FBA.

The Upton is a bodice, band (at the high waist) and a skirt.  I was wanting to make a 60s style dress with an empire waist, and princess seam skirt, so I chose the panelled skirt option, knowing I'd have to slim them down a bit.  When I made the Washington, sizing advice from Jenny (at Cashmerette) indicated I should make the 18G/H.  For this Upton, I chose the 16C/D for reasons mentioned above.
Upton Dress
Photo courtesy of Cashmerette Patterns
I actually ended up doing two FBAs.  The first I took to the shoulder seam and tried to rotate the side dart around to the underbust, so there was only one dart.  It didn't quite fit how I wanted and was still a tiny bit too small.  I traced of the altered pattern I had and did a second FBA, this time to the armhole, and left the new side dart in place.  I think my boobs are a bit too big for just one dart.  This then fitted well.  I think the combination of shoulder and armhole points helped distribute the added fullness a bit better.  This can be done in one step by doing a Y-dart FBA.

First FBA with pivot at shoulder
Second FBA with pivot at underarm
Now that the bodice was done I had to attach the waistband and skirt.  Doing the bodice alterations as detailed above, meant that my front bodice was quite a lot wider at the waist seam than before.  Most FBA instructions tell you to angle the side seam back in again to take out this extra, but I need this extra for my belly.  What I did instead was to measure the seam line of the front bodice pattern and then compare it to the seam line of the front waistband piece.  My bodice measured almost exactly to a size 26 waistband, so that is was I used for the front waistband and skirt.  So now my dress was a size 16 bodice and skirt back, 16 with FBA bodice front and 26 skirt front.  Doing it this way means I have enough fabric to cover my belly and hang nicely, whilst maintaining the side seams in an appropriate spot.

After attaching the skirt to my bodice muslin, I needed just a little extra length right at the waist darts.  I unpicked the waistband seam and let it fall to it's natural resting place.  I needed an extra 1/2", just at that point.  So my bodice pattern now actually has a scoop down from CF, but when I'm wearing it, it looks level.  I think that's a really important concept to understand when learning pattern drafting/alterations.  It might look weird on paper, but if it looks right on the body, then that's what you need to do.

You can see how the bottom edge curves down from the CF
Next was the task of reshaping the skirt.  The Upton has quite a lovely flow to the panel skirt option, but I needed a more straight out/A-line shape to get my 60s look.  I'm not very confident at estimating things like this so I went looking for a guide.  I have Simplicity 3559 so I used the angle of the skirt panels in this against my Upton, but this pattern has a front, back and one side panel, whereas the Upton has front, side front, side back and back.  I wasn't really happy with the result, the skirt was still too "full".  By this stage I'd also run into my fabric problem as discussed here, so the whole lot got put in the corner for a time while I thought about what to do.

Then I went to a local destash market, hoping to find some new fabric (which I didn't), but instead I picked up some patterns, including Butterick 6186 (I had been admiring this pattern for a while anyway, so what a find!). This pattern was closer to the skirt shape that I wanted, and included the same panel arrangement as the Upton.  I redrew my Upton panels with the angles from B6186 and the skirt came out exactly how I wanted it.  What I found interesting was the first time I'd taken fullness off all skirt seams, but by following pattern B6186, I only changed the seams between front/side front and back/side back.  The side seams stayed the same shape.

So finally happy with the fit, I moved onto the final product!

On looking at these photos, I can see that the back is actually a little too small.  From the back view I can see the side seams, and the pockets feel a little too far back when I have my hands in them.

I think for the next one I will start with a size 18, and follow the same procedure as I did above for a better fit.

Also, after completion I noticed the bodice shaping (darts etc) was too low at the front.  I don't know if I wore a different bra during fitting (I don't *think* I did) or what happened, but pulling up the front at the shoulders resolved this.  Unfortunately it meant that the front waist band  and hem is no longer parallel with the floor, but it is an okay compromise.  It's only noticeable when you're looking at it from side view.

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