I could call this a Minnie Mouse dress (note to self: make big bow for head), but I prefer ‘Mobster’s wife dress’ because that’s what I think I look like in the first photo I took.

Terrifying. I look like I’m about to take someone out with a frying pan. I was trying out the timer on my camera and apparently I have time to smile or to pose, not both. I had another go at the end of the day and had some better luck with my face.

This is a frankenpattern of Butterick 4443 and a self drafted bodice. The bust point on this pattern was so high that I knew it wouldn’t work for me, but at that stage an FBA seemed terrifying. But my bodice block was old and a size and a bit too small. So I sort of smooshed them together. I started sewing it basically this time last year, but I had to make so many mods to get it to fit right that it was a bit of a disaster. So I took it to craft camp to work on.

At craft camp, I cut the bodice up and used it as a pattern. I got it almost right but it still wasn’t there so it waited until the last month or so to get finished. It’s still far from perfect but I’ve done enough futzing for now and I’m calling it a wearable muslin, emphasis on the wearable. I would certainly be thrilled to find a dress that fit this well in the store, so I’m trying not to be too nitpicky.

I lined the bodice but didn’t bother lining the skirt. I will another time but by the end I knew I was done for now but it would need work in the future, so I didn’t bother, just sewed the bodice lining down at the waist. I also lined it before I remembered I wanted sleeves, so they’re sewn on top of the lining – the inside of this thing is pretty dodgy. It was nice sleeveless but I’m more likely to wear a dress with sleeves.

Here are the problems. The princess seams don’t go over the bust point, not quite. I think the centre front bodice needs to be smaller, and the side a bit bigger, although not by much. The last round of tweaks I did basically involved reverse engineering a FBA, so I think what I need to do is knock two centimetres or so off the centre panel, and then do an FBA, to get the shape right.

The back is droopy – I need a swayback adjustment. And the top back is too high and wide. You can see both of these issues below.

Too much fabric in the back.

Dunno what this pose is about but you can see the height and extra fabric in the back.

Obviously I didn’t even bother matching the pattern. I got bigger issues!

I wish I had a good photo of this issue from the side. The back stops at my nape, but because I have a mini dowager’s hump that means it’s sort of creeping forward. It’s just way too high, it needs a good 3cm lopped off at the centre, tapering to the edges. I already knocked 2cm off so I dunno what the go was with the block I used!

You can’t see it here because I’m leaning away and it’s pulling it taught, but if I stand up straight there’s a little pyramid of fabric at the zip. You CAN see that it’s ripply, and you can see that the shape of the side front panel isn’t right.

The back neck is the one I find the most annoying, because it’s most obvious to a non-sewer. I’m irritated by the poofiness at the boobs, but that’s more obvious from my vantage point than other people’s, and I think will be less of an issue at shark week – it’s lowest boobage ebb right now. But to fix the back I’ll have to unpick the zip so… whatever. At some point I think I’ll undo the bodice and try again but for now, it works.

I think I probably need an extra centimetre in the back, from the shoulders down. I know I just said I have too much fabric there, but that’s past my shoulders. It fits ok but it’s a bit tight if I cross my arms. Fine, but not great. And I dropped the waist because I have a long waist but I’d take it back up a centimetre next time. Its at my true waist, from the side, but it actually hits the biggest part of my belly. It ends up hiking up a bit when I sit or slump, which I basically do most of the time, so. The arms are a bit weird too. I think the sleeve cap needs to be shorter but wider. They work, but if my arms aren’t straight down the fabric doesn’t sit nicely.

After that litany of failures, I’m actually pretty pleased with it. I know over time I’m going to get fed up with looking at it and seeing the flaws – I don’t think they’re small enough to fade in my mind. But it is very comfortable, especially on a 30+ day like today, and I feel good in it. I certainly learnt a lot from it, and am still learning, so I definitely can’t call it a failure. A wearable red polkadot dress could never be a failure!

Oh, and happy Beltane, from me and the chooks.