How does one go about becoming one of those people who think of interesting blog titles?
Well, anyhow. Titles aside, here is my Christmas dress for 2015!
The pattern is Simplicity 1459, one of their vintage reprint offerings. I bought this pattern with the intention of making it into last year’s Christmas dress, which obviously didn’t happen, and I bought this fabric at the same time. The skirt is one of Spotlight’s Christmas line, and the bodice is just broadcloth from Spotters.
I sewed a straight size 18, with a 1.5″ FBA. I chose this because I looked at the pattern and saw that there is a whopping amount of ease, something like 3 or 4 inches, so I went with 18 which most closely matches my upper bust measurement. However, I suspect a bunch of my adjustments basically retro-fitted it to be mostly a size 20 or so. When I make this again (which I fully intend to, because I’m a bit in love with it) I’ll be comparing my adjusted pattern with the size 20 and maybe doing a mashup of the two.
I did make up a quick muslin of the bodice and sleeve – the pattern has a very nice 3/4 sleeve with darts at the elbow, which makes it fit very nicely, although I found I did have to add a considerable amount to the sleeve to get it to fit. Otherwise the bodice with the FBA fit pretty well as-is. My current practice is to make a bodice muslin and then safety pin an existing skirt onto it, because I find the weight of the skirt really changes the fit.
I found, again, that the broadcloth had much less give than the muslin. I ended up sewing the side seams quite narrow to account for this, which is another thing that makes me say I could do with going a size up. In particular, I needed an extra centimetre or so for the back. I also ended up tapering the bodice overlap a bit, so that it had more ease at the stomach. This IS a Christmas dress, after all! You can see the tapering in this internal shot.
This does make the bodice sit a bit odd, and isn’t ideal, but it’s fine. It does mean I probably added back in the intended ease. And I must, say, I like the way it fits. I might be with Gina on starting to prefer a slightly looser dress. It feels comfy and as long as it is fitted to shape, I think it’s more of the look I’m going for – less prone to riding up and shifting around during the day. I also don’t know if you can see but I sewed the vertical dart in a teardrop shape rather than a straight angle, to get the bodice to fit how I wanted. This was all on the fly adjustments. I really should have thought about it more and split the darts into two darts each, for a total of eight darts on the bodice. They are all quite large and it’s ok but inevitably leads to some wrinkles and bumps, and did make them harder to sew and to avoid the bubble at the end.
I top stitched the overlap down because it’s a faux opening anyways. I was planning the side zipper as the pattern instructs but I ended up skipping it. It is fine to pull on although I must say it’s a slight struggle to pull off and I think when I make a non-novelty version I will add the zipper. But given that it’s a dress I’ll only be wearing occasionally, I really didn’t think it was worth fighting with the reduced seam allowances to insert something. It probably would have been a mess.
I had intended putting in sleeves but ended up being so in love with the collar that I left them off, to emphasise the collar’s hugeness. I feel most comfortable in sleeves but actually what that turns out to mean is ‘with covered shoulders’. Since the collar is SO huge that it covers my shoulders… well then that’s fine! It does make it mildly impractical, I don’t know if you can see that one side of the collar is creased from carrying my handbag on top of it, from when I wore it to the work Christmas party.
I used quite a stiff interfacing for the collar, which made it more dramatic. I am very into that but it would be easy to tone down slightly with a less extreme interfacing. The only heavy one I could find was sew in, so I sewed it in, which was fiddly but fine. It does ride up as I move but that’s fine with me, although looking at it perhaps it would benefit from a slight slash and spread along the back? I suppose because of my poor posture in that area making a strange shape for it to drape over.
Another time I would line it rather than do the facings. I have just now noticed you can slightly see my bra, and you can see the front facings which bugs the heck out of me. I also found the facings incredibly fiddly, and I had to hand sew them down all around the arms or they’d pop out when I put the dress on. A full lining would have been about one million times easier, especially on a sleeveless version.
I sewed the shoulder seams 1cm smaller, because my muslin was pulling there but I hadn’t really noticed until after I cut the bodice out. To compensate I just traced the largest collar size, which was fudging things a but but worked out fine. I should have planned better, however, and raised the neck accordingly. It’s not scandalous but it’s a bit lower than I would be comfortable with for a regular day dress. My notes say I thought I should also have raised the waist by 1cm but I’m not sure I think that now.
Here are some photos of it without the petticoat under it.
I LOVE how it looks with the petticoat, and am wondering how weird it would be to wear a petticoat to work. I did also include the tulle underskirt and the lining.
I just overlocked the waist seam and it was pretty scratchy on the first wearing but appears to be fine now. Here’s an overview of the whole innards.
I also could have thought it through and cut the skirt straight, instead of as an A-line, but actually I don’t mind how it looks even though it makes the kookaburra’s slightly wonky. I love the shape of the skirt.
The buttons are, of course, from The Button Bar. I was going to make a belt to go with it but the vintage belt buckle I had is more maroon, and then I remembered I do own a red belt that I almost never wear. I do think it benefits from a belt, and when I make a regular one I might consider putting in belt loops.
I am definitely planning a non-novelty one, I just have to decide, sleeves or no sleeves? Tanya Maille has made a couple of lovely versions of this pattern. I should note that this one is a fabric hog. Often I find I can get away with considerably less than the pattern calls for, by cutting carefully. But the collar takes up a whole width of fabric, and you have to cut two, and they’re an odd shape. So that alone takes up almost a metre! Plus there are four wide skirt panels. If you’re making this, with the skirt as is, definitely buy as much fabric as the pattern tells you.
I am happy that I got to make this as a novelty dress – I find that I never find all the fit issues until I’ve worn an item for a whole day. I wore this to my last day of work for the year, for our work Christmas party. I got a bunch of compliments, and a lot of ‘didn’t you wear that last year?’ so I guess now I’m the person who wears novelty Christmas dresses. I’m cool with that. It was too hot to wear it with the petticoat but, being sleeveless, I found it ok to wear even on that day, which was 42! Obviously I was in air conditioned buildings most of the day, however.
I’ll be wearing it tomorrow to our family do, which is on Boxing Day, with the petticoat.
Here’s me attempting a twirl
And feeling dizzy
Merry Christmas, to those of you who celebrate it. And happy holidays and general good wished for peace and joy in your lives for those who don’t, or who can’t bear to. Here’s hoping that 2016 is a wonderful year!