I collect a lot of pictures of inspiration dresses from around the interwebz, in part to get ideas for things I could make and in part because I like to be aghast at how much one must pay for a dress and subsequent shipping and duty fees only to have it be constructed with questionable craftsmanship. If I am going to endure questionable craftsmanship, it will be my own!
And I so I found the Writing Letters Dress which was cute but not entirely me since I tend not to keep black in my wardrobe (I think I have a single black cardigan and that’s it). I liked the buttons and the Peter Pan collar but went with a blue polka dotted rayon*, using Simplicity 2444 as my base.
* I feel like my favourite fabric store sorts fabrics into cottons, silks, polyesters, and that’s it, so in my mind rayon was always this disgusting acetate-y type polyester monstrosity. Turns out it isn’t!
Things I did differently:
- The pattern calls for various darts and pleats in the bodice and skirt but I eliminated those in favour of rows of gathers. The amount of fabric in the bodice darts isn’t really enough to do a full gathered bodice, so I made due by having it gather in two places where the darts were supposed to be. The pleats in this dress are huge so there was more than enough excess fabric for the skirt gathers.
- Added pockets, as per usual. God I love pockets in dresses.
- I didn’t add the white band of fabric at the bottom of the skirt like in the inspiration dress, mostly because I liked the way it looked without it. I feel like I’d just find a way to get it dirty anyway.
- I cut several inches off the bodice so that I could create a flat waist band. I played it a little fast and loose with this step by not actually cutting the pattern piece and creating a new one for the waist band; I kind of eyeballed it so it’s inherently imperfect, but the dress is dark enough that the gathers disguise it enough.
- I adjusted the neckline and shoulders, since the defaults are kind of high and wide respectively. The neckline was lowered just slightly and made a little narrower; this increased the width of the shoulder seams, so I ended up narrowing those as well so that they lay closer to the centre of the dress. I’ve never done either of these things before but they worked out okay.
- For the love of god I need to trust my instincts when it comes to collars. After remaking the asymmetrical collar on my green dress four million times, you’d think this would be a walk in the park. Wrong. Drafting the collar was perfectly easy but I made the mistake of following some online tutorials that suggested sewing the collar to the inside of dress and then turning it outwards. Tip: THIS LOOKS TERRIBLE. Maybe it works for other people, but I really hate seeing the wrong side of my fabric at the collar seam line, since the dress is not lined. I ended up ripping out all the stitches — the regular stitching and the understitching, because obviously I could not have figured out I hated the way this looked before I understitched the damn thing — and reattached the collar to the right side of the dress, sandwiched between the dress and the facings I decided to add. Much better.
I’m satisfied with the result; I feel like I will get a lot of use out of this for work. I really need to learn how to photograph my clothing better, though.