Alright everyone, my Megan dress is finally complete! This dress was definitely more challenging. Getting the fit right on a dress is a lot more complicated than fitting a skirt and I really learned that with this project. By the way, this is the first dress I ever made!
I’ll be honest I was not sure if this particular style of dress was something that I was going to love. It has an empire waistline and I usually prefer a natural waistline, but honestly I really love this dress and I do think that I would like to make another one in the future.
Originally, I was planning on making a white collar with this dress, but obviously I didn’t and that’s because when it came down to it I was just plain lazy. I have never made a collar before and I just didn’t feel like investing the time into doing that.
I had so much trouble getting the right fit with my muslins to begin with that I just was not in the mood to try something else I wasn’t familiar with. But I have to say, I’m very happy with my results and I don’t regret not adding a collar at all.
Here are the specifics.
I used a cotton polyester blend material (I believe). It is a very lightweight material. Nothing special.
It unfortunately has a faded line going across the middle of the dress where the fabric was folded. Not cool, but oh well. I will have to keep that in mind and look for that in the future while fabric shopping, to avoid.
But the print is so cute and I really wanted a navy polka dot fabric for this dress so I was happy to find this as I didn’t see many options for that here in a fabric that would be easier to work with. And this fabric was super easy to work with, which was a great help.
Combined size 4 on top to size 2 on the bottom for the bodice.
Combined size 2 on top to size 3 on bottom for the skirt.
Lengthened the skirt by 3 1/4″.
Used the size 3 darts for all pieces.
Squared off the shoulders of the pattern.
Made an adjustment for gaping in the back neckline.
Tapered in the seam allowances of the back opening towards the top of the back neckline before installing the zipper.
Cut out a size 4 sleeve but took it in about 1 1/4″ down the middle, lengthwise.
Added a lace ribbon in white to the bottom of the dress to avoid it looking too plain.
So what was the deal with making this dress? Well…honestly a whole lot. So for those of you who care to know or could have any helpful suggestions for me in the future, keep reading.
Ultimately I decided that I have a broad upper back and square shoulders which were causing a lot of my fit issues. (I’m sure my rounded posture doesn’t help too.)
The first muslin I made was too small. (I should have paid better attention to my measurements.) I looked up adjustments online but it was difficult trying to add fabric. (Thus why I learned it is much better to make your garment too big rather than too small.) After a couple of days messing with it, I got so frustrated I decided to go back to the drawing board.
I re-took my measurements and found out that I cut a size too small to begin with.
Then, I decided to take it a step further and have my husband help me take more measurements, for example my upper back, just under my pits and going along the length of my shoulder blades. I then compare this, and some other measurements, to the pattern.
After doing this I decided to combine pattern sizes. The size 2 fit very good on the muslin at the bottom of the bodice, it was just the upper part I has having trouble with. So I decided, based on my measurements and how much ease I wanted, to trace out a size 4 on the top and taper down to the size 2, as you can see in the picture.Also, one adjustment with my original muslin that really seamed to help with the huge gaping I was having in the back neckline was a square shoulder adjustment. (I guess on looking at my pictures I really do have a very square framed shoulders.) So when I was retracing the pattern I decided to square off the shoulders by starting at the 4 size at the armhole and tapering down to the 2 at the neckline.
I also didn’t like the placement of the 2 darts so I went with the size 3 darts instead.
With my new bodice pattern I made a new muslin and it was so much better. There was still some gaping at the back neckline. To adjust that I figured about how much I needed to take in by having my wonderful husband (who by the way is turning into an expert pinner) pinch it in on both sides and mark. I measured that amount and then I cut a line starting at the back neckline going across towards the armhole and stopping just before the end, and pivoted the neckline down the amount I needed to take in.
I taped that down and retraced my neckline.
I think the next time I make this dress I am going to redo this back neckline and make sure that the curve matches up with the front bodice better at the shoulder seam, as that was an issue for me when sewing them together.
Do you all really want to know all of this? Lol.
Honestly I have no idea how to fit and maybe I went about all of this the wrong way, I don’t know. If any of you have any suggestions I would be happy to take them, wink, wink.
Ok, so that seemed to work so I went ahead and retraced my facings to match my new necklines. I also retraced the skirt combining the size 2 at the top and tapering out to a size 3 around the hips as I wanted a little more room. I also traced the size 3 darts on the skirt pieces and lengthened the skirt about 3 1/4″. Ok…I think that’s it.
I then started making the dress. I made a few more adjustments during the making of the dress. There was still gaping in the back! What is wrong with my body?! LOL. So before I installed the zipper, when ironing out my seam allowance for the back opening, I tapered in about 5/8″ more on each side towards the top of the neckline but going back to my normal seam allowances around the mid back section. This did the trick.
I had originally cut out the size 4 sleeve not thinking that it was going to be way to big for my arms (duh), and didn’t like how it looked. I had some extra fabric left so I redid my sleeves. I cut my pattern in half lengthwise and brought it in the amount I needed to take in, taped it in place and trued my edge. That worked.
My invisible zipper didn’t turn out too invisible but I was going to just leave it like that and be done with it. The dress was almost complete, all that was left was to hem the bottom, but the perfectionist in me just wouldn’t have it.
I honestly can’t believe this dress turned out with all the struggles I went through, but I have to say I am very proud of my work. Of course it isn’t perfect but its my first dress and it will always have a little soft spot in my heart.