Awww, isn’t it sweet- baby’s first pattern hack!
The Summer Sundress Sewalong, hosted by Heather, came to an end on Saturday. I’d signed up for it back in June, and kept thinking “Oh I’ve got bags of time…”, until I realised that the deadline was only a week away, and Summer is disappearing fast, and I had various evening commitments this week. I had to get a wiggle on.
I opted to hack the Belcarra blouse pattern, because I’d thought all along it would be a doddle to add a skirt to it, because I’ve already done the adjustments to it and I didn’t have time to do anything that would need faffing about with (I was on a deadline here), and because I really like the pattern- it’s got enough coverage that I can wear this to work, if I want, and it’s got enough looseness to make it comfortable in hot weather.
I made the Belcarra as per the pattern, except that I left the cuffs off and bound the armholes instead. I wanted to make the sleeves that tiny bit shorter- it is a sundress, after all. Although, when I was cutting the pattern, I totally forgot that was what I’d planned and cut the cuffs out anyway! I also cut the neckline binding while the fabric was folded so I had two pieces of that, when I only needed one. As it turns out, my spare neckline binding piece was *exactly* the right size for two armhole binding pieces. That’s a useful piece of knowledge for future Belcarras.
The big alteration though, was to add the skirt. I lopped off about 8cm from the bottom of the blouse (I didn’t realise how long it is when it’s just a blouse!). I wanted the dress to be drop-waisted, because I’m old-fashioned enough to like drop waists, and I think they are more wearable in hot weather. I wanted to go with pleats rather than gathers, because it felt like that would suit the style of the top half. I wanted fullness, so I used three widths of fabric, as I had a plentiful supply (Thanks Anne!). I may possibly have gone slightly overboard with the fullness, but that’s ok for a sundress, right? That allowed me to do generous inverted box pleats, and I kept them soft and big. I have to say, sorting out the pleats and making sure they would fit the waist of the blouse was definitely the most mentally challenging part of this make! They’re far from perfect, but I’m happy with how they’ve worked out.
I french seamed this dress throughout, because that seemed like the right thing to do- this fabric likes to fray, so everything is now safely enclosed.
While all the machine sewing was done in white cotton thread, I opted for invisible thread to hand sew the bias binding down on the neckline & armholes, despite knowing it’s a complete pain to work with, because I didn’t want any stitching to show amongst all that riot of colour. And despite telling myself to do the hemming by machine, I couldn’t bring myself to let that happen, and I’ve done it by hand- there is flippin’ miles of this hem! All with the invisible thread.
I got the hemming finished yesterday, in time to get a photo done in time for the Sewalong deadline while there was still some light, and I wore the dress today to a picnic I was hosting for my dance students, at Waverley Abbey. It wasn’t as summery as we’d have liked, in fact it started off very rainy and grey, but thankfully the weather cleared and all was nice. I was able to make the Gentleman Friend take a few more photogenic photos of the dress. And after the picnic, we went to watch the cricket on Tilford Green.
What I love about this dress? It is perfectly summery – loose and comfortable, pretty and girly. Somehow it’s got a retro vibe- not just the drop waist being rather 1920s-ish, I think I may have been subconsciously channelling the fashions of the 70s with this one! I feel like one of the Flake girls.
I will admit to having had some initial trepidation about the colours. This is a whole lot more yellow/peach/orange than I’m used to wearing, and it’s right up there next to my face! But this fabric was a gift- I wanted to use it and do it justice. I won’t be wearing this in the wintertime, when I’m all pasty-faced and sallow skinned, but I think it works ok for me in the summer when I’ve got a bit of a tan. And if Anne thinks I can get away with these colours, then who am I to argue? And there are more than enough of my “regular” palette colours in this dress for me to accessorise/co-ordinate with.
I’d like to use this hack again. Is it possible to have a TNT hack? I’ve already got ideas for alternative skirt variation, and I’m wondering what stash fabric I’ve got that would work with it.