My latest vintage make is one for Belle again, finally! This gorgeous pattern has been on my wishlist for some time. I’d spotted it online but never in the right size and although I know I could grade it up, but I wasn’t that desperate! Eventually I was offered a copy by Eleanor Meriwether who had it in the right size. After sending for a whole heap of fabric swatches from Croft Mill Fabric and Ditto Fabrics, Belle picked a floral print silk and cotton voile, which we bought from Ditto Fabrics. They don’t have any left now, this was back in January!!!
Deciding it would be the perfect dress for the summer ball, and that summer was a decidedly long way off, the dress ended up on the back burner. So far onthe back burner that the summer ball came and went and it wasn’t even thought of, nevermind made! Madness! So when Belle announced she had been invited to her boyfriend’s cousin’s wedding at the beginning of September, I knew what she would wear.
I’d already made a toile back in January and knew the dress needed to be a little longer, and that the open bodice front was a non-starter. The bodice is open in the centre front (apart from a button and loop closure at the throat), with a zip in the centre front skirt seam to allow for getting in and out, but there was no way Belle wanted that all open! We opted for an invisible zip that left the top 20 cm of the bodice open. Apart from lengthening the dress by 4cm, this was the only change.
A little pattern tetris was needed in the cutting out as I’d not bought quite the right fabric! It was narrower than required so it took a little jiggling, but in the end all pieces except for the belt tie made it. We weren’t too upset about that, Belle decided that with the floaty skirt and big sleeves, a big bow at her waist would be a bit much anyway.
The pattern itself is quick and easy to make up, the open bodice front has a double folded facing and the skirt has centre front and back seams only, meaning you definitely need time to let the bias set on the hem! The neckline is finished with a bias strip and closes with a button and loop. I have a real fondness for Bishop’s sleeves, it was probably those that drew me to the pattern in the first place!
I used French seams throughout, bought bias tape for the elastic casing at the sleeve cuffs and made buttonhole stitch thread loops for the new gold belt. The fabric was easy to work with, silk and cotton doesn’t slip like plain silk, but it is still light and fluttery, so close the windows before you start cutting out… It also drops a lot, so the dress hung on the mannequin for about a week before I was ready to tackle straightening up the hem. I made a simple a-line underskirt to counter the transparency of the fabric and when Belle came home last weekend, she had a gorgeous dress to take away with her.
There was just enough time on her whirlwind visit to get some photos in. It’ll be worn this weekend up in the Lake District, so hopefully the weather isn’t too disruptive, and I’ll get a few more pretty photos!