Thursday, October 17, 2013

At Last, Dress Success!

I've tried several times to make a dress with a fitted bodice (usually with princess seams), and I've failed each time. With every pattern I've tried, the resulting dress gaped open at the neckline, with lots of excess fabric across the upper chest.. The fundamental issue is that my upper chest is very narrow -- a problem that the usual adjustments for a smaller or larger bust do not solve.

Other adjustments are challenging because of the way princess seam dresses are constructed. On most of them, the shoulder straps are part of the bodice front. Thus I couldn't alter the bodice front to accommodate my narrow upper chest without skewing the shoulder straps and armholes.

I finally found the solution in McCall's 6027.
McCall's 6027

In this pattern, the shoulder straps are part of the bodice side front, leaving me free to alter the bodice front without skewing the shoulder straps.

Even better, the bodice front has a seam down the center, giving me an easy reference for narrowing the bodice.

After making a muslin and using myself as a human pincushion dress form to go through several iterations, I finally ended up with a bodice that fit. The trick was to alter it along the center seam, narrowing it 1.25" at the top, tapering down to .5" at the waistline. I also added 2.5" to the length to accommodate my longer torso.

The photos below show a comparison of the original front pattern piece and my front pattern piece. Luckily, I did not have to change the curve of the bust seam, which meant I didn't have to alter the side front pattern piece. I was able to get the proper fit by making changes only along the center seam.

There is one big drawback to McCall's 6027 -- it's too low-cut for me. The easy solution is to wear it as a jumper (a sleeveless dress worn over a shirt). It's very comfortable, but I suspect it makes me look like a schoolteacher.

This is especially true in the Halloween fabric I used for my first successful prototype.
 

I have since made three more jumpers, with some variations, which I will show in upcoming posts.

28 comments:

  1. Bane, congratulations! The dress looks great on you! I remember that summer dresses post and I'm so glad you found something that works. You look amazing! You could do a lace or mesh undershirt if you wanted to spice up the look a little and no, you don't look like a school marm!

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    1. Thank you! I am very happy to finally have a dress pattern that works. Good suggestion on the undershirt. I have fishnet and lace that I can try. :)

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  2. Wow, great job!! Love the matching laces on your shoes too ;)

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    1. Thank you! It took a little while to lace up 20-eye boots with ribbon, but I think it was worth the effort.

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  3. Suits you great! And I agree with lightning x: You don't look like a school mum, rather like someone getting comfy in fall!

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    1. Thanks! It is very comfy with the soft cotton knit shirt. It's quite different than the local uniform of jeans and fleece, which is worn by grandparents, toddlers, and everyone in between. ;)

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  4. Wow, looks great! And I agree with the others, I don't see school teacher or anything. Just looks like you're wearing a cute dress! :) I think dresses look better like that anyways.

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    1. Thank you! I have always liked the look of dresses/jumpers worn with an undershirt and tall boots. It's probably not an "in" look, but I'm not exactly a follower of popular fashion. ;)

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  5. Cute dress, and I love the effect of the orange laces in the black boots!

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  6. The dress is gorgeous! Well done :) I love how you wear it even if you think you look like a school teacher (not agree to that). The orange laces is a perfect trick to make the outfit complete.

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    1. Thanks so much! I probably have an outdated idea of what teachers look like. When I was in school, all the teachers wore jumpers over t-shirts... but of course, that was many years ago. It would be more accurate to say that I suspect I look like a schoolteacher from 1988. :)

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  7. It looks wonderfully cut on you! Hooray for success!
    Perhaps a few more accessories to quiet those school teacher thoughts?
    Regardless, the dress looks great with or without them. =)

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    1. Thanks! It took quite an effort, but in the end, I am very happy with the fit.
      More hair, makeup and accessories would definitely make a difference.

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  8. I think it looks lovely! And...those...SHOES!!! :D

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    1. Thank you! The boots are Dr. Martens "Jemma" style. I wanted to buy a second pair because mine are very worn and have a bad scratch on the toe, but the style has been discontinued. :(

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  9. Excellent!! I'm so glad you finally found a pattern that works for you... and it DOES! :-)
    And NO, you don't look like a school teacher, although there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

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    1. Thanks! No, certainly nothing wrong with looking like a schoolteacher. In fact, I have great admiration for teachers, who provide an invaluable service for insultingly low pay. I still remember my favorite teachers, such as motorcycle-riding Chemistry teacher Mr. McLaughlin... who did not wear a jumper. ;)

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  10. That turned out great! I may have to pick up that pattern for myself. :)

    And I *love* the orange laces in your boots!

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    1. It also has a godet option, which I think I'll try next time. I'm a sucker for a fitted bodice and a big, floofy skirt. :)

      Thank you!

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    2. Absolutely! Black with purple would be the obvious choice... or maybe stripes with solid...

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  11. It looks awesome in the Hallowe'en fabric, Bane! That looks like a good pattern to try. I'm looking for a comfortable dress that I can just throw over a t-shirt (at my age, anything lower than a jewel neck is way too low). ;o)

    I love the orange laces!

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    1. I think it's a good pattern. I'd rate it an easy... especially if you don't have to make several iterations of the bodice.

      Thank you! :)

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  12. The dress is wonderful and I love the outfit; those orange laces!!! I don't think looking like a school teacher is a bad thing, but I think this outfit is too much fun to remind me of one! I'm so glad you found a pattern that works for you!

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    1. Thank you very much! I think the bodice pattern will be a good base for some fun variations... I have a couple ideas already. :)

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