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Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Tale of Two Dresses - Part 2

Pin-basted together with the darts on the outside.
Getting a feel for the hem length.
Nothing is more inspiring than success!

After her triumph with the black knit party dress, Ms Better Than the Best was eager to sew again. She decided a sheath dress (or two or three) would be a great addition to her wardrobe. A good-fitting sheath dress flatters the curvy figure and makes getting dressed in the morning a cinch. With a tested tried ’n’ true pattern, Ms BTTB knew she could create some interesting variations on a theme with different necklines and fabrics.

Finding a good basic sheath dress pattern proved to be harder than expected. Several “almosts” had full skirts, or slits, or weird design lines, or no sleeves. Finally she found one she liked: McCalls 2401. It features bust and waist darts, straight skirt, sleeves and a simple neckline. Unfortunately it is not one of the pick-your-cup-size patterns.

Deciding which size to use is a challenge for anyone, but it’s especially hard for a curvy girl. Using the full bust measurement is a recipe for disaster. In the end, she chose the size she thought would best fit her shoulders and neckline, and would do the full bust adjustment for the bodice. A good solution, especially as I was around to help drape-fit the pattern.

After a quick tissue-fitting, and pattern altering, the dress was cut out of muslin and basted together. Not bad, but the darts needed adjusting, which is easy to do in the muslin format because you can add or cut away fabric. While I was working on one side of the dress, I could see the fabric was trying to form French darts. (French darts start from the side seam, around the waist, and  angle up to the bust. It’s a very flattering line.) I pinned it out and we took a look. Nice!

Close-up of the two French darts, pin-basted together on the
outside. I like the way they subtly shape the dress.
Just for fun, I split the French dart into two – one above the other – and the result was gorgeous! From the one pattern, Ms BTTB now has two looks – the standard bust-and-waist-darts, and the draped French darts.

Unfortunately, our sewing time ran out before we finished the project. For our final fitting, the French dart dress, cut out of the fashion fabric, was pin-basted together with the darts on the right side. The lines looked good on this inside-out version, and appeared to be in the right place. So far, so good.

I’m eagerly awaiting the finished version.

      - Lady T

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