Grantie’s Ugly Dress

I was able to spend a good amount of time working on the muslin for Bonnie’s dress yesterday evening, and it’s nearly ready for her to try on. I should definitely point out that my wonderful daughter was very well behaved and let me devote more time to the project than I normally get in the evenings! Which was especially wonderful, since I don’t think I’ll have time to sew tonight or tomorrow.

While I was sitting in an armchair, pinning fabric together, she came over and asked to sit on my lap. She pointed to the pile of diaper fabric and announced “dress”. I suppose she knows the drill now! I told her that yes, Mommy was making a dress for Grantie (my Aunt Bonnie, her great aunt). After a few minutes of delightedly discussing this, and about the time that she stole my pin cushion from me, Eva and I agreed that this is Grantie’s Ugly Dress.

Eva “helps” me pin the fabric (and the chair, and my knee, and her knee – just to confirm my claim that it hurts).

It’s ugly because I made it out of diaper fabric. I mean, come on, how stunning is that going to look? The fabric I used isn’t a great representation of what the final dress will fit like either. The cotton diaper twill I have on hand is lighter weight and a looser weave by far than the taffeta, and the result is that it has stretched a bit just from me handling it and sewing it, and that it drapes differently to boot. Still, I think it will let us see where we want to add or delete some fabric, and using the twill allowed me to accomplish this for free!

I made one alteration yesterday evening, before Bonnie’s fitting, because I knew I needed to alter the existing pattern and I want to fit the altered dress on her to make sure I did so well. Even just looking at the pattern pieces, I suspected that the bodice was not going to provide enough coverage.

Bodice first attempt.

The finished gown will have lining sewn to the fabric along the neckline, so we’ll lose 5/8″ of coverage from the unsewn pieces (seam allowance). I wasn’t about to sew a lining in to the practice dress, but I serged 5/8″ in from the raw edge to be able to see what was leftover. The photo above is the first bodice.

I definitely thought that it looked a bit scant for Bonnie’s build. I pinned the fabric onto my dress form, sized to Bonnie’s measurements, to see it in 3D (because let’s face it, my carpet is flat and my aunt is not). The photo doesn’t really do it justice. I didn’t cut away and serge the lower seam allowance, where the bodice will attach to the skirt, and so in the photo it looks like it might be plenty of fabric. Not so. With the unaltered pattern, we won’t have enough space for the sew-in bra cups, let alone Aunt Bonnie. It comes up high enough on the sides but dips a bit too low in the middle.

So, I traced over the old pattern piece and drew up above the existing line an amount I thought would work. It was really a visual guess. I promise I will photograph my alteration techniques at some point, and post about them in more detail, but I was racing to get a second bodice sewn, and attached to the skirt, in one evening so I’d have the dress ready for Thursday when she is coming to try it on, so I didn’t do so yesterday.

Aside from redoing the bodice, and the previous alteration to the shape of the skirt, I left the rest alone. I suspect though that we will probably take in the waist to make it more form fitting. I’m not sure whether Bonnie will want the skirt to flare more, or less, or whether this will work. On the whole though, I think we’re in good shape! And after she tries on her ugly dress, I’ll get to start working on the pretty one. 🙂


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