This is my mum’s Christmas pressie (and no, it’s not meant to be a surprise ;o) ).  Having offered to make her a dress for dancing, it dawned on me that it would be perfect for the dance she and my dad are having for their joint 60th birthdays.  As this is in 2 weeks time, I had to pick up the pace a bit! 

We found the outer material, a linen/cotton mix, at the market in Bedoin when we were on holiday.  It’s quite sheer though, so we found some white linen/cotton mix in Mandors a couple of weeks ago to line it.  The pattern was found in Sew Today magazine which I had on holiday with me, although we did a bit of a hunt around to see if there were any others that caught her eye before I started.  This was the pattern mentioned a couple of posts ago that was the wrong size, if you recall, but oh well, I now have a muslin and my own traced and resized skirt pattern.

I thought I’d give a bit of a step by step with this as I rather deviated from the original pattern directions!

First up is the muslin for the bodice that I made when mum was up a couple of weeks ago.  If you look closely, you’ll see that all the seams are on the outside – I figured it would be easier to see all the pattern markings that way.

Having duly unpicked it all again, I then had to make up the skirt pattern at the larger size.  Now for all those looking and saying ‘WTH is she doing with lots of tracing paper taped together?’ well it was all I had (although the postie has since brought me a whole roll of tracing paper)

Bearing in mind I had added 3/4″ to each piece in the bodice, I drew up the straight line on each skirt piece, moved it over 3/4″ and joined up to the waist band and hem.

I seem to have misplaced my highly technical approach to transferring this to the material, which involves 4 wee glass pots that had Gu desserts in them being used as pattern weights (I’ve found weights and tracing to be much more accurate for me than pinning and cutting round pieces) but I’m sure you can work that out for yourself!  BTW mum and dad, if you happened to be having any more of those any time soon, that would be handy…

Anywho, the original pattern was not lined, although it did have a facing on the bodice, so I had to use a bit of ingenuity (which pretty much exhausted the supply for the week!)  I got rid of the facings altogether, and sewed together the lining and outer materials prior to stitching the garment as directed.  Here it is all pinned and ready to go:

Because the materials were so prone to fraying, I decided to do French seams all round, and at this point was really glad to see that Sew Mama Sew had a tutorial on French seams last week.  This was where the headaches started…  To try and reduce the bulk (and of course potential pattern shrinkage) I had to seam the bits in a certain order.  I started by sewing round all but the waist line of the bodice sections with the fabrics wrong sides together.  I didn’t need the shoulder and underarm seams to be sealed off yet, so I just did the encasing on the collar and sleeve sections.  For the next time, I’d do the top stitching at this point, and leave the shoulder and underarm seams until after the French seams for the collar and sleeve were completed to cut down on seam bulk.

Here is the front and back left hand side of the bodice pinned ready to be stitched together, collar and sleeves completed:

You can see a little better here how the collar is finished off:

Here is is now with the shoulder and underarm seams ready to be encased.  I find it quite odd having the inside almost as perfectly neat as the outside here!

And a close up of the collar part again:

After completing this bit, I attached it to the midriff section.  If I do this pattern again in this way, I would make sure that the encased seams on the midriff section pointed towards the front while the bodice and skirt seams pointed to the back to reduce seam bulk again:

I did manage to make the seams opposite each other for the skirt to midriff join.  I also managed to get in an almost entirely invisible zip (teeny reveal at one midriff seam, but only if you look really closely)  Threads magazine happened to have an article on installing invisible zips, and even though I don’t have an invisible zipper foot (which I don’t really think you *need* for this) I think it worked very well.  I’ve never thought of pressing the coils away from the fabric bit before, but it does help you sew nice and closely in. 

My main problem with the pattern for the skirt section is that it gets you to sew the 2 back pieces together up to jus below the zipper and then front to back.  If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t sew the back pieces together until I was applying the zip, to ensure it came out perfectly evenly, as I do have a teeny bit more fabric on one side below the zip than the other.  Still, I think it more or less worked well, and I used my overlocker to seal off the raw edges of the fabric next to the zip.  All that remains is for it to be hemmed, but I’m waiting until I see mum again to finish that bit.

And without further ado, the finished garment:

I will of course try and get a better photo of mum wearing it rather than Diana!

I also managed to get my cross fabric cut for the Across the Sea QAL:

I did make one boo boo on one of the brown pieces, but thankfully I had about twice as many pieces as I actually needed, so I could use another piece without too many problems, and I have kept all the bits of the brown, which would be big enough to be used for other things later.  My background material is in the wash, and will be cut tomorrow…