Monday, July 17, 2017

Teal Acton Dress

I had two events in June that I wanted to wear handmade outfits for: my graduation and a friend’s wedding. However, none of the dresses that I’ve made before will fit over my pregnant belly, and I didn’t want to spend my precious sewing time on a nice maternity dress that I will wear only twice. I looked through my patterns and chose two dresses that would fit with minimal alteration during pregnancy and still be usable in the future!

The first was one of my #2017make9, the Acton dress from In the Folds. I made a combination of the two views: the bodice from view A and the skirt from view B.

I cut a straight size C and made a toile of the bodice (actually I toiled the bodice from view B, but the adjustments transferred easily). The princess seams made fitting easy. I narrowed the back waist at the princess seam by ½ inch on each piece, flattened the bust curve at the front princess seam (a common adjustment for my A-cup-on-a-good-day), and took in the front princess seams above the bust by 3/8 inch on each piece.  I narrowed the back skirt piece to reflect the back waist of the bodice. 

For the final dress, I used a fairly heavy but loosely woven teal cotton blend from my stash (thrifted at some point in time). It raveled quite significantly! I used French seams except for Hong Kong binding along the back seam as suggested in the pattern, but the next time I sew with such a heavy fabric I will use Hong Kong seams throughout. There were a couple of points in the corners of the skirt that I had to do some creative resewing and actually use small pieces of fusible inferfacing to ensure stability.

I didn’t interface the zip seam as I normally would, given the thickness of the fabric. I was also unable to sew the straps and ties inside out and turn them, again due to fabric weight. I ran the fabric through my bias binder maker* and topstitched. The bodice was lined with the remnants of a quilting fat quarter (some creating piecing was required to line the whole bodice)!

Inside dress bodice
Because I had so much fabric left over (I still do!), I decided to make a jacket as well. I used a pattern that I have sewn before, McCall’s 5935.

My prior version fits well in the bodice (it was lengthed by 1 inch), but is a bit short in the sleeves (so I always wear them folded up!). This time I lengthened the sleeves by 2 inches. I also used a contrasting cotton lining for the bodice and cuffs and left the sleeves unlined (I used a thrifted pillowcase and didn’t have enough to line the sleeves). I learned my lesson with the dress and serged every piece before sewing together. The lining covers all the seams nicely on the inside.

Inside back jacket

Let me tell you, this fabric was not interested in becoming a semi-tailored jacket. It stretched itself all out of shape, except for the pieces that were interfacing, so of course nothing lined up. This was especially an issue in the shoulders, upper collar, and sleeves. There were some creative adjustments made, requiring a lot of pinning, trying on, re-pinning, basting, un-basting, and cursing. I ended up shortening the sleeves by 1 3/8 inches. I know at least some of that is the fabric, but I will change my sleeve lengthening adjustment to only 1 inch for the next time I make the pattern! I didn’t put in any buttons, because it won’t button up at this time. I will in the future when I can put it in the right place.

Despite these struggle (or perhaps because of them), I am very proud of the way the jacket turned out. It looks good with the dress, and is a color that I will wear with lots of other items. I think next time either underlining or using a lightweight fusible interfacing on each piece for stabilization would be the only way to avoid the issues I had. As I mentioned, I still have lots of this fabric left—perhaps I will make a matching skirt, now that I know all the its tricks!

My next post will review the other “non-maternity” maternity dress I made! I still have to take some pics (and by “I” I mean my husband).

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