a grey wedding guest dress, finis

I was smiling more before work. This is my post-lecture exhausted look... and yet, the dress still rocks!

Last stitches in, photos taken and it’s time to call another project done! (Okay, okay… I may need to touch up the hem a bit, but we’ll see what happens overnight!)

This project went surprisingly smooth considered I never worked on it with ideal space, lighting and even a table for the sewing machine and iron. My biggest worry along the way is that I couldn’t move my arms enough due to both a tight armsyce and a bit of pull across the bodice fronts. However, after clipping around the armscye seam, nearly all of the tension was relieved. It is still on the high and tight side, but it’s now only awkward getting in and out of the dress, and not while wearing it, even with the sleeve lining stitched in place.

Some notes on construction & pattern changes:

  • Bodice pieces and waistband were cut to a size 14 with no changes. Skirt pieces were cut to size 16 and the top 2″ or so were tapered slightly on each piece so they would meet the size 14 waistband when joined together.
  • Bodice front was lined in self fabric, eliminating the need to hem the top edge
  • Bodice back neckline was faced in self fabric that had been interfaced. A full bodice back lining was also cut, slipped beneath the facing and hand-stitched in place.
  • The waistband was also interfaced… note to self: do not skip this step – it made all the difference!
  • 3/4 length sleeves were shortened an additional 1 1/2″. The original length is just awkward and bunchy. Now the sleeves are just below elbow length. I’d probably experiment with above-elbow length next time which would likely require shortening another 3″.
  • Sleeve hems were turned up about 1 1/4″, lining were cut a bit shorter and turned up 1/2″ before being hand stitched in place at the hem and at the armsyce.
  • I forgot to lengthen the torso anywhere – so I just ended up attaching the waistband with 3/8″ seams to add a total 1/2″ in torso length. This seemed to do the trick, although the tied band is now a tad narrower than the waistband at the side seams.
  • Skirt was about as basic as it gets! Each side of the center back kick pleat is fully lined and then lapped and tacked in place inside.
  • Self lined bodice was worked as one layer when adding bust gathers and attaching to waistband. This made it a bit tricky putting in a side seam zipper – a few extra stitches needed to be ripped out so that zipper ended up between the correct layers. Although it would break up the back line (which really is very pretty) I’d be tempted to convert this to a back zipper if I made another lined version.

Hips. Ugh. But the dress is still pretty!

Altogether, this probably took about 6 hours, maybe a bit more since I was generally distracted while working on it. I used a bit under 2 1/2 yards of 60″ suiting fabric and less than 2 yards of grey synthetic lining. Matching thread, invisible zipper, some handstitching in silk thread. Interfacing was Pellon Ultra Weft.  Cost… no more than $15, including pattern.

I plan on wearing the dress to tonight’s lecture at work, and possibly to work itself, so I’ll be able to test the stability of the hem and general wearability of the dress. However, if the quick try-on (even with pins sticking me in my arms and legs) is any indication – this could be an absolute go-to pattern. I love the neckline and the sleeve possibilities are pretty wide. I can also see converting this to a fuller skirt below the waistband.

The one issue I have is whether or not I should try adding some additional ease for my larger than B-cup figure. The bias drape of the front bodice works for this one, even with a lining, but I wonder if I should play with that on the next version. And yes, there will be a next version!

EDIT: **Wore it tonight… not a single problem or fitting issue. Score one for the sick girl sewing in bed!**



  1. K-Sue said,

    February 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I am surprised to see that I never left a comment on this post when I was making this same dress last Spring. Your tips and observations were very helpful – the success of this dress is largely due to what you wrote, and the things that don’t work as well are the very things I ignored. THANK YOU! Side zippers – argh! Getting the side zipper to zip up over the waist seam is an adventure! And since I chose to line only a portion, I don’t like the hang of parts of it.

    • And She Sews said,

      February 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

      I’m glad it was helpful! It’s still one of my favorites and I even wore it last night for dinner out on Valentine’s Day. I’d love to see pictures of it without the lining – I’m thinking of making it again and considering skipping that step this time around.

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