Thursday, 8 May 2014

By Hand London Georgia dress

This wasn't a pattern I jumped on but my interest rose when I saw Ladybird's version - short!  And of course I saw it on Lizzy in person, and hers was fabulous.  During my perambulations around the city, I found some stretch twill on sale and it seemed just the thing for a simple dress that wouldn't require too much equipment.  I wasn't exactly enthralled by the idea of hand sewing the entire thing, but I suppose it could be done... (nah, there's got to be a sewing machine I can borrow somewhere, right?)

Since I had so much time to think about it, I thought about the bust, and about my history with BHL bust problems.  I thought maybe I should do an FBA.  I bought a pair of shorts to rip up and - crazy! - muslin the bodice!!!  Before I did that I read the sewalong that the lovely ladies at BHL have done.  They advise that an FBA is needed when the high bust is >2 inches smaller than the bust, because that would correspond to a C-cup.  Hm....wait a second.  My big problem is that my high bust is 1+ inches greater than my bust, although some of that is because of my back muscles.  So should I actually be doing a SBA? I decided to be smart and just muslin the normal pattern.

normal size

I can easily pinch out an inch

SBA of about 1 cm, I only pinned it, but it's much smoother and fits more closely
There is still a bit of excess, but it's less.

This is what I got, see top photos (after I hand sewed my first muslin like a good 14th century frau).  Empty pointing boobies...I guess I do need that SBA, although I'm not sure what happens at the bottom of the cups where they attach to the dress.  Because I didn't totally believe in it, I shrunk it by only 1 cm.  And because I was getting lazy, I just pinned it instead of sewing it.  But already I can see a huge difference - the bodice lies flat against my chest and there are no empty cups.  I can also see that I might have gaping at the top of the bodice, but that will be easy to fix by just sewing a bigger allowance at the top of the centre front.  After all this, I also think I better find a sewing machine, because my stitches don't look very reliable to me, but at least I can get on with cutting before my flatmate comes home and needs the living room floor.  (Yeah!  And the iron is in the basement!)

This is more true to the actual colours.  My camera hates purple, apparently.

I found construction to be straightforward, although I had slight trouble with the centre back point.  The front was off but even after taking out about a 1cm wedge from the centre top front, it still gaped, so I gathered it there, similar to what Lizzy did on hers.  Then you can't see my slightly off-kilter centre.  Compensation came later: no zip!  Since this is a shoulder-free dress and my fabric is very stretchy, I didn't need it.  Hurrah!

I did as suggested by others and tried the dress on inside out.  My heavy fabric doesn't show marks, so I drew lines down the side to flatten out the extreme-hip shape (my hips are low?)  I considered pulling in the back a bit too but I didn't want to overdo the changes.  Because I know that I have a short strap-distance, I planned ahead and left the back straps out.  Once I tried on the dress, I inserted them into their holes and sewed these shut.  I wasn't bothered by having sewing marks on the back of the dress, although I could also have sewn it on the inside as you do for the Sewaholic Cambie.

I cut a 6/10.  This is my usual size for BHL.
I still don't know if the SBA mattered at all.  The bust fits ok.  But the bottom of the bust is high.

A finishing touch - the BHL label!  None of my previous patterns came with the labels so I suffered from envy of everyone else with their amazing labelled By Hand London projects.  Now I finally have one of my own!

I think this dress, because I worked on it so slowly and attentively, has come together much better than my rushed projects in the past.  I put a lot of effort into what I personally needed so that I would consider this a "wearable" dress, and that truly makes a big difference and is something that you don't learn right away.  In some ways it was also a more enjoyable process because I didn't rush.  

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