Saturday, August 7, 2021

polka dot jessica dress

This is one of those projects where I had a vision of exactly what I wanted and then had to hunt down the right supplies to make it happen. I tracked down the polka dot cotton shirting at JoAnn several years ago, and it’s been in my sewing room ever since! I considered a few different sundress patterns (Style Arc Ariana, Sew Over It Sienna) but ultimately decided on the Jessica Dress by Mimi G for Sew Sew Def. I liked the feature of the button placket and the plain back. I wasn’t sure how the shirring on back of the other two patterns would look with my polka dot fabric. I think this pattern used to be free, but it is paid now.
Based on my measurements at the time (34/28.5/36) I made an XS, graded to a small at the waist. I made a toile of the bodice to check the fit, and it did not remotely work for my shape. I ended up watching a YouTube video that helped with fitting the princess seams. I pinched out excess fabric above and below the bust and lowered the apex. Then the waist seams were all crooked and I fixed them as well as I could. Ideally I’d like to find a nice-fitting princess seamed bodice pattern at some point. This was not it for me.
My other issues with the pattern were minor. First, I had it it printed by the copy shop in large format. WHY did I still have to tape the pieces together?? Why were several of the little pattern pieces split across two sheets of huge paper when they easily would have fit onto one of the pages? Also, the skirt has no lengthen/shorten lines. I shortened the pattern piece by at least 5" (I can't remember the exact number) and trimmed another inch off before adding the button band. The way the button band is finished, the hem length of the dress is set long before you can try it on, so you kind of have to guess at the finished length. I made the pockets smaller (cut to 10.25” x 8”) and attached them to the front about 5” below the waist.
The biggest modification I made to this pattern was to add a side zipper and sew the button band shut. (I just really hate when a button band gapes in a dress.) For the skirt, I just topstitched the button bands together. The bodice was more complicated. I fully lined the bodice instead of using the facing. I made the front right and front left bodice pieces into one piece for both the dress and the lining. I topstitched a faux button band onto the bodice. I also added 1/8” to the right side seams to make the zipper seam allowance 1/2”. I used instructions from Itch To Stitch to insert the zipper and it looks really good! I hand stitched the bodice lining to the skirt seam allowance. I added twill tape to the bodice lining top edge to prevent it from stretching out.

I made the straps 1/2” wide and interfaced them. (Yes, I know you can still see my bra straps. I really couldn't care less.) I made them adjustable using instructions from Suzy on Sew Sarah Smith. I'm glad I did because they already stretched out quite a bit just from being on the hanger. I poached the rings and sliders from an old, worn-out swim suit. The first time I made the straps, no polka dots were showing! I don't think I could repeat that feat if I tried. I cut them a second time to show off the dots.
This was a much more involved project than it could have been, but I love how it turned out!

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