Today’s finished make is THE fancy dress of the year. I’ve had it planned since the end of last year (it’s even part of my somewhat neglected Make 9 list) and started working on it back in May. All that is to say that it’s a dress made for an important day, my little brother’s wedding which was at the beginning of August. I wanted something that was going to be sophisticated with a fitted silhouette and just a little fancy without being completely formal. I’m really pleased with how the dress turned out. It was a super fun wedding and the perfect dress to wear for the event. Now let’s get to the sewing details!
The pattern is the Sophia Dress by By Hand London. When thinking about what I wanted to wear to the wedding, BHL was one of my first stops. They are known for their party dresses and this one does not disappoint. I love the unique Y-shaped darts in the bodice and skirt and the angled lines of the armholes. It’s an unusual and cool design that creates a really defined hourglass shape. I made version 2 without the collar and with the pencil skirt and center front slit. I thought the instructions were great. It's not a difficult pattern to sew together despite the unusual dart placement. Probably the hardest part was the fitting but that's just a bit of trial and error.
I did a fair amount of work to get the fit just right. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t take great notes and as I made the muslins back in May my memory is now failing me. My measurements are roughly bust 38”, waist 28” and hips 39”, which puts me between an 8, 10 and 12 in the BHL size chart. Hence lots of pattern adjustments. I cut the skirt in between a US8 and US10 which worked pretty well. I cut the bodice shoulders at a US8, the bust at US12 and tapered the waist to between a US8 and US10. Then I made a muslin (aka toile) and more measurements ensued. I definitely took at a wedge at the underarm and transferred the excess to the bust. I recall also contemplating making a full bust adjustment (FBA) but don’t have any notes on that. Also, I'm pretty sure I added some length to the bodice and the skirt. I usually take such great notes but just forgot this time.
I’m really pleased with the fit of the dress. The testing and pattern adjustments really helped get something that fit my body. This dress is more fitted than the clothes that I wear on a day to day basis and at the time of the wedding I think I was a couple pounds heavier than I am now. The dress still fit but it was snug. I was really nervous about getting too uncomfortable so on the day of the wedding, I bought a pair of shape wear panties. (We can talk about our undergarments here right? 😉 ) They worked quite well and I never felt like I was going to burst out of the dress. lol I had actually bought another pair of shape wear panties earlier in the week but couldn’t get them over my knees so I had to find something less restrictive. Seriously! Underwear has never felt more comical. I wore a strapless bra with the dress because I didn’t want any bra straps to peek out of the angled armholes.
The fabric is a textured cotton from The Fabric Store. I wanted something a little thick that would have some structure to it. The texture is created with a layer of threads that is loose-ish on the wrong side and creates circles on the right side. The fabric was fine to sew with but I did have some pre-washing problems. I washed it in the washing machine, probably on a gentle cycle with cool water. When it came out I could not get it to iron flat again. No amount of steam or heat would tame it. So, in an act desperation (or perhaps genius) I took it to the dry cleaners and had them press it. When I picked it up a day later it was almost as flat as when I first got it. Phew! I really like that it’s a black fabric but a little more interesting because it has a texture.
For the lining, I used rayon bemberg from Michael Levine. At $8/yard it’s more expensive than what I usually spend on lining but it has a really nice feel to it and this is a special occasion dress. I decided to line the skirt as well as the bodice. The instructions only have you do the bodice but I thought it would be nice given the loose weave on the back of my fashion fabric.
The wedding and the dress were both a success. And now I’m happy to have a classic black dress in my wardrobe that I can wear whenever the semi-formal occasion calls for it. Have you made this pattern? Do you make new frocks for special occasions?