I decided to combine two projects in one by making one of the lovely new Cocktail Hour Collection dresses at the same time as making it in a brilliant canary yellow – the result, my very own La La Land dress.
I used Vogue Pattern 8997, which is a Very Easy Vogue design with Custom Fit for A,B, C and D cup sizes which are such a boon if you have a fuller bust. I’ve made view B, the sleeveless option with full skirt which I can wear with a cropped jacket to cover the arms.
As usual I took my measurements and then following the chart on the first page of instructions, I could see that I was just over a D cup. It’s important to check your size every time you make a pattern and compare these with the size guide on the envelope of course, but with the custom fit bodice pieces, you also need to determine which cup size to cut out – and it is not the same as ready to wear! When buying a bra I can be E, F or even a G, depending on the bra style. For patterns, I am just over a D cup – I like that! Because I was just over, I knew all I had to do was add a little to the seam line to cater for the extra ½” I needed. It’s one of the great things about the custom fit patterns, you don’t have to do a full bust adjustment, the custom fit pattern pieces do it all for you.
The other thing I decided to do was raise the scoop back so that it would cover my bra strap as otherwise it is rather low – lovely if you can go braless and for evenings, but not right for me. I did this by using a French curve to redraw the curve, raising it up by approx 8cm (3”).
I chose to make the dress in a soft furnishing cotton I had in my stash for years and years – too many to remember! I washed it first which again is something you should always do – but its particularly important with soft furnishing fabrics that often have a ‘finish’ on them and are prone to shrinkage.
The dress calls for lining of bodice and skirt, but because of the weight of fabric I only lined the bodice, leaving the skirt unlined (and I wear a big net petticoat to give it volume anyway). I started by tissue fitting the bodice sections together to check – again something I always do as usually I have to alter patterns to fit my figure – high bust is a size 12, with full bust at 18-20, midriff a size 12, waist size 16-18, hips 12. I did need to adjust the fullest part of the curve of the bodice as it was too high for me – another sign of age unfortunately is the bust point moves south! Once I’d done that I cut the fabric and lining and then made up the lining first as a kind of toile so I could make any further adjustments to the main pieces before making them up.
I inserted an invisible zip rather than a centred zip as per pattern instructions because it is definitely my zip of choice. Finally I left the dress to hang for 24 hours before hemming and then once it was straight, I overlocked the edge before turning up a narrow hem and top stitching. This is the easiest method when working with a full skirt as it avoids the need to ease in fullness. However, if the fabric I’d been working on was lighter weight, I would have eased in the excess – by stitching with a long stitch length about 12mm from the edge, turning up the hem allowance, gently gathering the stitching to ease in any fullness as you turn under the raw edge. Any gathers are on the hem allowance only and the outside is lovely and smooth.
I’m pleased with the result, the shaped waistline gives a flattering silhouette and I love the full skirt. It’s such a lovely bright colour too that it will see me through summer beautifully. So now I am ready to sip a cocktail or two in the sunshine!