Dress No 2: Harry’s Dress

Oh dear, my blog post titles aren’t exactly poetic are they?  Plus I’ve named this dress ‘Harry’s Dress’ going against my whole can’t call a dress a male name in my last post.  Never mind, I’m allowed to change my mind, right?

But back to the dress.  It’s called Harry’s dress as many of you know because it was made for Harry’s christening.  I haven’t got any photos of the day though as I don’t like to publish photos of other people on the inter webs without talking to them about it first, so I took these photos at the same time as I photographed Mary’s dress.  Which is how I learnt how to get myself in and out of back zippers (hurrah!).

This dress nearly wasn’t made on time.  I had to reattach the lace appliqué on the front the morning of the christening as I’d sewn it on the night before whilst watching source code and it was seriously wonky.  Like the point at the bottom pointing at my right bust apex kinda wonky.  And the seam allowances on the armholes are STILL unfinished  and I’ll have to do them before washing it as it is filthy – wrangling several toddlers at a BBQ based party after the church service made that bit inevitable.

I also made the belt but didn’t wear it on the day.  I like the dress with and without, but I was feeling bloated on the day so went without.  The button at the back is a gorgeous turquoise glass with gold highlights.  I attached it to a plain button and fasten the belt through two button holes using the smaller button.  That way I can wash the belt and the glass button is safe.

Here’s the information:

The dress is a mash up of Colette’s Peony (the bodice) and Burda’s Jenny Pencil skirt.  I added a godet to the back of the skirt as the slit was a little too high for my taste and comfort level.

The fabric is a blue cotton sateen which I suspect is upholstery weight as it has some heft to it.  It was a score from eBay.  So including the cost of two patterns this dress came in at around £30, which is less than £15 for the materials.  The lace appliqué came from Mary not Martha, an Etsy seller and her shop is full of gorgeous appliqués.

I cut a 14 through the shoulders, grading to an 18 at the bust and grading the Jenny skirt to fit the bodice waist line.  I also added the godet and reinforced the godet and side seams using Liz’s tutorial.  Absolute gold if you want your pencil skirt with wiggle to be tough enough to go the distance!

As seems to be common I had to make a massive sway back adjustment out of the lower back.  (heh, just typing that has made me sit up straight!).  There was a fair amount of spare fabric there, but it seems to be a common issue and not something I generally have to deal with.  I also had to take some spare fabric out of the bust area by increasing the depth of the bust darts.  I should have really traced the 12 and done an FBA but I was time crunched and feeling a tad lazy.  I also lowered the neckline by about an inch as it felt too high to be comfortable for me.

For future incarnations I also need to shorten the bodice by about 1/2″ but this only became apparent after wearing the dress for a whole day.

Once again, Colette’s patterns were crystal clear and the Jenny skirt pattern pieces are so simple that I didn’t even refer the instructions.  It all came together quickly and easily.

So, the positives and negatives:  For some reason (possibly my redrafting of the neckline or the thickness of the fabric) I can’t get the shoulder seam/neck facing area to sit nicely.  It keeps creasing up and that’s after loads of grading, clipping and notching.  I also should have taken all your advice and made the short sleeves but I was worried with our nutty british weather that I’d be cold.  The sleeves are a bit too big and baggy really and need a bit more shape for me to really like them.

Part of me wishes that I’d stuck with my original plan of using the darker colour (and lighter weight) fabric as I’m not sold on this colour on me.  But the 3m of blue cost less than 1m of the teal, so the finances won out.  Either way, cotton sateen is a brilliant fabric for this dress – thank you for the advice Karen!

It’s not going to go into heavy rotation as it’s a bit too fancy for everyday wear, but it’s nice to have a ‘posh’ dress to turn to.  I don’t feel as good in this dress as I do in Mary’s dress and I think that shows.  Loosing a few more lbs may well help with feeling better in it.

On the positive it’s a gorgeous bodice and I like the Jenny skirt pattern.  I can see Peony’s being made for my professional wardrobe both with my Jenny variation and with the drafted full skirt by Colette.  I did miss having pockets!

So I shall echo the others who have made Peony before me – it’s a simple to make and versatile dress that can be easily dressed up or down with fabric choice and / or styling.  I also echo the call to make a toile before you cut into your fashion fabric due to the fabric pooling at the lower back.  Basically this dress combines some of my favourite details: bateau neckline, fitted bodice and pencil skirt.

A bit of saucy belt waving!

After all that, I really fancied some simple sewing, so I’ve made a border print dirndl skirt  that needs photographing.  From idea to finished in an evening – perfect low pressure sewing!

Next up, I’m joining Sunni’s 2in1 Simplicity 1880 sew along!  Plus a few more wardrobe basics as well.

15 thoughts on “Dress No 2: Harry’s Dress

  1. What a smart idea for the button! I made a dress and used glass buttons so was too scared to wash it for errrrr, a year! I considered making individual padded buttons covers when washing but in the end I put it inside a pillow case in the machine.

  2. Love your photos! It’s so fun to see you out in the sun with your new dresses on. They’re gorgeous. Bravo!

  3. This dress turned out great Vicki! I agree that your previous dress is more fun, but we all need classy pieces in our wardrobe too. My brown pencil has zero “wow’ factor to it, but is probably one of my most worn handmade items.

    I like how you jazzed this dress up with the purple belt and the statement button. The lace applique is also a great touch.

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