The Sweetheart Dress – My Wedding Dress Muslin!

This much anticipated (by me) post is finally here! I’ve been busying myself with my wedding dress muslin for a while now, trying to tweak the fit to exactly what I want. And it’s finally done! Now that I’m underway with the real thing (and my move to the US is fast approaching), I thought it was about time to share some photos of the muslin and my thoughts on the Sweetheart Dress pattern from Sew La Di Da Vintage!

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My strategy with the muslin was very much to alter that pattern as I went along. And there was quite a lot of modifying to be done in order to get the fit that I wanted. From the beginning, I was keen to achieve a well tailored shape to the bodice – particularly important as a complement to the fullness of the skirt and the big ol’ petticoat that I’ll be wearing underneath it.

The main strength of the Sweetheart Dress is, I think, the neckline. It’s so wonderfully shaped and I especially appreciate the way that the straight neckline is complemented by the way that it curves around the back of the neck. Something about the shape elevates the dress from a standard day dress to a garment that really does work in more formal settings. This is obviously vital to any wedding dress that is made using less traditionally formal patterns, since you’ll still want to make sure that you look bridal. Adding a level of formality that works for a wedding dress was also the main reason that I decided to go with the straight neckline, rather than the sweetheart option (I was a bit worried about a potential cleavage situation).

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The main modifications I made to the pattern were around the bodice. I took the bodice in quite a lot to achieve a more tailored look. Initially, there was a LOT of ease. I ended up taking the dress in when I attached the back zip, basically working with pins until I felt that I had enough ease to be comfortable but not so much that I felt baggy. I had a similar issue with the neckline (obviously I’m talking only about the straight neckline option here) – there was quite a lot of gape when I first put the bodice together. Judging from photos of other people’s makes that I’ve studied, I think this is a relatively common issue. But it was easily fixed. I just took in the seams attaching the front and side front panels, essentially adjacent to the neckline. I probably ended up taking these seams in by about 1 inch on either side to get the neckline to lie flat.

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Apart from that, the only other modification I made was with the hem. Mine ended up being quite narrow, simply to ensure that I was achieving a length that worked with my petticoat (the one that I’ll be wearing for the wedding, rather than the one pictured here).  The length of my muslin is really the maximum I could have achieved without actually adding more fabric when I cut out the pattern pieces – so bear that in mind if you’re after something longer, although honestly I think this length works perfectly for the ’50s style.

I think the skirt on the pattern is spectacular. It’s got the classic circle skirt silhouette but has two front pleats that offer a unique take on the traditional ’50s dress patterns. I think this is another detail that tailors the Sweetheart Dress for more formal occasions. Since I’ll be making my wedding dress in a heavier brocade fabric, I think the fall of the pleats and the hang of the skirt will look especially great! Obviously with a skirt so fabulous (and no fiancé here to tell me I’ll make myself sick), I decided that I needed to do some serious spinning.

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And, yes, I did make myself sick. There are a lot more than two of these photos on my computer.

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As you can see from the back shot of the dress, the invisible zip is very much un-invisible. This was kind of a sacrifice on the path to getting the bodice to fit right. I might let the bodice of the wedding dress out a bit to better accommodate the zip (when the dress isn’t on my body, the zip is actually invisible), but I’m not too worried – mostly because a white zip on a white wedding dress isn’t much of a problem. Obviously I won’t be diving in to sewing up the wedding dress with the exact same measurements and dimensions of the muslin – partly because the fabric is totally different, and partly because I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate since the muslin was made! But it’s good to have some idea of the issues I had with the base pattern so that I can go in a bit more aware of potential problems.

The final thing I’ll mention is the heart patches. I’d like to claim that this was a work of creative genius conceived before I started sewing. Unfortunately, that would be a massive lie. The dress was finished and ready to go. I was trimming down the seams on the zip and accidentally cut a massive hole through the back of my dress. Oops! Obviously my first thought was my usual when I run into any kind of issue, large or small – throw the whole thing in the bin. Fortunately, I resisted and decided the best thing to do would be to patch it in a way that worked. So I bought some red cotton, fashioned some heart templates, cut them out of the fabric, attached some interfacing, and top-stitched them to the dress. I think it actually worked pretty well in the end, proving that you can salvage even the most desperate mistakes!

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I was honestly so stressed out about making this muslin. There’s a definite level of pressure to sewing your own wedding dress that I didn’t quite appreciate before I started making. Fortunately, the Sweetheart Dress pattern is incredibly easy to work with. Modifications aside, the pattern is the clearest that I’ve ever used, with detailed instructions and photos at every step. The structure of the dress is also such that it would be a great dress for beginner sewists who are feeling a bit more ambitious!

From here, it’s on with the wedding dress. Just a few weeks to go!

1950s Flared Dress (Vogue 1043)

Here we are, with my first make of 2017! This is a garment that’s been a long time coming. As mentioned in my previous post, my life has encountered a few curves and swerves over the past couple of months. Sewing and blogging were put on hold for a little bit and V1043* – a dress that I started back in October for the Sew Dots challenge – was in literal pieces! But last week I decided that it was high time I pulled my sewing machine out of hibernation and got this project finished. And my goodness has it reinvigorated me! This pattern is divine.

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So cute, right? To be honest, I was pretty worried about this pattern. The wrap top and kimono sleeves presented a few different challenges and required some brand new skills. But, as I typically do, I decided to put my faith in the pattern and hope for the best. Fortunately, Vogue patterns are so well written and instructed that this trust is always incredibly well placed. The process wasn’t particularly lengthy – most of the effort goes into the bodice and sleeves – and creates a really impressive garment in a lovely, short time frame!

The bodice and neckline are gorgeous. I adore the wrap effect and it sits just perfectly. I graded out a size from bust to waist, following my measurements, and the final product fit snugly and comfortably. The handmade belt gives an opportunity to accentuate the waist a little further – I think this is a glorious touch that helps to balance the full circle skirt and make the wrap effect of the bodice really pop! The wide neckline and kimono sleeves add further vintage details to the top and sit absolutely perfectly. I didn’t have to adjust any pieces of the pattern to encourage a better shape, which is always a joy!

Neckline close-up and a shot of the back.

This dress has a fantastically 50s feel to it. When it was finished and I popped it on, I could just feel the pin-up vibes oozing off of it. This is a feeling that’s enhanced by adding a gauze petticoat to push out the circle skirt. But the skirt also sits wonderfully without the petticoat, making it totally viable to wear as an everyday springtime dress (albeit, with a lot of va-va-voom to it)!

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If you’re thinking about giving V1043 a go, I would definitely suggest working with a bold fabric. I picked up this patterned cotton from my local fabric shop and, although I was a bit worried that it would look too busy, I was encouraged by my love of both polka dots and flowers! This fabric actually has a gorgeous vintage feel to it and I think works perfectly with the pin-up feel that’s so inherent in the style of this pattern. It works beautifully with some t-bar heels, bright red lipstick, and victory rolls (I found the EASIEST method for getting some good looking victory rolls. Seriously, it is incredibly simple compared to the many tutorials I attempted to follow online. I’m going to pop a post up with some instructions soon!!).

So go forth and give V1043 a chance. It’s beautiful! Plus, you can attempt your very best, most serious pin-up poses and inevitably be much more successful than me!

*I got V1043 with a sewing magazine that I bought a while back. I goggled around for a link to where you can buy a copy. It’s available on Amazon US but there are also a few hits on Etsy!

The Veronika Skirt

Happy Sunday, sweetpeas!

I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks sorting through my current/future sewing projects and figuring out how I’m going to get to everything. For the next month or so, I’ll be devoting myself to the Big Vintage Sewalong project – the post will be coming on August 5th. In the meantime, I’m hoping to get a couple of simple makes done, but will keep the Sew for Victory posts regular with a series of vintage-inspired blogs. So keep your eyes out for those!

Since wrapping up the Betty dress, I’ve been looking to make another circle skirt. Partly because they’re gorgeous, but also because I wanted more excuses to wear my petticoat! After searching around a bit, I stumbled upon a free pattern (subject to signing up for the site newsletter) from Megan Nielsen – the Veronika skirt. The pattern comes with a variety of options, including a fabulous scalloped pocket detail. But, with my limited fabric, I decided to go with the simplest option – a normal circle skirt with a narrow waistband.

This was insanely easy to make and was done in a matter of hours. The only time consuming part was, once again, the hemming. Just take a few breaks to make sure that all that steaming and pressing doesn’t make you faint! The pattern itself was easy to use, with clear instructions, and the final product is exactly what you would expect from a circle skirt.

I actually found that the skirt came out much fuller than the one on the Betty dress, which makes it work excellently as a separate piece – although this could be a consequence of using a starchier fabric. In this instance, the skirt was made up from a cotton poplin that I bought from Walthamstow Market. The floral design works well with a simple, plain top – I have a Vogue pattern for a simple sleeveless blouse that I’m planning on making to pair with this skirt.

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So head over to Megan Nielsen’s website and have a browse of the several free patterns. Then make a circle skirt and spend even more time annoying your partner/friend/child/stranger by refusing to do anything but spin around! Trust me, your life will be infinitely better for it.

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