Since I’ve been thinking about summer dresses a lot for the past few weeks I remembered that I made a lovely summer dress earlier this year, namely the Billie Jean by Bluegingerdoll. I didn’t however make this for myself but for one of my closest friends as a gift for her birthday. Sadly I didn’t think of taking many detailed pictures since this dressmaking adventure predates the blog. I hope the ones you see plus a more in-depth description will give you an idea of this project.
My friend has a very specific idea about the dresses she loves and I was eager to make a garment for someone else than myself for the first time so we did a lot of research before starting this project. My friend has a very hourglassy figure so we looked for a dress that would show off her curves and wouldn’t need to much adjusting. Basically a pattern already made for her figure typ.
We opted for the Billie Jean because of the flattering 50s cut and the good adjustability for a fuller bust. Also Bluegingerdoll patterns are generally made for a bigger cup size, D cups. Not ideal for me but great for my friend. I still had to do a Full Bust Adjustment but not nearly as severe as I would have had to do with a standard pattern made with a B cup in mind.
Fist off, let me say that the instructions included in the pattern are very easy to follow and the additional sew-along posts that are provided on the Bluegingerdoll blog make this a lovely pattern for beginners. Especially Abby’s post on how to do the FBA on a princess seamed bodice was very helpful to me since I hadn’t done that before. The Bonnie I blogged about a few weeks ago was my second Bluegingerdoll pattern and love their easy instructions. I also think it is great that their newer patterns come in a larger variety of sizes. But I’m rambling, let’s talk about the process of making this dress.
In total I made two muslins – one before, one after the FBA – to get the fit as close to perfect as possible. After the FBA I added some additional fullness to the upper part of the bodice by very slightly redrawing the princess seams. this is certainly not how you should adjust for a persons bust shape but the change was small enough for me to get away with it. If someone knows a better way to adjust for a fuller upper bust with princess seams please tell me, I’d love to know.
I think I also adjusted the fit of the lower bodice a bit by taking in the side seams about half an inch or so.
At this point I decided that one dress would just be a bit boring why not make two? I know this sounds a little crazy and it surely was but it worked out so let’s call it „inspiration“. We had decided upon a beautifully patterned black, white and pastel cotton fabric that was lovely but not exactly evening wear. So I bought a nice black cotton for the lining and fully lined the dress so it could be worn inside out as well. This way she’d have two dresses in one, a flowery sun dress as well as a little black dress.
This plan of doubling up the skirt might have caused problems with too much fullness if I had used the original skirt pattern. But my friend wanted less fullness in the skirt and a considerably shorter skirt anyway so I drafted my own skirt pattern. Since it is a simple gathered skirt by „drafted“ I of course mean „cut some rectangles“.
To make the dress reversible I attached the bodice lining to the bodice shell as suggested in the instructions but opted for an invisible zipper to make it easier to zip from the wrong side. (Sadly it is not totally invisible, *sob*) I then sewed the skirt lining to the skirt shell at the bottom and back seam (with an opening for the zipper at the top of the seam) and gathered it as one piece. After that I attached the skirt to the bodice shell and hand-sewed the lining to the bodice at the zipper and the waist seam. I decided not to add the in-seam pockets that are included in the pattern, partly because they would have added some fullness to the sides – a thing my friend explicitly asked me to avoid – and partly because I found the process of making everything reversible confusing enough and didn’t want to risk my sanity over some pockets.
Let me know what you think!