You don’t get a blouse this weekend…you get a dress!
The Style Arc Darla is a fitted sheath dress which, as drafted, will probably hit most people at or just above the knee. The seaming makes it ideal for colorblocking. Despite being for stretch wovens there’s actually a bit of positive ease at the bust and hips. I like this because it prevents it the skirt riding up when walking.
Stretch wovens and ponte are recommended for this dress. I used stretch bengaline as my fashion fabric, and Pro-Sheer Elegance for my interfacing. I colorblocked using the same colors as shown in the pattern illustration. The ice blue bengaline is from Style Arc, and the navy is from Nortex Mill. Both of them are very crisp so this gives it a slightly more casual look than a stretch wool version would be. Stretch bengaline is ideal for a summer dress due to its fiber content (viscose/nylon/spandex) and the fact that it stands away from the body a bit.
In case if you want to colorblock like I did – I needed about 1 meter of the ice blue and not quite 1 meter of the navy for my size 8 top and 12 bottom. My 30″ invisible zipper is from Cleaner’s Supply. Since I didn’t have a white one in my stash I used a navy one, and did a second pass of stitching very close to the coils so that the tape would be as hidden as possible.
I found the trickiest part of this dress putting all of the facing pieces together. Here’s what everything should look like when it is done correctly. The bottom is the front, and the upper part with the two small pieces is the center back. The seam allowance between the back armhole and the center back facing pieces should be pressed inward (I didn’t do it yet in this photo).
Note: do not sew the side seams of the dress or the center back before you attach the facings. Instead just sew the front and back together at the yoke/shoulder, then stitch the facing around the neckline, understitching, then stitch the facing around the armhole and pull the bodice through the opening at the armhole. THEN you can sew the side seams together. Doing it this way will eliminate handstitching, and if you need to take in the bodice at the armhole like I did it is very easy to make this alteration.
My alterations were:
- 3/8″ broad back adjustment (adding a total of 3/4″)
- 3/8″ narrow chest adjustment (removing a total of 3/4″)
- Lengthened between bust and waist 1.25″
- Lengthened between waist and hip 1″
- Lengthened the hem an additional 2″
- Added 1/2″ wedge to the center back hem
- Added 5″ to the hips, though I ended up removing about 1″ during fitting
- Removed the taper from the side seams, though I left the taper at the skirt front and back panels
- Pinched out not quite 1″ width across the back from the two princess seams just above the butt
- Took in the sides just above the bust about 1.25″, and at and just below the bust not quite 1″.
- Fixed a gaping back armhole (more below).
Since I will most likely make this out of wovens with not quite as much stretch as this bengaline has I didn’t bother to adjust the pattern to reflect where I took it in at the bust and hip. I suspect how much it will need to be taken in will vary depending on the stretch of the fabric I use.
I found the back armhole had a lot of gaping. I tried to find a way of fixing it after the fact, but there was just no clean way of doing it. I realized I had to recut the yoke pieces. So I ended up having to unpick all of my understitching, facings, and yoke pieces from the dress, recut the yoke pieces, and then stitch and understitch everything back together. As a result this dress took MUCH longer than it should have. I thought about just heaving it but since I spent a fortune shipping these fabrics from Australia and the UK I was not going to give in!
So how did I fix the back yoke? Basically it was too long by 1″ at the outer edge. So I cut the seam allowance of the back section and pivoted it inward. I meant to move it inward only 1″ but looking at the photo below of the original pieces vs the altered pattern I think I moved it inward a little bit more than 1″. Oops. At least it doesn’t gape now.
I’m really glad I took the time to fix it because I love how this dress came out! I was apprehensive about the neckline because sometimes they feel (and look) strangulating, but this one is just scooped out enough and I think it does a good job balancing the lean fit. Due to the stretch, slim fit at the waist, and the way the front and back panels are seamed I think this is the ideal dress for pear shaped women. It is an interesting dress without being too casual or too formal, and has a bit of sex appeal without looking like you’re trying too hard. I’ll be making another colorblocked version out of teal and black bengaline.
I again want to thank everyone for their support about me applying for the Sewing Bee show. I’ve never been an overly confident person and have neurotic tendencies – which is probably why I am so detail-oriented! When I was in art class or taking music lessons I would always be more interested in what I did wrong (and how I could improve) rather than what I did right. Then there’s the shyness. Even though I am far more comfortable expressing myself in writing than in person, just starting a blog took a while because I have a very hard time putting myself “out there” and wasn’t confident in my writing skills. But, some people kept pushing me to do it, so I did. Now, just over a year later, I have a website that gets 15,000—20,000 unique hits a month. I’m still scratching my head at how the heck that happened!