The 8th dress in the series is option D of Vogue pattern, V8849. I wanted to leave a dress (with a full sleeve insert) close to the end because as a beginner sleeves are quite difficult to insert. Although I won’t class myself as a ‘beginner’ anymore I still find it hard to get a smooth shoulder seam. And this dress unfortunately is no different.
As we know, Long Sleeve Dresses have been around for a very, very long time. So let’s jump right in and get going!
Bardot Dress | Slip Dress | Maxi Dress | Shift Dress | Overlay Dress | One Shoulder Dress | Strapless Dress | Long Sleeve Dress | Cold Shoulder Dress | High Neck Dress
Controversially, I chose to use clashing colours as well as clashing fabrics. Why, I hear you ask? To add a bit of a challenge. I used a pale pink, poly satin lining for the top of the dress and a khaki crepe blend for the skirt. I’m not completely sure what the composition of the skirt is, though I do know that William Gee supply these lining. The linings were both polyester based, but different weights and qualities. The lining for the top was super slippery and frayed a lot, while the lining for the skirt was roughish and barely frayed.
I made this dress straight after making the strapless dress using the same pattern. So I was comfortable with 90% of the construction of the dress. It made it a little less daunting as I knew what to expect and I knew where I had tripped up previously so tried not to repeat any errors! The reason for the contrasting fabric was to see what the pattern could really do, and to explore whether I would be able to work with opposing fabric compositions.
As for the colours- there was no rhyme or reason, I just looked at the fabric and thought to myself “it’s worth a try”. And it definitely was. I would liken the dress to marmite- you will either love it or hate it. And I love it, but I hate marmite. One downside is that it the dress is difficult to photograph; the satin reflects the light and the crepe absorbs it.
The construction of the bodice is the same as the strapless dress. The additional step is to reinforce the top of the front bodice through the large circle. This will help to prevent the fabric from ripping or fraying when the upper front is attached. And make sure you press your seams (I recommend getting a tailors ham to help press the curved seams). I didn’t need one for the strapless dress, but because there is boning on that style it can mask poorly-pressed seams (the long sleeved version doesn’t have boning so there’s no hiding my poorly pressed seams!)
Next, form the darts in the back bodice pieces and pressed these towards the centre. Stitch the back bodice pieces to the side fronts and press. Put the completed bodice to one side and it’s on to the upper front and upper back.
Staystitch the lower edge of the upper front, pivoting at large circle. Make a 1.5cm narrow hem on center back edge of upper back and easestitch shoulders.
The narrow hem at the centre-back is there because the zipper does not go all the way up to the neck line. I didn’t realise this until later on into the construction, though it turned out okay. I thought I might have needed to insert a longer zipper, so leaving the centre back unhemmed as long as I did wasn’t too much of a problem. Once I tried the dress on, before inserting the zipper, I could see why the zipper wouldn’t go all the way up!
Pin the upper front to the upper back at shoulders. Adjust ease, double stitch the seams and press towards upper back. Pin the upper front to upper back at sides and double stitch seams.
Pin upper front and back to upper edge of bodice. Match seam lines, symbols and centres. Baste.
Form the lining in the same manner as the bodice. Once complete, pin lining to bodice right sides together over upper front and back. My lining was quite slippery, I thought it would move around too much as I took the pins out. So I chose to baste the lining to the bodice and upper front and back before securing with a sewing machine.
Trim seam and understitch lining. Turn down lining and press.
Moving onto the neck edge and armholes:
First staystitch the neck edge of the upper front and back. Then, fold the neck facing lengthways, pin raw edges of the facing together and press. Stitch neck facing to neck edge, matching symbols. Note: the ends of the facing will extend further than the center back seam. Trim seam allowance and understitch facing.
Turn facing to inside, turning in ends. I made my own work around the next few steps as I didn’t want there to be any stitching showing on the neck edge of the dress. So I slipstitched the ends to the centre back seam allowance and tacked the facing to the shoulder seams. Doing this meant that the centre front of the facing turned out, but it wasn’t noticeable when worn.
On to the sleeves:
Easestitch upper edge between small circles. Stitch sleeve edges together in a double seam and press seam toward back. Hem the sleeves. Similar to the neck edge I didn’t want any top stitching around the sleeve hems, so I formed my hem according to how I wanted it to turn out and slipstitched them in place.
With right sides together, pin sleeve into armhole. Basting the armhole seam first helps you to see where you need to adjust your ease to get that smooth shoulder seam. Once you’re happy with how it looks, stitch.
The skirt is formed exactly the same way as the strapless dress. This time for the peplum I followed the instructions. Make the peplum separate from the skirt and then baste the peplum to the skirt, keeping raw edges even and matching symbols.
Open out the bodice lining and stitch the skirt to the bodice.
Invisible zippers have been a theme for this series so it is only fitting that this dress have one too. When inserting my zipper I had a fair amount of trouble getting all the key point to line up, i.e neck edge, waist seam. Because the top was “slippery” and the skirt was “rougher”, they each moved around under the sewing machine foot differently. So on the second attempt to insert the zipper, I first hand-basted the zipper to the centre back seam so that I had a guide to work to.
Finally it’s onto the skirt lining: finishing and hemming.
Overall it is a beautiful dress. And I will definitely make it again. Next time I will do fewer amendments on the upper front as I am not 100% happy with the fit. And I will do a peplum amendment. Perhaps make it longer or do it in a contrasting fabric to the rest of the dress. Not 100% decided on that just yet.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you will stick around for the rest of the series. And I look forward to seeing all your makes!
Until next time.