Hey Everyone! Remember a bit ago when I talked about how I made a shopping trip to Gap and found so much sewing inspiration? I tried on a dress that I loved and turned out to be a pretty good deal with a sale and a coupon I had. I bought it and brought it home but just couldn’t get past some fitting problems. It was pulling a bit in the upper bust when I moved my arms and I thought it was a little bit too short. I felt like I could make something similar and improve the fit, so I ended up returning the dress. Here is the dress that inspired me– sorry about the fitting room selfie. This is the only picture I thought to take.
I was originally thinking that Made By Rae’s Josephine top would be a good place to start since my inspiration dress had pleats in the front bodice. But after making my Beatrix top, I realized that if I made a few modifications to the Beatrix pattern that it would be almost identical to the Gap dress. The first change was to eliminate the button placket on the back of the top. The Beatrix pattern has a marking for where the center back is, so I lined up the fold of the fabric to the center back marking and cut.
For the front I cut two pieces instead of cutting one on the fold. I used Swedish tracing paper to trace off the pattern, but before I traced I made two pleats in the paper, about 3/8″ from the center front running straight up and down. My pleats are both about 1/2″ wide and about 1/4″ apart. After making the pleats in the paper I taped them down to secure them and then traced the Beatrix front pattern piece. I used the center front fold line from Beatrix as the center front of my pattern.
Once I traced the pattern I opened up the pleats before cutting out my fabric. I also extended the center front out 1″ because I knew I wanted to have the open neck detail and I figured the best way to accomplish that was to have a center front seam and stop sewing 2″ from the top of the neck. Here is what my front bodice pattern piece looks like after my modifications.
My fabric, this fun voile from Sew Caroline’s first fabric collection, is pretty sheer and I knew I needed to do a lining or an underlining. I decided to underline the fabric since I couldn’t figure out how to get the open neck detail that I wanted if I was attaching a lining. Underlining was much more straightforward. I cut the same pieces from a solid navy voile and then used my trusty glue stick to baste them together around the edges. Then I treated each double layered piece as one fabric. I decided not to underline the sleeves because I liked the idea of them being a bit sheer. I sewed the front pleats on my polka dotted fabric before I cut the underlining and basted the fabrics together. I used my pattern pieces with the pleats folded and taped down when I cut the front bodice underlining pieces so that I didn’t have any extra bulk added to the pleats.
I had taken some measurements from the Gap dress so I knew how long I wanted the bodice to be and how wide the skirt was. The biggest thing I forgot to measure was the width of the bodice at the waist seam. When I first sewed the skirt to the shortened Beatrix bodice it was gigantic at the waist. I had made a lovely, polka dotted mumu. I had to unpick the skirt FOUR TIMES before I got the bodice adjusted to the width I wanted. Of course I had been doing french seams (and even french seamed the skirt to the bodice, which went out the window after I had to unpick it so many times. At least by the 3rd time I was basting the skirt on so it was quicker to take it off!) The skirt is just two rectangles of fabric sewn together and gathered to the bodice.
In the end I finally got it right. It’s just big enough that I can wriggle into it by pulling it over my head since there are no closures on the bodice. I am a little sad that I had to overlock the waist seam when everything else is french seamed, but you win some, you lose some, I guess. I am excited to have my dress finished and I love how it turned out!