How do you plan your sewing projects? Do you pick the pattern first and then find the perfect fabric, or do you get seduced by pretty fabric and then choose the best pattern to show it off? I'm usually in the pattern-then-fabric camp, but every now and then a fabric comes along which just demands to be bought and the pattern picking is left for later. That's just what happened for this dress!
The fabric looks good from a distance doesn't it? It's a lovely purpley blue background with a pretty collection of multi-coloured "polka dots". But look a bit closer, and you realise that those "polka dots" are actually...
BALLOONS! How fun! Although I feel like I haven't taken full advantage of the fun potential because I didn't follow Sue's lead of doing a balloon-filled photo shoot for this dress.
The fabric is part of the Lewis and Irene April Showers collection. I actually first saw it in a magazine advert for New Forest Fabrics, and liked the mix of colours in the print so went to look it up online. As soon as I realised that it was actually balloons not polka dots, I knew I definitely had to have some.
Then it was time to decide on a pattern. I was very close to making another Emery dress, but then I remembered that I had New Look 6262 sitting in my stash so I decided to give that one a go instead. I bought the pattern last year when it was on sale (which it seems to be now too - treat yourself!), because it's the fit-and-flare style that I love, with a couple of neckline/sleeve length options which make it a bit different from other patterns I've used. I particularly like the V-neck sleeveless option, so that's what I went with for this first version.
Based on my measurements, I made a toile of the size 18 bodice, but that was a bit too big all over so I went down to a size 16 and made another toile. That generally fit much better, but it was still too big around the underarms. I think if I'd been making one of the sleeved bodices a bit of extra ease might have been fine, but with the sleeveless version it was gaping a bit too much. I fixed that by taking in 1.5 cm at the side seam at the underarm, tapering out to meet the original seam line at the top of the bust dart. I also made my standard adjustment of adding an inch to the bodice length.
In real life, I'm happy with how the dress fits - but I'm not so in love with it when I look at these photos. I think it's a combination of the sunlight highlighting all the little wrinkles in the fabric, and the fact that this is most definitely quilting cotton and so its lack of drape means that it has a tendency to wrinkle as soon as I move. At the end of the day, how it feels in real life is more important than how it looks in photos so I'm happy with the fit overall, I'll just maybe use this as a reminder of why I've been avoiding quilting cotton for clothes. Where do you stand on that debate?
Other than the slight fitting adjustments, I also decided to line the bodice instead of using the facings provided with the pattern. That's just a personal preference because I always find that facings annoy me. Plus lining the bodice is always a good chance to use a nice contrasting fabric! This one is the same blue (poly?)cotton that I used to line my first Lilou dress - it worked well then, and it's done a good job here too!
Lining the bodice meant that I altered the construction order slightly for the bodice (I used the method I know from the Lilou dress), but other than that I stuck to the pattern. You may have noticed that I'm fairly familiar with sewing dresses with darted bodies and gathered skirts, but I read through the instructions anyway and they were all clear and easy to follow.
So there we go, another pretty new dress to add to my collection! For a future version (there's already one being planned), I'd probably add pockets (because who doesn't love pockets?!), but I think that's the only change I'd make. Have I tempted you to try this pattern?