Bantam dress in linen.

Finished:
Started as Bantam shift dress.
backside:
Started as Bantam shift dress.

Two days ago I managed to prepare for yesterday’s sewing:

  • measurements of dress: bust 106; waist 98; hip 106 cm. Backpanel perhaps a bit less wide. Use green cotton shift dress as a template.
  • cut pockets right onto the panels
  • in the evening I made 8 m of biais band, following this tutorial that merely visualises The Dread Pirate Rodgers’ genius.

 
Making biaisband by hand

Yesterday morning I started with inspecting the biais band and fixing the last details.
Then I read through the pattern for Bantam Dress carefully, it’s in Merchant & Mills Workbook.
1. staystitching
2. hem
3. French seams
4. bind the edges
Oh how I love that measurements are in centimetres! Instructions are very clear, both in text and image. I especially appreciate that reasons are given for directions.
I live so much better when I understand the why.

Planned modifications: altered outline of the pattern pieces (add some shaping, a different neckline because I like my bra bands covered and add pockets); sew some back darts after stay stitching and before hem.

Then I read this page about sewing with linen written by Carolyn from Sewing Fanatic
– remember to press linen with a cloth, otherwise it will shine.

CUTTING
I folded the fabric twice so the sideseams would be mirrors. I took the bust measurements (106 cm) as a guide. The fabric is four layers and 51,5 cm wide + a little extra for seam allowance.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

I put an odd item at the point where I have to stop following the template and have to cut a pocket.
Started as Bantam shift dress.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

Two panels cut. Only room for pocket on one side.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

STAYSTITCHING
Started as Bantam shift dress.

PUT IN DARTS in the back. Freehand (after measuring and marking important points with red pins)
Started as Bantam shift dress.

CHECKING MEASUREMENTS before putting in FRENCH SEAMS. I have 1 cm seam allowance. That’s not much.
I pin precisely. Because I have cut precisely I can probably sew the two 0,5 cm seams.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

FIRST PART FRENCH SEAM. Following the last steps of Deborag Moebes’ tutorial about the pocket.
Started as Bantam shift dress.
trim where necessary and clip corners
Started as Bantam shift dress.

At the bottom of the side seams I leave a vent. I fold the edge under and again.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

FOLD HEM UNDER. First part. The fabric is already starting to fray, even though I do not handle it much.

PRESS ALL THE SEAMS. Trim and grade where neccessary.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

LAST PART FRENCH SEAM and HEM.
This happens so often with my French seams: bristles escaping from the finished seams. I ought to take my final seam allowance a little better. Or trim better before hand.
It’s because I work on an antique foot treadle machine: I can work slow and precise. That lures me towards too small a seam.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

SHOULDER SEAM and try it on for FIT
Ugh. Way too tent like. I’ll shorten the shoulder straps. Add more dart in the back. And a small dart at the bust because the armhole is flaring unflattering. The pocket is too deep, I’ll stitch it smaller (but won’t cut away the excess fabric because it lays nice and flat now).

I do get that free flowing feeling that shift dresses provide. I feel elegant and fluid.

Now I’ve amended the darts in the back, see how much extra I needed to take them in, I pointed both stitch lines out with my tools:
Started as Bantam shift dress.
These are not darts anymore, they are princess lines. They could even go deeper but I’m worried it will make the waist too small and I won’t be able to slip the dress over my bust.

BINDING neck- and armholes.
2 helpful tutorials on sewing bias binding by The Haby Goddess.
Make sure you catch the back.
Follow the curve.
Victorypatterns.com shows how important pressing is.

pinning the biais band around the neck hole. It’s very tempting to just stitch it on in one go. But this step is meant to determine the length and to close the loop.
For sewing on I want to press it properly, so it will lay flat.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

This is how far I got yesterday. All done except for the second arm hole. I just finished binding that.
How fast a finishing with biais band is! I really like that I made my own.

I still don’t understand biais band though. You cannot stitch in the fold of the back and then turn it over and expect the front to catch the back, if you like neat stitch lines close to the edge. Quilters promote to “stitch in the ditch” but how that catches both sides of the band is still a mystery to me.

I tried to solve it in the neckline with two lines but it makes the finishing look T-shirt like. Oh well.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

The split at the sides. Maximum usability.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

I still need to finish it properly: tuck away loose threads and give it one more press. But pretty soon the heat will be here so I’m slipping it on instead and enjoy my new Summer dress!

Shift dress based on Bantam dress
Shift dress based on Bantam dress

The measurements work really well, I only have to raise my arms and the dress glides right over my body. It wears very comfortable too, no need to tuck in my stomach (or keep a good posture… shift dresses might not be good for humanity after all)
I still look fatter than I am in it but who cares, you’re meant to move in a dress like this and the movement will flatter your body shape.

I’m really glad with the pocket (keeping earplugs and cortisone pills handy) and my alterations. It wears so pleasant!
The fabric is very cool too. I wonder if this is actually linen… it doesn’t wrinkle much. Was I a gullible costumer?

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