Making Issue No. 7 / Emerald Dress - Adjustments
I adore dresses; they are genuinely one of my favorite types of clothing because they are easy to wear, comfortable, and an outfit all in one. I especially love dresses that are simple yet sweet in their design, enter the Emerald Dress. One of the fun things about this dress is that it's cut on the bias, which means the fabric can stretch and flow in ways it wouldn't have been able to if it had been cut with the grainline. I love bias cut dresses; they're very non-judgmental in form, which is something I appreciate in clothing design. I like clothing that comforts, that wraps itself around me like an embrace, and that's exactly what this dress does.
Something else I appreciate about this dress is the limited amount of pages it took to put the pattern together, so this step came together quickly. I'd initially thought about making a few changes to the pattern before cutting my fabric, perhaps adding length to the hemline, but looked back at photos from the first time I'd worn the dress and decided to stick with the original length. For reference, I'm 5'1", so clothing usually ends up looking longer on me unless I adjust either the pattern beforehand or the garment in the end. One helpful thing I like to do with a pattern like this is to hold the pattern pieces up to me and take a look in the mirror to get a general idea of where the length will end up. Note, because this dress is cut on the bias, the weight of the fabric will make it stretch downward and end up a little longer looking than the original pattern piece.
One of the wonderful things about this dress being cut on the bias and having two pieces for the front and two pieces for the back is that there are more options for adjustment at both the front and back center seams. Because of this, I didn't make a muslin first. I didn't make any adjustments here, but this would be a great place to take in or let out the dress to your taste, as well as at the side seams.
Because I didn't make a muslin first, many of my seams were sewn with a basting stitch so that they could be quickly taken out if I wanted to make any changes. One notable change I did make was at the shoulder seams. Since I'm petite, this is a common adjustment for me. To do this, I sewed my dress a little out of order and basted the side seams, then sewed the shoulder seams so that I could try it on gauge how it would look on me. After trying on the dress, I thought it might fit a little better if the shoulder seams were taken in more. I then tried on the dress inside out and pinned about half an inch down from the original seam line, and the fit was much better. This adjustment brought up the armhole a bit, so I decided to take the seam in half an inch at the inner part of the sleeve seam (neckline) and grade it down to 1/4" where it ends at the outer sleeve edge, and the fit was very comfortable. Because the neckline and sleeves have separate pieces for the facings, I had to make adjustments to those pieces as well. I removed 1/2" from each edge of the back neckline facing, 1/2" from each edge of the front neckline facing, and 1/2" of the sleeve facing by folding it in half and removing 1/4" from the fold, then cutting the pieces on a fold.
One other change I made while sewing this dress was to add a line of stitching (understitching) along the edge where the pocket piece is connected. I like to do this with pockets after they're attached and before sewing the side seams together. Adding this small line of stitching helps the pockets to stay in place nicely, plus I love the added detail that a simple line of stitching adds here.
When I'm making a piece of clothing that doesn't have a lining, one thing I aim to do is make the inside just as beautiful as the outside. I love clean finished edges and a nice hem. On this pattern particularly, I appreciate how all the facing pieces give the garment not only strength but also interior beauty. One thing that seems to make the inside of my garments look a little messy sometimes are tails from the serger. Sometimes I snip them off, but if I'm taking my time with a piece, I like to finish them the way my grandma taught me by threading them through a large needle and back into the serger's line if stitching. This technique came in very handy with the neckline facing pieces on this dress!
Lastly, because I was going to add embroidery and wanted the backside to be hidden, I sewed the facing down as my very last step instead of when the pattern instructions directed. In the next post, I'll be talking more about that! Instructions for the Emerald Dress by Rae Hoekstra can be found on pages 78-82 of Making Issue No. 7, Desert. - Emily