Thursday, 28 July 2016

Rockabilly circle skirt dress - pt1

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new sewing project going! One which really just partially involve a pattern, so it has been a bit daunting and exciting at the same time.

Ever since I made the striped beach outfit using the Mrs. Depew sun top pattern, I have had that top in my mind, because I always thought it would make an awesome dress bodice. Not long after the stripey sun top, I got hold of some fabric that was just screaming halterneck full skirt dress. But you know, winters came and dresses were not the priority (and to be honest, I was lacking skills), but I just couldn't forget about that dress.

Big bold florals!

Top pattern in question, Depew #1018.

So last week as I rummaged through the pattern stash, the sun top pattern emerged. Elvis hollered "It's now or never!!!" from the back of my mind, and I decided to just get on with it :)

The top obviously needed to be lenghtened a bit to reach my waist, but other than that I didn't do anything to it. I made a quick muslin with a zipper in the back to check the lenght, but I didn't attach a skirt to it. Nor did I bother with the bust trim. The top don't take much fabric and I had lots of the fashion fabric, so in the event of a small disaster I would be able to cut another.

The striped top is two layers of quilting cotton and is nice and sturdy. The dress fabric is very light, and it needed more structure, so I underlined it with cotton canvas. The bust trim is "party satin" (a midweigth fabric) and is backed with fusible interfacing. The bodice also has a layer of acetate lining next to the skin. I was debating on whether to put boning in, but I was so eagerly sewing, that it was kind of too late when the debating was over... Oh well. I can still get some boning done, at the back and sides. And you know what, I think I probably will. I also think the cups are too soft, and I really should put *something* into them, to "perk" them up a little (preferably boobs, but you know). Some foam would be swell, I just need to see what is available in the stash.

You can see the cup is slightly imploding. Miss Cardboard is obviously
lacking soft fleshy bits, but I feel the cups would benefit from some padding.

The upper edge of the cups caused me some struggles, as the interfaced trim bit across the bust is a double piece of satin with fusable. It is quite stiff and thick, and at the center front it got very bulky. I even had problems here with the cotton version. It's just so many layers that meet up in that seam. I graded and trimmed as much as I dared, and understitched the lining to the seam allowance and tacked it to the underlining layer all along the bust to keep it from flipping up. It's alright, but it took a lot of fiddling and pressing!

On to the skirt bit! I have never ever made a circle skirt of any kind, and was dreading the waist calculating. Since a great portion of the cut hole will be on the bias, it will stretch. Luckily, there is an online calculator for that, which I used. You basically plot in your waist size, and the calculator tells you the radius on your.. well, hole. My radius was apparently 12.5 cm.
My pattern piece ended up like so. I opted for a generous length as I had not yet settled on a specific skirt length. I made sure to include some for seam allowance on top, and also the hem. I think I want the skirt to at least cover my knees when standing.

My skirt is made up of three pieces, even though I could have cut two full half circles. The dress has a back zipper, so I figured I needed a back seam to set it in. I felt really brainy as I had it all figured out, with seam allowances for all three skirt pieces and everything! (Usually, those are the small details that just slip ones mind..) I underlined the skirt pieces too, but not with canvas, that would be too heavy. I had plenty of cotton batiste, which is light as kitten fluff, super smooth and just perfect for the job. It also made the colours pop on the white background.

With all six pieces cut for the skirt (minus the hole), I basted the doubles together, and sewed the three seams between the panels. I decided to just trust the calculator, and braved the scissors to the waist hole. Just as I finished the cut, it dawned on me that I hadn't deducted the seam allowance for the waist seam!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh no!

I was quick to sew a row of staystitching around the hole, because I was not having any more room in that waist, by letting it stretch even a tiny fraction! I have now basted the skirt to the dress, and I think I can do a little trick with the back seam in the skirt, to take care of that extra room in the waist.

When attaching the skirt, I also noticed that the side seams on the skirt and bodice don't line up. This didn't even cross my mind when planning the dress. I just assumed the side seam was at the side of the top, but it actually sits a bit to the front. And I made it worse when I lenghtened the bodice. So the skirt side seam now sits 1.5 inches to the back. I really don't mind too much, because the print is so busy. But if I were to make this dress again, I'd adjust the pattern pieces

I am actually glad it happened, because those are the things that you learn so much from :)

Ooopsie....! Fantastically non-matching seams :P

The dress is now hanging a day or two, to let the hem settle. Then I'll try to get it all sorted, with cup padding, maybe some boning, inserting a zipper, and then the hemming itself (good grief that's a long hem).

Wish me luck!


  1. looks great so far, looking forward to the reveal!

    1. Thanks! I think it'll be one of my better ones :)

  2. That is a lot of drama but it sounds like you took it in stride and learned a lot. I am gushing for the fabric and cannot wait to see it finished!! Fingers crossed but I think it will be fab!

    1. Thanks Annie, I'm crossing every limb! Hope you are right :D

  3. Awesome fabric and I love the contrasting trim. It looks very promising and I am looking forward to seeing the final result!

  4. I managed to cut the waist circumference too big on my last circle skirt - I ended up cutting a wedge out of the back to cut the waist down a bit. Totally my fault as the waist calculator was correct! I can't wait to see the finised version of your dress - loving the colours so far. :)

    1. Thank you! Isn't it typical to make such errors when there's not much to do about it after? I think it happens when I am very focused on getting it ALL right, it so easy to have that ONE slip of the mind.. Oh well, it's only fabric :)

  5. Blir spennende å se den ferdig Siri 👍🏻

  6. This is going to be a great dress!!!

  7. The fabric is so pretty, you have certainly worked hard on this dress, I can't wait to see it in all its glory! x