So not everything turns out to be an unbridled success, right? That’s kinda how I feel about my first Belladone dress that I made recently. I was pretty excited to finally make it as I’d gotten the pattern during the winter while in the UK for my research abroad trip (shipping from France to England was a lot less than to Canada). Don’t get me wrong, It is a totally cute pattern and I’m looking forward to making more and possibly playing around with it by adding, say, a full skirt to it. I just need to do some tweaking in order to make it fit me better – proper tweaking to the pattern rather than my already mostly finished dress. Now, this was expected and I consider(ed) it like a wearable muslin so that’s fine. And since I won’t be able to try this pattern again for a while, I’m going to use this post as a way of recording my notes for future use.
So it’s cute, but somehow seems to have a ‘house dress’ vibe going on to me. Is it just me, or are you getting it too? I’m not totally sure why, maybe it’s something to do with the fabric print. It’s pretty nifty-looking up close, but seems to lose a little of the nifty-ness from any distance. Oh – there’s a bit of a story behind this fabric. I didn’t find it at a thrift store, or a garage sale, or even purchase it from a store (exactly). I kind of won it. Back in 2010 I won the lined jacket contest on Pattern Review and my prize was a gift certificate from an online fabric and sewing store. (Note: 3 years is probably a pretty average time fabric will spend in my stash before being used. I have some pieces I got over 10 years ago and not used yet, and occasionally I’ll use something almost right away – I will be making a concerted effort to use the older pieces, though I get distracted by the newer ones calling out to me) The contrast blue fabric of the waistband and bias binding is some clearance cotton poplin I got at Fabricland – not for the purpose of using on this dress but because I decided I needed more royal blue in my life and 3m @ $3/m seemed like a good way to get it. I still have plenty of it left over to make into a full dress of its own. I lined the bodice & waistband with some lightweight white cotton that was part of a remnant piece in my stash.
Anyway, back to my Belladone. If you look carefully at the photo above you’ll see there’s a side seam in the waist band. The pattern does actually have that, but normally I cut waistbands in one piece and seam them up either at the back or left side (if I’m putting in a side zipper, which is rare). However, since this was my first time making this dress and I didn’t want to bother muslining it I decided to make up full front and back then just seam them together at the sides and shoulders to make alterations easier. I have to admit I’m pretty impressed with how well I matched up those side seams – I think that’s the absolute worst about this method of construction. I cut the out a size 40 through bust & waist and 42 through the hips. I needed to let it out a bit through the bust and took it in 1/2″ total through the waist tapering to the hips. It still feels roomy through the waist and especially hips and think I should take it in again and continue it farther down the skirt. Next time I’ll cut the waist and hips a size smaller each (so, 40-38-40 I guess). I think I also ended up with similar issues to Lauren of Lladybird and her Belladone - the nifty back pieces did funny gaping things. Unlike Lauren, I decided to deal with them later rather than sooner. The upper back pieces were gaping so I crossed them over each other at the top by about 1″ more than you’re supposed to – these are actually supposed to appear to just meet at the centre back.
It worked ok for there, but created the unanticipated effect of pulling in the neckline all around, causing bubbling at the front of the neckline. So I did the usual quick/lazy-fix and made the little inverted box pleat you see here:
Mistake? Of course not! It’s a design-feature! I have noticed that the armhole gapes a little at the back, so I think my solution for the future is to simply shorten the upper back piece all the way across by about 1/2″. The other, slightly more major, alteration was to the lower back piece. To fix the gaping there I took a dart in each piece towards the upper end so they would be hidden by the upper back pieces (so sneaky, I know):
When I go to make a Belladone again I’ll just slash and overlap the pattern by the amount I took up in a dart. One final thing I’ll probably do to the pattern is make legs of the front waist darts slightly curved so as to fit my contours more precisely – something I do frequently. And………. I think that’s it for alterations I need to keep in mind for next time. Unfortunately next time may be a ways off as summer is definitely on its way out. I’m not really bummed about that, I love fall, but I don’t know that this pattern would work for fall in Canada – what do you think?
Here are a few additional construction details, in case you’re interested. Front and back bodice lining:
Ah yes, I lined the bodice pieces before I sewed front and back together.
As is my habit, I used the selvedge for the centre back edges of the skirt pieces and did another hem on my blind hemmer. Still getting used to my new treasure, I had to go over at least 3 parts of the hem a second time because the stitches went wonky. At least you can’t really tell.
I used white seam binding on the shoulder and side seams (you can see here my fluctuating seam allowances as a result of letting out & taking in):
Finally, I used the seam binding on the pockets as well, making them all neat & tidy:
All in all this is a neat little pattern, the dress is very easy and comfy to wear. I will be looking forward to making it again!
Looking at this photo now I wish I could cut and paste a swanky little flapper number onto myself – the pose and hair are perfect for it! lol