Hello, friends! I greet you after a road trip to visit family over Christmas, with a project I sewed and photographed a few weeks ago but hadn’t had the time to write about. Because I fully intended to write about this dress once I’d finished it, as it kind of surprised me how much I liked it.
I originally had the idea to use this 1950s pattern, Advance 7747, with some Spoonflower cotton sateen in a winter print. So I wanted to do a sort of wearable muslin in less precious fabric, a random but nice small scale plaid print I had in my stash. (And yes, feel free to snicker that only I would pick working with a plaid for a wearable muslin.)
It’s a really cute pattern that I’ve had for ages, but never felt like fussing around with it. I’ve always wanted to make it as a jumper like styled in view 2, to wear over tops. I’ve only sewn a jumper dress once, this corduroy sheath dress hack, which I love but think I don’t wear very much as I rarely wear all-solid outfits.
Now I’m not really a wearable muslin kind of person—I usually prefer to do a muslin for a new bodice. But this is a dress with a gathered elastic waist and the back and fronts are one pattern piece each, and I didn’t want to a) use that much muslin or b) fiddle around with deciding where a halfway point was and do a shorter muslin. Plus I figured since it’s a blousy fit in the bodice, it would be more forgiving.
I know that strategy can bite you in the ass when you’re not expecting, but spoiler alert: it didn’t! And I love this dress.
It’s a pretty easy pattern, if you don’t take into consideration placing the casing for the elastic, which is kind of a pain. Since I was doing this like a wearable muslin, I first basted the casing on and tested the elastic. I’m short waisted (and short in general) so I figured I’d just raise the casing placement a bit, but I’m glad I basted it since I ended up lowering it basically to the lines marked on the pattern. Which in the end kind of makes sense since while I’m far from a “teen” like the pattern was intended for, I’m petite, and so the torso length as marked worked for me.
The only alteration to the pattern pieces (other than shortening it miles) was to lower the bust darts my roughly standard 1.5″. Next time I might scoot them down another 1/4″ or so.
I did play fast and loose with the grain, as the placement of the pattern pieces meant that the center front and back seams wouldn’t be on grain, which isn’t what I wanted in my plaid across the bodice. So I rotated the pieces slightly slightly so the center front and back seams were on grain, and lined up the print along the center seams. I’m happy with my call on that.
Once you get below the waist you can see it starts to chevron, as it’s not a straight front line all the way down. It’s kind of a nice contrast to the bodice! Particularly with the belt I made, in between.
My favorite surprise with this pattern was that the armhole fits really well, and the front and back neckline don’t gape. Of course, I wear this with a shirt underneath exclusively, and I think if I wanted to wear it as a dress alone, I’d need to do a narrow shoulder adjustment. But with a top under it, it’s great!
I’ll be honest, I was slightly lukewarm about this dress when I finished it. I’m so used to fitted bodices that the loose fit and gathered elastic waist made it feel kind of frumpy to me (although the fact that I made a matching belt helped). But it quickly grew on me, and is so comfy, and I found myself turning to wear this again and again! It became a favorite in no time.
So to my (somewhat) surprise, this is probably going to be a style I revisit. This pattern requires a bit of a lightweight and/or drapey fabric like this plaid, so my original Spoonflower sateen idea won’t be a good match after all, as it has a bit more body. But I bet I find myself sewing this pattern up again this winter, and I may try another jumper dress, too!