(I'm really bad at only buying fabric I need. I'm fully out of storage space at this point. I have to stop. I keep telling myself I won't buy any more but then things like this show up and I can't help myself).
I knew I wanted to make a dress, but wasn't sure what style. Since I had a lot of the fabric, I decided on the retro whirl-away dress, as seen in a bunch of reprint patterns. Here are two current ones:
I have the Butterick pattern. This was one of the first serious sewing projects I ever did (back in 2009) and of course it came out pretty horrible. The pattern is very ill-fitting in the bodice portion and fixing it was far beyond my skill set at the time. Even now, I wasn't willing to take on the job. Sometimes things just aren't worth figuring out.
Instead, I pulled out my sloper and altered that into the wrap-around style of these dresses. It went way better than I expected. Of course there could be some improvements, but hey, it worked! There's more info about using a sloper later in the post, but first the finished dress:
I'm wearing it with the pink organza petticoat I made a couple weeks ago. It's exactly the amount of poof I like. In the one photo below, you can see it without any petticoat. It's a bit more casual.
Originally I was going to finish all the bodice edges with black bias binding, but then my mom said, "are you going to use the kitty fabric on the top edge?" And I thought, "damn, why didn't I think of that?" It's the perfect detail for this bodice.
The front closes with a large bow, and has double-faced ties so it doesn't matter which way they fall.
I did French seams on the skirt in case it blows back and they're visible, but regular seams finished with a zig-zag on the bodice to keep them less bulky.
The front part of the skirt stops at the sides of the dress. This back tie is the one thing I would do differently next time. It should be at the waist to bring the smallest part of the dress in close to the body, instead of higher up on the back like it came out. It's super hard to figure this out on your own back. I will re-shape the side front pieces if I ever make this again.
It took several iterations to get the pattern to a usable state. First I tried using a princess seamed dress pattern to make a wrap top like that one in the Butterick pattern. This photo is of the back piece.
It didn't work (what a surprise), so I started with my sloper...
... traced it, and moved the darts into princess seams. I cut this out in scrap fabric and tried it on...
... marked some alterations that needed to happen and cut out another version. This is starting to look more like the dress, with long side sections that wrap to the front and back. The top two pieces are the front and the bottom ones are the back.
The final pattern traced from this mock-up still needed some alterations, hence the folds. Here it is though, with princess seams and fitting much better than the Butterick version. This is closer to the Vogue, which I like more (princess seams > darts).
I'm tempted to make another one of these dresses in a more lolita print and shape. When I first saw this style of wrap dress years ago, I sketched some more frilly versions, and now that I have a pattern that works relatively well, I should actually make one. Someday!