I am so excited about today's post... this was another step of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things. First of all, let me just say that I love dresses! I wear them in summer with flipflops, I wear them in the fall and winter layered with leggings and sweaters, they are an item I pull out almost every Sunday and for date nights, and even just for play (but you have to be careful about wearing a dress when you are chasing after and playing with three toddlers!) BUT - and this is a big BUT (and I do not lie), every single dress in my closet that I wear is made out of KNIT. They also all have empire waists, and not a single one was made by me. (I am not counting the Date Night Dress I just made this week as that goes along with the stepping out of my comfort zone!).
I fell in love with Hayley of Mouse House Creations' Ladies Caroline Dress when I saw her post teasers and then post her own version on her blog... but I was afraid. Afraid that the fitted bodice wouldn't be flattering on me, afraid that the length of the bodice would hit me at the wrong point and make me look even heavier, afraid that the full skirt would make me look like I was smuggling a 10 ton elephant through customs. And then I got an e-mail from my amazing friend Nell over at Windham Fabrics asking if I had time to whip something up to photograph in their new GOTS certified Organic Cotton Line. The fabric line, Petit Fleurs, is gorgeous. A combination of wild and tame florals and colors that fit this year's trends head on.
So I faced my fears head on, pulled myself together and replied - 'Yes, I'll make the new Caroline by Mouse House Creations!' I find that if I really want to change something or do something outside of my usual routine, I need a deadline and someone counting on me to come through. That way I can't get cold feet and back out!
Let's take a look at this Pattern:
- Size 0-22 (I made the 16 and graded the waist to an 18 for a perfect fit)
- 17 black and white pages to print.
- Cutting chart for both skirt or peplum
- Sizing Chart, finished measurement chart, yardage guidelines, detailed instructions for measuring yourself, & suggested fabrics included.
- Options of cap sleeve, short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve and long sleeve (I did a bicep sleeve simply by shortening the 3/4 length)
- Skirt Lengths of bellow knee, above knee, or peplum. Instructions for gathering or doing box pleats on the skirt (I chose box pleats to keep a slimmer silhouette).
- Links to detailed instructions for FBA (full bust adjustment) for ladies over a C cup.
Now lets talk some nitty gritty. Did you notice the size I made... yep, I usually wear a 14/16, and in dresses that usually translates to a 14. It was hard for my brain to make the jump up a size and recognize the fact that I would need to grade out to an 18 for the waist. Let's all take a deep breath and remember that a number is just a number! This dress has a very fitted bodice and you need to look at the measurement chart. If you lie to yourself, you will only end up with a gorgeous dress that wont fit. If it helps, I feel that the sizing on this dress runs truer to European sizing which is always a size up from the American counterpart.
Second thing we need to talk about. You HAVE to make a muslin. I'm not joking, you just need to bite the bullet and do it. Every woman is built differently, and particularly when you are dealing with a fitted bodice you will probably need to tweak it to fit YOU. I started with a muslin as a straight 16... there was no way I would have been able to close it at the waist and still breath, but I loved the fit everywhere else. I let out the seams at the waist and voila a perfect fit. So, for my dress, I simply graded the pattern out to an 18 at the waist so I could sew with consistent seam allowances. You may find that you want to lengthen or shorten the bodice, you may find that you need to do a FBA to account for a larger bust and tiny waist. For your muslin, you can use cheap fabric form Walmart, an old sheet, or something from your stash you don't love. I actually picked fabric I like but didn't have specific plans for from my stash - when I get a spare moment, I go back and finish it correctly and have a fun peplum for spring and summer.
Back to the fabric - like I said, this is the new Organic line from Windham Fabric called Petit Fleurs. It is such a beautiful line and it is so soft to the touch, you can just feel the quality. I chose the small flowers in the Navy and Mustard (I'll admit my first instinct was to go with red or cream, but I love having another fun color pop in my wardrobe).
At the end of the day I am thrilled with my dress. The instructions make construction a breeze. It includes some of the best directions I have read for an invisible zipper - this is probably the best one I have ever put in. I did not line my skirt since I didn't want to add any extra bulk, but I love that the bodice is fully lined and nicely finished. I have plans to make another dress in knit - and maybe one with a knit bodice and woven skirt - and maybe another that includes lace.......... so many options!