As soon as I saw the Orsola dress pattern, I knew I had to jump on board and make my own. Rather than start simple, I went straight on as complicated as I could make it: silk charmeuse.
So, it took me about 6 tries before I decided the By Hand London method of doing an FBA on the Orsola bodice wasn’t working for me. Maybe it was the pattern, maybe it was the method. Any who, I decided to use the Basic Bodice from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. This took about 4 attempts before finally gaining a good fit. Hooray! It ended up being so simple: traced the size 8 neckline and armscye, then graded to a size 10 for the darts and waistline before lowering the side bust dart 1″ and moving the bottom busy dart towards the center 1/2″ to match my apex point. The Curvy Collective has the best tutorial. The final change I ad pinched 1/2″ out of the armscye using this tutorial from Craftsy.
Here is my Frankenpattern, ;).
After perfecting my bodice fit, I then adjusted the neckline and armscye to match the Orsola bodice front and used the Orsola back pieces with no adjustments. After putting them together in silk, I would pinch out about an inch of fabric from the tops of the side backs. As I had already cut and stitched the silk together, I basically just gathered the top edges of the back pieces so they wouldn’t flop open while wearing it.
Now the actual construction… I understand why everyone comments on the darts. Between the front, back, inside, and outside pieces, so many! Also, I decided to use a silk charmeuse…so about as slippery and lightweight as you can use. I made this a little easier by marking lots of points along each dart to reduce error to fabric slipperiness. Of course I hand knot the thread at the top of the dart (pointed end), but I backstitch at the end of the dark (edge of fabric).
After doing all the darts, putting the bodice pieces wasn’t too tricky except my server didn’t quite cut off enough of the seam allowance, so I struggled getting the seams to iron flat. Also, my silk did not want to iron, so I under-stitched as much of the bodice as I could. This helped so much! Plus lots and lots of ironing, then pressing the pieces with my wooden ruler until the fabric had cooled.
Here are a couple images of my bodice progress. Love having a made to my measurements dress form, :). (It’s from Bootstrap Fashion).
Next part: the skirt pieces. This part was so much easier than the bodice. Still some darts, but not as many, and only single layers as the skirt isn’t lined. I french seamed the skirt sides so that there weren’t any pesky strands unraveling. I loved the look of the tulip hem, so I made that version. Pretty simple. I stitched the facings together, then pinned them to my skirt. I skipped the ironing the seam allowance of the non-skirt attached side as I decided to just serge that off after stitching the facing to the skirt. I made sure to mark the dot of the v of the tulip hem in the front. Then I trimmed the seam allowance down to about 1/4″, ironed it really well to the inside of the skirt. Then I serged the excess 5/8″ seam allowance for the inside and top stitched the facing down.
As for the waistband, I decided to interface the waist parts with lightweight interfacing to add a little extra structure, but not the tie ends because I want to leave those softer for tying. Also, I decided to edge-stitch my color blocked waistband because 1) I didn’t want to hand stitch it, 2) time constraints, and 3) my silk was not ironing very well.
Pinning took awhile, but worth it!
I love this dress! I like the line’s of the bodice (next time I’ll use something easier like rayon or polyester) and the skirt. I love By Hand London’s circle skirt hack though, so I see a possibility of one of those versions…