Well there you have it, my first dress, finished! : ) It’s far from perfect, but for my first attempt at garment construction, I’d say it was a success. And I mean really, what dress couldn’t be a success in such a lively, fun print? : ) My red polka dot dress is based on Butterick B5676 with a healthy dose of alterations. I think the finished product is a nice combination of cute and classy, perfect for a summer night out in Boston. All in all, I love it!
With the help of a very generous (and patient) friend, I did make some pretty substantial modifications to the pattern in an attempt to give it some much-needed shape. I added some pseudo bust darts, which you can see below, to define the bust area and pull in some extra fabric around the midsection. The result is a little wonky, but it’s better than all that excess fabric hanging out.
I also added quite a bit of shaping in the back of the dress to define the lower back area. I took in some of the length with a long horizontal “dart” (is that the right word for this?), and I added two vertical shaping darts to define the waist. I’m not sure how well you can see all the alterations in the photo below, but suffice it to say, they made a huge difference! Now I know to look for dress patterns with this type of shaping already built-in.
And now for some full-length shots of the finished dress, all taken by me in front of the mirror. How classy! I apologize for the blurriness, but such is life. Perhaps one day I will have a live-in photographer. : )
Below you can see the zipper going down the side of the dress. My first installed zipper! Next time I want to make it more “invisible,” but at least I learned how to insert a functioning zipper here. I don’t think the red stripe takes too much away from the finished look anyway.
You can see the wonkiness/puckers in the back, but so be it! As I always say in the lab: close enough. : ) (Don’t tell my advisor, haha.) You can also see how the dress accommodates my broad shoulders and defines my waist, both of which I’m pretty proud of. I altered the front and back bodice pattern pieces to extend them vertically at the shoulders (adjusting the shape of the neckline pieces to match), and it actually worked out pretty well. The waist shaping was done after-the-fact via the lower back darts that I mentioned earlier.
And the left side view, featuring my small bust. And yes, I’m wearing a padded bra with this! Sigh. My apartment broker once called my small apartment “charming,” so perhaps my bust is charming too. : )
Speaking of my apartment, here’s the finished dress hanging in my sewing room / office / living room / dining room / bedroom. Ah, the grad student life! It was a nice, sunny evening though, and I enjoyed putting the finishing touches on my first dress on such a beautiful (albeit HUMID) summer night.