Ellen of It's a Sewing Life — one of the first sewing blogs I read and one that I continue to follow — is the absolute first in my brand-spankin' new series, Gardenia Garments. (Yep, I agree. Totally. Completely. Alliteration is cheap. Alliteration is easy. And I'm above it, but, still, there it is.)
Description: Flaring dress with softly draped cowl neck and center pleat in front of skirt. (A) Short-sleeved version. (B) Sleeveless version with shoulder bows.
Sizing: Bust 36, Size 16.
Did you find the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. I did have a bit of trouble understanding the construction of the shoulder with the pleats, and ended up just gathering the shoulder seam in the front and constructing it my own way. Favorite instruction line: “Zipper. Follow instructions given with zipper.”
Was there anything you especially loved or hated about the pattern?
I loved how easy it is. Other favorite elements are the double darts and the center front pleat.
What fabric did you use?
An Anna Maria Horner cotton voile purchased at fabric.com. It appears to no longer be available there.
After making my usual alteration of adding width at the waistline (no 1950s wasp waist here), I made a muslin of the bodice, and discovered that while it fit well, unlike some modern cowl necklines that are very low cut and drapey, this one needed a bit more drape. I made up my own method of widening, by using a sort of slash and spread method on the neckline. This, of course, messed with the armholes and the pleats on the shoulders that I was already having trouble with, so I eliminated the pleats and just gathered the shoulders. I also eliminated the shoulder bows. I didn’t make any changes to the waistline of the skirt since it was already so full and gathered, and I felt like that fullness would easily compensate for my wider waistline needs.
I also used an invisible zipper because I had one handy, but I think the next time (if there is a next time) I would use a regular zipper with a lapped insertion technique.
The only other alteration was shortening the length of the skirt. The original seamstress had already shortened it, and I cut off another couple of inches.
I might make this again, though there are lots more things ahead of it in the queue. I would definitely recommend it, as it is as “quick ‘n easy” as advertised on the envelope.
This is going to be a favorite summer dress. The cotton voile sews up like a dream and has a lovely silky feel and drapiness, with the added bonus of being cool. I did wear a cotton slip because it’s slightly sheer. If you want to go for authentic '50s pouf, a crinoline would be lovely. I’m just not a pouffy kind of girl. The bodice front is cut on the bias, and the double darts make the front surprisingly flattering. The other extremely flattering element is the center front pleat, especially if you don’t like extra poof and gathering over the belly.
I also wanted to mention that I did make a belt to go with this dress, but I did not use the pattern piece or the instructions, but rather a belt making kit from A Fashionable Stitch.
So, dearest readers, on your feet. Ellen deserves a standing ovation for being the first. Ellen, I thank you. And I love the dress. Pretty fabric, too. Perfect for those hot Atlanta summers. And the color is perfect. We love blue!
And, please, if you've made a garment from a pattern you purchased at The Blue Gardenia, email me. This instant. I want to feature you in Gardenia Garments. (Yes, I scowled as I typed the series name. Perhaps I will think of a better one! It could happen. It could.)