One last empire dress

Remember how I said I was done with sewing empire-line dresses for the summer.

Well I lied.

But, it’s not a maternity dress, and it’s not for me.  It is for someone I love dearly, and for a very special occasion, which means I’m going to feel particularly awful if/when I fail to pull it off.

You would think, given that I’m…er…supposed to have a baby any day now, that I would have picked something where I’d have at least some idea of what I was doing.  But where’s the fun in that?  So this is my first ever complete pattern traced from a Burda magazine, my first time sewing anything more complex than a scarf with silk chiffon, and, oh, we decided to redesign the back of the dress as well.

Here’s the concept drawing.  The pattern is the chiffon sundress from the July Burda (07-2010-120), but with a full length skirt to make it more formal and straps and a gathered panel in back rather than the plain back in the original design.

The instructions call for stretch chiffon and linen jersey.  I used regular chiffon and an RPL doubleknit for the lining (both from Gorgeous Fabrics).  On top of the pattern tracing and chiffon I didn’t want to have to fight with jersey stretch/weight issues as well.  Plus the wedding is in October, so I thought a slightly thicker fabric would work well. The doubleknit is great for supporting the chiffon but it does show through in kind of an ugly way if you make normal seams with the allowances tucked inside.  So after some experimenting I made the arm- and neckline seams like this:

First I cut the seam allowance off the doubleknit.  Then sewed the chiffon to the wrong side 1/4″ from the edge.  Then I turned the pieces inside out so that the chiffon wraps around the edge of the doubleknit, enclosing the stitches and the raw edge of the chiffon.  From the front it looks like this:

Even David was skeptical when I said back in July that I was going to make my sister a wedding dress.  And continued to be skeptical when I didn’t get started on it till the beginning of August.  I’ve been working on it verrrrry verrrrrry slowwwwwly (yesterday my big accomplishment was cutting out the skirt pieces) and here’s how it looks today:

So I think the odds of it getting done are improving somewhat.  Whether it will actually work when she comes up for a fitting is another issue (for example, it is not at all clear from the instructions whether the pattern assumes cross-wise or length-wise stretch and if so, how much).  I did cut 1″ seam allowance on the sides and my plan is to make up the front and back and wait till she’s here to sew them together.

Or maybe I will just send her out with a credit card and instructions to find herself a backup dress.