I so enjoy wearing my bonsai dress that I decide to make another version! This time instead of green rayon, I use a happy, sunshiney yellow cotton, with a soft hand and very fine details: a woven grid and a print of abstract chrysanthemums. The fabric is a remnant from the discount section of Fabric Depot, and is a gift from my friend who was shopping with me that day! The pattern is Simplicity 3631, view C, but I only use the bodice pieces and improvise the skirt.
While Simplicity 3631 calls for a fitted skirt with a back slit or kick-pleat, I opt to make my cutting easier and my skirt fuller by just using a large rectangle or fabric, pleated to fit. The skirt is flat-lined as well. I cut the muslin piece on the cross-grain so I can use the selvedge as the bottom (and so avoid hemming it!).
On my bonsai dress, there are two small pleats just at the hips and even tinier tucks at the back, but not a lot of fullness, as I had little fabric to work with. This time I have more fabric, so I concentrate the fullness in the back and over the hips, with neat knife pleats. I leave the front smooth. I find I like the look of a smooth front with pleats on the hips... a 1920's touch that is also found in the one-hour dress.
I sew skirt to bodice wrong sides together so the seam allowances are on the outside of the garment. Then I cover them with a strip of machine-made broderie anglaise, salvaged from an old bedsheet. Once I sew the waistband down, it seals the raw edges inside and finishes both inside and outside of the waist. I like the light color combo.
The photo above shows the dress from back, front, and side, just after I put the skirt and waistband on, but before I insert the CB zipper, hem the yellow fabric, or finish the top openings. (Like my new dress form? She's called the Blue Lady, and was a gift from a friend! Thanks, Janet!)
FINISHING THE ARMSCYES AND NECKLINE
For the bonsai dress, I used bias tape to face the armscyes and neckhole, with visible top-stitching through all the layers. For this sunshine dress, however, I want to avoid the top-stitching because the fabric is so soft and pulls easily. I don't want to risk warping. So I sew my bias binding on, turn it to the inside, and hand-finish it with stitches that grab only the muslin layer of the flat-lining. The result is that the edges softly curve to the inside with no visible stitches on the outside.
Here I am modeling the finished dress! I love it! I love the sunshiney color, and the wide waistband which almost looks like color-blocking instead of a waistband. I love the touch of the fabric and the ease of wearing, and I feel bright and happy when I slip it on.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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