I've finally plucked up the courage to cut into this lovely Liberty needlecord that I bought on a trip to Goldhawk Road approximately a year ago for £12 or £14 a metre . I have a couple more Liberty fabrics from Goldhawk Road and Simply Fabrics in Brixton that are still langishing away until I can perfect the fit on the pattern they're destined for enough to dare to cut into them.
In the spirit of trying not to waste effort creating any more clothes that I can't wear due to fitting issues, I decided to correct my mistakes that I made on my previous Megan dress (which I ended up having to give away to a slimmer friend). Funnily enough this dress has made a resurgence on the internet recently thanks to a post from So Zo... about Spring sewing plans- thanks for the mention Zoe, and congratulations!
This time I cut a size up and did an FBA on top of that, but I can't remember how much by as I did it simultaneously with my 1970s Butterick dress. I also decided to do a muslin which I think turned out pretty wearable – the only adjustment I made was to make darts at the back neckline to eliminate some gaping. As these darts ended up meeting with the empire line darts I decided to see if I could convert this into a princess seam for the final version. I regret not making a muslin of this change before diving straight in as, it turned out that I'd forgotten to add seam allowances as it wasn't in the instructions in the Colette Sewing Handbook in their alterations section, which I definitely think should feature this information more prominently, especially as it's aimed at beginners!
So, foolishly I went ahead and painstakingly cut the new princess seamed back bodice pieces out of my fashion fabric, aiming for a perfect pattern match, and obviously they turned out way too small and with quite a lot of gathering as I eased the seams together. I had to leave the dress and sulk for a few days before I managed to work out how to recut the back pieces with seam allowance with the scraps of fashion fabric I had left, but had to abandon all thought of pattern matching. Even though the second attempt fit, there is a still a bit of gathering along the seam which, although not too noticeable, isn't really ideal. I was a bit scared of trying to steam the gathers out too aggressively too, as I was trying not to crush the fabric's pile. Better than back neckline gaping I guess, but I wish I'd just kept the darts as per my muslin!
Anyway, so that was a lesson learnt the hard way. I don't have any pattern drafting experience, so I'm sure someone who knew what they were doing could have handled that much more effectively. Perhaps the reason why most princess seams curve into the armsyce is to distribute the ease more evenly to eliminate any gathering? Anyway, it would take a sharper mind than mine to work out the most elegant thing to do!
Overall it doesn't look too bad, but after wearing the dress for a few days I still don't think it's quite right for my shape. From the front it looks fine, but from the side it isn't very flattering on my figure. I think perhaps I needed to lengthen the bodice a bit more too, as the dart tucks pucker around the bust apex which looks a little clumsy and, well, makes my bust look a bit droopy! I think I'll have to unpick the tucks a little so that the pleat opens out lower down. These tucks have ended up placed on the underside of my bust rather than sitting flat on the ribcage as I think was intended, but with my particular body shape there aren't really any flat plains to work with. I also wonder if I should have altered the shaping of the skirt pieces and dropped the waist as it flares to the hips much higher up than on my actual figure, so my waist is lost but the dress still manages to cling to my wider parts.
I'll still wear this dress as again I love the pairing of fabric and pattern, and at least it's more comfortable than the previous iteration, but perhaps this will be the last Megan while I explore other patterns more suited to my shape. I'm a bit disappointed as it was my favourite pattern in the book, but I still haven't made a Lilou for myself yet so perhaps I'll find a winner there as the fit and flare shape tends to work for me.
As I mentioned in my previous post on the Margot PJ bottoms, I've been reading along as The DIY Fox works through this book and, as well as picking up a couple of tips, I've also realised that we share some of the same issues in terms of fit which are probably down to us having similar figures. I think I've been blind to some of these issues when making up these patterns for the first time simply because I liked the patterns and styling so much. With what I know now I realise all of them will need substantial tweaking to fit me and my particular quirks, and some of them perhaps aren't worth that much work when there are other lovely patterns out there to be made!
I am pleased however that I've somewhat reined in my impatience and got into the habit of making muslins as an essential part of the dressmaking process. While in this case I could definitely have benefitted from making another muslin when I decided to make another change to the bck bodice, another big thing I learnt was to make sure to wear the first muslin a bit more before cutting into the fabric for the final dress. I think if I'd waiting to cut the Liberty Megan after a day of wearing this muslin version I'd have realised a change needed to be made to the dart tucks and waist length, which is an insight you don't get from a quick try-on and check in the mirror, as it comes up when moving around and sitting.