The story goes that my parents were going to name me Carline Rashelle until, not long before my birth, my mom read a story about an Irish girl named Caitlin. She fell in love with the name and the original Gaelic spelling. So I have a name that no American I have ever met has spelled correctly. When my mother realized she would never be able to find a hair bow with my name on it (I was an 80’s child, big cheesy bows were the thing) she cried and asked herself what she had done to her child. I’m quirky, though, so I loved it! That, combine with my heritage, gives me great reasons for loving St. Patrick’s Day.
This particular dress started as a mock-up for another dress. Last summer I fell in love with the Day After Dress by Modcloth (full story in later post). Simplify 2180 seemed to be the perfect pattern, but it was out of print. So I decided to alter a pattern I already had. My first attempt cutting out the bodies failed miserably. The yoke simply would not match the body, despite all my carful calculations. At the time I began this project my hubby and I were getting read to move so I gave up in frustration; folded up all the fabric, stuck it in a box, and told myself I’d figure it out when the new house was settled. Six months later, I finally got back to the project.
I used a light broadcloth which may be chill now (maybe even for St. Patrick’s Day its self) but will be perfect for summer! Since I choose the fabric based on its sale price, less than $3 per yard, I didn’t think much of it. (After all, it was just to learn, not to be a masterpiece.) Thus I was pleasantly surprised at how much I love the soft flow of my finish product!
I modified Simplicity 2444 for this dress. Any basic bodice and gathered skirt pattern would have worked, but I like in general how this pattern fits me. I started by raising the neckline of the original pattern about an inch, then traced out a 3″ wide yoke, with a 3/8″ seam allowance. To ensure that the main body of the bodice would match the yoke, I made sure that it did not come to a sharp point (something I learned from my first failed attempt). To add a waist band to this pattern I shortened the bodice by 3″ and then made a waist band pattern to match the width of the bodied after the darts were sewn. I designed the waist band to be 3″ wide plus seam allowances. The band, however, ended up being wider because I took smaller seams.
The skirt was pretty strait forward. The only changes I made were the gathers and the stripes. The gathers didn’t change anything, I simply did not mark the pleats when cutting the skirt. For the stripes I had to measure the length I wish each section to be while making sure to add a 5/8″ seam allowance.
Of course, while I’m proud of my accomplishment I see all the design flaws. When creating my final design I did not reconsult the original image of the dress I had loved so much. Instead I realized on my own salty memory and got a few things different. Though I like it on this dress, the white yoke as well as the waist band are too wide. Speaking of the waist, I completely forgot that the original dress had gathers instead of darts. The gathers were one of my favorite elements, so they will defiantly appear in my final dress.
A big challenge I had while sewing this dress was matching all the lines and stripes. Despite careful pinning, I had to seam-rip and realign several seams. This was, of course, even more of a challenge when sewing in the invisible zipper! In the end I got everything lined up perfectly except for the yoke, which was the part I expected to be easiest. You can’t really tell that they aren’t quite lined up when the dress is being worn, but of course I know.
The yoke was probably my biggest challenge. I foolishly thought it would be simple. There was at least one moment of panic when I thought I couldn’t make it work. fortunately, I was there to coax myself off the mental precipice and remind myself that I could indeed accomplish this simple seam if I worked slowly. (I have a tendency to work fast and feel upset when I don’t complete a project quickly.)