Well, that was a slightly longer break than I wanted it to be! For a few different reasons; I’ve been working away on the trousers for my Made Up Initiative pledge, including tracing and toiling, and am now well into construction. But I’m waiting for some matching Moon overlocker thread I’ve ordered online, otherwise I’d probably be sewing right now. This August weather is a little wet for outdoor photos so again, today’s post features some from ma chambre. Finally, the laptop I use to write blog posts is soooooo slow! Posting takes ages. This is without even mentioning that my iPhone 5c constantly complains about being too full to take photos! Pesky thing. I do wish my DSLR still worked. 😦
But here I am :D, talking about my houndstooth Deer and Doe Belladone dress. As soon as I saw that cut-out diamond in the back, I needed to make this pattern! Getting hold of the French independent company’s patterns online turned out to be a little tricky (Deer and Doe themselves were out of stock) but I finally managed to get hold of one from The Village Haberdashery.
Excuse the slightly creased skirt; this is after a full day’s wear — I do try to sit at my desk without skirts crumpled underneath me but don’t always succeed — and I’d just been lounging on the sofa. After a toile and a few associated adjustments, I’m very happy with how the bodice fits. The diamond sits off my back and gapes ever so slightly but this might be the fabric.
Gotta love a lined pocket!
Putting my hands in the pockets does pull a little on the back waistband, but I try not to use the pockets too much so they’ll maintain their shape over time.
The fabric was a little tricky to press and so, as you can see, the knife pleats don’t tend to lay flat at the hem.
You can see the slightly gapey back more in this photo. Not so obvious, is the tendency of the fabric to highlight my underwear! And if I’m wearing tights, there is static, and it bunches up a little around the front when I walk.
The combination of pattern and fabric means the skirt is quite wide and sometimes, I’m not so sure it’s the most flattering shape; perhaps something a little straighter would be better, or in a less stiff fabric. The hem being faced in the same fabric might also be making it a little stiffer.
Deer and Doe — Belladone Dress | £13.00 Printed Pattern
I wasn’t entirely sure on a fabric choice at first. During my February trip to Mood Fabrics in New York, I looked for a green or navy twill or something similar, resembling the Deer and Doe photos but nothing grabbed me. Then I saw LaDulsaTina’s version, when searching for a tutorial on how to line the bodice, and decided I wanted black and white too. Hidden at the back of Fabricland, Bristol, was the last 2.5 metres of this polyester houndstooth suiting at £4/metre. I grabbed it immediately!
Reading around, I knew there wasn’t a lining or a waistband facing, but also knew I wanted at least one of these. In the end, I opted for lining the bodice with some I purchased from The Lining Company, left over from a full length By Hand London Anna Dress. It was a little while ago now, and my dressmaking teacher ordered it for me, but I’m pretty sure it was this Acetate/Bemberg Taffeta in Fuschia Red at ~£8/metre.
Sizing and cutting
There are two variations for Belladone: one with visible bias binding and another with invisible bias binding as a facing. I’m not really a fan of visible bias binding so opted for the second variation. First of all, I made a toile of the bodice: tracing a size 38 for the bodice pieces, grading to a 40 from the underarm to the waist. After a toile, I soon changed this to a 38 overall. I also cut out lining fabric for the bodice and waistband pieces. For thin fabrics, the pattern instructions recommend reinforcing the diagonals using bias tape. My fabric wasn’t thin but I did this anyway for the back bodice and the pocket diagonals using the selvedge of the houndstooth fabric; a tip a picked up I-cannot-for-the-life-of-me-remember-where.
Fitting and alterations
There were some adjustments to the bodice:
- Upper back bodice: Slashed 1.8cm out of the neckline and 1.8cm out of the diagonal length. When I first did this, the angle of the diagonal changed and the diamond opening was now smaller. So, in order to maintain the original angles and size, I redrew the diagonal. I also redrew the markings for the grainline and where the diagonals overlap at the back neckline to reflect adjustments.
- Lower back bodice: Slashed 1.5cm out of the diagonal and again, redrew this line to keep the original angle.
I made no adjustments to the finished garment; all adjustments (above) were made to the pattern pieces prior to cutting.
The pattern instructions were good overall. Whilst there is some convention over colourings for the right and wrong side of the fabric, I would have preferred if this had been included for completeness. I think this might be particularly important for the pleats so you know which way they should face on the inside and outside of the skirt.
They say to sew the bias tape before stitching the side seams. Because of my construction with the lining, I instead opted to attach the bias after I’d stitched the side seams. The instructions for the lapped zipper were good, I still ended up with a slightly shoddy zipper because of the thickness of the fabric and because of the lining (I opted not to look up how to line a lapped zipper and thought I could wing it. I couldn’t).
Deciding on the order of construction to incorporate the lining almost blew my mind! But finally, I got there, especially after much scrutinizing and re-reading of LaDulsaTina’s post. Here’s how I did it:
- Attached the back lining pieces to the back bodice pieces along the diagonal length, using a 1/2″ seam allowance to reflect the hem size given in the instructions. I trimmed the seam and understitched.
- Basted the upper and lower back bodice pieces together: hopefully as you can see in the images below, I stitched from the middle of the shoulder seam and around the armhole. The photo actually shows I stitched down the side seam but I later unpicked this.
- Attached the front bodice lining pieces to the front bodice pieces around the neckline with a 1/2″ seam allowance. I trimmed the seam and understitched.
- Joined the front and back bodice pieces (fabric and lining) at the shoulder and neckline overlap, and overlocked the shoulder seams.
- Joined the front and back bodice at the side seams, putting the right sides of the fabric and lining together, as shown in Step 5 of the By Hand London Elisalex Sewalong.
- The only way I could think to finish the back neckline was to use bias binding, which I brought in along the shoulder seam. I also added bias binding to the armholes.
I’m happy with the finish; how the bodice darts and skirt pleats line up, the flat-lying neckline and the glimpse of colour from the lined pocket!
Belladone is a lovely pattern and I’d really like to make some more, in a less stiff fabric particularly, although I’m not sure I’d line it again, maybe the pockets. I was disappointed there was no waistband facing as part of the pattern but drafting one would be fairly straightforward. This dress gets a lot of wear!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all items mentioned myself. All views expressed are my own.