I'm so glad it's warm enough in Melbourne to sew and wear summer frocks again. This month for my Sew Cheap Make and Pattern Review I chose the 1950's Prom Dress featured in Peppermint Magazine. The pattern features a fully box pleated skirt, a V-cut back bodice neckline, facings around the neckline and a cute collar. The pattern comes in sizes S to XL (bust measurement: 33"to 39.5").
As per my measurements I cut a small bodice grading out to a large at the waist. The fabric is a lovely grey and off-white cotton lawn with a textured pattern woven through the fabric almost like a brocade.
The PDF pattern is a little unusual. The back bodice, collar, facings are designed to be cut on the fold / double layer of fabric but the front bodice pieces, collar, facings and skirt are full pattern pieces to be cut on a single layer of fabric, despite the pieces being completely symmetrical. My kitchen bench just isn't wide enough to cut on a single layer and I prefer to keep off the floor so I cut the skirt and front pieces down the centre front and cut them on the fold.
I made a couple of changes. First, I left off the collar as I didn't think it would look nice with my fabric choice. Second, I added a skirt lining. I decided late in the piece that the fabric was just a little sheer. I had some white silk cotton floating around my stash so I cut a rectangle gathered it up and attached it at the waist seam. I didn't bother attaching it to the zipper. The lining gives the skirt a little more volume which I really like. I also interfaced the facings and tacked them down which wasn't included in the instructions.
This pattern has the most box pleats I've ever sewn and all those nothces and pleat directions did get a little confusing. Thankfully it all worked out, but you do have to be very precise so that the skirt waist ends up the same width as your bodice.
The instructions are very brief. For example: "pleat skirt and sew waist seam". Step 10 around the zipper insertion is a bit of a mystery to me. I couldn't get my head around it so I just inserted the zipper using my normal method. As such, I would rate the pattern at advanced beginner level. You need to be comfortable completing each step without having to rely on the instructions. Despite the instructions this dress pattern is a great free building block for so many fit and flare dresses and could be easily modified by changing the neckline and skirt.
I'm quite happy with how this dress turned out. There is some excess room around my waist and next time I will cut a straight medium, but otherwise the dress fits quite well. The dress is not easily taken in at the sides as the skirt has no side seams, only a CF and CB seam. The extra room wasn't such a bad thing though as I wore this dress to a high tea at the Windsor Hotel with Tim. It was delicious! There was ridiculous amount of delicious food.