I chose this Fabric some time ago not quite knowing what I was going to do with it. It is a beautiful, flowing grey graphic leaf print polyester crepe and it hangs beautifully.

Months passed and I still had no idea what to make with it until I came across this A-Line Dress Pattern from The Avid Seamstress.  Perfect combination!

I decided that the dress needed a lightweight lining and chose this plain Cotton Voile Fabric. You also need thread and a 22” invisible zip.

I really like this pattern one reason being that there is a complete and detailed instruction book together with a “contact” card inviting questions and comments but also something which a lot of patterns sadly lack – a chart giving finished garment measurements. I took my measurements and cut out size 10. The only adjustment I needed to do was to adjust the shoulder because   mine slope a little, but this is a fitting choice not in any way a design fault.

I looked at the pattern carefully before cutting out and decided that I wanted to do away with the centre front seams. I did not want to break up the lovely pattern on the fabric (or have to pattern match). If you intend doing this first of all make sure that there is not some important design element involved such as a curved seam. In this case I could see no reason for the centre front seams so I placed the front pattern pieces to the fold – Not forgetting to omit the seam allowance of course!

I left the seam in the bodice lining purely to help economise on my fabric. There are detailed cutting instructions in the booklet but none for a lining as that was my personal choice.

I used tailors tacks to mark the position of the darts and the very first thing I did was to stitch and press all the darts. In preparation for inserting the invisible zip I stitched the front and back skirt sections to the bodices. I also ironed some seam tape to the back to stabilise the area ready for the zip.

The instructions for inserting the invisible zip are brilliant and make it so easy to do. I used an invisible zip foot but it does explain how to insert one with a normal zipper foot. One step I know we sometimes forget is to press the zip flat with a warm but not hot iron. This makes it so much easier to insert the zip. Another handy tip I learned from this pattern is to mark the zip at the waist seam as this makes it so easy to match the seams at the back.

Do keep tacking and fitting your dress. Once I had tacked the shoulder and side seams I found that the neckline gaped. I Know that my shoulders slope slightly so altering the shoulder seams to take up excess fabric at the neckline solved my problem. It is also entirely possible to ease the neckline into a facing cut one or two sizes smaller in the same way that a sleeve is eased into the armscye. This will allow the neckline to hug your body.

The bodice lining came next – don’t worry if you do not want a lining or if you just want to line the bodice – your dress, your choice.

Place the bodice and the lining right sides together matching all seams and darts and machine stitch around the neck and armholes within the seam allowance. Tack around the waistline and up the centre back for now.

Make up the facings and stitch them in place pivoting at the centre front. Clip the seams and press. Understitch the facing. Its up to you if you want to top stitch as well but do that later.

The easiest way to insert the sleeve is to start by running a long machine stitch between the notches, inside the seam allowance. This  will enable you to ease the sleeve into place without any fuss.

After that little job stitch the side seam and neaten it. I use an overlocker. I find it easier to do the sleeve hems now too rather than mess around trying to get a neat finish whilst struggling with yards of dress too. I love to use my Blind Hem foot. There is often one included with your sewing machine and they do make lovely neat hems. Your sewing machine manual will tell  you what stitch you should select, it should look like the photograph below.

Neaten the hem and press it up, the rest is all about how you fold the fabric. If you look at my photograph below you will see that the neatened hem is at the bottom and the hem is folded back on itself. 

The machine just catches a tiny bit of the fabric on top so that when you fold the hem down and press it you can hardly see the stitches at all. Whist you have your blind hem foot in your machine why not do the skirt hem too?

Now comes some hand stitching because the lining needs to be stitched along the side of the zip and the facings neatened. If you feel that you want to top stitch the neckline do it now.

This is basically how I made this lovely dress, the pattern instructions go into a lot more depth.

There are two lengths to choose from, I chose the longer length, it reminds me of a tea dress and it would be perfect for a lunch date or even for a wedding teamed with a short jacket and pretty accessories.

The fit is superb and I love the fitted bodice and swirly skirt. The fabric swishes as you walk as I would expect with a crepe.

This fabric and pattern really is the perfect combination and I would love to see your interpretation.

Many thanks,

Angela