Hydrangea Dress and a Sloper
Posted on Friday the 6th March 2020 by The Unfinished Seamstress
You may have noticed that I often prefer a looser, more relaxed fit. That being the case, I don’t generally bother with an extensive fitting process. A few inches shorter here, a grade-between-sizes there - it’s usually quite good enough for me. However this fabric was calling to me to make a really nice fit-and-flare dress, and I decided it was finally time to draft my own bodice sloper.
I’m never sure how many of you are beginners, but just in case, I shall give a quick and dirty explanation of what I mean by a sloper. A sloper is a basic fitting block for my individual use, from which I can make fitting adjustments to existing patterns, or draft my own designs. In the fashion industry, a block is designed to fit a reasonable number of people reasonably well. A sloper is designed to fit one person perfectly. Namely, me.
So, I’ve been meaning to draft a sloper for some time. Not because I’m particularly ambitious in terms of drafting my own patterns (I love sewing other people’s awesome design work!), but because I think it will save me a lot of time fitting in the future. Some fabrics really lend themselves to a more fitted style, and I think a crisp cotton lawn is one of them.
How about this Lady McElroy cotton lawn
? It’s light, and airy, and crisp as a new dollar bill: in other words, it’s exactly what you want in a cotton lawn. I love the print. I cannot resist a large scale botanical, and these big fluffy hydrangeas on a dark background are just gorgeous, and not at all your typical twee spring floral.
I knew I wanted big volume in the skirt, and I loved the tiered skirt I had made a few months ago for my spotty Patio dress
. It’s different in the lawn, it holds the vintage shape better, if that’s what you’re after, and feels slightly dressier to me. So, skirt sorted. No problem. But I wanted to try a simpler bodice, that fit really, really well.
I started with the basic bodice pattern from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress book, which is a great basic starting point for a sloper. I shortened the waist, did a proper small bust adjustment as well as shortened the bust dart, and did a slight narrow shoulder adjustment. I made two muslins before moving on to my beautiful fabric, and even then that version was destined to be the lining. Time-consuming? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
Not only do I have a valuable fitting tool, but I have a gorgeous dress that fits me perfectly! It has a few other unseen details. For one thing, the bodice is fully lined, which I prefer for this sort of dress: more scope to go braless and I feel like it supports the weight of the skirt better. It’s hand-finished, which I always think works beautifully for vintage styles. I also opted for an invisible zip in the side seam rather than a lapped zip in the back seam. That isn’t vintage at all, it’s just a personal preference. Clean, simple - a non-feature.
Thanks, as always, for reading! I really love this one.