Knowing that I would be modifying the pattern for this dress, I decided to make a mockup first to ensure it would fit after I’d changed things up. I’d intended to use my lining fabric, figuring that I could make the mockup, cut the new pattern, and then re-sew the pieces for a lining, but once I decided to use the slippery polyester lining fabric I was reluctant to subject it to too much stress with basting and ripping and re-sewing. Instead, I purchased some pale yellow cotton shirting for $1/yard to serve as my muslin.
The first thing I did was cut out the paper pattern pieces and re-trace them onto butcher paper, then tape on extra pieces of paper to modify the pattern. I added about 5″ to the hem, drafted a full-length straight sleeve instead of the flowy one on the pattern, and drew a much higher neckline than called for, since I’ve heard this pattern can run short and be rather revealing.
I also experimented a bit with the back pattern pieces, since I want to add some lacing to the back side seams to allow for fit adjustment. The first thing I did was change the position of the back princess seams, since they curve out to the armscye instead of going up over the shoulder like the seams in the front, making it impossible to just add lacing and expect it to fit properly. Once I figured out how to redraw the seam lines I added width in the seams to allow for the panels to expand and fold in on themselves depending on how tightly they’re laced. I did leave the center back zipper in– I couldn’t remove it completely because I’m not adding enough extra space in the waistline to allow it to fit over my bust, even when unlaced. It’ll make lacing kind of a pain, since the laces will have to be done anew each time the zipper is zipped or unzipped, but I think it’ll be good to have the flexibility in sizing. It’ll also give me some wiggle room (literally) for when I sew up my seams and blithely eyeball the seam allowance.
You can see the folding back seams here– I’ve pinned them in place, as well as overlapping the back to simulate a zipper closure. Just imagine the lacing between the black threaded seams down the back.
Once the mockup was cut, basted, and on my dress form, a few issues became apparent. First, my added hem length was probably overkill– at most I’d need an inch or two extra, not the five I’d added. The back lacing alterations looked good for the most part, though I’m beginning to see why the back seams were drawn curved in the first place– there’s a weird little blousy area right over the shoulder blades that I’m sure wouldn’t have been there if I’d kept the original seam lines. However, since I can’t figure out how to fix it short of putting in darts, I’m just going to ignore it and hope no one notices. I also noticed that the sleeves weren’t set deeply enough into the bodice– the “shoulder strap” sections were so wide that they restricted my arm movement– so I ripped out the seams and re-set them on a deeper curve.
I drew out a new neckline and marked where my gores would fall on the skirt, front and back. I also tried it on just to be sure that things fit properly (my dress form isn’t perfectly matched to my measurements), and marked the correct hem length and where I wanted my sleeve puffs to fall on the arm.
Then I carefully ripped out the necessary seams and used the mockup pieces to modify my paper pattern pieces, including completely re-drawing the sleeve (you’ll see how later).
Now that my pattern pieces are set, it’s time to get cutting on the real stuff!