‘Janice’ dress

I wanted to try a slightly different, new design of dress and started out with the ‘Jane’ pinafore dress bodice pattern. I knew that I would have to adapt the pattern if I wanted to have a dress with sleeves and that a calico toile would be the best way forward. One of the first changes to the pattern was to the armscye. This was lowered by 1cm and as I planned to use my short sleeve block with the gathered sleeve head it should fit OK. I wanted to have the dress button down the front and having checked the depth of the neckline on the pinafore, raised the neckline for this dress by 4 cms.

On the calico toile I noted that the Princess seams were a little tight over the apex of my bust – I added about 1 cm at the fullest part of the side front panels and shaped back to the original line. Taking inspiration from Regency dresses as seen on television adaptations I added a double thickness frill at the sleeve head. On the calico toile I made two different length of sleeve head frills – the first one was the length of the sleeve head from single front notch to double back notch. The second frill was that length plus half as much again and was gathered up before attaching to the sleeve head. I decided that the first frill length was the best especially as it cut down on the amount of gathering I would need to do! I completely unpicked the toile and made changes to my paper pattern.

I had originally planned to use a pretty floral printed viscose on a Turquoise background but for this ‘wearable muslin’ changed my mind and instead used 3 metres of a Khaki Green background floral print viscose marrocain that I bought from Rainbow Fabrics (£14.97). I had just enough fabric after cutting out the main dress to cut the front facing, back neck facing and pockets from the fashion fabric, the remainder of the bodice lining was cut from plain Black viscose voile purchased in bulk from the Fabric Room.

At first fitting I noticed that the bodice was not as fitted at the high waist as I would like. I added some self fabric ties at the side seams and adjusted the pattern for the front side bodice panels.

Construction of the dress was fairly straightforward apart from the fact that once again I have chosen a very mobile fabric. I love the feel of this viscose marrocain to wear as it is warm to the touch and drapes well but the making of the dress is challenging as it slips and slides away from you all the time. Many, many pins were used to ensure that the fabric stays where it is put!

I found that I had cut the sleeve hem facing too deep but a quick whiz around with the overlocking soon sorted that out. The facings for the sleeve are hand slip-stitched in place as the interfacing gave them more weight and caused them to drop down. I could foresee that I would be forever tucking them back up into the sleeve. The frills on the shoulders have worked well and this has given more ‘width’ to the shoulders to counter balance the gathered skirt.

I used 16 four-hole buttons in Sage Green from my stash, 7 on the bodice and 9 down the skirt. All the buttonholes were stitched on my Brother 550SE as were the buttons. There is a 2 ½ inch hem that is hand slip-stitched in place.

Conclusion: There is a little more ‘finessing’ to do to the pattern to make the bodice more fitted and do away for the need of a tie belt. I think that next time I would like to make the style in a fine cotton or poplin with a gored and gathered skirt. Perhaps I will do buttons down the bodice only. We shall have to wait and see how the mood takes me!

Projects #97 completed 28th December 2021