After the disaster of the Annette handbag, to restore my confidence I decided to make version 2 of the Sofia Dress by Victory patterns.
I have had this bold printed cotton lawn in my stash since December 2021 and as I have previously made the Sofia thought it would be suitable as a (relatively) quick make. Well I was wrong!
As I had a generous 3 metres of the wide fabric I cut out elbow- length sleeves plus an almost maxi-length skirt. First thing to do was a test swatch of shirring. This worked out well so on with the construction.
I like to get the sleeves constructed first, followed by attaching concealed side seam pockets to the skirt panels. As the overlocker was still threaded up with White thread, I finished all the construction with French seams. The first thing to do with the sleeves was the shirring at the cuff. I started with the first row 2 ½ inches from the raw edge and managed to get just one row completed before the sewing machine decided not to play! Several broken threads and ‘bird’s nests’ of shirring elastic and top thread meant that it took a long time to shirr a band of 4 rows for each sleeve. After that experience I was not looking forward to shirring the bodice front and back, but continued with the construction of the sleeves. The underarm seam is Frenched and a narrow hem top stitched in place.
Now I was ready to shirr the front and back bodice. I had exactly the same problems as on the sleeves. I applied plenty of seam to the first bodice piece and finally managed to shrink down to approximately 20 inches in width. Before shirring the second bodice piece I took the time to change the elastic, this time using a brand new spool from a multi-pack recently purchased from eBay. I also changed the top thread spool. I decided to ignore the usual advice and rather than hand wind the bobbins, I used the bobbin winder on the machine but ran the thread through only one of the tension hooks. For this second bodice piece I stitched the rows of shirring ½ inch (1 cm) apart (the previous piece has shirring circa ¼ inch apart). The shirring worked beautifully! After steaming the second bodice piece, I stitched the sides with French seams.
Next step was to add the shoulder pieces. Before I attached them to the dress I made little straps with KAM snaps ® to keep my bra straps in place and ensure that the shoulders of the dress stayed put. These are a much better solution to the safety pins that I have been using on Sofia #1.
Again French seams were used to insert the sleeves which gives a much neater finish to the insides of the garment.
Now to attach the prepared skirt. As I had made the skirt panels to match the bottom edge of the bodice pieces this was relatively straightforward to do with French seams. Next was to attach a length of ¼ inch elastic to the seam allowances and turn up the hem of the skirt. This was completed about 7am as I woke early! The elastic insertion was steamed and dress given a final press, Voila! Sofia #2 is complete.
Conclusion: I love this dress and it has turned out much ‘smarter’ than I expected. I will keep in reserve as a ‘Party’ dress especially as I plan to attend the Sprat & Winkle Quilters Christmas Dinner in December. The only change that I will make for the next version will be to lengthen the front and back bodice pieces so that the shirring finishes closer to my natural waistline rather than as the ‘Empire’ line of the pattern.