Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gray Dress Wrap-up

Overall, I'm happy with the way my new gray wool dress turned out, and I'm sure it will get a lot of wear. I did have a few issues and learned a great deal from this project. But first, here's the final result:

First, the cons:
  • The waist seam ended up a few inches higher than it should have been. In the photos, my belt is sitting exactly on top of it. A slightly dropped waist would have offered a bit of lengthening to my torso and been a little more flattering.
  • The seams are very visible. I should have risked a bit of aggressive washing first to full it a bit more to help conceal the seams.
  • The shoulder seams ended up about 1/2" to the front which isn't awful, but does make my chest look like it's weighing the front of the dress down. I knew it was doing that when I did the pattern, but I overlooked it because I wanted to get the dress done and I didn't want to risk losing the fit everywhere else if I tried to correct it.
  • The shoulders and arm holes are not identical and are off- the arm holes are just a hair too small, and there's a bit of pulling toward my left shoulder.
  • My hand sewing is on the sloppy side at the neckline. I've got some rippling that I wouldn't have gotten if I'd paid more attention.
Now the pro's:
  • The length is perfect. It just skims the floor, and the weight of the skirt feel "right" when I walk. Though it could be fuller with two more panels, it's actually full enough.
  • The flat front on the bodice did amazing things to my curves (though I'm not happy with how my breasts look on the front-on view- I think my bra is to blame.) It flattered my left-over baby belly.
  • It's a very nice weight in general. Because there's no sleeves, I didn't have temperature issues. I don't think it will work for summer events, but it's good for spring and fall.
  • It's a new style for me! I would classify the overall look as late 15th century. It's extremely utilitarian. It works well on its own, but I can also see how it would do wonders under a lightweight houppelande.
I wear a bra regardless of how well my dress may be fitted- I'm just too large in the bust to feel comfortable without one, and thus far I haven't been able to make a dress that supported me well enough to make up for a bra. The bra, unfortunately, doesn't do me any favors- as I mentioned earlier, I'm really unhappy with the front-on view above, which makes my breasts look heavy and low. Granted that's what they really do look like, but that's not the medieval look. I think it may be time to invest in a very good sports bra that will create a uni-boob effect that's more appropriate.

However, undergarments aside, I think I've got a much better grasp of how a flat-front, waist seam kirtle can work as the outer dress of my garb quest. The difference will primarily be that my kirtle will not require the fitting that this gray dress does, and because of that, I'll have a great deal of opportunity to fix the areas that need adjustment.

So, onto the next thing. The hose, I think. I really must not be afraid of the hose.

EDIT: Right after I posted this, I saw a new post on Princess of Bob that showed her new waist seam kirtle. I have to say, she did a really good job. It's making me wonder if a front lacing on my garb quest kirtle might not be the better thing to do.


  1. First of all, it looks amazing! I'd say the only one of your cons visible from the photos would be the tight arm holes, and those could be fixed if you wanted to. (I always hate having to fix stuff after) The color is lovely, and looks like a great addition to a wardrobe based off layering!

    Congrats on the new dress, wear it with pride!

  2. It's beautiful, I would disagree though that the waist should be dropped, I think its perfect where it is. If it were lower I think rather than elongating your torso the effect would be to emphasis a shortnening of the legs. As a fairly large breasted woman myself I agree that the proper foundation garments are everything, sometimes its hard to balance period appearance with whats available but when we get it right it is so worth it.

    Love you blog.

  3. Good job! I agree with Eva, I wouldn't drop the waist either. As to front lacing...I have to say I always like the look of my front-laced ones much better. The fit is always more flattering though I can't explain why. And no! never be afraid of the hose! Hose r fun. And so quick compared to sewing a whole dress - they're like taking a sewing vacation:)

  4. Martha Effingham of Stewart KepeApril 29, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    Dress looks wonderful. I think the waist seam looks like it's in the right place for you. You might want to try a front-lace on your next venture. I've seen a lot of women, both large- and small-breasted in them and they are very flattering. I think it has to do with that vertical line - it does wonders for those of us who have been generously endowed. It allows you to easily adjust the fit and the extra layers of fabric in the facings often gives just the right amount of structure we need to keep things in control.
    Your dress looks very comfortable, practical and is a beautiful color. Great job!
    Martha Effingham