achievement unlocked: Swiss dot Marigold dress

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I had heard of Blank Slate Patterns & seen some of their designs on various sewing blogs I follow. The Marigold dress caught my attention a few months ago when Michelle from Happily Caffeinated started raving about it. But I already had several Big 4 shirtdresses in my pattern stash, so I forgot about it.

Then Blank Slate came out with their free Blanc tee. I’m always on the hunt for a new t-shirt pattern, & I was really impressed with the size range available for this tee, so I gave their website another look & was reminded of my attraction to the Marigold dress. I’ve McCall’s 6696 several times, & love it, but the Marigold had some built-in features I’d had to hack into the M6696. It’s a half-shirtdress (placket on the bodice only), with curved side-front pockets. The elastic waist & casual band collar made me think it would be an easy dress to wear on the hottest summer days, but it still has some classic shirtdress construction, with a separate button placket, two-piece collar, & a shoulder yoke. Shoulder gathers rather than darts create the bust fullness, which is a vintage-y detail I’d hacked into my trusty M6696 but not yet sewn in anything more than a muslin. I instantly thought of some yardage I’d stashed for another M6696, a Swiss dot knock-off of Liberty of London’s Carline print. I even had buttons on hand that perfectly matched the not-quite-red not-quite-pink of the roses on the fabric.

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I was disappointed that the Marigold dress has a narrower size range than the Blanc tee, but the size 18 was a near-perfect match for my measurements. Blank Slate claims to draft for a C/D cup, but this D cup says it’s closer to a C. I didn’t do an FBA on this dress, but I think I could have benefited from one in the long run. I do love that the Blank Slate size chart includes both high & full bust measurements. I have narrow-ish shoulders for my frame, & knowing the high bust measurement helped me pick the right size.

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I cut the version with the below-the-knee skirt length & sewed a deeper hem, because I prefer a deep hem but didn’t want the finished skirt to be too short. I’m 5’5” & the result is a skirt that is just about knee-length—perfect!

The only alteration I made for my muslin was to add a total of 2” (1” each both front & back) width to the waist. I just slashed & spread, easy peasy. I made a wearable muslin out of some metallic chambray I’d had in my stash for a couple of years. I’m glad I wound up wasting that fabric on a muslin, because it is insanely itchy. It’s technically wearable, but I had to make some fit adjustments, & the fabric is so uncomfortable against the skin that I don’t see myself reaching for it very often.

I wasn’t super-thrilled with the fit of my muslin (about which I will do a separate post eventually). The bodice was clearly too short & there was a bit of pulling across the front & there was some weird blousiness above the bust. For my real version, I added 1” to the bodice length, grading to 1/2” in the center back, I added another 1/2” of width across the front, & I pinched out 1/2” at the top of the shoulder.

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I didn’t really pay much attention to the directions. This wasn’t my first shirtdress, so I already knew how to construct it.

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The biggest change I made was to line the whole thing. The dress doesn’t call for a lining, but the Swiss dot I chose was a bit on the sheer side. I used white voile to make the white background in the Swiss dot pop a little more. I underlined the bodice & made a free hanging lining for the skirt. I didn’t want to include the gathers in the lining because I wanted to avoid unnecessary poofiness & volume in that area, so I converted the gathers to a dart. I subtracted the width of the back shoulder from the width of the front shoulder & divided that number in half. I marked the mid-point of the front shoulder & drew the points to start my dart legs on either side using that half-measurement. I marked a spot on the bodice about 1” above the bust apex & made a mark to indicate my dart point. Then I just connected the point to the leg markings I made. The result was a nice flat bodice lining that perfectly matched the contours of the gathered shoulder on the bodice, maintaining all the bust fullness.

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I also used French seams throughout to enclose all the raw edges. The construction of the shoulder yoke & collar means those seams are already enclosed, so why not just go all the way? French seams are my favorite way to sew sleeves. They just make the shoulder cap look so perfect & professional. I basted the skirt lining to the skirt so the smooth side of the lining would be against my skin, & the seams hidden between the layers.

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Scope that dart!

The result is a cool, comfortable dress that will see a lot of wear this summer. The fabric is easy to wear even in hot weather (& summer in Kansas is usually over 100 degrees, with bonkers humidity), the skirt has just enough volume to echo the gathers in the bodice but without risking wardrobe malfunctions in gusty weather, & pockets are a must in any dress I make.

& just a little PS—I did make the Blanc tee as well, & am obsessed with it. I’ll do a post on that soon too.

Sorry for the grumpy-looking photos. I live across the street from the police station, & this cop in an SUV was staring at me suspiciously while I was taking photos. It was making me pretty self-conscious.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. LoisAnn says:

    You really are very pretty when you smile. You would have had that officer offering to help with the photos. Love your blog!

  2. Steph says:

    Love this dress, and it looks great on you! I’ve been reading since you first started sewing and it’s so cool to see how far you’ve come. Well done! 🙂

    1. ciara says:

      Thank you! I too am amazed at how much my abilities have improved (while also bearing in mind how much more I have to learn!). It’s been really satisfying to learn something new & develop new skills to build on in tandem with raising a young child. I think it’s really helped stave off that whole crazy spiral “what am I now that I’m a mom” thing a lot of my mom friends have gone through. With the bonus of improving my wardrobe!

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