Summer princess line pencil dress – the toile

You may remember I drafted a princess line dress, based on my new personal dress block. I used some nice fabric that I had bought, very cheaply, when I put my SWAP fabrics together. I thought it might work well for my Pucci Pant suit, which I made up in pink eventually. So I used it for my toile, hoping (as ever) that my toile might turn out to be wearable.

My dress, as you may recall, is inspired by a Karen Millen summer dress. The princess seams create a fitted bodice and the skirt is effectively a high-waisted pencil skirt, with no darts at the front and two darts at the back.  I decided against the back – a cut away racer style with a V back I do eventually want to make this dress in a nice floral print.

I made up the dress, self lining the bodice and leaving a split at the CB hem. I needed to make one important alteration which was to close the bust dart by a further 1.5cm at the armhole. This is not surprising as I had created the original dart at 7cms wide at the shoulder. As I have a bigger than average cup size I needed to take a little fullness out. I have since taken one additional cm out of the dress block. This means I have a nice close fit at the top.

The darting at the back and the lack of a dart at the front worked surprisingly well, and I fiddled around a lot with the side seams to get a “skimming” effect rather than the “Jessica Rabbit” look that Mrs Mole is always asked for, by various brides. I am always scared of leaving too much/not enough ease over the hips and thighs. I just can’t be doing with any tightness here, not just in terms of sitting down and walking (as advised by Mrs Mole). If it is too tight I fear it may emphasise my bumps, but equally if I exaggerate the hips/thigh area I am in danger of looking disproportionate.  I am hoping to do some careful fitting with Pia soon, so we will work on my skirt block as well as the one piece dress which is, always, a compromise between no waistline seam and a good fit.

I am wearing an insect brooch that my daughter gave me one Christmas and a Mexican silver necklace from my mother. In terms of styling I find this sort of look a bit too dressy for me – the sort of thing for I might wear for a summer party. But with a dress like this, especially in such a neutral shade, I prefer a denim jacket or perhaps a bright pink cardigan.

I am not entirely happy with this dress, especially when I examine the photographs. It looks a little bit tight on the bust, and there is a bit of fullness in the torso. I think I should have dropped the waistline by about five centimetres.  Also the skirt is puckering up a bit against my underwear, probably caused by it not being lined. Also I think the silvery grey is a bit dull and a bit too formal looking. I prefer the denim jacket as it brings in some extra colour as well as dressing it down.

I will line the next version. But on the whole I am beginning to get what I want here, so will preserve. I have already cut out a second version – here it is pinned to Camilla. The fabric, from Fabric Godmother, was suggested to me by Val Barkworth (Valbark on Instagram) and Louise fromno23.  Thanks Ladies – I really like this fabric.

Self drafted Karen Millen dress
Floral version of princess bodice dress





18 Responses

  1. Mags

    I was just thinking that the fit looked pretty good especially at the waist and hips, but looking forward to comparing to the next version, love your new fabric choice.

  2. Thesewingmiserablist

    That silhouette really suits you and it’ll look fantastic in the fabric you chose. The denim jacket is a great accessory too. I agree somethings going on below the bust line. It isn’t too tight in the hips is it so the fabric is pooling there? Also would it look better slightly shorter, just on or above the knee, like on the model? You are so near on the fit, look forward to seeing you in it.

    • fabrickated

      Thank you for this feedback. I generally wear a shorter, above knee length skirt, but I find with a summer dress (which I wear without tights) I need a bit more coverage. But I think you are right about the proportions.

  3. Mary Funt

    I love this dress paired with the denim jacket. The shape is very flattering. I agree with the previous suggestion that the bust fit may need a little tweaking to be absolutely perfect. The wrinkles at the waist may need darts to get rid of. I’ve found that curvier figures with a larger waist to hip ratio do better with darts as the side seam can only accommodate so much curve. The flower print looks so nice and summery.

    • fabrickated

      You are right Mary – thank you very much. Like you my teacher felt that front darts would be a good idea. I guess this shows how far you can go with moving the dart to the side seam. Not perfect, but maybe OK if I had dropped the empire seam a bit more.

  4. Sew2pro

    Apart from the colour of the fabric (not enough), I think this is pretty good and the style accentuates your figure in a very flattering way. I notice by the shadows that the pictures were taken in a strong light. Sunlight is our harshest critic as it not only makes us look bigger but emphasises every wrinkle (in the clothing 🙂 ). The next version will be even better.

  5. Kim Hood

    I agree that it’s looking good so far, and looks particularly good with the denim jacket. The next version in that floral fabric, with your alterations, is going to be lovely.

  6. Chris

    I think it’s looking quite good so far.The neckline and armholes fit nicely. I was about to say the same as Mary above. When you mentioned no darts on the skirt, I wondered if you’d get a close enough fit due to waist/ hip ratio. Although continuing the princess seam bodice a little lower might help too. One other thing -I know you don’t want to go Jessica rabbit on the fit… but I think the skirt could do with being just a small amount narrower at the hem. The inspiration dress has a slightly more pegged/tapered skirt. Looking forward to seeing your floral version 🙂

  7. Stephanie

    You look pretty! I look forward to seeing the next iteration (agree that more colour would be good). The shape is lovely on you though and this looks great with the denim jacket. As Chris, I could also see this slightly more pegged to really show off your shape (without going too far of course :)).

  8. jay

    From the photos it looks like a good fit, I don’t see the niggles you found. It’s a different look for you, but works perfectly. I like the denim jacket idea too – maybe try with strappy sandals ?

  9. seamsoddlouise

    It’s a great look, but I agree it does look rather dressy. Not a bad thing, and you’ve shown you can dress it down by pairing with the denim. Looks like your enjoying this quest.

  10. ceci

    The new floral fabric reminds me of one of your hand painted ones, a silk perhaps? More you colors than the silver grey, anyhow. Looking forward to the next iteration!


  11. Bunny

    Great silhouette on you as you have such a darling figure. I think the bust needs a teeny bit more ease and the torso need to be shortened a bit and you’ve already alluded to that. I am sort of thinking along the lines of the sewingmiserabliest (love that name) and perhaps letting out the hips a tad will drop the waist fullness as well. Your fabric for the next one is gorgeous and I know you will get this all worked out. It is still a darling outfit with the denim jacket and totally wearable. We sewists are very harsh on ourselves but this truly could be worn anywhere with the jacket or cardigan and be darling. Great effort!

    • fabrickated

      Many thanks for your encouragement, and professional feedback Bunny. I really appreciate it. I bought the denim jacket after really falling for yours!

  12. Annieloveslinen

    It looks like a good fit on the top but if it feels constricting you’ll need to make it a smidgen bigger for comfort. As for the pooling is the bodice too long?
    Maybe a horizontal fisheye dart at the waistline be incorporated into your patten, that would get rid of the excess fabric centre front. I agree with Thesewingmiserablist’s comment about the overall length, it would look better a bit shorter and pegging would give a more balanced look.

    I like your fabric it will look terrific made up and this style is perfect for your frame.

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