When I saw this pattern over at A Fashionable Stitch, I was instantly drawn to the easy wrap top and tiny cap sleeves, so I eagerly jumped on board with the sew along for this Project Runway (or is it Kate Middleton?) inspired dress. I was just getting ready to start on a different summer dress, but realized my fabric would be just perfect for Simplicity 1880. Funny, but I didn't even notice this pattern before Sunni chose it. I guess that's how it happens sometimes.
Here is the final muslin of the bodice, after quite a few adjustments. I got some excellent feedback from the friends at Sewing Pattern Review on how to achieve a full bust alteration (FBA) on a dress front like this. I tried adding just to the waist pleats and I tried adding a dart, but neither of those worked. Finally, I rotated the dart to the gathers in the shoulder. This sounds awfully complicated, I know, but if you take it one step at a time, it works out just fine.
First, think about a traditional FBA for a simple darted bodice. (There are lots of good resources out there. Sunni has posted some, I did a tutorial last summer or you could grab your copy of Fit for Real People. The Colette Handbook presents this in a clear, easy to follow way.) In this case, the darts are replaced with gathers at the shoulder and pleats at the waist to achieve a more relaxed kind of bust shaping. To keep the style, you need to make your FBA then add that extra fullness to the gathers and pleats. This is known as "rotating the dart." There are plenty of tutes out there, so I won't repeat. The Rusty Bobbin has nice clear diagrams.
Then, I spread the waist fullness out evenly between the three pleats. Otherwise, I would have had a very large center pleat and two tiny ones. For a wrap dress, you may also consider the part of the left bodice that overlaps the right bust and vice versa. As explained by the Sewing Divas, you may need to add fullness to that side too. I traced another bodice piece, laid it over my first bodice and decided that this particular dress didn't overlap enough to effect the fit. Maybe I was wrong, but I'm happy with the fit and I'm not changing it now! Either way, this is a really good thing to know.
The finished pattern piece is a mess! But I hope it's useful to you. If I make this again, it would be simpler to buy another copy. My FBA is pretty small these days, but I really did need that little bit of fullness for the dress to hang properly.
The back at this stage still needs a little work. Look at all that poof! Way too much. My back length is significantly shorter than my front, either because my posture is really straight (many years of ballet when I was young) or because my lower back curves in quite a lot (three children) or some combination of the two. There are lengthy discussions on Pattern Review about what is or isn't a true sway back. I don't think it matters what you call it, since the solution seems to be the same for both, right? Anyway, I pinched out some length from the center back, tapering to the seam allowance, like this:
A small thing, but I also turned the front and back yoke into one piece. I simply couldn't think of any good reason why there should be extra seams there.
Finally, I adjusted the skirt. For one thing, I found the waist lacking in the usual Simplicity ease and needed to grade out at the waist one size. I could have sucked in all day, but I wanted an easy breezy every day sort of summer dress, not one that requires Spanx! Also, (and I'm really glad you can't see this too clearly in the muslin shots) the lack of a separate skirt back pattern piece meant that this puppy was unflatteringly tight across my back muffin top. Yikes! So I created my own skirt back pattern by grading out two full sizes. I felt pretty confident in these changes and didn't make any further muslins. (I ran out of muslin fabric too.) Will you stick around to see if they actually work?
Next, I'm considering linings - what kind of lining do you like in a summer dress? or none at all? This questions has been keeping me up nights. Just ask my husband.