Myra has recently started learning to play piano, and this weekend she had her first recital! Obviously, such an important event requires a new dress.
Myra and I flipped through my pattern drawers and issues of Ottobre, and when she laid eyes on this pattern (#38 from the 06/2014 issue) it was love at first sight. I let her select her fabrics from the stash - that lace was SUPPOSED to be mine - and we went to work! She chose a lightweight double knit in a rayon blend, which feels just lovely, but did have a tendency to grow, particularly under the weight of the skirt.
The lines of the dress are simple, but the embellishment makes it shine. It has a long sleeve bodice with a high scoop neckline, bound with self fabric, and a double layered skirt. It is designed with a slightly dropped waist, but even after shortening the bodice, my fabric grew so much that we ended up with a more extreme drop waist style. Fortunately, Myra really likes it, so that was a win.
The feature that really makes the dress stand out though, is the lace insets. Each sleeve features a ruched strip of lace running the length of the sleeve. Ottobre instructs the sewist to gather the lace with elastic and then assemble the three piece sleeve, but I have found elastic gathering to not always have the most delicate finished appearance, particularly on finer fabrics, so I did it the old fashioned way, with two rows of basting. It was a bit fussy, given the large holes in this lace, but I think the end result was worth it.
The neckline also features a gathered band of lace. This time I did use clear elastic to gather, as it stabilizes the neckline nicely within the binding. Since the dress has to pull over Myra's head, the neckline needs to be quite stretchy, but with good recovery. The elastic achieves that with minimal bulk.
The skirt is particularly well designed. As you can see, there are two separate layers. The outer lace layer is a large, gathered rectangle, giving the skirt lots of volume. The underskirt is a half circle, which minimizes bulk at the waist, making the dress a bit more sleek. I was grateful I didn't have to do any more gathering! All that lace was a bear! Again I decided to forego the instructions to use clear elastic to gather, in favor of basting stitches. The skirt is twice the full width of the lace, so it's quite a lot of gathering, and I was afraid that elastic wouldn't give the precision and would add unwanted bulk. It was a bit of work, but I'm pleased with the outcome.
Myra and I were both very happy with her recital dress. It went together smoothly, and was graceful and pretty as well as age appropriate. She's already planning her dress for her next recital!