Usually, I title my projects with the fabric name and pattern name. However, this most recent dress was made from an anonymous quilting cotton. I picked it up months ago at a huge warehouse-like quilting fabric store called “Happy Quilts”, in Pyeongtaek, a city nearby. It cost me just $4 a meter, so it was perfect to use in this dress, which is sort of a wearable muslin (after multiple unwearable muslins in plain white cotton). I don’t have a name for the fabric, so I’ll just go with “Blue”. So descriptive. I think the picture below of the bodice in progress most accurately shows the color/print. It seems to be Australian Aboriginal inspired.
I started the Kim dress months ago, but due to fitting problems, I put it aside for a while. I’m so glad I decided to re-tackle it– there are a few small problems still, but most shouldn’t be too hard to fix. I’m overall VERY happy with my finished result! With the close bodice fit and full bodice lining, this is the most technically advanced thing I’ve ever made. Plus, I’m totally obsessed with sweetheart necklines… I’ve definitely got more Kim dresses on my horizon.
For the pattern, I used the sweetheart variation of the bodice of By Hand London’s Kim dress, and the skirt from Colette Patterns’ Hazel dress. I used the Hazel skirt simply because I’d run out of tracing material, so I couldn’t trace off my size in the BHL Kim skirt. I wasn’t patient enough to wait for my tracing material in the mail (I have to order it from America, because I haven’t figured out how to get it in Korea… Ugh.). I’ve made four Hazel dresses before, so I know the skirt works for me, and since it’s just a simple gathered skirt, I knew it would work here.
As per the pattern instructions, I chose my base size according to my waist measurement (35″). This put me in a U.S. size 14. I then gathered my courage and tackled my first ever princess seam FBA. The bust measurement for my size is 42″, but my bust is 46″ so I needed to add 4″ total with a 2″ FBA.
However, when I slashed and spread by 2″ the pattern pieces looked super bizarre… So I convinced myself that a less dramatic 1″ fba would magically be fine. To my delight, in the single-layered rough muslin I made, it seemed ok! I then forged ahead and cut out a bodice in this blue fabric, and made it up, fully lined. Unsurprisingly, it was a total disaster… Puffy nips sitting high above my actual bust point, lower half of my boobs totally compressed. Not a great look. I had ignored the fact that a single layer of cotton is going to stretch more than the final lined bodice… Rookie mistake.
About two months later I gave it another go with a bigger fba. Here’s how I came to the result you see here:
- I womanned up and did a 2″ FBA (total of 4″ added to bodice)
- I sewed the neckline seam with a narrower seam allowance, 3/8 I think, because I’d read about other people finding the neckline rather low and doing this to compensate. Good call. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m not one to lock up my bust in the cage of a modestly high neckline when I can avoid it… However, even for me, the neckline is a bit low! I’ll probably do a 1/4″ seam allowance next time.
- I lengthened the side and center back pieces by 8 mm, because in my muslin they were coming up shorter than the side front. This was probably FBA-related.
As for the skirt, it’s just the size 16 from the Hazel pattern. Because I’m only 5’2.5 It’s been shortened– by 2″ maybe? I don’t remember.
In addition to sewing the neckline with a smaller seam allowance, there are a few things to fix for a better fit next time:
- The bodice is definitely a touch too long at the front (which explains those creases you can maybe see on my belly), so I’ll shorten it a bit there.
- The straps are possibly a touch too long/not angled correctly, because they were slipping off my shoulders a lot. I’ll probably trim the top of the back strap.
- There is some puckering along the princess seam. I think the 5/8″ seam allowance is just too wide to smoothly ease the dramatic curve in the bodice side front caused by my FBA to the less curved center front. I’m going to trim off 3/8″ of the seam allowance on the princess seam line of both pattern pieces, measure to check it’ll still line up, and sew it with a 1/4″ seam allowance instead. I’ll see how that goes, but theoretically it should help.
- Finally, while the dress fits perfectly at my waist and bust, there is some excess fabric in between. This is the most difficult problem to solve, and I’m debating whether it’s worth trying. Basically, the princess seam doesn’t seem to curve in enough under the bust– it’s too smooth a line from apex to waist. Maybe you can see what I mean in this picture of my pattern piece:
To get a closer fit I think I’d have to redraw it, and I’m worried how well I would do… I think I’d just as likely make it worse! So I’d have to try it out with another muslin. I’m not sure if that’s too much hassle for a rather minor issue.
Anyways, I am totally enamored of my new Hazel/Kim lovechild, and the BHL Kim pattern in general. I wanted something a bit… sexier?… than the dresses I’ve made so far, and the princess seams and sweetheart neckline give me the look I was going for. I now want to make everything with princess seams!
The pictures I’ve posted here are from a recent day out in the city of Jeonju, South Korea, with some friends. The city has a lovely historic district, it made for a nice day!