Instead of cutting the bodice and upper skirt in one piece as I did with the last bubble dress, I decided on a separate empire bodice, fitted, but just loose enough for me to be able to slip the dress over my head without needing a zipper. For the rest I thought the circular upper skirt and inverted circular lower skirt were still basically a sound solution. The addition of an inverted box pleat at CF and CB would control the volume below the bust but release it lower down for the skirt. This proved to be quite a good approach. For variety I also added some short sleeves, just a little longer in length than a cap sleeve.
The picture above shows the copied off skirt piece from the Lily. Any voluminous A-line skirt will do, or if you are confident you can draft it yourself. This will become the upper part of the skirt. The bottom circumference is around 65cm. Cut this out twice for front and back on the fold. I actually place the pattern piece about 5cm away from the fold to make the skirt even more voluminous. (You need to do this both with the upper and lower pattern piece, to keep the circumferences where you are going to join both pieces the same.)
Then you draw a line 30cm parallel to the bottom edge and cut along this. You can see in the photo below where I have already done this, resulting in a wide piece which is flipped over vertically and will become the lower part of the skirt. I have tapered this inwards at the side seams and added 16 tucks around the hem, clustered both sides of the side seams, to take it in further. I think I should have used deeper darts, not just tucks. Elastic would have done a similar job, just more evenly all around. I might do that next time.
As I have already mentioned, I made the upper edge of the skirt fit the lower bodice edge by means of a very deep inverted box pleat. While I was sewing this I was a little worried that it might result in the dreaded pregnant look, but having tried it on I don’t think so. Ironically no pregnant women wants to be seen dead in a smock these days, everyone is determined to show that they are still slim above and below the bulge. Not a problem, leave the smocks to those of us who want to be cool and comfortable!
I must say I am rather pleased with the result of this experiment, it looks very much like I have a new TNT. The only further improvements I can think of is deeper hem darts and perhaps a flange at the bottom of the empire bodice, but the latter is not essential. The linen I used has a loose-ish weave and so the empire seam turned out slightly shaped, being pulled down at CF by the weight of the box pleat. You could call it wonky but I rather like the effect.
Talking of the linen, it started life as a remnant of a boring cross weave in light yellow and cream. After an encounter with my dye pot is is a nice textured turquoise. I think I may have been naughty and did not wash it properly prior to dyeing, because it didn’t take the colour all that well, but there was enough fabric to cut around the streaks and lighter patches and it looks quite respectable.
I was also worried it would be the kind of linen you have to iron every time you want to wear it, and still it would look like a rag after a couple of hours, but it is actually not too bad. I took some of the photos at the end of a work day and it looks ok.
I am still searching for a good spot to take decent photos. The garden looks nicest, but the mozzies are fierce right now and they really love me. So eventually I had to retreat back to the bathroom. Better luck next time.
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