A bunch of events collided to cause me to make this particular dress:
- I’m in my 6th year of graduate school, studying to get my Ph.D. in Biological Engineering and my goal is to graduate this coming June. But it’s come to my attention that I don’t have any interview/work appropriate clothes! It’s nice wearing jeans and a top everyday, but I need to think about the future a little :)
- At our department retreat, a friend of mine (Hi Bec!) was wearing a really cute light pink tweed dress and it caught my eye. I had to have it!
- Kennis, the designer of Itch-to-Stitch patterns asked me if I would review her new pattern, the Marbella Dress. I thought long and hard about whether I would accept her offer, since I like having flexibility to make whatever I please. I decided to try it out because the pattern was cute, and I needed the motivation to actually make work-appropriate clothes. They’re not the most appealing to me!
I searched long and hard to find the appropriate fabric. Eventually I settled on a light pink wool tweed from Mood. It was exactly what I was looking for and I love the flecks of mustard, green, and magenta. It is of a thicker weight so this will be a winter appropriate dress. I used silk habotai for the lining, purchased at Fabric Place Basement.
*I had a hard time photographing this shade of pink so that’s why the color varies so much picture to picture. The shade of pink is accurate to that shown on the Mood website. Plus my skin is so white/pink it just kinda blends in haha.
I started by making a muslin of the bodice, size 4 with a B cup. The instructions inform you to first choose a size based on full bust and then a cup size based on your bra size. I found this a little confusing because I have bra’s in the same related series (36B, 34C, 32D) so I wasn’t sure what to choose. I went with a B because I don’t think of myself as being a ‘C’ cup haha. You can see here that it was a little tight across the bust. So for my final version I upgraded to a C cup but didn’t increase the size from 4 to 6 because the tweed had some stretch to it while my muslin did not (at all.)
I pinched out 1/2 inch from the top of the back neckline because of gaping. One thing to note is that the pattern has varied seam allowances so pay attention to the instructions. Most are 1/2″ but the neckline is 5/8″ and the zipper has a 3/4″ SA. I mention it because I almost adjusted the pattern at the front armscye (I thought they would cut into me based on the 1/2″ SA). But with the 5/8″ it is very comfortable.
I should have made a muslin for the skirt as well. The fit isn’t terrible but it isn’t as nice as it should be given how well the top fits. Oh well…live and learn!
Construction was straightforward thanks to very detailed instructions. Because I was reviewing the pattern I followed them step by step. And I’m happy I did! As others have mentioned, there are some great techniques. And since I haven’t made a lined dress in a while, I don’t think it would have turned out half as nice if I just winged it.
Things to note about construction:
- Instructions have you overlap the lining by 1/8″ when sewing it right side to the bodice. I’d read of people do thing before (it pulls the right side towards the lining to avoid the lining peeking out) but this was the first time I’d seen it in the instructions.
- No hand-sewing! (Except for the hem) I will definitely be referencing these instructions in the future when I make lined dresses.
- Beware that the shoulder seams are quite narrow, so if you’re using a thick fabric (like I did), it can be a challenge to pull the back bodice through after sewing the bodice to the lining. My stitching ripped and I had to go back and mend it.
- Instructions call for understitching the zipper, which I’ve never seen before and sounds like a great idea! I actually skipped it because I didn’t quite understand which layers I should sew and how to get it under my machine. Maybe a short tutorial Kennis?!?!
Unfortunately, this tweed would NOT press flat, even with lots of steam and my wood clapper. In the end, I decided to catch-stitch the seam allowances to the fabric. It significantly increased the amount of time it took to make the dress but I think it’s well worth it.
I love the way the bodice fits. The boat neckline is elegant and the fit through the bust is great. The top is slimming yet isn’t so tight that I can’t breath or feel uncomfortable. I like the modern fit: the shoulder seams are a little forward and there was no need to account for swayback.
Even though I don’t make dresses often, I would definitely consider using this bodice pattern again. The fit is so comfortable and the seamlines offer options for piping, color-blocking, etc. I don’t mind the skirt, but I don’t think it is super flattering for my hip-less body – I tend to like either A-line or sheath type skirts.
*I received this pattern for free in exchange for this honest review.