My Very Own Deer and Doe Belladone Dress – Finally!

When I first started to sew I really wanted to make the Deer and Doe Belladone dress, it just screamed chic and a little bit sexy to me. Unfortunately, it was well outside my sewing skills, so I settled for the Colette Sorbetto and a Ginger Skirt. Both a terrible disaster, the less said about that the better. Anyhoo fast forward 6 years and I finally felt ready to tackle my dream dress.

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I visited Victoria at Bloomsbury Square Fabrics last year and got some lovely fabrics including this stretch gabardine in red, which I thought would go well with this pattern. Then the doubt set in. What if I couldn’t fit it properly? What if I ended up doing muslin after muslin and lost the will to go on? So, to ease the strain and not put too much pressure on my seriously absent sewjo I decided to do a fitting class at Guthrie & Ghani. I ended up doing the Making Your Perfect Fit Dress Pattern workshop. It was led by Layla Toyah and she was supported in the morning by Dee. It was an absolutely fantastic day, full on, but so very good.

Everyone brought a range of patterns – big 4 and indies. There were discussions about ease and how much you really need where depending on how you like your clothes to fit and how much you like to breathe. We then set about measuring ourselves. Layla and Dee checked our measurements afterwards. I think I need to start doing this in front of a full-length mirror for more accuracy. I also need to consistently remember to go with my high bust and then do a full bust adjustment (FBA). I need to do an FBA every.single.time. Unless I am sewing a Cashmerette pattern, then it’s all good.

I made a lot of changes to my pattern, but the comforting thing about the whole day was the fact that everyone had to make numerous changes to their paper patterns initially and then again once they had made their muslins.

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My original pattern piece.

To start with, based on my measurements, I made size 52 and did a 3″ FBA.

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I then added 1″ to all side seams except for the front waistband where I added 1.5″.  I forgot to bring along my instructions, so I winged it and Layla helped me.

After making up the dress it was time to try it on and for Layla to step in with fitting advice. In the photos below you can see the adjustments made on the lefthand side (back) and on the righthand side (front).

DSC01136DSC01134I have quite a narrow back, so we did a narrow back adjustment and Layla pinned out the extra fabric. Then we took in the shoulders, which were acting up, for good measure. It looked like about 1″ from both areas. The neckline was gaping slightly, but the calico was probably a bit stretched out by that point, so we left it, but Layla showed me how to put in a v-neck, because I like those a bit more.  Finally, we did a 3/4″ full butt adjustment, this has been a long time coming – I tried to wear a TATB Miette Skirt last weekend and had to come back home because it was basically indecent! Surprisingly we did not do a sway back adjustment.

The original bust darts were not a good look, you can see the puffiness at my bust apex on the left, so Layla suggested changing the waist dart to a curved one. This got rid of the weird bubble and puffiness that you can see in the photo.

After all of the pinning and slashing it was time to transfer the adjustments back to the paper pattern. The idea of this has always puzzled me, but watching Layla do it made it all make sense and so long as I do it again on a pattern pretty soon I am (fairly) confident I’ll be able to do it again.

As well as guiding us through the fitting process Layla also gave us some sewing tips along the way including a quick way to sew darts without lots of pinning and a great way to avoid the weird bubble thing at the bottom of invisible zips. I’ll try to include some photos when I do my Belladone in my fashion fabric.

It was a busy day, but it was well worth it!

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