Last week I posted my entry for Project Run and Play’s pattern remix challenge, using the Oliver + S Popover Sundress. I totally, completely, love how this turned out. Color blocking and curved bodice seams seem to be popping up everywhere this season. Want to do it yourself? Here’s a quick run through. But first, the finished look, and go here for the rest of the details:
1) Print out the Popover Sundress pattern and track down your basic bodice pattern. If it has a sleeve, get that too. Don’t have a basic pattern? Craftiness Is Not Optional has a tutorial for tracing from a tee shirt.
2) Find the sundress skirt pattern. Since I’m not using the yoke piece, I measured the size of that piece and added it to the top of the skirt. It was roughly 1.5″ for the size 3. Round out the corner to get the style line you want – next time I think I’ll make the slope a little gentler. This was pretty sharp which made it tricky to stitch. PS – I LOVE drafting with Oliver + S digital patterns because of the grid printed on the patterns. Not only does it make taping the printed pages together easy, it makes modifying them easy!
3) Trace your basic bodice pattern onto paper – I used graph paper. You’ll want all three pieces: front, back, and sleeve. Using the skirt pattern you just drafted, trace the curved seam line onto the front and the back. It needs to be perpendicular (at a right angle) with the center front and center back.
Make sure your line is the same distance from the armhole on the front and the back. Add a seam allowance for this curved line – my basic bodice pattern already has seam allowances as needed everywhere else. You can see I raised the neckline on mine, too.
4) Next draft the cap sleeve. Let me show you a picture first before attempting to explain it:
- Find the center of your sleeve pattern. I did this by folding the pattern in half.
- Find where you want the sleeve to hit – I did it roughly in line with the top of the skirt. My book shows to measure it about halfway between the side seam and the shoulder seam. There’s a tiny x if you can see it. Mark that point on both the front and the back
- Draw a straight line connecting those two dots
- Smooth out the curve. I wanted it to dip in the middle.
- Cut sleeve out, slicing it on that middle line
- Tape to front and back, smoothing the curve as needed:
Notice that the sleeves dip down from the shoulder seam? You want that. Otherwise you get crazy sticky out shoulders. That helps pull it down to the body. The more dramatic that line, the more the sleeve will cup the shoulder. On Grace’s they’re still pretty out there.
The front is cut on the fold, the back has a seam allowance. Cut 1 front and 2 backs each out of fashion fabric and lining. To assemble dress (sorry I forgot pictures! It’s the standard procedure for a sleeveless lined bodice – the cap sleeves don’t affect it. ):
- Stitch shoulder seams on both fabric and lining
- Pin fabric and lining with right sides together, lining up all corners and seam lines
- Make a button loop and baste in place at the back neckline. Mine is a narrow strip of pink with the edges folded into the middle then folded in half again and stitched to hold, similar to double fold bias tape
- Stitch the sleeves, then the center back and neckline, starting an inch or so up from the bottom edge
- Clip curves and turn right side out by pulling each back through the shoulder to the front. Press well
- Stitch the underarm seams
- At the center back, stitch the remaining inch or so with the fabric to fabric and lining to lining. You want the outside a complete bodice and the lining separate for the next step
- SKIRT: Stitch side seams. Add piping or trim if desired (I used a strip of knit folded in half)
- Attach the skirt to the bodice, right side of the outer to right side of the skirt. Pin carefully and stitch slowly – the curve is totally possible but you’ve got to take it slow. Press well then trim seam and clip curves to reduce bulk
- Finish by stitching the lining in place. For my dress, I just hand stitched through a couple layers – not all the way through. You could topstitch if you want that look. Since I’m using knit I didn’t fold up the bottom edge to avoid bulk. If you’re using a woven you’ll want to finish the edge either by folding it up, using a serger, or your favorite finish technique
- Add a button and hem the skirt
- Wear and love!
You might be able to tell, I originally didn’t leave enough of a slit for Grace’s head, so she popped a few stitches. I need to go back and hand sew it together. You really only want to sew enough of outer to outer for the seam allowance – the rest should be outer to lining for the head slit.
I’ve had people ask how I get any sewing done with a busy toddler. Two words: Play. Dough. It’s a lifesaver. She spent over an hour “baking cupcakes” with her dough, a scoop, and sea shells:
If you make this dress, I’d love to know! Leave a link in the comments! I think it would make a darling shirt/tunic as well as a dress. In fact, I’ve got the fabric set aside for that now… featuring some crazy cat print Grace insisted on that I’ve been trying to figure out how on earth to use for about a year now.