Mini dress Regent Skull – Built By Wendy Dresses

I had this fabric in stock for several months and decided to make myself a dress. A simple straight dress with little fuss in order to preserve this pretty print. The name of the fabric “Regent Skull” and the print itself inspired me to make a large scoop neckline (front and back) and puff sleeves “à la” Regency style. Well, that’s not how it went for the sleeves you’ll see why below.

Pattern Description:

Starting point : Shift Dress pattern from the “Built By Wendy Dresses” book. Dress has 2 bust darts, 3/4 set in sleeves, regular neckline, knee length.
Pattern pieces : front, back and sleeve

Ending point : Mini dress with back darts, bust darts, puff sleeves with cuffs, scoop neckline (front and back) with facings, mid-thigh length.
Pattern pieces : front, back, sleeve, front neckline facing, back neckline facing, cuffs.

Pattern Sizing:
XS – XL (bust size 32″ to 41″, waist 25″ to 34″, hips 35″ to 44″)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
That’s not applicable here, the point being to use the pattern as a base and to transform it.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Not applicable, I didn’t use a project included in the book.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The basic shift dress is a great canvas to make design modifications IMO. It also looked like the easiest one and the one that would suit me the best.
Plus it has a 60’s vibe to it, which I like.

Fabric

Regent Skull printed cotton dyed tea / Pink by Alexander Henry. I had 2 yards (width 44 inches)

That was not enough : because of the one way design some of the changes I had planed and done on my muslin could not be used for the final dress (see below).

Pattern alterations

Shift pattern alterations - Build by Wendy

Shift pattern alterations - Build by Wendy

Fit alterations :

* I added 2 back darts because the back looked slouchy and too sack like to my liking.
* I lowered the bust darts by 3cm (a little over an inch) and lengthen them by 2.5 cm (1″).
* The neckline was lifting a bit at the right shoulder seam, to rectify this, I sewed the right shoulder starting with a 1,5cm seam at the neck tapering to 0,5cm at the shoulder (right side only).

Design modifications :

* No centre back seam, the back is cut on the fold in order to have less seams and print matching to do.

* I reduced the length by 13cm (5″) ! Originally I wanted to only shorten the dress by 6cm (2.5″) but because of the lack of fabric I had to shorten more to be able to fit the pattern pieces.

* Scoop neckline in front and back (for the regency touch ). I Increased the neckline by 5cm (2″) at the shoulder seam and I dropped the neckline by 9cm (3.5″) in the front and 15cm (6″) in the back. Then I redrew the neckline. I have no drafting tool so I used a large salad bowl !
* Created front and back neckline facings

regency skull neckline

Back neckline

* Short balloon Sleeves… Or not: First, I shortened the sleeves by 25.5 cm (10″). Then I modified the pattern to make balloon sleeves:

+ I added 15cm (5″) in width (slash and spread method). Then I added 5cm (2″) in height: 2.5cm (1″) to the top and bottom of the sleeve.
+ I test fitted the sleeves on my muslin, and they were all beautiful and very round, I was very happy… Until I laid the pattern pieces on my “Regent Skull” fabric : not enough fabric to fit them. So I had to redesign the sleeve adding only 5cm (2″) in width and 2.5cm (1″) in height. As a result my dress does not have balloon sleeves but slightly puffy sleeves.
+ Created cuffs to finish the sleeves lower edges.

balloon Sleeves

"Balloon" Sleeves

To adjust the sleeve pattern to puffy sleeves I followed the instructions in the book Modern pattern design (1942) (chapter 4), that you can could read freely on vintagesewing.info

Puff sleeves patterns

Puff sleeves alterations

Conclusion

Well the dress does not look exactly like my muslin, it was not what I originally had in mind (length of the dress, and balloon sleeves) because I hadn’t thought it through and had not taken into account the size of my fabric (I hate myself!).
I also feel that I still have some fitting issues with the original pattern, I shall take the matter to the fitting woes forum soon.

But I’m happy with the neckline, especially the back one (although I think after wearing the dress for a while that’s it’s either too wide or the shoulder/upper chest fit isn’t good) and I think I did pretty well matching the prints at the side seams (a little compliment can’t hurt )

Regency skull dress built by Wendy

Regency skull dress - side view

And I am especially pleased with the book “Built by Wendy Dresses”. It opens up tones of creative perspectives for a beginner like myself, (although the book is not that beginner friendly) it’s a first step in pattern drafting and modification. Even if you don’t use her patterns it’s inspiring.

In short, this project was a little challenging for me, I had to learn many new techniques (creating facings, modifying a pattern, setting in puff sleeves …) and progress in others (print matching,…). So that’s a positive outcome for me.

Regency skull alexander henry

Regency skull dress - Front