At long last, here is my Winifred Dress, which I’ve been sporadically working on since March and finally finished in May! I really meant to complete this Bluegingerdoll Pattern ages ago but I had to work on my hubby’s Newcastle Cardigan, plus it took me a while to get my Winifred pattern adjustments just right for my broad shoulders. This pattern has kimono sleeves. If you’re interested in ordering the pattern, you can buy the paper pattern here or the PDF version here.
[Full disclosure: I was lucky to get this pattern for free from Abby, the designer. However, I am not being paid to make the dress or write about it. She generously donated this pattern for a giveaway held at the Bay Area Sewists April meetup (I'm the organizer for the group.)]
There are only four pattern pieces for this dress: front, back, collar, and belt, which are printed on a very large sheet of white opaque paper that’s similar in weight to copy paper. And it’s a HUGE piece of paper as you can see below. I put my yardstick next to it so you have a sense of just how large it is.
Choosing a size was a little confusing because of the listed measurements – Size 12 had a bust of 39 inches (97 cm) and waist of 38 inches (96 cm). Huh? Just ignore the waist measurement and focus on the bust. This dress has elastic at the back. Maybe without the elastic, that’s what the waist measurement is.
I picked size 12 and I traced the front, back and collar. I decided to leave off the belt piece because I didn’t want a belt that attached at the side seams. I wanted to make a fabric-covered belt buckle, which would not fare too well in the wash. So I wanted it to be a separate piece. (You can read about my fabric-covered belt buckle here.)
I generally need a small bust adjustment for bodices so I followed the Winifred Dress sewalong SBA instructions provided by the lovely and talented Heather B. But I was being lazy and didn’t want to make muslin of the dress in size 12 as is. So I took a guess and took it in 1/2 inch but it turns out that was too much. It was too tight at the waist – though you really can’t tell from this blurry iPhone photo those waist darts are about to bust – and I really needed more ease in the shoulder and upper arm. I discovered that it’s tricky trying to make shoulder adjustments to kimono sleeves. I wasn’t sure how and where I should add more ease.
So I made another muslin – this time making a smaller SBA – 1/4 inch and dropping the underarm seam about a 1/2 inch but the shoulder still wasn’t right and adding width in the armpit area didn’t really do much for my shoulder problem. But at least the SBA was fine. The waist darts on this dress are pretty cool – they look like pleats, don’t they?
So I took a good hard look at my shoulders and realized that I needed more room at the very end of my shoulders. I made some pretty drastic pattern adjustments. Below is the top part of the pattern piece for the front of the dress: the rectangle sticking out is the collar, just to the left of that is the shoulder seam. Where the collar meets the shoulder, I used the line for size 14 and then I went all the way to size 18 at the shoulder point and then gradually went down to size 16. I traced along the size 16 line along the upper sleeve but used size 12 from the underarm to the hem of the sleeve. Also I realized that the collar width looked good in my muslin but it would be too narrow once I sewed it up. So I added an additional 5/8″ to the collar – you can sort of see that line below. if you make your collar wider, don’t forget to add this width to the undercollar pattern piece, too.
My third muslin was made from four yards of this cotton woven fabric that I got for $2/yard a couple of years ago from the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Shoulders fit much better now!
Oh, and I added pockets to this dress. I started out with the Emery Dress pocket pattern, made it a little longer and then realized that the pocket would only be attached to the side seams of the dress, not the side seams and waist of the bodice. The Emery Dress has a bodice and the skirt is attached to the bodice – thus the pocket is attached to the waist seam and the skirt side seam. (You can read about my Emery Dress here.)
So then I trimmed the top of the pocket like so:
Then I sewed each pocket piece to each side of the dress. When I was ready to sew the side seams, I just sewed around the pocket pieces and then the remainder of the side seams below. See my pocket!
One place where I had a bit of trouble was the sewing the back collar pieces together. It was a bit fiddly and the instructions were sparse. But if you use a lot of pins to ease it in place, you should be fine. Oh, and be sure to use a smaller seam allowance when you join the center back seams of the under collar. Look at the marking on the collar piece. It’s not 5/8″ but more like 1/4″.
There’s elastic in the back, which is not my favorite look so I liked the idea of having a belt to cover that up.
I like a longer hem on a dress – mid-calf. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric to do that. The pattern is designed to be knee-length and I had exactly enough fabric to make it that length. I confess my legs felt really exposed wearing this dress. I usually wear boots with any knee-length skirt. But after wearing this for a day, I felt more comfortable in it. Hey, this version ended up being a wearable muslin! If I make it again, I think I will add a little more ease to the waist. My waist is smaller than what it’s supposed to be – at least for my shoulders. So when I put the dress on, it’s a tight squeeze getting it past my shoulders.
Here are a few more photos. The sun was really beaming down that day so I walked over to a spot with more shade and took these photos with my camera on a timer.
Have you made the Bluegingerdoll Winifred Dress? What pattern adjustments did you make?