It’s great to come across a pattern that yields a flattering garment with the minimum of hassle; it’s greater still when that pattern comes with enough variations to create an entire season’s wardrobe. New Look 6459 is a sleeveless dress with darts to the bodice and some definition to the waist which gives it a feminine silhouette. It lends itself to anything from a beach bum dress to quite respectable evening wear (more on that later).
Here are a couple of versions I made previously: some of the first garments I ever made, both now dying of old age.
For the Summer 2012 version (which, given the weather, I shall mostly be wearing with boots, a cropped cardie and a brolly), I’ve made View F in a soft lawn by John Kaldor, bought for £8 a metre from Geoff Rosenberg.
I bought the fabric while finishing my Mad Men Challenge dress when, still in a vintage mood, I was drawn to the Betty Draper-like print of the deep pink roses and leaves on a purple-grey background. It’s quite a departure from my usual loon prints!
A beginner making this pattern (marked “Easy”) could follow the instructions, as I did the first time I made it, and end up with a very good dress. But with a little modification, NL 6459 View F can be upgraded to a fantastic dress! Here are a few notes which you may find helpful:
1 Beware of Cutting the Bodice from a Printed Fabric
Beware of the centre front seam on the bodice and cut carefully if using a print fabric. The Front Bodice has a centre seam which is at a slight diagonal. This is necessary in order for the straps to be straight on the grainline. The first time I cut the bodice and sewed the centre seam, the break in the flowers ruined the look of the front:
This simply wouldn’t have done, being just below the cleavage and something of a focal point. I decided to make this piece my bodice lining. The second time I cut the bodice front, I made sure the stitching line fell on the “blank” parts. The result is more professional and presentable:
2 Suggested Improvement to Bodice Lining
The instructions call for the bodice and the bodice lining to be sewn together to the skirt and the zip to be attached to both. I did this when making this dress in 2008. The inside looks like this:
Ok, but not ideal to have the ugliness of those edges staring up at you every time you disrobe! An improvement would be achieved by the following:
a) After step 19 in the instructions, edge-finish the bottom of the lining. I do this by pressing under 0.5cm and zigzaging.
b) Stitch bodice to skirt and attach zip at centre back.
c) With right sides together, stitch bodice to bodice lining. Leave the short edges of the straps unstitched. You will be turning the garment to the right side through these gaps!
d) Stitch the side of the lining to the zip.
e) Push the garment to the right side through the gaps and press.
The result it the more pro this:
Please note that you would not be able to do this with Views A-E as the bodice and the straps are not in one continuous piece.
3 Option for Strap Adjustment
When stitching the bodice to bodice lining, there’s an area of 3cm on the back which is to be left unstitched. This is to allow for the insertion of the strap in one of the final stages of the making of the dress. It means that the length of the strap can be adjusted to suit. My tip is to leave a wider area unstitched (4cm-5cm) so that at the fitting stage you can:
fit the straps to the left or right of the suggested positioning,. This is useful if you want to hide your bra straps when wearing the dress. Choose the bra you want to wear with the finished dress and wear it to the fitting as the position of bra straps can vary a lot.
angle the ends of the straps slightly towards the centre if your shoulders are like mine slightly sloping
Consider these variations:
Find a smart fabric, cut the skirt pieces some 10cm-15cm longer for the dress to cover the knees (find the most flattering cut-off point), put some interfacing in the bodice and you’ve got yourself a number elegant enough for theatre.
Make the dress from a stretch jersey. Sure, it’ll cling mercilessly to your stomach, as jersey dresses tend to do. Hell, you might even feel the need to sign up for Pilates classes. But this is a small price to pay for the fact you won’t have to insert a zip!!
Right, I’m off to go make this again…