I have just completed Ladies Dress #4016, and offer here my thoughts on the pattern and construction.
- Ladies Dress #4016, sized for 34 inch bust, with no instructions. Includes decorative banding and buttons, pattern options for a plain or cutwork collar.
- My sewing level is advanced. This is clearly intended for a slender young woman in a corset! Previous 36” bust patterns have fit me. This pattern needed to be enlarged. I added 4” to bodice and 1” to sleeve. Total added to waist 5”, total added to hip line (starting at high hip 3 ½” below waist) 9 ½” to accommodate my measurements of waist 29 ½”, hips 39 ½”.
- The dress does not look quite like the illustrations on the pattern envelope. The skirt is not as narrow as illustrated, and the bodice when sewn shows gathers not in evidence on the pattern envelope. However, I love the dress, and give it a 5! Its construction is straightforward and clever, offering finished seams throughout, and no need to line it.
- With instructions, this could be put together by someone with intermediate sewing skills. Possibly even elementary skills, if the gussets were not an issue…
- There were no instructions to follow. Suggested construction is noted later.
- I used a hand woven fabric purchased at an estate sale. It is a blue, the color of a clear fall sky. The contrasting cream color is a double faced cotton, also from my stash – perhaps a bit heavy, but the face weave was identical, so I used it.
- Because I am 5’4” and the skirt was looking to be too long, I added a band to the top of the skirt bands, and removed the bottom one. I removed two inches from the bottom of the skirt and added it to the large bottom band. I decided a 7” band at the bottom would look good, but discovered it was in fact too much, so – I added a decorative band at the bottom to help bring the color down. I also added a band to the collar, along with a button at each end. The buttons I covered were all from my stash, and I only had 12 of the 7/8” ones. So I decided to use larger ones on the bottom band, and smaller ones on the sleeves and collar. (So I would not need to go out and buy more!) So in sum, I made alterations to the pattern for fit, and alterations to the design for balance.
- I would definitely recommend this pattern. However – I had trouble with the closure of the bodice at the collar. I came up with a solution which looks all right, but it is definitely inelegant, and until that detail gets worked out, I would add a caveat when I recommended the pattern, especially to a less experienced sewer.
Before getting started, noted in illustration:
- extra band bottom of skirt – need to draft
- belt – sketch shows contrast color, same as bowtie.
- top stitching
- 16 buttons
- fabric appears to be moiré?
Construction thoughts before starting:
- double band at bottom – seam and fold over at hem length and stitch to base of main skirt at inside
- self line front panel (for opacity)
- self fabric for belt
- eliminate bow tie
- make layered collar with cream over blue (or vice versa?)? – in spite of the 1912 craze for handwork (such as the cut work collar in the sketch), I’d prefer a simpler look
- closure front left
- press back side seams towards front, then topstitch (to reinforce and finish seams)
- sew bodice and skirt to a petersham
- before topstitching front left edge, insert strip of organza into folded edge to reinforce
- After reading Domestic News’ blogs, it makes sense to apply the band trim, aka welts, to the skirt after the side seams are sewn but before it is sewn to its front panel. Attach top bodice band before side seams and gusset, and others after.
Construction order I used:
- Cut bias tape for bands, sew together and turn.
- Sew side seams of skirt, press to one side (towards front) and topstitch. Attach decorative bands.
- Stay stitch bodice front and neckline; place gathering stitches (to gather later)
- Attach upper band to bodice. Sew seams, insert gusset. Attach remaining bodice bands.
- Self line front panels. Note: at neckline, sew front panel right sides together and turn to give a finished edge; bind edges (question – why is there a seam line on the front bodice panel in addition to the lap line? To finish the edge?).** Top stitch left bodice and skirt above left front closure to match stitching when attach front panel to bodice and skirt.
- Attach front panels to bodice and skirt. Right front bodice is lapped and top stitched to front panel. Left front bodice is left open. Skirt is lapped onto front panel and top stitched into place, leaving open above marking.
- Stay stitch collar, construct, and attach to bodice.
- Clip and finish seams at neckline as needed. Add band to collar.
- (Sew together bottom skirt band; attach to skirt.)
- Construct cuffs, add bands, and attach to sleeves.
- Sew bodice to skirt. Add 1” petersham to inside.
- Sew two hooks and eyes to petersham to close. Sew hooks and eyes down left front to close dress. Sew snaps on collar to fix it to neckline (on inside).
- Make bow-like tie for CF neckline. Make self fabric belt.
- Cover buttons and sew on (including at ends of band on collar, and on extra band on bottom border).
- Finish hem, if have not already done so.
- Would not have removed two inches from bottom of skirt to add to bottom band – I did so as the bottom band seemed fairly wide in the illustration. However, the front panel is *not* as wide as shown, and the contrast is a little heavy at the bottom. Adding one more band to the bottom brings the dress color down and makes a better balance. (The dress does not look like the illustration, but does look like “tub” dresses found in other sources.)
- I skipped the bow tie, but still needed color to define and balance the neckline. A bow-like folded bit seems to work here.
- The dress has a somewhat nautical look, given choice of colors and modifications!
- The beauty of the construction implied on the pattern pieces is that the seams and edges of the dress can easily be finished on the inside. I believe it was intended to be unlined, though it could be lined if one wished.
** the seam on the bodice front panel led me to misalign the panel with the front skirt panel, so that I had an extra ¾” on one side. Unwilling to undo all the stitching to correct this, I chose to ease the ¾” into/along the bottom of the panel so the sides were aligned correctly. It would have been better to use the seam to finish the edge of the bodice panel, save the bulk generated by binding the edge as I bound the edges of the bottom panel, and avoid the misalignment.
Notes as I went along:
Sept. 25, 2012 Back from England and ready to get to work again. Will need to increase the size of dress to accommodate bust, waist and hip measurements.
Sept. 27, 2012 Compared sloper to pattern and determined need to add total of 4” to bodice width, and 1” to sleeve width. Cut and spread pattern vertically and horizontally (squaring cuts to hemlines). Made the slashes indicated on bodice, then realized after sewing up one sleeve/side seam, that the slashes were intended for a gusset… Drafted a gusset based on length of slashes (2¼” front, 2 1/8” back), but appreciate Ronieruss’ suggestion of 2½“per side to simplify. Kenneth King’s article in Threads (Feb/Mar 2011) will prove useful!
Revised pattern pieces, and fabrics for Ladies Dress #4016.
Sept. 29, 2012 Revised pattern pieces. On skirt, added 6” to hip and 5” to waist, removed 2” from main skirt, raised welt markings (deleted bottom welt marking and added new welt marking above), drafted bottom band. Added 1” to collar and cuffs to match increase to bodice. Drafted gusset.
Made skirt muslin, and additional ease was needed at hip. The skirt silhouette is otherwise good. (This pattern is clearly intended for a very svelte young woman wearing a corset!) I slashed the back and side pattern pieces again up the middle to add ½” for a total increase of 2”. In order to not add additional flare, I chose to set the straight seams at CB and CF and on the angle from the waist through the new hip measurement. Then at the side seams, opened the side at the hip line, placed a dart at the side waist so as not to decrease the measurement above the waist, and brought the hemline back to correspond with the increase at the hipline. Fitted new muslin.
Still needed some adjustment to the high hip, so increased curve of hip 3/8” on each pattern piece (total 1½”), and carried the 3/8” down to the hemline.
Further revisions to skirt pattern (with lots of brown paper and scotch tape!)
October 2, 2012 Made bands for the welt decoration. Cut 2” strips on the bias, closed them with a narrow seam, opened the seam, turned them inside out and pressed them flat. The seam will be hidden underneath the band. The sketch of the dress appears to show the bands topstitched down with the same spacing used down the front of the dress, and around the bottom contrast band; however I used about a 1/8” spacing.
Applying bands: tailor tacks to mark placement, then pinning (checking with the ruler) and basting before stitching. This seemed the simplest and most reliable method. (Stay stitched end of band before trimming and applying it.)
October 3, 2012 Topstiched bands with edge of band running along edge of foot, and needle placed to right (or left as needed). Installed gussets following Kenneth King’s suggestions – very helpful! Chose to do a narrow topstitching of the gussets to the bodice, then trim gusset for a clean finish inside.
Gusset, and placement of bands on bodice. Not too difficult when bodice is opened flat. Top most band was stitched on before inserting gusset. Gusset was top stitched and trimmed inside. Sleeve and side seam were then top stitched before placing remaining bands.
October 7, 2012 Have completed the skirt and bodice, though not yet joined them. The construction was straightforward after sorting out the gusset, and the spacing of the top stitching. Using the tailor tacks to place the bands, and making sure to sew on the bands before sewing up the front (or gathering the bodice) made that process pretty quick. Just had to remember when to shift the needle to right, left or center!
I chose not to interline the collar, as it seems better to keep it soft. However, an interlining of organza might be considered for stability.
Joined the dress without difficulty, except to discover that the front panels were misaligned. I had bound the edges, and had not taken the extra seam line on the top panel into account. Fixed this by easing/gathering the bottom of the front panel to re-align the edges.
October 10, 2012 It has taken an agonizingly long time to make buttons, and sew hooks, eyes and snaps to the dress…
However, the dress is now done! It is destined to be worn with a hat based on an old boater to complement the nautical feel of the dress. The slight poulter front is more obvious when it is worn by a person and not a dress form.
The finished dress! (To be worn at the Titanic weekend at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in May)