This ‘Sew Simple’ pattern came with Love Sewing Magazine – called the Ruby Dress
I thought it looked lovely – it is reminiscent of the 1950’s – a very flattering style, good for pear shapes or hourglass because the full skirt covers hips and thighs and focusses attention onto a small waistline which are the assets of a pear and hourglass shape.
There were a couple of adaptations I wanted to make to the pattern:
Replace the centre Zip in the back to a concealed zip in the side seam.
I removed the seam allowance in the centre; because I have narrow shoulders pinched out a dart so that it narrowed the back slightly towards the top.
I drafted a mirror image to create one pattern piece that would not have to be cut on the fold. When you cut on the fold it is easy for the fabric to slip slightly out of grain – this can affect the fit and drape of the dress.
Increase bust allowance for a fuller bust
I am a 34 G bust – so I had to adapt the pattern to allow an extra 2inches at the bust line but 34 is very narrow, so I needed to bring the pattern in at the back and shoulders.
Once again I traced off the front bodice and hit a problem – the bust point was not indicated on the pattern. So I had to find my own bust point – you do this by laying the pattern piece across your body, mark the peak of the bust as a big dot. Then cut out the side dart and move it down so it is pointing at the dot. (I had to move the dart down about 2 inches)
I made a quick toile and found that I could just increase the side seam by 1inch, and move the bottom seam by an 1inch – it would give me that extra room.
I also checked the measurement across the back – being narrow shouldered I needed to take another 1/2 inch out of the v at the back. I also skimmed an inch from the shoulder seam so it would finish at my shoulder.
Because of my large bust, I had to pinch out about a 1/2 inch dart at the neckline. I also altered the neckline so that it would sit just on my collarbone using a french curve to round it off.
Even though I am inserting a side zip, I did not need to add any further seam allowances as there would be sufficient room to insert the zip along the side seam.
I drafted new pattern pieces with these changes – these could be used to make more dresses without the need to go over the fitting again.
Lengthen the skirt length
I added approximately 3 inches to the bottom of the skirt, so that it would sit just below the knee instead of just above.
I added a cap sleeve – in keeping with the fifties style.
My Fabric choice
I had two lovely pieces of curtain fabric to work with from a local curtain shop. The spring linen was a remnant of 3 metres for £5. The silky satin lining was a pale green 5 metres £7 which was an absolute bargain.
I wanted to line this dress and the weight of the satin would help the garment flow easily as well as protecting me from the sharpness of the zip. In essence it means you make two dresses, but it feels luxurious to wear.
I believe the finishing of a dress makes a huge difference between the high street – it is what makes dressmaking so wonderful. Most clothing is so cheap that the design details are the way they reduce costs. I aim to sew garments that I could never afford to buy, not just for the customised fit but the small details you get with high end, great pattern matching, bra clips, lining attachments – details you will find in couture houses.
I made the lining dress first so that I was able to check the measurements again – before I worked on my outer fabric.
The challenging areas on this pattern are the neckline and the deep v at the back.
In order to give more stability – after stitching the lining and bodice pieces together I ran some hemming web between the two layers and ironed in place. This created a beautiful crisp finish to the edge and also stabilised the v at the back.
Its a great idea to attach the lining to the zip flap – I used my normal zip foot as it allows you to sew close to the zip edge.
I loved the pattern of this pretty spring fabric, but the darts at the front of the dress made it look a bit odd, so I appliquéd a couple of flowers over the seam so that it looked better.
I increased the skirt a little to add fullness and my ruffler foot made the regular pleats a doddle.
On reflection, I think I might make the next one more of a circle skirt without pleating.
This pattern was very easy to work with – although I did not follow the making up instructions as I was confident enough to make it myself. However, if you are new to sewing it might be worth either keeping the magazine with the pattern or just the pages where they give you instructions on how to make up, then the two won’t get lost!
I use the resealable freezer bags to store my patterns, its easy to see what they look like but there is also room for my adapted patterns too. (I can never get the pattern back into the envelope).