I was under birthday girl orders with this one, and so in my head I was imagining something much simpler, more refined, more, well.... more me to be exact!
Some blog readers may remember this fabric:
It's a nice quality stretch sateen cotton that I bought ridiculously cheaply and then couldn't work out what to do with. The stripes and the border print effect of the thick stripes necessitated a straight bottomed skirt. I wanted to keep it for myself but didn't have a pattern that it would work with.
Then, there was discussion on the Oliver + S forum about how to pleat the skirt of the Fairy Tale dress. The original poster came up with her own lovely solution (her blog: Bright Up My Life) and linked to this Alexander McQueen dress
Oh my, do I like that dress. So I was decided. I wanted a pleated skirt Fairy Tale dress with the pleats offset to each side. And here it is:
There was a little bit of planning that went into the dress and then bucketloads of good fortune. The planning went like this:
- I wanted box pleats with approx. 1 inch deep folds.
- I wanted a longer skirt in order to balance the three wide stripes at the bottom.
So I set to with my notebook to work out how wide the skirt would need to be to accommodate the pleats. I measured the bodice pieces, removed the seam allowances to get the minimum skirt width and then added my pleats, coming up with a sizeable number.
Would my fabric be wide enough?
Jackpot! By taking out the side seams and cutting the skirt as one rectangle my fabric was exactly the 56" I'd calculated I'd need. Obviously, a wise person would measure their fabric before getting carried away with an idea and investing any time in the maths, but hey, I like to live fast.
The only other bit of planning was to decide that the pleats shouldn't be too close to the side seams (which I'd eliminated anyway) and so I arbitrarily measured them in about 1/2" off each side.
So, how lucky was I that the first box pleat landed almost perfectly under the bodice dart?! Complete fluke!
Initially I hadn't planned any waist detail but since the box pleat was a millimetre or two off the bodice dart it looked as if it should have been perfectly aligned, but wasn't quite. Best solution to fudge things and break up a seam in stripes is piping.
The length of fabric I'd purchased had just one of the three stripes at the top end, so I used that to make some straight grain corded piping and tucked it into the bodice/skirt seam.
I toyed with the idea of sewing the armholes without the facing that the instructions suggest, but since I was having such an undeserved run of luck I thought I'd better not start trying anything clever.
So the rest of the dress is as per the pattern, although I left the collar off.
For my own records it's size 4 with probably about 2 inches extra length at the skirt hem.
I cut the lining (white cotton batiste from ClearIt) and the tulle (double layered again) to be the same width as the outer skirt but then just gathered them evenly rather than pleating them.
I was getting pretty excited by this stage. Normally my enthusiasm for a project is inversely proportional to my daughter's, but I must have been heavily dusted with the lucky Fairy Tale magic sprinkles as she LOVED it!
I was surprised to learn that this pattern hasn't been as big a seller for Oliver + S as some others. Frankly I'm baffled, 'cause what you get here is a lovely fitted (or not so if like me you just pick a size and don't mind if that bodice is a bit roomy - see pic above) bodice with a fullish skirt. The options for collars, sleeves and waist trim make it incredibly versatile and the only remotely challenging aspect is inserting a visible zip. Trust me, if you've never done that before then this is the pattern company that you want to have walk you through it.
This dress hadn't been intended for an Oliver + S blog post as I was sure Rachel would be all over the Pleated Fairy Tale idea. Turned out she'd been busy and so I was up for the feature.
It would seem insufficient to suggest people scratch out some sums and then wing it, so I set to and worked out how to get those pleats perfectly on the bodice dart for every size.
If you like a bit of maths with your sewing, or are just happy for someone else to do it for you, then hop over to the Oliver + S blog by clicking the image below.
If anyone does use the measurements I've set out I'd love to hear how it worked. I made up a couple of test runs in a few sizes using strips of interfacing and the stapler. I think I got all the sums right.....
Am I allowed to say that I think this may be my favourite of all the dresses I've ever made, and I really wish it was my size? Well, I just did!