The Tiramisu dress: an initial review
Today I wore my unhemmed Tiramisu dress, thinking the best way to help the hem drop, if it was going to, was to hang the dress on my body. The pattern sizing is based on the high bust measurement, and then the bodice for each size has a/b/c/d cutting lines, depending on proportion (fullest bust = d version). The bodice pieces also have the finished bust measurements written on them. I have a high bust of 38.5 inches and a full bust of 45 inches. I share this with you only because I find it so incredibly helpful when others share their stats as they write up their own fitting narratives. The high bust put me in the 35 bodice, but the 35D bodice had a finished measurement of only 39.5 inches. At the time when I was making cutting decisions, there was no full bust adjustment information available for this pattern (that went up yesterday on the Cake website). But there was a very useful piece of information about mixing bodice sizes (in the comments section of this link). One the basis of Steph's advice to the query from a person with a 36.5 inch high bust and a 45 full bust, I chose the 35 back bodice and the 40D front bodice. This gave a completed bust measurement of 43.5 inches. I didn't contemplate moving up another bodice size and figured that some negative ease would be fine.
Now that it is finished, I am pleased with the dress and I would like to make another one, but I do need to make some changes to my sizing. While I was making this one, when I first thought I was finished apart from the hem, it turned out that I wasn't, as the bottom of the midriff band was very low on me, and looked most unflattering. I unpicked the seam between the skirt and the midriff and took the midriff band up 4 centimetres all round (apologies for mixing metric and imperial). That improved the look considerably, though I like the look of a narrower band still for another version of this dress. Below is the dress as worn today, unhemmed.
It is very comfortable to wear. I have got shop bought dress fit, but I am hoping for better next time. I didn't think through when I made the two different bodice sizes for front and back that actually, the figure for the 40D bodice would be smaller than 43.5 inches because the back would be narrower. In the pictures above, I have the bodice pinned. I could say for modesty, but it's a little more practical than that. I looked down at breakfast and there was my bra. On display. No. No no. So I pinned it together but it is straining from the pin a little and I have the pin merely high enough for a work-appropriate dress. In the two rather unflattering photographs below, you can see that there just is not enough room for my cleavage.
I made a mistake with the underbust gathers. I spread them evenly along the gathering line as per the instructions, but in practise mine seem to be gather partially between my breasts rather than underneath them. That won't be hard to improve upon in the next version.
The back bodice is a reasonable fit, but a little closer to my skin than I am used to. For the next version I would like to make one in a darker fabric, possibly with longer sleeves and which I can wear with another layer underneath it in winter. So actually, I think I shall make a 45C front bodice and a 40 back bodice on the next version. I think I have my head round that alteration better than the new FBA instructions. That will give me the length between the bodice and the midriff, and then I shall shorten the midriff by 5 centimetres instead of my current alteration of shortening it by 4 centimetres. It won't be hard to take the sides in if needed. By the time I make another Tiramisu dress, I will have the benefit of the sew-along posts. Sewing the dress itself was quite easy and I liked Steph's style of instructions. I think they are very beginner friendly with only one tiny exception, which was that nowhere did it explain that the neck and sleeve bindings needed to be folded in half length-wise and then sewn on.
I don't have a modern machine, but through much experimentation, I have found ways of sewing knits with my 1970s Toyota machine. So I used a slight zigzag stitch for the entire construction and I'm pleased with how that turned out. Given that it is made of a non-ravelling fabric, I didn't bother 'finishing' any internal seams. Where Steph's instructions call for fusible stay tape for stabilising the shoulder seams, I opted not to even attempt to buy such an item in small town New Zealand, but used some ribbon from my inherited ribbon stash instead. It seems to be working well. I'm really glad I've found some knit-sewing strategies for my machine, as I think knits are so much easier to fit and really comfortable to wear and require no ironing. I was given some lovely dresses made of knit fabric a couple of years ago, dresses I could not have afforded to purchase myself, and my previous desire to wear mostly natural fabrics has since melted away.
If you are thinking of making this dress yourself, then I would highly recommend it. Although I haven't got my fit quite right first time round, I learnt a lot from the process and I do have a dress which I think I will wear regularly. If I can get the fit right next time, I may well make several more.