Knowing that they were planning a summer visit to the US, I offered to make her one. A few days later we visited a fabulous fabric store in their hometown of Brussels so she could pick out the fabrics for her dress.
She loves vintage style dresses with very fitted bodices and full skirts and McCall's 6646 was perfect! It offers the sweetheart neckline and circle skirt options, among several other design styles. The pattern photos and drawings were mostly party and formal style, but the basic lines were just what I was looking for.
She sent me her measurements and I did my best to adapt my dress form. Basically, this involved making it as small as possible, then beefing up the bust with my daughter's bra and a yoga top to hold it all together. Whatever works, right?
This is the side back seam where you can see how much I had to pin out of the pattern.
Experience has told me that many of the Big Four patterns have more fullness in the skirts than I prefer. Keeping Layla's petite frame and the inspiration dress in mind, I folded out quite a bit of fullness from the pattern pieces.
I didn't take pictures of my process in adding the contrast fabrics to the bodice. Basically, I constructed two bodice fronts, from center front to side seam, and two bodice backs, from side seam to center back, then I pinned sew in interfacing over the right sides and traced off the finished contrast pieces. Then I added seam allowances and cut them from my contrast fabric. I pressed in the seam allowances and sewed them at the lower edges. I knew it would be fiddly to match the side seams but this would allow me get more of it made before the final fit. I did, however, trace off the contrast waist band after the final fitting and before sewing the bodice to the skirt in order to make a seamless piece. My inspiration dress had a contrast button front band and my pattern didn't. This was easy enough to modify and actually made fitting and matching a little easier. The button placket on my dress is stitched down and the buttons are purely decorative. The pattern called for some boning in the bodice which I did not use because I knew this was an everyday dress to wash and dry. I did reinforce the bodice pieces with fusible interfacing and additional strips of sew-in interfacing along the top seams for support. I think that the contrast fabric also added additional support to the sweetheart neckline.
For the final fitting I had basted the side seams and tacked the shoulder straps in place. I ended up having to still take out about 1" at the center back, but otherwise, my tissue fitting was pretty much spot on!
She specifically requested a tie at the back.
Here's the finished product on the very happy, and very adorable designer-
And how close did we come to the dream dress? Let's compare...