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Message Board > Plus Size Sewing > Help! I don't know what dress to make ( Moderated by JEF)

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Help! I don't know what dress to make
Which pattern to fit and flatter me?
westmoon
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westmoon  Friend of PR
Advanced Beginner
IRELAND
Member since 9/7/11
Posts: 558
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Date: 9/11/12 12:56 PM

I'm sewing some new clothes for when I start a new job later this autumn and for the winter ahead. One of the things I'd really love to do is make a dress to wear for work. I've never owned a work dress before because RTW dresses tend to be a HORRIBLE fit on me. However, I'm having a really hard time choosing a pattern that might be flattering and that is within my capabilities as a relatively new-to-garments sewist. I am willing to spend time and effort on getting a nice fit and sewing a dress well, but I don't want to pick a project that is just too challenging from the start.

I am kind of on the lower edge of plus-sized, by UK RTW standards (UK size 16 bottom (US12), 18/20 (US 14/16) top because of large bust ). I gained a lot of weight very quickly over the last 6 months as a result of prolonged illness. I tend to accumulate that weight around my bust and abdomen, so those are areas of my body I am concerned about flattering. I am likely to lose some of that weight back to around my pre-illness levels (3 sizes smaller), but for a lot of reasons the weight loss is likely to be very slow and difficult. I am determined not to wait until I am at some mythical better weight to start making the things I want to wear.

No matter what weight I am at, I am always inverted triangle shaped with a very large low bust, wide shoulders, and without a very pronounced waist or hip shape. I'm also reasonably tall (5'8"). My work environment is European middling formal to eccentric (I'm in academia, there's a guy in my current department who unironically wears lederhosen. He's not even European.) My personal preference is at the middling formal end of the range -- rarely suits but tailored trousers, skirts, blouse or knit top and in winter, sweater combinations most days, and dressing down for work means very smart jeans or cords, blouse and sweater.

I do like: clothes that create a more hourglass shape, clothes that show off my nice lower legs and ankles, necklines that show off my neck and collarbones.

I don't like: very high necklines or very low necklines that show cleavage (I am in a hugely male-dominated field, and my new job is as a university lecturer where 70%+ of my students are 18-21 year old boys. I prefer that at least some people make eye contact with my eyes, not my bust), clothes at the extreme ends of the "tight" and "basically a sack with a hole for your head" spectrum. I also have an irrational dislike of wrap tops.

Any thoughts or suggestions for dress patterns?

------
http://sewingnovice.blogspot.co.uk/
One woman. One sewing machine. One giant stack of fabric. What could possibly go wrong?

Ms. McCall
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Ms. McCall  Friend of PR
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CA
Member since 3/2/06
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Date: 9/11/12 1:38 PM

Very recently a fellow sewer recommended making a croquis to me and I've found it really really useful for trying things on in a virtual way.

As regards your shape, I think V necks and dresses that add a little width to your hip / lower half would balance you out in a flattering way. Have you considered wrap dresses / shirt dresses? You might still have to wear a layer underneath the wrap dresses, but I think they'd still be flattering.
Since you're in the UK, I don't know what pattern companies it's easiest for you to get, but here's some pattern ideas

Wrap dresses:
V8379 - Hall of Fame 2009 pattern

V1027 Best pattern of 2008

M5974 A palmer/pletsch pattern

Shirt dresses:
M6506 This one has cup sizing - a big plus in my opinion

M4769 Shirt dress that buttons down the full length

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BrownPaperPattern.blogspot.com

westmoon
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westmoon  Friend of PR
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IRELAND
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In reply to Ms. McCall <<


Date: 9/11/12 1:49 PM

Unfortunately, I have an absolute horror of wrap tops and dresses. Two reasons for this: first, I find I spend all my time worrying that they will UNwrap, which is anxiety I don't need from my clothes, but second I have a very low bust point, no matter what heavy structural engineering I wear underneath as a bra. I find wrap tops somehow really unflattering with my low bust, though it's hard to pinpoint why exactly.

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http://sewingnovice.blogspot.co.uk/
One woman. One sewing machine. One giant stack of fabric. What could possibly go wrong?

Plumm
Plumm
Intermediate
MI USA
Member since 6/11/06
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Date: 9/11/12 2:29 PM

I've found several dress patterns that might meet your requirements. You can find them on-line at the pattern company web-sites, if they haven't been reviewed at Pattern Review. Check out:
McCalls 6278 - a sheath with contrast panels
McCalls 6247 - knit coordinates with lots of options
Butterick 5554 - another dress with contrast side panels
Vogue 8805 - a nice color blocked dress.

Good luck with your search.



------
Plumm

michellep74
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michellep74  Friend of PR
Intermediate
WA USA
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Subject: Help! I dont know what dress to make Date: 9/11/12 2:31 PM

I instantly thought "shirtdress!" when I read your description.

More and more pattern companies seem to be putting out shirtdress pattern variations lately. I'd go for princess seams (shoulder if you can find them, and if you can--post the pattern here).

------
--Michelle

***
Blog: http://happilycaffeinated.blogspot.com/

2014 Fabric IN: 47.63 yards
2014 Fabric OUT: 70.5 yards
2014 Fabric Sewn: 20.5 yards
2014 Fabric Donated: 50 yards
2014 Stash patterns used: 5

Andi
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Andi
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NY USA
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In reply to westmoon <<


Date: 9/11/12 2:38 PM

How about this Christine Jonson e dress? Her patterns are for knits and go together quickly, but mostly are drafted perfectly.NAYYCJ patterns

westmoon
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westmoon  Friend of PR
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IRELAND
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Posts: 558
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In reply to michellep74 <<


Date: 9/11/12 2:44 PM

Funnily enough, one of the dresses I was half considering was this Palmer Pletsch shirtdress (McCall 5847) with shoulder princess seams. I was put off by a lot of people telling me that their designs don't tend to work as well for people with broad shoulders. Perhaps I should add it back and just expect to have to adjust for the width of my shoulders...

------
http://sewingnovice.blogspot.co.uk/
One woman. One sewing machine. One giant stack of fabric. What could possibly go wrong?

PeppermintPam

PeppermintPam  Friend of PR
Intermediate
MI USA
Member since 1/9/07
Posts: 161
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In reply to westmoon <<


Date: 9/11/12 3:14 PM

What about Vogue 8743? Sorry, I don't know how to do the links.

It is a very easy pattern, has princess seams to create curves, and has A,B,C,D cup sizing. It would show off your neck and collarbones, without being too revealing, and the skirt part would add some width to your narrow hips. Also comes in both a shorter and longer version - whichever you prefer to show off more or less of your legs and ankles.

I, too, don't like wrap tops. No use spending precious sewing time making something that I just don't like wearing, no matter how popular they are right now.

I wish you much success in your new job this fall!

ConnieBJ
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ConnieBJ  Friend of PR
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ON CANADA
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Date: 9/11/12 3:25 PM

This Vogue dress See This Review may be a little challenging for a beginner sewist, but her fit and styling is impeccable. Try emulating this style in an easier pattern. Some of the patterns mentioned before this would work well. I think a shirtdress style or a wrap style would both work well.

Have fun!

------
Connie Bontje

http://www.couturesmith.com
Twitter: Couturesmith
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Desperately trying to keep ahead of my pattern, fabric and dressform collection!

Ms. McCall
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Ms. McCall  Friend of PR
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Date: 9/11/12 3:38 PM

I see from your blog that you get Burda magazines, if you have the one from May of this year, it was a really great issue for plus sizes.

I LOVE this blouse: http://www.burdastyle.de/burda-style/heft-katalog/bluse-schluppenbluse-burda-style-05-2012_pid_624_7256.html

And this dress: http://www.burdastyle.de/burda-style/heft-katalog/kleid-blusenoptik-burda-style-05-2012_pid_624_7252.html

If you are open to a shirtdress, then there was recently a sewalong on this blog for Simplicity 1880

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BrownPaperPattern.blogspot.com

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