Built By Wendy Dresses is a great book that includes basic patterns for three dress types: sheath, shift, and dirndl. My dress is based on the loose-fitting shift dress with front bust darts.
I started with Medium, based on my measurements, but took in the side seams a lot. I probably could have cut the Small.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. The book teaches you how to use the included Shift dress pattern as a sloper from which you make your own design.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This pattern is easy to sew and easy to wear. I am almost back to my pre-pregnancy body, but not quite, so I'm not extremely motivated to sew for myself these days. This dress, however, is stylish, comfortable and flattering without being constrictive.
I also like that the dress requires no notions for closure and only 1 yard of fabric!
If I had to be picky, I would say I dislike the lack of back shaping. I know the shift is designed to be loose, but I think a couple of darts on the back piece would look nicer. I suppose I could just add them myself!
Lightweight cotton blend. I'm guessing it's a cotton/rayon blend, but I don't really know since it has been in my mother's stash for about 15 years. It takes to pressing very well and behaved nicely during the cutting and construction process.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
To get from the basic shift to this version, I made the following modifications to the pattern:
-Eliminated the sleeves
-Narrowed the shoulders by 1"
-Drew a new neckline by removing the left shoulder of the bodice (front and back)
-Added an optional/removeable, faced tie at the right shoulder (Click here for photo.)
-The author teaches how to make your facings for the neckline and armholes, but I prefer a bias facing. I used 1/2" bias tape to finish those openings.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Oh yes! I am so proud of myself for making a pattern for a one shoulder shift dress that I will definitely make another. And now that I've gotten it to fit the way I want it, I should be able to sew up another one in no time.
I would not recommend the book to a beginner because it focuses more on pattern design modification and less on sewing fundamentals. I would recommend it to someone who knows how to sew a dress and wants to experiment with using their imagination and having a little fun with some minor drafting. The book has even given me ideas for modifying some other patterns I own.
I would love to try all 3 styles included in the book so that I have these basic slopers from which to make my own designs. Sometimes I design garments and then frankenpattern to get my desired result. And while I love the frankenpatttern as much as anyone else, I'm also having fun learning to draft a dress! I think modifying a sloper is probably a more streamlined approach.
More details on my blog: Style Me Mary