I used the princess seam bodice of New Look 6020, and substituted New Look A6843 for a basic flared skirt because I didn’t have enough fabric for the 6 paneled skirt of the dress pattern. I made a muslin of the bodice and worked on the fit. I started with a size 14 but ended up with about 1 inch side seam allowance so the sizes must have a lot of ease. I would expect a dress with a zipper to be more fitted. For the skirt I didn’t put much thought into it and cut out the largest size, and then added 2 small pleats to fit the bodice. I changed the side zipper of the pattern to an invisible back zipper. The dress is fully lined.
This first dress is a dress of many firsts: first time inserting an invisible zipper, sewing princess seams, lining a bodice, and understitching.
I started by reading blogs of knitters who also sewed and thought I wish I could do that. Then I bought a sewing machine and hardly took it out of the box for a year. I had a fear of cutting fabric. Little by little, I have started to gain experience and knowledge. This was my fourth item of clothing sewn from scratch, and a big challenge for me.
A hot day to be outside taking photos!
I’m so glad it’s done before summer’s end.
After washing my fabric for shrinkage, I took a measurement and was surprised that it was only 42 inches by 78 inches. That’s a little over two yards when I was under the impression I had bought 3 yards. It has both selvedges so I assume this started out as a 44 or 45 inch width. That seems like a lot of shrinkage! If the fabric started out as 2 1/4 yards then it shrank 2-3 inches in both directions. When I first started buying fabric I would buy 2 yards if I had a skirt or top in mind, even though I can make a sleeveless top with 1 yard and probably some skirts as well. Three yards seems to me would be enough to make most knee length dresses. Of course, if you buy fabric especially for a particular pattern you won’t have this problem and can follow the envelope yardage requirements. But I bought some fabric willy-nilly a few years with only a vague idea of what I might use it for.
I tried laying out the pattern pieces and realized it wasn’t going to work. Although New Look 6020 can’t be made with only 2 yards, I decided to keep the princess bodice and change the 6 skirt panels of the pattern to a flared skirt with a single front and 2 back panels for a center zip. I want to make a dress with this fabric!
I am going to line with a cotton lawn. I’ve looked up how to line a sleeveless dress, and decided I’m going to use the method of leaving the side seams open on both the dress and the lining and then attaching at the neckline and armholes and turning right side out through the shoulders. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out when I come to it. I’m still tinkering with the bodice. I have a new invisible zipper foot and a 14 inch zipper, which reaches my waist.
So , although I can’t make 6020 exactly as planned with 2 yards, it should still be enough to make a dress for me.
One of my sewing goals this year is to make my first dress. New Look 6020 appeals to me with its princess seams, and flared skirt.
I bought 3 yards of this cotton fabric two years ago without a pattern in mind. I now know the fabric is called quilting cotton. At the time I didn’t know the difference between apparel fabric and cotton used for quilting, but since then I’ve read some lively discussions about the suitability of using quilting cotton for clothes. I’ll see what I think when I wear it! The pattern has a lot of seams, but the floral print should look just fine being broken up. Besides the princess seams, side seams and waist seam, the skirt has 3 panels on each side.
New Look 6020
Blue Floral Fabric
One thing that surprised me about this pattern is the placement of the zipper. It looks like a lapped zipper in the side starting a few inches below the underarm. I’ve never worn a garment with a side zip, and I intend on changing it to an invisible back zip. I did a search on changing a side zipper to a back zipper and found this interesting post by Vicki Kate Makes : Side or Back Zippers – Which Do You Prefer? I don’t like the idea of a zipper that doesn’t completely separate. I’m raising the neckline and bringing in the wide shoulders and I don’t want to struggle to put it on over my head. So I’ll have to change the facings, and cut the back in 2 pieces with a seam allowance added.
The pattern has a seam allowance of 3/8 for the princess seams. The two methods I’ve used to finish side seams are clean finish (turn and sew), and mock french seams but that might not lie flat with a princess seam. I’m wondering if I should line the bodice to keep the messy (slit and notched) unfinished seam from showing and to protect it from wear and tear.
When you first look at the pieces of a princess seam, it looks like two puzzle pieces that don’t fit together! I’m reading how to sew these odd curved seams, and I’m sure I have some fitting challenges ahead of me as well. My “muslin” will be made from a worn sheet.
What do you look for when you first take a pattern out of the envelope? Any suggestions or tips for me?