I decided that I would make myself a new birthday dress this year, but before I cut into my fancy fabric, I thought I'd better try this new-to-me pattern on a less treasured fabric first. I dug around in my stash and picked out this super bright rayon from a bunch of rayons I had waiting to be used.
I really love it! I bought the Rochester Dress from Maven Patterns after coveting it for quite a while. It's a simple silhouette -- no darts, as the neat neckline feature gathers the bodice. This neckline was the reason I was drawn to this pattern, and it turned out really well, I like it. it is a casing for a length of elastic sewn right onto the facing, which you then adjust for fit and stitch down at the shoulder seams. There are two options, either gathered right at the neckline like I chose, or you can place the elastic in a second casing sewn just below, and then there is a little ruffle created at the neckline. The extras are a back pleat and a lovely hem facing that finishes the split hem very neatly. It's a pretty easy sew, since there are no darts or closures.
The only slight difficulty I had with this pattern was with the hem facings at the side seams. There is good instruction about sewing only to the marked dot and pivoting, but I always find these kind of precise stitches hard. There were a few puckers when I turned the hem, and I had to unpick a few stitches and then press the life out of it to have a nice flat seam join. Good thing I practiced with this dress!
Before I started cutting it out, I reduced the hi-lo differential between front and back. Not a big fan of this feature in dresses for me, maybe because I'm so short -- I always feel like either the front is too short or the back too long when I try it. In my version here, the back is just a pinch longer than the front. If I make the top version I will probably leave the hi-lo as is.
This dress also has pockets. Of course! I like the pocket here, it sits in the right spot and is a good size - big enough to use but small enough not to flop around too much.
Once I tried it on I loved it! There were only a few changes to make to the pattern for the next go. I found that it was slightly too short for my preferences (covering the knee in this case) so I lengthened the skirt by 1.5". Being so short I hardly ever lengthen anything so this was new ;) And I also found that the shoulders are wider than mine -- in this version, the shoulder seam falls slightly off my shoulder. So I reduced the width of the shoulder seam by 1/2" and just blended it down to about halfway down the armscye. I didn't adjust the sleeve at all since there was a fair bit of ease in the shoulder cap to start.
I happened across a matching blue blazer at the thrift shop just after I finished this so of course I had to buy it. And then I wore it out to an art gallery opening on the following weekend. You can see one of the outdoor murals painted by a teen summer program this year behind me :) I love our local gallery and enjoyed dressing up to visit a new exhibit. Next week I'll highlight the actual birthday dress that I made after adjusting this pattern in the ways I found out about with this version.