Erica’s Sis Boom Rebecca Dress Journal

This post is part of the Sis Boom Rebecca Dress Sew Along! For complete details, click here!

Today’s guest post is from my friend, Erica. She really is a whiz at creative dress thinking, and today she is sharing her process of making the Sis Boom Rebecca Dress!

Thanks, Sara for inviting me to participate in the Sew Along for the Sis Boom Rebecca dress!  Sara has been my internet sewing buddy and cheerleader since I first started sewing, and I am grateful for her encouragement, and glad to have this opportunity to give back!  A little background about me – I’m a full-time working mom of 2, who purchased my sewing machine in October of 2011 to make some Halloween costumes, so I’ve been at this a little more than a year.  I usually post my completed projects to my Pinterest board, so you can check them out here:  I’m writing this post like a journal so you can get an idea of how I paced myself for the project.

Monday, November 5, 2012
Today I obtained my pattern.  It’s different from my usual style, but I like it and am excited.  I looked on Google images for other examples of Rebecca dresses people have made, and pinned some for inspiration.  This will only be my second dress from a pattern ever (3rd if you count my necktie dress)! 
I began searching for fabric on, and once I saw this combination, I knew it would be my choice and I had to have it!  I chose Print & Pattern, Boys Toys, Click Camera in Pepper, and Robin Zingone for Robert Kaufman, Flirty Flowers, Plot Black.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
After an inventory question trying to order my fabric last night, I anxiously awaited the opening of the store on the West Coast, and placed my fabric order this morning.  Now I just have to try not to stare at it and obsess over it all day!
After the kids were in bed, I confirmed my size and measurements.  All measurements fall within a size 10, so I printed the pattern & cut it while watching the election results.  This took about 45 min.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Tonight, I taped the pieces of the pattern together.  At first I was unsure of a pdf pattern and thought the cutting and taping would be a lot of work.  Consider me a convert!  I loved how easily the pieces lined up with the shaded areas, I loved that the paper is thicker and easier to work with than tissue, I loved that I only had to work with my size, and I love that I can always reprint in my size or any other!  This process took about 30 min while watching TV
My other project for tonight was to study the instructions for the contrasting neckline facing part of the pattern.  I find that if I can visualize my project beforehand, it comes together much easier.  After playing with my paper pieces, I realized it’s the same as an inside facing.  You sew 2 pieces together at the neckline, and then instead of turning to the inside, you turn to the outside and top stitch the top and bottom of the facing to the garment (reminds me of appliqué). So the top of the neckline seam is created like when you sew pieces right sides together and flip, and the bottom part is turned under once, and then sewn onto the dress. Clear as mud, right? 😉
Thursday, November 8, 2012
My fabric arrived when I came home from work for lunch!  I did a quick wash and put in the dryer before heading back to work so I wouldn’t lose a day from washing. 
This evening, I cut my fabric.  I re-read the sizing chart, and decided on a petite bodice with 35” length.  I ended up “fussy cutting”, as Sara calls it.  I let my seam allowances go into the selvage b/c they won’t show, and ended up using only 1 yard.  Now I can make a matching bag!  My only food for thought would have been to maybe center the pattern of my fabric in the front center bodice, but I’m happy with the results.  For the contrast, when they say “cut on the fold”, this doesn’t have to mean fold in half.  This allowed me to use the extra fabric for contrasting arm binding.  Cutting took 2 hours, as I took my time while watching TV. 
Friday, November 9, 2012
Tonight, I stopped by Joann with a fabric scrap in hand on the way home to get a matching zipper and thread.  Then, I assembled the bodice and neck facing.  The only instructions I didn’t follow were for binding the armholes before sewing the bodice side pieces.  This is because I sometimes need bust darts.  Here’s a photo of the contrasting neckline facing going in.  You can see it being sewn on the “wrong side”.  I spent about 2.5 hours sewing this evening.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Today I sewed the bodice, belt, and skirt together, and inserted my zipper.  I substituted an invisible zipper.  I tried on the dress, and have to shorten the back bodice, take in the princess seams by the armholes, and figure out how to do a box pleat with contrast below the zipper on the skirt so that I can sit down!  I use an invisible zipper foot, and instead of pressing the teeth out of the way with an iron, I use my finger to move the teeth as it feeds into the machine.
Sunday, November 11 – Thursday, November 15 – sewing time off – work week!
Friday, November 15, 2012
Tonight, I spent about 2 hours fussing with shortening the back bodice (ripping, aligning, sewing).  I basically had to grade it and couldn’t shorten it as much as I would have liked (it needed 2 inches in the back, and the front was fine).  Cutting a size up on the belt and skirt probably would have helped with this.  I also cut my arm facing, and used my bias tape maker and iron to create single fold bias tape, and then my iron and pins to create the double-fold bias tape needed.  I finished one arm and went to bed.  Total time was about 3-3.5 hours.
Saturday, November 16, 2012
I finished the other armhole, and went to work on figuring out how to do the box pleat on my skirt.  I Googled it, and decided to cut a piece of fabric 5 inches wide, with a length from the hem to the bottom of my zipper.  I pinned it to both sides of the skirt it was supposed to go between, right sides facing, and sewed it in.  Here’s a picture of the pinning, so you get an idea of where and how I was working. 
Here are links to the three tutorials I found most helpful on understanding box pleats with contrast.
After getting my piece sewn in, I followed the tutorials to iron my pleat.  Then, I sewed down my zipper tail to the seam allowance, including the pleat, as shown in the next photo.
The finished product is a little shorter than I’d anticipated, and while I could have added a contrasting band to the hem, I opted to keep the shorter length, and zig-zagged the bottom with a slim hem instead.  Total time tonight – approx. 2-3 hours.  And I’m all done!
I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out.  I think the front is great, and my box pleat is both functional (I can sit in the dress) and an interesting design feature.  The back bodice fit is not my favorite feature (it bunches a little despite my attempted alterations), but I like the rest enough, so I can live with it.
A final note on sizing – the pattern says it runs true to off the shelf size.  I’m a 6 or 8 in off the shelf, and when my measurements said I should cut a 10, I didn’t question it.  I only measured my body.  It would have been nice to also measure a well-fitting dress and use that chart, too.  I also could have measured the pattern pieces and compared them to an existing dress.  Or, to be safe, I could have cut a size up, as it’s easier to take in than have a finished product that’s too tight.  The pattern says it’s fitted, but I’d say it runs on the tight side of fitted.  Also, the waist didn’t turn out to be a drop waist.  It hits more at my natural waist, but I don’t mind as it’s equally flattering.  The length was on the shorter side (as previously mentioned), but I guess that’s the consequence of basing the length off of a diagram of knees (although I have to say that is the coolest diagram ever!!!).  I’m an Engineer, I should know better!  Next time, I’ll measure and be more precise. 🙂
I can’t wait to see what everyone else comes up with!
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