After several requests from my daughter for me to copy one of her favourite dresses I was excited to see the launch of the new True Bias pattern for the ‘Shelby’ dress and romper because as soon as I spotted it I knew it was close enough to the beloved dress to help me replicate it without resorting to having to learn how to make a copy. www.truebias.com
I think Kate from The Fold Line www.thefoldline.com suggested in her vlog last weekend that it had an 80’s vibe to it and as Abi my daughter is an avid 80’s and 90’s music fan this retro look was perfect for her! The dress looked simple enough to sew and could easily be made for both casual and more formal wear. It was enough for me to press ‘add to cart’ immediately and download the PDF. I am not a great lover of sticking A4 sheets together unless there are only a few so it was off to the trusted local printers for my AO copy and we were good to go. I always find True Bias patterns rather generous in their sizing so after accurately measuring Abi opted for the size 6 as the closest to her upper body, although I would say she is usually a good UK size 10 but these are a US sizing. The top of the dress/romper pattern is quite fitted but the skirt looked full enough to cover her hips regardless of the size I chose so I didn’t bother with matching that part. We opted for version ‘A’ the short/mini dress option.
Because it was new pattern for me and True Bias had said it was an ‘intermediate’ level pattern, I decided on a summery lightweight cotton lawn to sew it in as it is stable enough to make the sewing easier but still has that drape and flow you need in a summer dress. We had just had a delivery of some lovely Lady McElroy cotton lawns and the summery blue one with white hearts was a fabric choice I knew I could make and my daughter would like! To complement the fabric the small pearlescent Whim Wham buttons we had in stock were a no brainer.
I was quite surprised how many pieces there were to cut out but that’s what gives this dress it’s shape and style. The part of every project I hate is the prep work of tracing the pattern off the sheets, then cutting fabric and marking the pattern notches etc. I am easily bored. Friday night was set aside for this task so that Saturday it was all about the sew. It was great to see that the fabric requirements were pretty accurate too as I hate wasting fabric.
The pattern came together relatively easily and is straightforward although there were a couple of areas that needed concentration, especially joining all the separate panels together and the bust shaping as there are no darts in this pattern but you have to be careful getting the curves just right and aligned. Sewing on the facing also requires some precision too.
As always the True Bias pattern instructions are really clear and take you step by step through the process. Some indie pattern company’s instructions can still leave me scratching my head wondering what they want me to do but this wasn’t one of them, although I did notice that they use the word ‘wrong’ sides together instead of ‘right’ for the tie construction. The diagram was right though and logic said to me that they needed to be sewn inside out and then pulled through.
Before I added the facing and the sleeves there was a quick fitting to check that the size was right and that no adjustments had to be made. Even though this was a size 8 I think when I sew this again I would potentially downsize as it was roomy but the ties at the centre back helped to offset any excess and we decided to go ahead and finish it off.
The skirt is really flippy and flares out from the waist so it’s great if you want to disguise a traditional pear shape and would look good most body shapes. Abi is 5ft 8 and the hem line is quite high with not a lot of hem allowance in the pattern, fine for a 23 year-old but maybe something to consider if you want to show less leg! I can also predict a bit of a ‘Marilyn Monroe’ event if its windy too. Wear good knickers ladies!
A good press and it was ready to add the buttons. I have to say here that buttonholes are one of those tasks that I have a bit of a phobia about. Silly I know but it always feels that you are at the last stage and a mucked up buttonhole could spoil the whole garment. I have had a couple of bad experiences with them so I am trying to overcome this by grasping the nettle, taking a deep (and sometimes shaky) breath, and choosing to sew more patterns with buttonholes. I am also slightly obsessed with how brilliant the SimFlex buttonhole expanding gauge is at helping you get the right placement too. It’s a game changer and I love a sewing gadget that makes life easier!
I have a similar issue anxiety issues with concealed zips so I am going to one of our dressmaking technical classes later this month to master them once and for all!
These pretty buttons finished this dress off beautifully and the final result is one that both mother and daughter are happy with (quite an unusual state of affairs it has to be said!) Me because it was a satisfying sew and one of those rare occasions when a pattern turns out just the way you wanted it too (and I didn’t have to use my un-picker once) and for Abi because she had something to wear to a friend’s BBQ which was unique and it hadn’t cost her a penny. The fit is good, although I still might grade the top down a bit next time, and the tie at the back helps to give a defined shape with all the panels creating a super twirly skirt.
Now all we need is the right weather to wear a thin and short cotton summer dress. It is still chilly here in Cornwall despite it being June, and as I write this the predicted heatwave has still not arrived.
The fabric is lovely and so easy to sew with. The long culottes version is on my to do list for her now but I think I will use some viscose crepe for better drape on the culottes. It is certainly a pattern I think I will be able to use again and again so thank you True Bias.