My Deer and Doe Belladone Dress

I’m playing catch up with my blog posts again, this is one I made way back at the beginning of July. I’d been making an effort to get on with projects that have been left on the back burner for one reason or another. Top of the list was a Deer and Doe Belladone dress. I made a wearable muslin in January last year which turned out to be unwearable. The main problem was cutting a post-Christmas dress using my pre-Christmas measurements resulting in a general all round tightness (I chopped the bodice off the dress and got a wearable skirt out of it so all was not lost)

Luckily I’d had the foresight to make a list of what changes I needed to make (thank you past Helen!) I really love the design, the cut out back is unusual and it’s got a great silhouette. The skirt is slightly A-line with diagonal pockets and a couple of little pleats (basically my favourite type of skirt)

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The fabric is a cotton poplin, yet more from my Fabworks bundle win. One of the great things I remembered about the Belladone was being able to squeeze it out of a metre and a half of fabric.

My current measurements are 42-35-42 which is an inch or two above the biggest size (41-33-43) I’ll just list what I did to make it easier to read:

  • Cut a size 44 through the shoulders and back grading up to a 46 through the bust, waist and hips (I usually cut a size smaller as I have a relatively narrow back and shoulders in relation to my bust)
  • Did a 2 inch full bust adjustment
  • Shortened the bodice by an inch
  • Added two inches to the waist
  • Pinched out a 1 cm wedge from both of the back cut out pieces (there was a bit of a gape before, pinching this bit out helped it lay flat)
  • Brought the shoulders in by an inch (not a fitting issue, just personal preference)
  • I think I may have cut the smallest size along the hem, just a lazy way of shortening the skirt!

This time I made a muslin of the bodice before cutting into the good stuff and all my tweaks seemed to have worked.  I cheated a bit and cut the whole dress out with my scalloped pinking shears (from eBay, search ‘scalloped pinking scissors’) Finishing the seams before sewing saves so much time!

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I had planned on using a contrast navy binding, I had two metres which seemed like enough but after pinning it on I realised I’d run out halfway through the second armhole so resorted to plan B and used a less contrasting china blue instead (my plan for contrast piping on the waistband also went out the window, need to remember next time that I need three times as much binding)  I omitted the hem facing and used some ‘rainbow’ blue bias binding instead (also from eBay)

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As with all Deer and Doe patterns the dress came together surprisingly quickly. I must admit to being a bit of a Deer and Doe fangirl, their patterns have some lovely design features and the drafting is very good. I’ve never had a bad experience and they are always a dream to sew.

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I’m incredibly pleased with the finished dress, the fit is very nearly there. I think for my next one I could add an extra inch to the full bust adjustment. There’s also some pulling on the back so I’ll try cutting a 46 next. I really love the skirt though, it’s very similar to the tweaked Peony I have used before, technically an A-line but not so sticky outy as some patterns. I also love the little pleats at the waist and would like to use that part of the pattern for some Autumn skirts.

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Speaking of Autumn I can’t believe it’s September already! I should be able to get more wear out of the Belladone as I can wear it with tights and a cardigan (and possible a long sleeved top underneath for extra warmth) I’ve got a very autumny length of fabric in the stash that I bought specifically to make a cold weather Belladone (it’s a sort of bronzey brown with dark red flowers on it) hopefully I can fit it in while it’s still seasonally appropriate!

I’m actually looking forward to getting back into the old routine, I haven’t had as much time to sew as I’d have liked over the summer. The nights drawing in doesn’t seem so bad when I get a bit more time to sew in the evenings. The prospect of having to put all my summer clothes away ‘til next year is a bit sad, but then getting the winter ones out is quite exciting as there’s always things I’d forgotten I had! I’ve also just got a stash of winter fabric down from the loft, again there were things I’d forgotten about so it was like going fabric shopping for free! While we’re on the topic of fabric shopping I’m off to SewBrum again on the 24th September, this time I’m going to make a concerted effort to restrain myself and focus on finding things I need (yeah right!) I’ll be taking a couple of extra bags though, just in case I ‘need’ more than I think I do!

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My Autumn/Winter sewing and knitting plans

My sewing has been in the doldrums recently, I just can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm to start a new project. I think this is a tricky time of year, in the spring I can’t wait to get started on some Summer dresses but now, well I’m more than a little apprehensive about the dark nights and cold Winter days that lay before me. I decided that while I didn’t feel like doing any actual sewing I should spend my time planning and getting organised. I have put together a list of projects and have not only got the patterns but the fabric and all the notions to go with them. So I have no excuse, if I publish my list here then I’ll just have to get on with it! I really want to try and concentrate on getting the fit right with my makes so have decided to make at least two versions of each pattern, using the first as a wearable muslin before cutting into my more loved fabrics!

I’ve been meaning to try some Deer and Doe patterns for a while, the patterns are drafted with an hourglass figure in mind and so offer the prospect of being a good fit for me. I tried their free Plantain long sleeved tee pattern when it came out at the beginning of the year. I loved it so much I made three which were in constant rotation before I had to change it up for me made May. It’s one of those patterns that looks very simple but seems to be drafted by fairies, it fits perfectly around the shoulders and bust and then gently flares skimming the waist and hips (and in the process hiding any wobbly bits!) I’m planning on making at least two more of these and have this stripey knit and soft duck egg blue jersey as the first contenders.

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I have also realised that I could use another basic skirt pattern in my wardrobe and love the inverted pleats of the Chardon. I’ve had this purple cotton in my stash for a while, meaning to make another Kelly skirt which never happened. I will use this first as a wearable muslin before cutting into this leafy green cotton that I got while on holiday.

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I’ve seen so many Belladones around the blogesphere and have wanted to try it for ages. Although it is a sleeveless dress I’m hoping to be able to wear it layered up with a long sleeved tee, cardigan and wooly tights. I’m going to make it up first in this Navy cotton twill (both fabrics are darker in reality!) I think I will actually muslin the bodice before, a rare occurrence for me! Once I get the fit right I’ll give this Autumn flower fabric a go.

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The Lady Skater was something that I planned to do last year but never got around to. I bought this purple Ponte Roma for it (it’s darker than the picture shows, as are all the other pictures!) but it kept getting bumped down the list and before I knew it Spring was here and it was flowery dress time! I’ve since found this heavy denim blue knit so I’m hoping to have a couple of work horse knit dresses to see me through the colder months.

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I’ve made Simplicity 2444 once before, the fit was nearly spot on but I had a slight hunchback thing going on with the zip. I hadn’t made any adjustments and should really have shortened the bodice to take my short waistedness into account. It’s such a great pattern and I love how the diagonal waist darts mirror the pleats in the skirt. I’ve been putting this off but I think with a couple of tweaks this could become a TNT dress pattern. I bought this grey cotton well over a year ago with no particular plan in mind. The flowers have a velvety nap to them and I think it will lend itself well to an Autumn/Winter dress. I’ve also just recently got this purple tartan (I’m a sucker for tartan!) and in my head I think it might work well with those darts, it could turn out to be a disaster in reality but I’m willing to take the gamble!

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So that is my current plan, I’m going to try and focus and not get distracted by other new patterns but since I’ve drawn up my list Deer and Doe have released the Bruyere shirt! I haven’t got any fabric for this yet but really want to try and squeeze it in somewhere!

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My knitting plans are a little easier and more practical. I will be needing a new hat and really like the look of the Wiksten Jul hat:

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I’ll be needing some arm warmers to go with it and have a couple of options:

The Kumara arm warmers:

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Or possibly these slouchy gauntlets:

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And finally I’m planning to knit Kate Davies’ Owl sweater because it’s cute and will make me happy when I’m wearing it!

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So that’s the plan, I’ve decided to start with the Grey Simplicity as I really want a new dress to wear and hopefully I won’t have to do much to get the fit right!

What projects do you have in the pipeline for the Autumn?