It's March, spring is here and my Bridgetown Backless Dress pattern is up for April's Sew My Style (#sewmystyle) Instagram challenge from Bluebird Fabrics. If you aren't aware of this challenge, it was created by Alex of Bluebird Fabrics to help raise awareness about the slow fashion movement as well as to encourage women to take up sewing. It includes sewing twelve garments in twelve months - a garment a month during 2017. Each garments respective pattern is by a different Indie designer and the styles tend to be more relaxed in fit and fairly easy to sew up. The end goal is to have a collection wardrobe at the end of the year. If you haven't signed up, you can still sew along with us and at the end of each month/garment, everyone posts their makes on Instagram #sewmystyle. It has been very inspiring and fun to watch and I am so honored that Alex included two of my patterns in the challenge. The Toaster Sweater was January's make and it was perhaps the highlight of my Sew House Seven career so far to see all of the many beautiful sweaters and tops.
In any case, I wanted to help out by offering a sewalong for the Bridgetown Backless to aid anyone who is starting out sewing. I wanted to address a few things about the fit and fabrics as well as a few other things before you get started.
The amazing Kelly Hogaboom of the Vegan Tailor blog will be conducting the sewalong again (she produced the Tea House Dress & Toaster Sweaters sewalongs). Kelly is going to do a knit version of the Bridgetown as well as an easy pattern hack into a long dress with a side slit in rayon. The sewalong will start April 1st while I am out of the country. I will be checking in and so will Kelly but it may be more sporadically so if one of us doesn't get to your questions right away, I apologize up front.
Kelly is going to show you how to pattern hack the Bridgetown into a long version with a side slit (as seen above on her daughter Phoenix). This is a very simple pattern hack as the skirt pattern is just two rectangles with straight sides so you can just extend the pattern to add the length.
Long dress pattern usage: If you are making the long version, you should check the finished garment measurements to see how much length you would like to add.
44" wide fabric - size 0 - 2 - can fit skirt patterns side by side so you only need 1 X your extra length. For sizes 4 - 20, you will need double or 2 X your added length in extra fabric.
58" wide fabric - sizes 0 - 20 (all sizes) fit side by side so you will only need your extra length of fabric.
* I noticed an error in my instructions - the cutting layout on pages 5 and 6. It should include size 20, it only says 12 - 18 and 0 - 18 but should say 12 - 20 and 0 - 20.
Bodice length: Another thing to note, I originally didn't include a bodice length measurement with my size chart. I have since added it however, if yours doesn't include it, you can see a correct version below. It reads, "back neck to waist". This measurement may be important if you have a long torso and you may want to add length to your bodice.
Adding length to your bodice:
To add length, simply cut on one of the lines indicating "increase or decrease length here" of both your FRONT BODICE and BACK BODICE pieces.
Then take a piece of paper that is wide enough for your pattern piece (either pattern paper or scrap paper) and draw a horizontal line on it. Then draw a vertical line through that horizontal line.
Line up the bottom cut half of your pattern piece so that the vertical grainline matches up to the vertical line you drew and the cut edge lines up with the horizontal line. Tape the bottom half down.Note that you will have to extend the grainline on the FRONT BODICE pattern piece.
Now decide how much length you want to add to your bodice. Draw a parallel line to the horizontal line you first drew up the amount that you plan to add to your bodice. Now line the top half of your pattern cut edge to that line and the grainline up to the vertical line. Now just blend the side edges and you are done.
The best fabrics to use: I think rayons, modals, Tencel and sand washed silks are the best options for this as they have the perfect amount of drape for the back. If you find the perfect print and it's cotton lawn or voile, that can work too although, be aware that it won't have the same draping effect and will blouson out away from the body a bit. That could be the look you are going for though.
There are options if you don't want to go braless. A while back I had a post on a long, velvet version of the Bridgetown. Here is my photo again in case you missed it. I also took an old bra that was missing a back hook and added ties made out of the same fabric as the dress. This is a good option if you still like the bare back but want to wear a bra.