Sunday, July 17, 2016

Finished Object: Appleton Dress (The Top Version)

Another day, another batch of stuff to say about the Appleton Dress. This time it's the Appleton top hack. I thought this would be a useful opportunity for me to a) use lots o' spatial skills, as I went through every last freakin' inch of my 3 yards of fabric and b) reflect additional alterations to the pattern, after my muslin 1, dress version. And, on these accounts, my new Appleton top is a success. Not that it was outrageously exciting to create, in exactly the same fabric, after just making the original dress. But I'm getting there with the fit...

The Alterations that produced Version 2:
  • I removed a 0.5" wedge just above the waist, tapering to nothing at the side seams (swayback alteration, which works for me because it offsets length required in front bodice to cover boobs). While I was able to do this without adding in a centre back seam, my cutting options were so few that I had to cut the back in two halves or I wouldn't have had enough fabric. That's why there's a seam in this version
  • Instead of incorporating a fisheye dart (my after-the-fact fix of muslin 1, dress version, given that the back bodice was too wide, not photographed), I removed 0.75" from each side of the back bodice only.  
These seem to have improved the back fit rather a lot:

New Version!
Contrast that with the back bodice from muslin 1 (dress version). I eventually fisheye darted the dress version, below is the undarted original. The darting helped but there was still to much fabric over my derriere, as the darting centralized it all.

  • I also  added about 0.25" of extra diagonal height along the V neck bodice. I did NOT narrow the ties - I'm working with the originally-drafted width right now. An extra smidge of height does provide the perfect amount of extra coverage so that the tip of my balconette-bra centre-gores does not peek out.
  • Furthermore, I finished the right-hand side seam (the one with the tie-opening) in a different way this time: serged edges, straight-stitched the side seam, tacked down the tie opening seam allowance with a top stitch. I think it would have been smarter to zig zag the side seam, rather than straight-stitch it, but I don't love the zig zag look so I'm starting with a straight stitch. If it breaks, I'll redo it.
This is much neater than a regular serge (which leaves no seam allowance) and you can stabilize the opening by top stitching down the seam allowance.
I'm not quite done with the alterations. Next time, I'll add a bit more fabric (maybe 0.5" on either side) at the front side-seams.

Some things about the Appleton Top version (vs. the Dress):
  • The instructions for the hack direct you to cut 2 of the left-hand bodice (this is the slightly wider side / front bodice) for more coverage. I actually like this idea for making the dress verision too. It really works. The Appleton surplice is LOW. That's sexy - but it's a bit much (bust line depending) to wear when attending fancy meetings. Next time I make the dress, I'm going to do use the left-hand side pattern pieces only. Note: In addition to adding that extra bit of height on the neck-edge of the bodice (see above), this instruction took the dress from edgy to work-appropriate.
  • While I admire just about everything Cashmerette, I'm not fond of the ties-version provided with the Appleton Expansion Pack - Top Hack. I suspect they are designed to be a) distinct from those provided with the dress and b) an opp to weigh down the top (in lieu of the weight that a dress skirt would provide). Here's the thing: If you want more weight, I suggest you sew some pennies into the hem. The ties are SO heavy and so over-long that, if you make them as instructed - and sit them just under the bust, they are apt to drag down the fabric under the bust and pull at the tie opening. Let me clarify: I am using a robust jersey. A lighter one might be less problematic. But seriously, these ties use SO much fabric. I recommend you stick with the original / dress-version ties and move the opening lower than your underbust, like, to your mid-waist. As you know, I'm calling my version of this top/dress an altered "size 10". Even still, I removed 7 inches of length on each tie, from the original size 12 measurements, and the structure is too long and too heavy. That's six inches over and above my altered "size 10" tie measurement on each side.  
This pattern is an enjoyable keeper - though not a fast sew. It took me 10 hours to sew this top - almost as long as it did to sew the dress (not surprising, as the dress is simply longer, not otherwise different, than the top). The amount of time I made up in the stitching of this version, I more than lost in making the latest round of alterations. Of course, next time I'll realize the benefit (I hope).

One more thing. I'll say it again: Do not underestimate the amount of fabric you'll need to make this dress or top. I usually get away with 0.75 less fabric than recommended within the pattern instructions (because I'm short, narrow, I tend to use wide fabric, and because many patterns seem to overestimate the yardage requirement). Not this one. There are a number of pieces and this dress overlaps itself.

I guess it's clear, at this point, that I cannot turn down competition. Gillian dared me to sew this, even though I wasn't in a playful mood, and now I've got a great new dress and top! So I guess I owe her, yet again! She was, after all, my impetus for sock sewing (which I've now embraced with the power of a thousand suns).


  1. I'm glad this dare worked out for you too! I agree about the neckline - sometimes I feel like it's totally work appropriate, and other times I put it on and think it's way too low! I like how well it stays put though - I usually don't have to readjust often during the day. Have you worn either version yet?

    1. It really stays well put and I do love a low neckline. But for work, it can be tricky. And really, I go to work much more often than to the sexy events.

  2. Kristin, for your right-hand side seam, does your machine have a "lightning" stitch? (Also sometimes called narrow zig zag.) It's a zig-zag that moves more front-to-back instead of directly side-to-side. It's my go-to stitch for sewing on knits where I'm worried about a straight stitch popping and a zig-zag isn't attractive on the exterior of the seam. Maybe experiment and see if it works on your fabric, if your machine has the option.

    1. Tiffany - good question. My last machine did. This one, not sure (but it's mechanical and easy to determine). Will check next time I sew. I agree, it's prob the best choice. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. This is glorious. The fix on the back is looks much better. And this fabric is stunning!

    1. This colour would be perfect on you Evie. It's got the perfect amount of purple, blue and white.