Sewing · Vintage-Inspired

Hydrangeas – Gertie’s Princess Seam Dress

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One of the biggest perks of knowing how to sew is the ability to make beautiful dresses for my sister. She fell in love with this hydrangea print fabric when we stopped by Hancock fabrics during their closing sales last year. We purchased three yards and had just enough to squeeze out this dress. Literally, there was nothing more than a few small scraps left. The only way I managed it was due to the princess seam bodice which means multiple small pieces.

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I used the princess seam bodice, three-quarter circle skirt, and cap sleeves from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. I cut out a size 4, but it ended up being a bit snug so I had to reduce the side seam allowances to about a 1/4″. When I made the pattern up for her again, (blogged about here) I went up a size. I have found that Gertie’s patterns from her books tend to run quite small. I would recommend going up at least a size from what you think you should use. If it ends up a tad too big, you can always take it in, but if it is too small. . . You’re pretty much stuck with it unless you can fudge the seam allowances. Also, she drafts her patterns for a B cup, so if you usually have to do an FBA for normal patterns, you’ll definitely want to make that adjustment on her patterns as well.

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When I finished the skirt and had her try it on, it was just a little too short. If it was a straighter skirt rather than an almost full circle, it probably would have been just fine. Because of the fullness, it is too easy for the wind to cause less than desirable wardrobe malfunctions. To help resolve this, I also made her an underskirt from a cream taffeta I had in my stash. It matched the dress perfectly, and when she wears it underneath, it looks like a wide cream ribbon edging. My sister and I are practically the same height, right around 5′ 9″. I am maybe 1/2″ to 1″ taller than her. If you are close to the same height, you might want to consider adding a little length to this skirt pattern.

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Despite the few issues that came up during the dressmaking process, it ended up rather well! I do love how this dress turned out. It’s twirly, springy, elegant, and perfectly fitted. I quite like using Gertie’s patterns since her designs perfectly bridge the gap between modern and vintage patterns. Yes, she is heavily influenced by vintage styles, but garments made from her patterns could just as easily be styled to look more modern.

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Have a jolly day!

~Emily

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