Sewing the Ava Dress: Part One

Posted by on Oct 12, 2014 in Sewing | Comments Off on Sewing the Ava Dress: Part One

Sewing the Ava Dress: Part One

So we went to Mickey’s Halloween party at Disneyland, and of course I wanted to wear a costume.  But they have specific rules about when and where adults can wear costumes, and I didn’t really want to get in trouble if I went a few hours early or wanted to go across to California Adventure, so I was worried about how to manage that.  I decided the best route might be to make a dress that wouldn’t look completely out of place as day-to-day wear, but still gave a nod to a disney character.   This is referred to as “disneybounding”, a practice which started with the Disney Bound Tumblr blog of Leslie Kay.  If you’ve never seen it in action, you really should check out the Tumblr!

Anyhow, I had the pattern for Victory Patterns’ Ava dress – a dress with a sweetheart neckline and sheer yoke.  Initially I thought it might work out well for Elsa, using some aqua-polka-dotted chambray from my stash.  But ultimately I decided it might be a little bit too subtle as a costume, especially since I don’t have blond hair.  So I decided to go with Anna.   Blue skirt, black bodice, sheer aqua yoke.  I could wear the dress for the day, and when the party started I could throw on a pink cape.   Since the Ava has a vintage feel, I thought the whole dress and half-cape combination would have a bit of a pin-up/rockabilly feel.

The first thing I did was print out the pattern – which I had as a PDF – and join all the pages.  This was pretty easy to do, if time consuming.  Then I traced out all the pieces in a size 6 – the closest size to my measurements – and made up a muslin of the bodice.  WAY too big, like 4 inches of ease at waist and bust.  So I tried size 2, my ready to wear size.  Too small, particularly about the bust.  I considered just adding a small amount to the side seam allowance but the bust darts were still a bit to closely spaced, so I decided to try one more time with the size 4.  This seemed promising, particularly around the waist, with maybe an inch of ease, and the bust darts sat in the right place.

There were some fitting problems still, but mostly stuff I expected.  I have a quite narrow back, and everything always gapes around the back neckline and needs adjustment, so I wasn’t surprised to find the same with this muslin.  I had a very small amount of gaping around the front neckline as well.  The only surprise for me was the excess of fabric in the underarm area which didn’t seem to affect fit at the bust/dart location.   I’m not sure exactly why this happened.  I do have a larger cup size than the standard B, but a small under bust measurement, which may have had something to do with it.  I’m pretty new to fitting and that is definitely still outside of my bailiwick.  Fortunately, even though I couldn’t tell you why it happened, it was an easy fix!

Before fitting: (I apologize for the horrible pictures, and the dirty room, and the cat.  Well, maybe not the cat.)





After doing some research on fitting a gaping neckline, I used darts to take out 1.5 inches at either side of the upper back neckline and 1/2 inch at either side of the front neckline.  I brought the side seam in about 3/4 inches at the underarm, with no reduction in the waist.  After that I was pretty happy with the fit and the general appearance of the muslin.

After fitting:




As a note, I did add about 3 inches to the length to get the bodice to end at my natural waist instead of an empire length – I did this before the muslin you are seeing.  I also had to enlarge the neckline after taking out the triangular darts – otherwise I couldn’t get it over my head!

Next time, the fashion fabric and construction.