Fit for a (Military) Ball

One of my neighbors contacted me a couple weeks ago, one Saturday afternoon. She asked me if I could make her a custom dress by Wednesday! At first I was thinking… I am not sure if that’s possible given my other obligations at home. But she wanted something simple that fit her, was maxi length and hid her tummy (who doesn’t want to hide their tummy). Simple was doable.

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I first recommended the Bella Sunshine Sahara Dress. She asked if I could make in to separates. While I could, it didn’t seem like something she wanted. Kept searching my pattern library and found the Love Notions Cadence Dress. We had a winner! Maxi length with sheer bishop sleeves.

Cadence Top and Dress sewing pattern

The fabric of choice was a black brocade fabric with red and purple flowers, with black chiffon for the sleeves.

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The pattern wasn’t printed yet an I knew the maxi length was going to be A LOT of taping. I waited until Sunday night and sent it to a local print shop to pick up Monday morning when they opened.

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Monday was pure modifying the pattern day. The pattern is drafted for a height of 5’5″. I needed 6’1″. And, the bodice area needed to be shorten since most of my neighbor’s height is in the legs. I moved the bust dart up 2 inches and shortened the height from shoulders to bust love by 2 inches. Bust to waist was also shorten by 1.5 inches.

Next was the task of adding height below the waist. I cut the pattern at hip and knee. Added height in both places; then again at the hem.

There was also the task of hiding the tummy. I remembered reading about modifying a pencil skirt so that it has space for a belly. The way to do is to hold something long and flat (like a ruler) against the belly. Then take measurements of the hip around the ruler. This allows ample room in the pattern for a belly. I graded between suitcases based on waist and the new hip measurement. To test all of it, I quickly sewed a muslin and had my neighbor come by Monday night to try it on. Everything fit very well! There were minor adjustments at the front armsyce that I transferred to the traced pattern but it was looking promising!

Enter Tuesday morning. I thought I might have this mostly done in one day. I laid out the front piece on the fold and started to lay down the back piece and realized there was NOT ENOUGH FABRIC! 😱 I tried every thing from repositioning the pieces to calling three closest Joann’s to see if they had more of the fabric. I was 5/8 of an inch short but would need another 2 yards to pull it off properly. No luck in any solution so I tried hacking off inches to make a shorter dress. We had discussed this possibility so I had a shorter length already listed. But I would need to remove more than agreed upon. So I finally called her up and explained the situation. The knee length was a no go, and we had another fabric put away but it was too busy for this dress pattern.

After a while of thinking, I came up with rotating the pattern pieces so they lay selvage to selvage, instead of on the grain. I was very skeptical at first. But after trying to stretch the fabric in both directions I realized that there was virtually no stretch in either direction.

After sewing up the front and back pieces, we did another fitting. Had to shave off some more from the armsyce but other than that it was looking good. Here is the neckline facing; had to tack it down with a blind hem, even after understitching.

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My plan was to serge all the seam allowances and be done with. But the fabric was just pulling off where I serged it. Plan B – single fold bias tape to do hong kong finish to AAAALLL seams! That in itself took 2 hours to do.

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The bishop sleeves were made from a sheer chiffon, and I added a band of the brocade fabric at the wrist to tie it in to the dress. Bias tape on the seams here as well.

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The last touch was to add a hem border. The reverse side of the fabric was pink, which contrasted nicely with the black. We weren’t worried about it making her look shorter since she is tall anyway.

Here are all the pretty insides!

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The pattern itself is very well done and led nicely to what we were looking for in this dress. I would like to make a dress from this pattern for myself in the future!

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My neighbor was happy to have something unique and that fit her so well. Definitely a confidence booster. Up until now, I have only sewn one other garment for someone other than my daughter, husband, or myself.

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Pattern Info:
Pattern Name: Love Notions Cadence Dress
Size: XL for top graded to XXL
Modifications:
  – Shortened length between bust and waist
– Added length below waist, hip, knee, and hem
Would I recommend it? Definitely! The right fabric will dress it up or down as needed.

(Some links contained in this post may be affiliate links. I was not compensated for this post.)

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