The Boatneck Dress

I bought Gertie’s Jiffy Dress book back at the outset of the lockdown in March 2020 when I started dressmaking. It was this book which pretty much taught me everything I know about basic sewing. I previously made this pattern when I wasn’t all that attune to making alterations and perfecting the fit so I thought the time had come to revisit the pattern and apply what I have learned over the last year.

I decided to use this beautiful red tartan which I bought from Simply Fabrics (it wouldn’t have been Christmas without a new tartan dress). This fabric washes and handles really well; it still has a lot of drape despite being quite heavy – it’s 100% cotton; for this reason and to ensure the bodice was well structured I deviated from the pattern and lined the bodice rather than just using a facing.

After making the adjustments, this was a simple sew; it can be sewed up in under two hours. Sewing itself is, after all, the easy part. It’s the hours (sometimes days) of toiling and pattern adjusting where all the real work happens – that’s what people don’t see when they ask you to run off a quick dress for them!

In terms of adjustments made from the last time I made this pattern, I made the following changes:

  1. I downsized the bodice and did a 1.5” Full Bust Adjusment
  2. I lifted the bust darts by 0.5”
  3. I did a narrow shoulder adjustment
  4. Instead of grading out the pattern at the waist after downsizing, I took 0.25” off the waist seam allowance and graded accordingly from the bust
  5. I performed a full bicep adjustment on the sleeves – this was always my real problem area when buying RTW fashion and it’s such a simple fix when sewing my own garments
  6. I fully lined the bodice instead of using the facing pieces (which adds a bit of hand stitching – as I do not like stitching in the ditch – which is laborious but so worth it)
  7. I moved the zip from the back to the side of the dress so that the scooped back would be perfectly even. It is intended to have a lapped zipper which is really the best kind for fitted garments as it lends more strength to your zip which helps the garment last longer.

I love a boatneck neckline and it is even more satisfying now that I have made the adjustments that there is no gaping in either the back or front necklines. It’s such a classic style, with a gathered skirt (although you could change this up to any skirt you wished), and can be worn for pretty much any occasion. I actually made my skirt as full as the width of this fabric (x2) so it’s quite full but, again, this is a matter of preference.

I love this dress and now that I have made significant modifications to the pattern, I’ll make it again in the future – that’s half the appeal of investing time in the toiling process – you end up with a pattern you can pick up knowing you’ll love the results (not to mention it’s great when you want a quick sew).

Also, I love how well it goes with my poinsettia brooch / headpiece.

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