Here’s another dress from our feature in the newest issue of Sew Beautiful (August/September 2013, issue #149). This is the Badminton Dress, View C, with the scalloped hem and contrasting yoke, ruffles and facing just as the pattern was written. For this dress, we removed the drawstring casing at the front of the dress and replaced it with a small section of smocking.
The body of the dress is made with a natural, undyed linen printed with a subtle metallic finish (from Gray Line Linen here in New York). We used a cross-dyed yellow-orange linen (from B&J Fabrics, also here in the garment center) for the yoke, shoulder ruffle, armhole binding, and scalloped hem facing (at the inside of the dress).
I wanted a smocking design that would mimic the scalloped hem and could replace the drawstring casing. And because we wanted to retain the lines of the original pattern, we decided to keep the width of the dress at the hem the same. Smocking, on average, takes about three times the fabric that the finished smocked width (right, all you more experienced smockers?), so we cut a panel of fabric for the front dress and smocked it before cutting out the dress piece itself. The panel was at least as long as the dress’ front and quite a bit wider. Once it was smocked, we cut out the dress (eliminating the extra fullness across the front chest) and proceeded with construction as per instructions, minus the casing.
We worked a little backwards from the instructions to attach the yoke so that we could hand-stitch the yoke facing to the inside of the dress and eliminate the topstitching for a really clean finish. Otherwise this dress follows the pattern itself very closely. You can see close-ups of the smocking and details in the magazine itself.
To give you a little back story on this dress, initially I thought I wanted it smocked all the way around–front and back. Marie Grace did a beautiful job of smocking the dress for me with a scalloped smocking design we sent her. And it must have been a pretty big job, too! But when it arrived back at the studio the dress was just too full and overwhelming. I felt so bad, especially when she had done all that work. That’s when I decided I’d give it a try myself, rather than asking her to do it again. And–surprise!–I really enjoyed the process! And I had a beautiful sample to refer to as I stitched it. When I had questions I just looked at what Marie Grace had done and was able to figure it out. (As it turns out, the original, fully-smocked dress makes a darling summer night gown, too, so it wasn’t a loss at all.) So thanks, Marie Grace! And if you’d like to learn more about the process, she has a wonderful tutorial about smocking by hand right here.