It’s quite incredible to me that I managed to sew anything this month in between all my obsessive Olympics-watching, gasping and cheering. Sometimes I wish the Olympics was on ALL the time, and other times I’m so grateful on behalf of my productivity that it’s not. Anyway, in the productivity versus watching-all-the-cycling battle I’m pleased to say productivity just about came out on top and this beaut of a dress is the result. It’s my first make as part of the Simple Sew blogging team (woop!). The Bardot Dress really is a simple sew, so of course I had to complicate matters with a broderie anglaise overlay. The broderie anglaise came courtesy of the wonderful White Tree fabrics, and I used a Paul Smith navy poplin from Fabrics Galore for the base fabric. I did spend a bit of time figuring the ins and outs of adding this overlay, so thought I would share my tips and tricks with you below.
First things first, when cutting – should you wish to use the scalloped edge of your broderie anglaise for the hem of the skirt you can simply align the skirt pieces to the bottom and omit the upwards curve of the hemline by continuing the side seam to the scallops. (Beware: this works because the Bardot skirt loses a lot of its flare once pleated; it wouldn’t work on a more flared skirt.) Don’t forget if you’re doing this to check in advance the length you wish the skirt to be; you can see I’ve ignored the hem allowance of the skirt pattern piece with this placement as I wanted a slightly longer skirt length, but you may want to remove the hem allowance from your pattern piece before cutting.
The Bardot dress comes with two sleeve options: cap or mid-length. The cap would be impossible to cut with a scalloped edge, but the mid-length sleeve has a straight hemline which is just begging for scallops (now there’s an odd phrase). You can use the full length of the pattern piece or do as I did and shorten it like so:
I cut the pieces identically out of the navy poplin, with the exception of the sleeves as I wanted those to be a single layer only. I cut the poplin skirt to the same length as the broderie anglaise even though I knew I wanted it shorter, so I could adjust the difference at the hemming stage. Once you have cut your pieces it’s time to tackle those pleats and darts. You’ll want to treat the two fabrics as one at this point, so no seam allowance shows through your outer layer. The trick to this is pins, pins, pins (you could even run lines of long tacking stitches at criss-crosses across the pieces if your fabrics are particularly shifty).
Your darts and pleats should come out looking like this:
Stitch the sleeve pieces to the bodice and press the seams to the inside of the bodice, out of sight.
It’s helpful to adjust the construction order of the dress at this point to accommodate your overlay. Instead of stitching the skirt panels to the bodice panels and then doing the long side seams, stitch the bodice sides and the skirt sides separately. This enables you to finish the skirt pieces as two separate layers, which gives the skirt more movement and frees up the underskirt for hemming. The outer and under skirt pieces are already attached at the pleats, so you just need to keep them separate as you sew up the independent side seams. Don’t forget you want both seams (underskirt and overlay) facing the same direction, so right sides together in both cases. Use the pleats to guide you if things get confusing!
After finishing and pressing your seams, it’s helpful to do a basting stitch all along the skirt waistline to hold the two skirts together, being sure to match the seams. Then you are ready to pin the skirt to the bodice, matching the darts to the pleats and side seam to side seam. You’ll be sewing through four layers of fabric here, and even more at the darts etc.
All that’s remains to do now is insert the zip and hem the underskirt! You’ll once again treat the two fabrics as one when it comes to the zip insertion. If you wish to add a ribbon waistband as I did, stitch this on before you insert your zip so the ends are sealed inside.
Below the zip you can then return to independent seams for the under and outer skirts. Finally, I hemmed my navy underskirt a good few inches higher than the hem of the broderie anglaise.
Eh, voila! Adding an overlay to a dress is as simple as that! The Bardot Dress is perfect for showcasing such dainty fabric and I feel positively Kate Middleton-esque in the white and navy combo. (Except I’m not sure Kate Middleton flashes quite so much shoulder!) Anyhoo I even created a little garden tea party on our terrace in this dress’s honour, because who needs to go out to dress up…
As always, I hope you’ve found this useful/inspiring and if you have any questions or comments would love to hear from you below! x