I admit that some of the shapes I’m drawn to (including loose sack dresses) tend to evoke strong reactions. As you’re looking at these photos, chances are you either LOVE this dress or HATE it — italics included 🙂
This is the Claudia Dress from Tessuti Patterns — a simple little sundress with pockets and spaghetti straps. I saw this dress on a few different bloggers after it was released a couple of months ago, and I was among the group who LOVED the easy, loose shape. Loose sack dresses are kind of my jam in the summer time, so the overall look of this dress is right up my alley.
Executing the dress for my body was a little more complicated (read further on to see all the adjustments I made), but in the end it worked out. I’m beyond the age where I can comfortably go braless, but luckily I have a strapless I really like.
One of my favorite things about this dress is the nice, clean finish that it has from the full facing included in the pattern. Some people gripe about facings, but I love them. In fact, I love them so much that I often add them to patterns that don’t include a facing finish.
Here are my top 3 tips for sewing a beautiful facing:
Tip #1 — Stabilize
How much stabilization you need depends to a certain extent on the garment and the width of your facing piece, but there’s a good chance that you’ll want to stabilize at least part of your facing or main piece. On my Claudia dress, the pattern calls for stabilizing the edges of the main piece. This helps give the dress a little extra structure in those areas and makes the corners nice and crisp. If your pattern has a thinner facing (typically 2-3″ wide) to finish off a neckband or armhole, it probably calls for you to apply fusible interfacing to the entire facing piece. Don’t skip that step! A facing like that really needs the extra structure so that it stays on the inside of your garment rather than the outside.
Tip #2 — Understitch
We love the beautiful clean finish you get from a facing, but we DON’T want to see that facing on the outside of the garment! This is where understitching is really helpful. Understitching simply means stitching the seam allowance to the facing piece. This stitching is invisible on the outside of your garment (because you didn’t stitch the main piece, just the facing piece) and helps to ensure that the seam allowance doesn’t pull the facing to the outside.
It may not be possible to understitch your entire facing piece. That’s fine. Just understitch as much as you can, particularly in areas that may tend to flip out. The front and back neckline and under the arms are prime candidates for understitching.
Tip #3 — Secure
Last but not least, be sure to secure that facing in place! Stabilizing and understitching will help keep the facing hidden, but it’s still a good idea to secure it. my favorite way to secure a facing, and what I did on this dress, is to stitch it down along the side seams. To do that, I bust out my handy-dandy #10 Bernina edgestitching foot and stitch in the ditch down the side seam to the bottom of the facing. That keeps everything in place and also makes my garment easier to put on.
TESSUTI CLAUDIA DRESS
Claudia is an easy-to-wear pull-on sundress featuring spaghetti straps and stitched-down side pockets. It is midi length, hitting around the mid-calf.
My Body Measurements
My current measurements are: Bust 36″; Waist 29″; Hip 39″. I started lifting heavy weights a few months ago, and gained 2″ in my upper bust since that time, which has turned me from a C sewing cup into an A sewing cup. I’m still figuring out how to fit this body!
I made a M in this pattern, and I admit that I probably should size down. My measurements put me in between a S and a M, with my upper bust in the M, so that’s what I made. I like the extra width in the waist and hips, but the bust was a hot mess when I first finished it. I did a little unpicking, removed 3″ from the bust area, and then it was all good.
Pattern Alterations or Design Changes
I made a number of fitting alterations to this pattern to make it work for me. First, I could tell from the paper pattern that it was going to be way too long. I love a loose sack dress, but I prefer not to look like I’m actually wearing a potato sack. To address the length, I shortened the front and back by 4″.
Next, after I got the dress mostly finished and could put it on, I could tell that the bust dart was way too low and that I needed to shorten the bodice by quite a bit. Luckily with the way the dress is constructed, I was able to just chop off 1.5″ from the top of the bodice. The bodice is a little wider at the top than I’d like it to be, but it worked.
Then I had to address the bust. Like I said above, when I tried on the finished dress, the bust was just a mess. It was definitely too wide and gaping like crazy. nothing like the nice sleek bust in the product photo. So I walked away for the night, and then the next day got out my seam ripper. I ripped open the facing seam around the side seams and removed a total of 3″ from the bust area, tapering to nothing at the waist. It fits much better now.
Finally the straps. They were comically long. I ended up removing 6″ of length from the straps. I probably overdid it a bit, and really only needed to remove 5″. Still, they fit much better now and the dart is where it’s supposed to be.
This sounds like a lot of adjusting, but all of these adjustments are completely foreseeable for my body.
The instructions are pretty decent. There were a couple of places in the pocket construction where I got a little confused, but I was able to figure it out and fix it with no issues. Overall I have no complaints.
- The pocket construction is really nice and I like the finished look. I also really like that these inseam pockets are nicely secured down rather than flapping all over inside my dress.
- The loose shape makes this dress really comfortable. Made up in a linen like this, it will be great for hot summer days.
- The hem is really nice. It’s drafted with a mitred corner, and the finish is beautiful. (Stay tuned for a tutorial on this style of hem coming in the next few weeks!).
- The straps really should be shorter. I am short above the bust, but not THAT short. The fact that I had to remove 1.5″ from the bodice AND 6″ from the straps is a little ridiculous. As drafted, the top of the bodice would have been down near my waist.
- The darts are little short. It is a loose dress, but the tips of those darts come nowhere near my bust apex.
To be honest, I was a little unsure when I first made this dress. I was pleased with how this dress fits, and it’s definitely comfortable, but I thought it may have strayed a bit too far into “man-repelling sack dress” territory. But after I styled it up, it’s official — I love it. It’s really comfortable and just my style. I can’t ask for more!
Ok, so give it to me — do you love it or hate it?