Deer and Doe Belladone dress in Scuba fabric

Deer and Doe Belladone dress in Scuba knit fabric

I am now officially sorted for New Year's Eve (well, what I'm wearing, nowhere booked yet). I have had the Belladone pattern cut out and ready to sew with since June....the only problem was I couldn't find the right fabric for it. Really, I wanted what was on the model on the Deer and Doe website, but haven't found anything close to it. Everything I did find that I thought might have enough structure for the skirt looked like I would be wearing a pair of curtains. That was until I was window shopping in a high end high street retailer, and noticed that a lot of their skater dresses were stretch fabrics....and of course I thought...'I'm not going to buy that, I can make it!'

Fabric


The Belladone dress is meant for woven fabrics. Scuba fabric is a stretchy knit fabric and wouldn't normally be featured in the suggested list. however, it is quite a sturdy knit fabric and doesn't have a huge amount of stretch. I had seen other dressmakers get away with using scuba in other woven patterns and thought it could be managed here. The fabric itself is a navy based floral from Sew Essential for £15 per metre. The colours are gorgeous and I had originally intended it for a McCall's 7531 bodycon style dress, but had been holding off as it could be quite similar to one of my Phase Eight dresses.

sewing with scuba fabric

It was the first time I had used scuba fabric so I'll try to describe it a little better for anyone else who hasn't before. It is a little heavier than ponte roma, and doesn't have a lot of drape, but does have some bounce back when you fold it. I cut mine out on the fold using a rotary cutter which was fine but probably should have been done on a single layer. Theoretically it could have gone through the serger too, but I didn't have matching thread to hand for this machine, and used my regular one instead. However, I did use my walking foot to make sure I wasn't stretching anything unevenly, and used a ballpoint needle along with a zig zag stitch. I had no problems with sewing and even the parts I had to unpick recovered fairly well (though I wouldn't count on it). Scuba edges don't need finishing because they don't fray, which is always a time saving plus for me! Pattern marking were easier too - I used washable pen on the reverse.


Pattern and Instructions

The Belladone dress is available from Deer and Doe patterns in pdf and printed versions. This is the first time I had used this company and was looking forward to it, having heard that they draft their patterns for an hourglass shaped figure. This dress makes a feature of this kind of figure, being cinched in at the waist with an A line skirt flaring out underneath. The bodice is sleeveless, with Version A having a cutout back. Version B is a closed back. Both versions have pockets too.

Deer and Doe Belladone dress pattern review

 The instructions are printed in two booklets; one English and one French. The pattern itself is multi-sized on paper, rather than tissue. Only the pocket piece needs tracing off separately. The instruction booklet has clear instructions and diagrams. I found it easy to follow along with and that the construction was not too complicated. That said, I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner. Some experience with zips, darts and bias tape would be needed first. This was also the first pattern I had that used a facing for the hem instead of a turn.

Also good to know...the darts and pleats either side of the waistband match up beautifully.

Alterations

I cut a size 40 to start with, knowing that I would be adjusting for a knit fabric. At the cutting stage I also left off the pockets, which meant that I had to trace an extended front skirt panel (just matching up the pocket facing to where it would be sewn to). I also chose to leave off the hem facings, figuring a turned hem would have less bulk. I just about got this out of 1.5m of fabric...and this included cutting out back bodice pieces for both versions by accident. Plus sleeves...

Deer and Doe Belladone dress in Scuba fabric

You have probably noticed that my version has sleeves. These are not included in the Belladone pattern and it is meant to be sleeveless. I felt that I could get more mileage out of small sleeves (which is they style in the high street shops I usually buy). I started out cutting the sleeves from the Day Dress. After pinning these in I realised I needed to reduce the arch of the sleeve head because scuba does not need to be gathered to fit into the armhole. After a little experimentation I reduced the arch by about 1 inch at the apex and tapered this out to the sides.

Because I had used a fabric with stretch, I found that I could get the dress on and off without needing a zip. I removed this along with 4.5cm of fabric from centre back of the bodice narrowing to 4cm at the waistband. This then widens out again to the original seam line in the centre back skirt. I didn't want to take too much out of the skirt because I love the perky fullness of it.

I also took out 1 cm at each end of the neckline at the shoulders and trued out the neckline...this was to create more of a slash neck effect rather than full on round neck (personal preference only). The neckline did cause me more headscratching than anything else because I couldn't decide how to finish it neatly. With hindsight, I should have created a much larger facing piece (closer to a lining) which would have had a smooth finish. Instead I used a cross grain strip of fabric, about 4 cm wide, which I applied as clean finish knit neckline binding. There is a lot of help for this and other knit neckline finishes on the Colette site here. I used a stretch stitch to anchor it in place as I think it looks more professional than a zig zag stitch. It is very bulky at the back where the bodice panels overlap, even with grading the seams.


Thoughts

I was after a dress that wasn't too formal but still made for an occasion, which I think I've achieved. The sleeves do add a bit more versatility, though it does look a lot like my Day Dress now! The scuba is holding up well to the pattern I think, and I love the skirt on this dress. It's also super comfortable, having that extra stretch in the fabric too. The back panels add some interest but you can probably see I'm not overly thrilled with the pattern placement on the back. I spent ages choosing the right part for the front bodice, and hadn't realised that this had happened - it's repeated identically on both sides which looks odd.

I would definitely make this pattern again, and am keen to try a woven version too. I know that the alterations I made won't translate so I will need to start again, but would still use the 40 as a base size. I'm keen to hear which fabrics you may have used for this dress, or would recommend..........


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Hi, I'm Laura. Welcome to my journeys with modern, feminine dressmaking; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm a lifelong foodie, so you'll also find some delicious recipes and places to get that foodie fix.
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