one-piece wardrobe

Sew House 7 – Bridgetown Backless Dress Romper Hack - bridgetown backless

I tend to spoil myself nowadays with my sewing by making the exact thing I want to make and taking as much time as I could possibly want to make it. I’ve been sewing for the majority of my life now, and I no longer get a thrill from just finishing a garment. Maybe I’m just a jaded human, but my thrill comes from the actual and intricate process of making something that challenges me. I love straightening the grain of my fabric before laying out my pattern pieces; I’ll even straighten and re-straighten the grain several times to get it just right. I actually like pressing my seams, and I don’t mind that the act of sewing rarely happens in front of a whirring machine. I love feeling the fabric on my fingertips as I manipulate it to be exactly what I want, and that’s the main reason why I also refuse to sew with synthetics; I don’t like the way it makes my hands feel. I love sewing intricate corners and opposing curves. I like hand-tying my knots and tucking their tails in with a needle. I most of all love thinking about the process of a garment’s construction for days… days… before even beginning to cut into my fabric, in case I might need a modified seam allowance or another modification only available pre-cut; Analysis Paralysis is a real thing, but I also get a kick out of fantasizing about the construction process of future garments. While I’m never sad when I finish a garment, I’m almost always happiest when I’m making it— not once I put it on afterward.

I think it’s a system that works wonderfully for my creativity, but sometimes it’s difficult to remember that (while creativity breeds creativity) creative energy, like all other forms of energy, is finite. Outside of a lack of blogging content, I don’t usually mind spending a large chunk of that energy on one garment, because, for the most part, I get to choose the exact garment I want to commit this energy to. - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless

I signed up to do #sewmystyle at the end of last year, sincerely intrigued by the challenge of creating one garment a month that was not of my own choosing. I mean, like I said, I spoil myself, and it’s important to keep that in check. So far, I’ve made January’s Toaster sweater (which I’ve worn so much it’s pilled), March’s Virginia leggings (unworn because unblogged- sadface), and now, April’s Bridgetown dress-romper hack.

To be probably too honest for something as public as a blog (I’m drinking wine as I type so maybe it’s okay), I was actually dreading making this; I had seen the blogosphere (and the IGosphere) peppered with negative comments about fit and flattery (to be honest, I had only seen it look as it seems to be intended on one person), and, personally, my short torso doesn’t do blouson too well. Still, I had committed to trying to make as many of these #sewmystyle garments as I can, so I had to give it a shot. - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless

The Pattern: Bridgetown Backless Dress by Sew House 7
The Fabric: Floral navy rayon challis from Toto in Strasbourg, France for the body, and red silk crepe de chine remnant from Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon.
The Size: 0
Adjustments: cropped the bodice by 2.5”
Alterations: replaced the gathered skirt with wide, pleated culottes

I started this pattern off by knowing I had to do something about the blouson effect of the top, otherwise it would be a dress I would never wear and would end up in the Accidental Unselfish Sewing pile (no shame here, I give my ill-fitting me-mades to my friends, which is one of the only ways I can bear to part with them). I’ve got a short torso, even for my short height, so any RTW tops, dresses, or especially rompers with a defined waist end up sitting with quite a bit of extra volume on the bodice. - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless

I chopped the front and back bodice length by 2.5 inches. I was a little hesitant to do this, mostly because I wasn’t sure if that would create too little ease in the length of the bodice. To compensate, I considered also reducing some width from the bodice, but I ended up nixing the elasticized waist for a drawstring version instead, which gave me more control over the waist-tightness. I simply sewed the bodice and bottom together as instructed, but instead of creating a channel for the elastic within the waist seam, I added an outer strip of bias tape to act as the channel and created a quick length of drawstring.

I actually love the drawstring feature now. It really lets me control how much shape I want to give this garment at any given moment, and to be quite honest I much prefer it as a somewhat shapeless shift than a drapey Grecian goddess dress. - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless

As always, I french-seamed throughout, save for a fell seam at the armscye. All the detailing of this romper is done in a red silk crepe de chine. The pattern calls for bias tape for the front neckline and on-grain facing for the back, but I traded in the facing for bias tape as well. I also made it visible instead of sewing it to the inside, because I just love how the contrast between the red silk and the navy hints at that casual retro tee feel. - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless

The OG skirt on this pattern is two rectangles of the same size for the front and back, but I (snootily?) have an aversion to (paying for?) patterns made out of rectangles. I mean, I know it takes an immense amount of work to design a pattern, grade it, write and create/draw instructions, etc., so I’m not dogging on SH7 for the thought and work that went into making the pattern. I bet it’s also a really helpful tool for a newbie Sewcialist who is learning how to put these two-dimensional planes together to create three-dimensional objects. But I can make (and have made) plenty of skirts out of rectangles (it’s the basis of pretty much every gathered or pleated skirt), and plenty of pants out of rectangles with various scoops taken out for the crotch. So, at the very last minute (i.e., I already had these skirt rectangles cut out), I cut out two more rectangles of a slighter larger width (for the back) and cut various scoops out of opposing sides (for the crotch).

Side note: I know some newbie Sewcialists might be intimidated by the idea of free styling some pants to sub a gathered skirt in a pattern, but I’ll just tell you that making pleated or gathered culottes is not rocket science. Just make sure the rise is low enough for you to move and sit down in, and otherwise you’re golden. I believe in you. Make the leap and cut those scoops. - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless

Anyway, the other two additions I made to the pattern was a split-hem for the culottes and in-seam pockets, which are a must any time there is a side seam (and also evidently a must for me to accidentally stitch them in way lower than they need to be, hence why you see no pictures with my hands actually in the pockets). - bridgetown backless

The split seam is finished with some more red crepe de chine on the sides for a bit of a peekaboo feel and a raw edge of the same on the bottom for a free and fluttery finish (big thanks to John’s mom for that suggestion). - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless - bridgetown backless

I guess I should put it on record that I do actually love the outcome of this garment. The cool rayon makes it perfect for mid-spring to early summer, and the short sleeves and length also make it perfect for our trip to Marrakech at the end of this month. Speaking of, have any of you been to Morocco? Are there any must-see places or textile heavens you recommend?

Thanks for reading, guys. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! - bridgetown backless




15 Comment

  1. Oh these are so much fun! I admire your freewheelin’ adventures in scooping out crotch curves – if only my rump was so easily accommodated!

    1. Aw thanks Sarah! One way of freewheeling the crotch scoop is to imitate the curve on pants you already love and adjusting the length of the rise. So long as the pants have a lot of ease (like culottes), it’s basically the same concept as a gathered or pleated rectangle skirt.

    1. Yes, you absolutely should! As long as they are pants with volume, it’s basically the same as a gathered rectangle skirt.

  2. Hehe, I usually baulk at the idea of sewing something on someone else’s command too, so well done to you for seeing it through! I think with this particular challenge, I also wasn’t so keen on buying a whole lot of patterns that I didn’t even choose for myself either! but I agree with you that it is fun to challenge yourself. You did a beautiful job with this romper/overall… it’s exquisitely sewn and those colours are absolutely gorgeous on you! xx 🙂

    1. Ugh, I know! You’re making smarter choices than I am. It’s my first year in the online sewing community so I figured it’d be a good idea to join in on one of these Sewalong things. I’m only just a little bit regretting it now 🙂 But thanks so much Carolyn! At least I’m happy with the end result

  3. I love the look of this romper, and it looks really comfy to wear. One question, in looking at the SH7 pattern, the back drapes very open and yours seems to overlap more, which looks more user/bra friendly. Did you make an adjustment to that overlap?

    1. Thanks Catherine! I think I shortened the bodice by 2″ (and keeping the same length for the bottom edge, so making the angle of the wrap top more extreme, if that makes sense). I’ll tell you though, I still have to wear either a low-cut bra if I’m wearing it with the V in the front or a backless bra (the sticky kind) if I’m wearing it in the back, while also strategically placing the gathers so it doesn’t reveal anything accidentally. I hope that helps!

    1. Yes, definitely braless! Otherwise Joann’s carries a decent sticky bra for $30, but with a 50% off coupon it’s $15 and mine lasts me for a couple years… it’s a nice option when you don’t want to go completely braless.

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