I wanted to make it through my Love at First Stitch book before starting any other patterns, partially to keep things simple (one thing at a time!) and also to pick up as many skills as I could before jumping into the world of sewing patterns meant for not-total-beginners. I'm glad I did things in that order, but it was also really exciting to finish and have the whole world of sewing patterns open to me!
I got excited and bought 4 patterns at once (only two of which I've made so far - eep), and I got started with the Belladone from Deer & Doe. My coworker Kiran has made at least one, possibly a few versions of this dress, and I knew it was the first thing I wanted to sew. I love the fitted-but-not-tight A-line silhouette, and the back cutout is cute and interesting without making for complicated bra situations like some open backs can.
I've been really into wearing lots of black lately, so I decided to go with cheap black cotton for a wearable toile. I cut out my size and basted the dress together - long, loose stitches and no seam finishing. Miraculously, the pattern fit almost perfectly with no modifications! (This was in sharp contrast to my Tilly and the Buttons patterns, which almost always have way more ease than I want and require lots of contouring through the waist and back). So I took the whole thing apart and sewed it again, this time with normal stitches and nice, serged seams.
I'm super happy with this dress, with a few small exceptions. One, I am just not a fan of bias tape for finishing sleeves and necklines. Hopefully I'll get better with practice, but I seem to always end up with puckering in some spots and the edges don't lie as flat as with facings or a full bodice lining. Unfortunately the cutout back makes a full lining really tricky. Two, since I did use a cheap fabric, it's not as soft or smooth as I would really like, and it wrinkles easily. This kind of sounds like an excuse to buy a nicer black fabric and make another, though.
I really do love so many things about this dress though. I love the shape and the fit. It's flattering but still loose enough to be comfortable. There are pockets (which I made bigger to comfortably hold my giant phone). And honestly it's just a nice, classic cut and color. I usually pair it with black tights on work days when I want to look put together but don't really feel like figuring out an outfit.
The back. You can see a lot of the puckering around the binding tape here (the binding tape is all on the inside, so you're just seeing stitch outlines, not the tape itself). Ugh, binding tape! I've since had better luck (with another pattern) using self bias tape, that is, cut from the fabric instead of storebought. That may be a thing to try on a future Belladone!
And after making two Belladones I realized I assembled the upper back pieces wrong on both (see above photo). The upper shoulder pieces are supposed to be on top! I think it would look slightly nicer the correct way, but it's not bad enough to take apart and resew. Ah well!
Things I learned: How to follow more minimal instructions (these were still pretty comprehensive, but I had to google things like sewing in binding tape. My previous patterns from the book were very hand-hold-y); using binding tape to finish a bodice; adding a hem facing piece instead of just hemming the bottom.
I have since sewn 2 more of these, so stay tuned for much more Belladone.