March 6, 2023

A new Upton for an English Wedding

My Upton Dress collection is growing, and this latest version might be my favorite yet. I skipped the zipper on this one, and I share all the details of how I did that in this post. So sit back and have a read!

I sometimes forget quite how stressful it was in the past when I needed to find a dress for a formal occasion. Trying to find anything that would fit my bust but also not be tent-like anywhere else was an all-but-impossible task, especially if (GASP) I wanted it to be in a woven fabric. It turned what should be a fun, creative, task into an absolute slog, that often left me feeling pretty grumpy and put out. Not what you want when you’re getting ready for a special event!

Well, as we all know by now, since 2015 that’s not been a problem because I set up an entire company to solve my problem! (If only I had the time to do that for *all* my problems…..).

Enter, my latest Upton Dress, made using the Upton Dress & Skirt plus Mix and Match Expansion pattern. I used the square neck, which I altered a little to come back in more closely behind my neck, the long sleeves cropped to below the elbow, and the tea-length gored skirt (always my fave, as evidenced in this post).

I made this Upton for my brother’s wedding last year, and it was exactly what I needed: something formal but a bit jolly for an English wedding in an ancient church and a walled garden. I always want to be comfortable when I’m in formalwear, so to make my Upton EVEN more comfy, I also used a stretch woven—a gorgeous stretch sateen from my “deep stash”. I *think* I bought it from Emma One Sock approximately 40 years ago (Ok, must have been less than 13 given that’s when I learned to sew, but it feels like ancient history).

Now here’s a fun fact about the Upton: you don’t ALWAYS have to put a zip in. And if you don’t, it saves a lot of time and makes construction much easier! There are two main ways to avoid it

  1. If you grade up at the waist on a pattern like I do (here, I made an 18 G/H bodice with a 20 waist) you *may* be able to get away without a zipper, if your bust can fit through the waist. Will you have to do a bit of squeezing? Almost certainly. Are my boobs very malleable? Yes they are.
  2. If you use a stretch woven! The stretch woven has enough “give” to help you get your boobs through the waistline.

If you want to be absolutely sure that you can do without a zip there’s an easy trick: make a loop of string or fabric that’s the size of the waistband you’re going to make (use the finished garment measurement of the waistband). Now, try to get that over your head and over your boobs, down to your waist. If it works, you can do without a zip. If it doesn’t, over to the zip stash it is.

When you don’t use a back zip, the easiest thing to do is sew the two back bodice shell pieces together to form one back, and do the same with the lining pieces (alternatively, you can merge them into one, removing the seam allowance).

For construction, you can then streamline the process compared to a normal Upton. The key steps are:

  • Sew the whole shell bodice (excluding sleeves, but including the waistband pieces), including the shoulder seams and side seams.
  • Sew the whole lining bodice in the same way
  • Put the lining inside the shell bodice, right sides together, matching the necklines and pinning. Sew around the neckline, trim, clip, press and flip the right way round.
  • Insert the sleeves in the round
  • Sew the skirt
  • Sew the skirt onto the bodice

The end result was just right for the occasion, zero shopping stress involved.

Have you made an Upton Dress using the expansion pack? What’s your fave combo? There are over 350 to choose from so it really is the pattern that keeps on giving!

10 thoughts on “A new Upton for an English Wedding

  1. Rashawn says:

    Love, love, LOVE your dress Jenny! And also the idea of maybe no zipper on my next Upton.😄

  2. Jo Whight says:

    I just love everything about this dress. The shape is lovely and the fabric is gorgeous. I still haven’t made myself a woven anything….the confidence is lacking due to 50 odd years of clothing that doesn’t fit.

  3. elizabethannh says:

    Your dress is lovely.
    I have made one Upton, which I love, but not attempted another because need another person to zip it up the back.
    I’m not sure going without a zip would work for me, but now I’m thinking a side zipper would do it.

  4. Kara says:

    What type of fabric did you use for the lining the stretch sateen bodice?

  5. charlotte COOK says:

    I am becoming even more enamored of your patterns and fitting, the more I read. I have a couple of your patterns, but to be honest, I haven’t tried sewing them yet. Like so many “big boobed” girls, I tend to knits on the top and usually sew separates. Some problem as several others, if it fits the boobs, it becomes a tent. Would trade nursing the kid for years(!) but boy it sure did send the “girls” south! I think I’m gonna jump in and try the Upton: now to find out about the expansion pack. I love your wedding dress…when you decide to “recycle” it, please throw it my way!

    1. charlotte COOK says:

      “Oops…that should be “wouldn’t trade nursing the kid for years”, not “would trade” I was typing too fast!

  6. Kerri Holt says:

    I love this pattern!!!!!

  7. Josie Thames says:

    Love the dress fabric! You look absolutely gorgeous, and the Upton itself…well, it’s my favorite Cashmerette pattern. I have made more Uptons than any other pattern, period! And I have rarely made one with a zipper–just pop it on and go!

  8. San says:

    I love this idea and I actually have the perfect fabric. Quick question though: I just finished my first Upton muslin and learned that I will need a broad back adjustment like you’ve explained in Ahead of the curve.
    Will I need to do that too if I make an Upton with a stretchy woven?

    1. Ayelet says:

      Hi San, it depends on the stretch of the fabric, so the best way to figure out whether you’d need the adjustment is to make up a new muslin with a similar stretch woven fabric (ideally the same fabric if you have enough of it!) and see how the fit looks and feels for you.

      -Ayelet at Cashmerette

Let me know what you think!