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
- 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.
- 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!