I have been planning a Deer and Doe Belladone dress for a while after seeing so many lovely versions around – my favourites are Anna at Paunett’s spotty version and Lynne at Ozzy Blackbeard’s amazing wax print version.
I actually got this pattern way back in May and there have been several fabrics I was going to use but somehow I didn’t get started over the summer. Instead this is my first official autumn make (though when I went to get photos it was an incredibly sunny afternoon so there isn’t a real autumn vibe yet apart from a few dead leaves..)
The fabric is some kind of linen mix – I initially thought it was green but it is actually somewhere between a murky dark green and dark grey. The fabric is on the crisp side rather than soft and I am not sure what the mix actually is. I think it worked well for this pattern though? The pattern doesn’t include a lining but I just recut the skirt and waistband pieces in a grey satiny lining. The waistband isn’t faced in the original instructions so including a lining gives a cleaner finish inside.
As this was my first time using a Deer and Doe pattern (except for my various Plantains) I made a complete muslin using an old cotton duvet cover. I initially cut a 40 at the shoulders and bust grading out to a 42 at the waist and hips. The muslin worked out pretty well. I ended up taking a small dart shape out of the shoulder pieces as described by Lauren at Lladybird here to make sure they lie flat. I also moved the bust darts down about an inch and shortened them slightly. I could have reduced the length of the waist darts as well but when I tried that it left a bit of excess fabric under the bust so I stayed with the slightly longer dart. After making the muslin I found I didn’t need to grade out to a 42 so I trimmed the pattern back to 40 all round. You can see on some of the pictures below that I have some pulling where the sleeve edges are a bit tight. I am not absolutely sure how to resolve this – maybe just curve the armscye in a bit more? There is also a little bit of gape at the neckline that I need to get rid of.
I was slightly confused by making the pleats – I know it isn’t at all difficult to make pleats but I can never visualise where the folds should end up. Luckily Samantha at Millydodo had the same problem and posted a picture of her mistake – this really helped me to work out where the pleat edges should be so I was saved from unpicking!
I used a ready-made bias binding which was black poly cotton (and smelled of very evil chemicals when I pressed it with a too hot iron – mmmm). I didn’t want the contrast edging look so I turned the binding completely under. I tried machine stitching it down but I didn’t love how that looked so I ended up handstitching it all down which was time consuming (two shoulder pieces and both armscyes!). I didn’t stabilise the back bodice pieces which I probably should have done, will have to see whether they start to stretch out or not..
I did keep the pockets – I am really not a huge fan of pockets in general. I know lots of people love them and add them into patterns if they aren’t there but as someone with a definite pear shape I have always steered clear of any extra bulk in this area and I would never use pockets. But I did add the pockets and I found I liked putting my hands in them!
Overall I am really pleased with my dress and I love the flared skirt shape. I think it will get a lot of wear into autumn and winter since the lining means I can wear it with tights when the time comes! Autumn sewing has started and I am switching to darker, stronger colours – more to come soon!
Have you started sewing for autumn yet or are you holding out for a bit more summer?