A trip to Fabricland yielded a lightweight navy blue cotton poplin with a bit of stretch, a lovely funky floral cotton voile for the lining, grey swirly buttons, and a bunch of thread. I cut a size 16 out of some cheap cotton as a muslin, and only really needed to add some ease to the hip area and lengthen the fabric. For those who didn't see it, I talked about both the fabric choice and muslin here.
This dress required so much patience. While the pattern went together beautifully, my own blunders caused me a lot of grief. For instance, I originally fused medium-weight interfacing to the front panels, but then tore it out because it was too stiff. It caused a bit of distortion and shininess to the bottom of one of the front panels, but luckily it was on the side that gets overlapped, so it's not visible.
I chose to top-stitch along most of the major seams, and practiced (and practiced and practiced) before hand to make sure I wouldn't mess it up. I'd originally picked up some top-stitching thread for the job, but the sewing machine I was using hated it, so instead I used regular thread. Luckily, all that practice paid off and I didn't have to unpick anything.
I can't say the same for the buttonholes and sleeves. Out of six buttonholes, I had to unpick three, two due to negligence while lining up the buttonholer, and one because of my bobbin running out of thread. I'm surprised the whole thing didn't wind up in the garbage.
The sleeves were another headache entirely. I left them until last because I hate gathering and easing sleeves, and this required both along the armscye, as well as gathering along the cuff. On the cuff itself, I thought I needed to add length, and inserted a small panel to widen it (I'd already cut it out to pattern specifications and was out of fabric). However, as shown on the left below, it turned out to be too big. So I yanked the panel out, and the cuff turned out to be perfect (shown on the right). Should've trusted the pattern.
I do love these sleeves. They are loose and comfy, but the cuff makes my arm look more slender (in my opinion). However, the gathering on the sleeve cape has caused some other problems, specifically a nice big bump when I'm not standing perfectly still with arms at my side. I'm considering flipping the seam allowance under the shoulder and tacking it down, but any suggestions would be appreciated!
I sort of messed up the hem, or rather, how the instructions say to do the hem. But because I added a lining to the dress, the instructions weren't going to work anyways, so I sort of jury-rigged a hem. I cut down the inner front facing so that it matched my lining (1 inch shorter than the shell), hemmed the entire lining, then attached the lining and shell together along the collar and front seams. For the shell hem, I sewed some hem ribbon along the raw edge, then slipstitched the tape to the skirt. I like the effect, especially when you catch a flash of the silver ribbon.
Note the change in thread colour from the navy blue thread on the poplin facing to the grey thread on the lining. :)
I paid a lot of attention to the details on this dress. I hand-stitched where ever needed, and even hand-basted where needed. This was a novelty to me, as I usually avoid basting whenever possible. It's amazing how much more lovely the results are when you baste, as opposed to simply pinning the tar out of the seam.
I think the hem length turned out perfect. The picture below, while a little shoddy, shows the length perfectly.
I love this dress. It's comfortable and cute, and I think it'll dress up and dress down nicely. I fully intend to wear this to my thesis defense on the basis that an awesome dress - and feeling good about how you look - totally boosts your confidence, and I'll need all the help I can get!
Now I just need to find the perfect shoes!
ETA 1: Alright, so after a tonne of input from people here and in my review at PR, I think I've worked out why the sleeve caps are popping up so much. First off, thank you everyone for reassuring me that they're not actually that bad. It's funny how you can nitpick over something you've made that you'd completely disregard/love in RTW.
I believe the poof is meant to be there. This sleeve was a headache because it involved gathering along the top of the sleeve cap, and easing on either side of the gathers to about halfway down the armscye. This leads to a concentrated poof at the top of the sleeve cap. When my arms are hanging straight down at my sides, the sleeves are heavy enough that the gathers are pulled down and don't poof as much (as you can see on my right shoulder in the 'pondering' picture above).
Since these sleeves are elbow length, as soon as I bend my elbow or lift my arm, the weight is let off of the sleeve cap, and the gathers poof upwards. Most of the pictures above show some degree of this, since I'm posing with my arms oh my hips or bent or something (leave me alone, I'm a scientist not a model).
The sleeve poof has grown on me, and I think that once it's washed a few times and I take an iron to those babies, the poof will relax a bit.
Thanks again to everyone for your input, suggestions, and lovely comments. They all made me smile in joy!
ETA 2: The Mariana Trench has been featured on the McCall's facebook page! Thank you so much Kathy!