After what feels like a long time away from my sewing table (but in reality, only a couple of weeks) – I found my groove again with this completed Acton dress! My slump was due to part general life stress (making time to sew is hard when there’s a lot on your plate), but also part project indecision / procrastination. You know how sometimes deadlines motivate you to finish projects faster? But other times, they make you procrastinate on that project plus anything else you could be working on instead? Yeah, that’s kinda what happened here.
I’ve been planning this dress for a couple of months now to wear to my step-sister’s wedding in New Jersey. I originally picked out a really lovely lavender suiting material from Minerva crafts back in early August, but the material took longer than expected to arrive (as of writing this I still don’t have it, lol!). Since there was a hard date with a wedding planned and all, the show had to go on with or without the fabric I wanted.
Luckily I had some really beautiful viscose linen noil from Blackbird fabrics in my stash to use. And when I say beautiful, I mean freakin’ dreamy. It is wonderfully soft and has a nice drape, with a subtle texture that is evocative of raw silk. I try not to purchase fabric without a project in mind (lol @ “try”) as it tends to sit around while I waffle on what to do with it. But the color and texture on this one was so striking that I couldn’t stop myself from an impulse purchase. And I’m glad I did! Because it turned out to be a perfect back up option for my Acton dress.
While I was waiting for my original fabric to arrive, and before I settled on my back up fabric, I went ahead and made myself a muslin to test the fit. I am at the point where I typically do an adjustment or two pre-muslin (SBA, hollow chest, etc.). However, since this was my first garment with princess seamlines, I opted to sew the muslin as originally drafted. It wasn’t that I thought I could get away with no adjustments (the dress is drafted for somebody 5’7” while I am 5’5”) – it was just that the style lines were so new to me that I knew I needed to visualize/pinch out the changes on the muslin before I could apply them to the flat pattern.
I’m super happy I did this because 1.) the only change I had to make was to shorten to the bodice above the bust 2” (so no SBA, hooray!), and 2.) I would have had no idea how or where to do this on the flat pattern without my pen marks on the muslin to guide me.
I also took 2” or 3” off the strap length. However, this doesn’t really need to be applied to the flat pattern as you can check the fit while sewing everything together.
The overall construction of the Acton dress was smooth sailing. The whole thing came together in about two days, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! Even though the pattern is a few years old, with the resurgence of 90s silhouettes it still feels very fresh. The halter top style is a look I have never ever been able to fit in RTW (hello petite torso), so being able to to fit the look myself is soooo satisfying and a great reminder of why I love sewing so much.
Since the style of the top is pretty narrow and the straps are super skinny, I also decided this was the perfect time to try sewing bra cups directly into the dress. This way, I wouldn’t have to worry about pairing it with an appropriate bra. To do this, I picked up a pair of foam cups from Joann, and sewed them directly through the princess seamline on the underlining bodice. The end result is great. You can’t see the cups at all from the outside or inside of dress, and now I can just throw the dress on and be on my way. I am now determined to sew bras into all the things!
This dress is drafted with pockets, but I opted to skip those because I was concerned they might make the dress more casual. The original design features tear-drop style pockets, but In the Folds has a pretty great tutorial for changing them to a waist-steam style. So if and when I make this pattern again, I will definitely be doing that.
All in all (and I’m starting to feel like I say this a lot) – this was one of my favorite projects to date. It is a perfect marriage of pattern to fabric, a quick sew, and I felt super good wearing it. Hooray!