I love shelf bust dresses, but don’t like the way the modern patterns seem to be designed to cut you half way across the bust with a (not very flattering) minimising effect. I’ve attempted sewing a shelf bust dress using a modern pattern, with little success. Then simplicity released this ‘Lolita and Rockabilly’ pattern. Not so much a shelf bust, but it has a gathered bust detail I love.
I actually wanted something like these Bernie Dexter dresses. A flattering ‘shelf bust’ and an amazing floral print.
The fabric was the easy part. I already had this gorgeous print in my stash. It’s from Timeless Treasures and is part of their botanic garden collection. It’s pretty similar to the Bernie Dexter print.
I made view B as per the pattern but with a full bust adjustment on the gathered panel and I changed the halter neck ties to fixed straps. I also added pockets because every dress needs pockets! One issue I did have, is that there are no finished measurements on either the envelope or the pattern. I cut a 14 as per my measurements, but ended up using a 3/4″ seam allowance and 1″ on the back seam to get a good fit. So as per usual for the big 4, there is way too much ease in the pattern. Especially for something that’s supposed to be as fitted as this.
Since the dress is completely unlined, it makes it a lot easier to fit as you go. It can also make it a super quick sew! I finished all the seams with some rayon seam binding. Slow but satisfying and it makes the inside much prettier.
I’m wearing a chiffon petticoat under this, but the hem is hand sewn with 1″ horsehair braid. So even without the petticoat, it can still hold its shape.
I’m so pleased with how it turned out. It was a very simple make and fits like a dream. This is definitely one I’ll be making again. For my next one I may alter the pattern to make it more like the shelf bust dress I really want.