It’s been way too long since I worked on the gown, but I’ve been stewing over a potential fit/dressing issue. I went ahead and added the triangular panel to the center back of the bodice and regathered the back waistline to a total of 8 inches. I believe the pattern instructions for my size (although I should be making one size larger) indicate that the back should be gathered to a total of 4 inches. So it’s twice what it should be. I threaded the drawstring through the neckline channel and drew it up. The bodice is ready to be attached to the skirt and sleeves, but thinking about the problem of getting dressed without an assistant, while wearing a slightly restricting pair of stays, without leaving a back opening on the gown has made me also think I need to do a little engineering to create more ease in the back to allow for hassle-free dressing and to eliminate the potential stress on the gown.
The solution I’ve come up with will do the trick, I’m pretty sure. It requires removing the gathering from the back bodice and restitching the lines so I can draw them up again, but this time to about 10 inches across—matching it up with the also lightly-gathered back skirt pattern pieces. So I need to sew the skirt pieces together and get to work on that before proceeding with the rest of the bodice. After matching the lightly-gathered bodice back to the lightly-gathered skirt back pieces, I can continue as the instructions outline by sewing the skirt to the bodice and creating the waistline channel out of seam binding. This strategy will give more ease to the gown at the back waistline, while still allowing a nice snug fit once it’s on and creating a pretty gathered effect.
I’m not sure what the pattern company was thinking when it designed the pattern to be gathered so tightly across the back for both the authentic and the modernized garment versions. For the authentic version with the slit up the back, it would work just fine, but even with elastic in the neckline and waist, with the front and back waist already gathered to their final measurement, there wouldn’t be any “give” to allow for dressing. The elastic would stretch sufficiently, but the garment certainly wouldn’t. Perhaps I’m missing the point, since I’m working with pattern pieces that are technically one size smaller than I should be using. If I was using the correct pattern size, maybe that wouldn’t be a problem because there would be enough ease already, and the elastic would really only serve to snug the waistline of the dress to the waistline of the wearer. But still, considering the gathering adjustments I’ve made—lengthening the gathering measurements in the front and back—I would think that there would be more ease in the garment, even so.
If I make this pattern again, I will definitely alter the back pieces for a size XL, since I am kinda broad through the upper back.