Gloria dress

This time I couldn’t quite think of a better name for my latest project, and so it will be Gloria dress, just as the pattern maker calls it. When I saw this dress design on Instagram, I immediately decided to make it. Now, that I’ve made it, I’m amused by how overdressed I feel while wearing it. But hey, it is a glorious dress, so I’d better learn to feel glorious in it too! 🙂

This one was an impromptu project. I fell in love with this design when I first saw it. The idea of making a dress with an open back has been stuck with me since last summer. I actually had bought quite a few commercial patterns last year in preparation to make one. However, none of those patters convinced me back then. And so this year when I saw this design, I figured – “yeah, the time has come, I need an open back maxi dress now!”

This fabric in pastel abstract print was purchased at a local fabric store. It is Max Mara cotton, very light, almost sheer, just at the limit of still being ok not to be lined. It has satin-like weave to it, and was very pleasant to work with.

Gloria dress design is by French pattern maker Clematisse pattern. I discovered them while checking out one of the jackets designs that I liked very much – it was their Julia jacket that I’ve also purchased and am planning to make one day. They also have few more beautiful open back dresses, if you’re looking for one (I’m in no way affiliated with them, just really like some of the patterns they offer). The flip side in this case was that the instructions were in French. I did not need instructions all that much, but still had to translate few paragraphs where seam allowances and elastic installation were explained.

It is not a simple dress to make. The main challenge is really the waist, where the waistband is partly attached to the bodice – it is done only at the front, as at the back there is no bodice to be attached to anything 🙂

I started by making the bodice. In my view it was important that it would be lined. There were two reasons for this decision. First, open back dress means no regular bra underneath the dress. So whatever solution I might be choosing for that situation, I wanted to have at least two layers of fabric at the front of the bodice. Second, the neckline and ties at the back needed to be finished somehow. The pattern suggests to just make a rolled hem seam there, but I never deem this as a neat solution. Whenever I deal with ties, I usually end up installing the lining, and thus nicely finishing the ties as well as armholes. Of course this solution means additional work. For the lining of the front bodice I used simple white cotton batiste, and for the back pieces with ties I had to use the main fabric – of course, as when the ties are tied up, both sides of them would be visible.

Since it was the first time I was working with the pattern of this particular pattern maker, I did not trust the sizing in the very beginning. As per provided body measurements I chose to cut pattern pieces in size 36 for the upper body and merged to size 38 at the waist. But just to be in control of the sizing, at first I pinned the main seams, tried the work-in-progress on and made necessary adjustments. All in all the conclusion is that even though my regular clothes size is 36, this dress in size 36 was too large for me. Instead of designated 1 cm seam allowances, I ended up making 2 cm seam allowances for shoulder seams (thus also raising the neckline up a bit) and 1.5 cm seam allowances for side seams all along. I was determined to make sure that the bodice would not be gaping when tied at the back, hence my meticulous efforts to fit the size perfectly.

For small flounce sleeves I made a narrow rolled hem, which was tricky to complete actually, as the curve of those pattern pieces was at the limit of what my rolled hem foot could accommodate. I had to stop a number of times to adjust fabric feed, and still there are few places, where the hem is not ideal (visible in the left photo below). But hey, during all those years I’ve learnt to be less harsh to myself and not to chase each an every minuscule detail 🙂

At first I thought that it might be possible to make all bodice seams as inside seams, but it wouldn’t have worked for side seams. The main reason was that at the back the armhole seam and the bottom seam of the tie were closing the raw side edge, when I connected the main fabric with lining. Alternative solution was to make sides as French seams, and that was what I did.

Next I went on to make the skirt. It was easier and quicker. I had to draft pockets myself, as they were not part of the original design. But we’ve established a long time ago that every dress MUST have pockets, so I absolutely had to install pockets into this one, too! 🙂 After making a narrow rolled hem on the skirt ruffle, the time to install the waistband came. This part of the process was the most peculiar really.

Part of the problem was that the waistband had to be cut as one continuous piece, i.e. there are no separate pieces for front and back. Whereas back skirt is meant to have elastic inserted into the waistband, so it is quite a bit wider than the front skirt waist width. Provided that I was messing around with seam allowances all along, I had little reference as to how long my waistband should be. I measured and measured, but eventually just started attaching it. After few trials and errors, I managed to make it right. When the outer waistband was attached to the bodice at the front and to the entire skirt, I had to install the inner waistband. To finish it, the bottom seam of the waistband was stitched in the ditch. In order to do that neatly first of all I tacked it in place. Two small openings were left open at each side for the elastic to get inserted into the back portion of the waistband. Finally, when the elastic was in and those small openings closed, my dress was complete!

For this dress I needed 2.7 m of this abstract floral cotton by Max Mara that I bought at my local fabric store. I also used a small piece of white cotton batiste for the bodice front lining. The pattern here is Gloria dress by Clematisse pattern. I cut the pattern in size 36 mostly, but with all the adjustments I think it is now made in size 34. Other notions used here were: a bit of interfacing tape for the neckline and ties seams, a bit of interfacing for the waistband, 1.5 cm wide elastic piece for the back waistband, and coordinating thread. This dress cost me 52 Eur, it was made in July 2022.

I loved making and wearing an open back dress very much. I planned to make one more dress with open back and puff sleeves out of bright pink cotton fabric, but unfortunately ran out of time. With vacation time approaching and many other activities planned, I knew that I would not be able to touch my sewing machine for some 4 weeks. And so, on that long weekend I was determined to prepare for vacation by making two dresses. But this one took much longer to make than I had anticipated, so the other open back dress will need to get moved to next summer, I’m afraid. Meanwhile, I still had enough time to complete two simple projects, and I’ll be sharing them a bit later.

If anything, this is a very posh dress, I reckon. When we took these photos in the park on Sunday morning, I felt quite a bit uncomfortable as everyone else was wearing shorts, simple T-shirts, while I was there in all the glory of open back maxi dress and designer shoes! 🙂 I figured then that regular wedges could probably help to dress it down a bit. On the other hand, should I work so hard to dress it down? 😀 Or should I just be all dressed up on any day I wish instead!

Let there be peace in the world! 💙💛


Published by giedrestyle

This is a sewing blog. I am weekend sewist who enjoys creating a unique and one of a kind wardrobe.

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