Ever try on a dress in a store and think, “If only they made the (fill in the blank) different?” That was the inspiration which lead to the magical waist whittling Gertie dress.
Being drawn to ruffles, I tried on a blue chambray dress while out shopping. I loved the bodice, with its neckline ruffle, but the skirt was less than flattering. It was gathered at the waist, cut very straight and somewhat narrow. Definitely made for a body type different from mine, but I really liked that neckline ruffle.
Enter the Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing, by Gretchen Hirsch, a favorite sewing blogger. I’ve had this beautifully illustrated book for almost a year and it was time I stopped looking and starting making. Her smartly drafted shirtwaist dress had the perfect silhouette, minus the collar and sleeves.
While looking for fabric, blue turned to black when I figured out blue chambray may look too much like denim to get away with at work. I ordered a Robert Kaufman black chambray from Fabric.com, which arrive quickly enough to keep me motivated.
The Gertie pattern was so easy to follow. I made a muslin for the bodice, using the size 8 and made my regular petite adjustments. Instead of sleeves, I cut facings and redrafted the neckline a bit to accommodate the ruffle. The back has shirring at the waistline and is done with elastic thread in the bobbin. Since this was my first attempt at that technique, I practiced on the muslin. Being much shorter than the length of the finished dress, the waist-whittling was not obvious on the muslin.
Once the dress was far enough along to try on, it was an oh-my-goodness moment. I knew a shiny red belt would be the perfect accessory. The shopping karma was with me on the belt, which then inspired the red bias tape for a Hong Kong finish, another first time technique for me.This dress is so comfortable, with great pockets. With a sweater, it should work well into fall. Full disclosure, I’m not a skinny as the dress form, but the dress still makes my waist look good.Now I need to find the perfect fabric to make it again, in the original version.