I cut a 38 grading out to a 40 below the waist and made a few adjustments during construction:
- This was the tall pattern, designed for heights of 5'9 rather than 5'6. I shortened the dress by around 4 inches so that it was knee length on me. I'm sure the pattern is drafted with extra length in the torso too, but I didn't find it necessary to alter anywhere other than the hem.
- I found the sleeves to be really narrow so I had to recut them in a bigger size which of course gave me all kinds of problems setting in the sleeve. There is a dart at the top of the sleeve which is supposed to be sewn at the same time as the shoulder seam, but I found it much easier to get the sleeve in by stitching the dart first and then setting it in the standard way. It doesn't look as smooth done this way, but I'm treating it as a design feature!
- I ditched the neck facing and instead used a folded bias strip to finish the neckline. I topstitched the neckline to secure the bias strip and narrow hemmed the skirt and sleeves. I find some fabrics are impossible to hem invisibly and I'd rather have neat machine stitching showing than my imperfect (not) invisible hand stitching.
The pleats in the skirt are held in place by a piece of lining that acts as a stay, it's a really nice feature.
The fabric I used is a navy drapy dress fabric, probably a poly crepe. It has a nice weight and drape, but is not easy to press well. The magazine sample uses a jersey for the short version and a stretch crepe for the maxi version although the fabric recommendations are "dress fabrics with or without elastane". Some stretch would have probably avoided my tight sleeve issue, but otherwise it's true that stretch is optional.
Taking photos of navy clothing is as tricky as black, but hopefully you get the idea. It's a cute dress, I just need to find somewhere to wear it!