Off the Shoulder Ruffle Dress (A BHL Tutorial)

Thank you By Hand London for always knowing exactly what my wardrobe needs. When I saw Elisalex's tutorial for an off the shoulder ruffle dress, I couldn't wait to try it! This trend has been all over the place this summer but knowing that both summers and trends can be pretty short-lived, I wasn't about to buy an off-the-shoulder dress pattern. So this free tutorial to draft your own dress was the perfect solution. 

This is my first time drafting my own dress. I used Swedish tracing paper (which I had on hand because I often trace frequently-used patterns in my size). Elisalex's instructions were really clear and the dress is only 3 easy pieces: bodice front/back (same pattern piece), shoulder ruffle, and hem ruffle. I cut it one evening, and sewed the entire dress in an afternoon. 

For the fabric, I used a chambray linen from King Textiles, one of my local go-to's (they have a great linen selection). I love the chambray look for this dress...in retrospect, though, I would have picked something more lightweight. The weight of this fabric is a tad heavy for hot summer days, which is when I'd most want to wear a dress like this... sooo, noted for next time. Also, I don't think the tutorial says how much fabric to buy...I think I bought 3 yards. The ruffle pieces - especially the hem ruffle - are loooong. I put an extra seam in mine because I couldn't get it all in one length from my fabric.   

To create the ruffles, I used my new Bernina ruffle foot. It's supposed to save you the trouble of stitching 2-3 basting lines and then manually gathering them. I had tried it a few times on some other projects, but found it hard to get the length of the gathered fabric just right. And when I had pulled on the threads to adjust the ruffles, some of the stitches would snap. Not ideal! After some googling, I found this video which helped me out. It turns out the best way to use this foot is to do some measuring beforehand to get the ratio of the gathered piece to the non-gathered piece you're attaching it to (i.e. dress hem to ruffle hem piece - in this case it was 2:1). Then I practiced on some scraps to find the tension and stitch length that would bring my ruffle hem piece to half its size so it would fit with the bottom of the dress piece. It worked perfectly once I did all that, but I'm not so sure it was faster or more straightforward than just sewing a couple of lines of basting stitches and gathering them yourself. So, while it produced beautiful results, I am not convinced that it's worth the extra effort!

I debated putting some sort of trim on the shoulder ruffle (lace? pom poms?) but decided I wanted to keep this version simple and am glad I did. If I make this again with a floral fabric, I might add a lace trim. This dress has gotten a lot of wear on the weekends - I usually wear it with a belt but sometimes I opt for no belt, and that works too!