A Closet Case Fiona Sundress Hack

Last summer I made the short version of the Fiona Sundress in stretch denim and love the fit and the detail of the low back. I made a size 8 and did an FBA for princess seams, but then found I needed to curve it back in a bit under the bust to make it a more flattering fit there. My Janome machine played up when it came to the buttonholes – it really doesn’t like thick layers or lumpy fabric – so I wasn’t keen on having to make all those buttonholes again (especially on the thicker fabric I had planned) so I decided this time a hack was in order!

I bought some fabulous Paul Smith cotton corduroy fabric from Minerva Crafts with this in mind – one of my Make Nine 2019 – it’s such a lovely quality and weight, and perfect for a pinafore-type dress.

I had a really lovely petrol blue zip in my stash (from when I made my Sew Over It Chloe Coat) so thought it was about time to use it as a contrasting exposed zip in the back.

I decided on View A with the higher back. I wasn’t sure at this point exactly how long I wanted it to be overall, so cut the skirt somewhere around long-midi length, so I could make my mind up later.


To hack the pattern, I found the Center Front and cut the skirt, front bodice, and front band on the fold. (I used my existing pattern piece with the FBA for the front bodice, as my cord doesn’t have any stretch, so I didn’t want it to end up too snug over my bust – more on that shortly.) I added a 1.5cm seam allowance to the Centre Back of the back skirt, back bodice, and back band and cut them as pairs, rather than on the fold. I didn’t fancy the side slits in the skirt, so instead cut my fabric with a vent at the Centre Back (copied from a pencil skirt pattern).


I initially wanted to add the exposed zip below the back band – Option 1 below – as I thought it’d look neater and the zip wouldn’t have to be placed over the bulky band. However, when I tried it on as I was making it I realised that, although it wasn’t going to be impossible to get on and off, it was going to involve me becoming a bit of a contortionist! So I ended up going with Option 2.


I cracked on and sewed it all up, partly as per the instructions, and partly using intuition. I used some left over Liberty Lawn for the pocket facings, as a nice touch, and petrol blue thread for the top stitching, which has turned out as a subtle nod towards the zip colour.

I ended up needing to take the FBA back in again to make it more fitted on the area under my bust. I thought I’d likely shorten the skirt, but I tried it on when there was just the hem to do and really liked the length, so stuck with it.


I’m afraid I didn’t take any photos of work in progress for this make, as I was SO engrossed in what I was doing, hence this post being a bit wordy – sorry about that!


So here are some finished photos… Incidentally, I’m also wearing another Make Nine 2019 project (so that’s three ticked off and we’re not even at the end of January yet!): My Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Polo Hack, which I’ve made with the lovely Waffle Knit Jersey that I got with my Sew Over It Show Off winnings…

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