Completed: Gertie’s Surplice bodice dress with 3/4 circle skirt

Back in September I was idly scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw that Gretchen ‘Gertie‘ Hirsch had announced she was coming to the UK to teach some workshops, literally five minutes walk from my flat,  at Ray Stitch in London.

Within seconds I had booked myself onto a class – the only one that had not yet sold out – a bodice fitting workshop over two evenings in October.

The lovely Gertie

I was asked, a lot, why I was doing this class. ‘You already know how to sew’, ‘You’re a sewing teacher, isn’t that a bit weird’  – that kind of thing.

A couple of facts:

  1. Sewing with Gertie…. are you kidding me? I’ve been a fan of her and her blog/books/patterns for years. Of course I am going to try to get in her class.
  2. I actually have never learned how to fit clothes properly. Usually I just take my measurements and hope for the best, with a bit of tweaking – maybe a few extra  *gulp* neck darts  – afterwards. I have never made a toile/muslin before. EVER. And I have certainly never adjusted a pattern before. Seriously.. .how have I managed to make anything that fits?!

Anyway…I went along to the class. Met a small group of fab sewing ladies and I am happy to report that Gretchen is one of the most lovely people I have ever met. I spent two evenings with Gertie,  perfecting a princess seam bodice from her book Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. Just six short hours  with her and I learned so much about fitting. I came away from the experience  feeling empowered and ready to tackle any sewing project, knowing that the result was going to fit beautifully.

Taken from Gertie’s Instagram feed – check out my happy face

I have my perfectly altered  princess seam bodice pattern and muslin as a result of that class , and this is a dress that I will definitely make in the near future. But before that, I wanted to have a go at another dress from Gertie’s book, the surplice bodice dress with a three quarter circle skirt. I was inspired by this awesome anchor print dress by Sewn by Ashley and wanted to create something similar for a wedding.

Flamingo close up

I bought this amazing navy blue flamingo print cotton from Sew Over It and a petrol blue lining from Fabric Store in Walthamstow. And, armed with everything I had learned from Gertie, I set to work on my first muslin.

Muslin number three  – the fit is so bad I am too embarrassed to show my face

I traced off a size 8 but I had to do a lot of alterations to this pattern. The waist needed to be bigger; I needed to take some fabric out of the front so it would lie flat against my chest; I shortened the shoulders; I took quite a lot of fabric out of the back to stop it gaping at the neck; and pinched out a little fabric from a sway back. All in all I ended up making five muslins! Five! From the girl who had never made a  muslin ever before!

Awkward pose; awesome dress

I am so glad I did though. I could not be more happy with the fit of this dress. Once I got the fit right it was relatively easy to put together. I lined the bodice and used an invisible zip. I did intend to use horse hair braid in the hem but as I will be wearing it with a stiff petticoat it doesn’t really feel necessary.

I love this dress and felt amazing wearing it to the lovely wedding of Ellen and Pete this weekend. A perfect dress for being twirled on a dance floor.

Action shot

I’m going to leave you with a bunch of photos taken in my classroom.

Happy Sunday xo


I probably should have used blue thread in my overlocker
Front view
And another


    • Ha! Well you never know. She has been in London twice recently and is currently in Australia – so Idaho is at least closer to home! I thoroughly recommend the book though, with or without Gertie’s help! Thanks for the kind words

      Liked by 1 person

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