Pattern hacks

How to sew the best V neckline. 2 Celeste Dresses (Itch To Stitch) + gorgeous gathers hack

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The Celeste dress is a new sewing pattern release from Itch to Stitch Designs, I have been a pattern tester for this Indie pattern brand since 2017 and it it extremely difficult for me to pass on pattern tests. The designs are always so beautiful and totally my style. The Celeste dress is no exception!

Pin for Later πŸ™‚

*The Celeste dress has been updated to include sizes 00-40US and is 20% OFF, through Monday the 30th of August 2021. Get yours HERE. This is my affiliate link. If my sewing inspires you, consider supporting my work , at no extra cost to you, through my link :)*

The Celeste dress is designed for woven fabrics. The intended fit is relaxed whilst not being boxy (YAY). As always, Itch to Stitch patterns for woven fabrics include individual cup sizes A-DD and this is GOLD.

The V neckline is crisp and finished with an amazing sewing technique. The bodice on the front has a seam intended to be high waisted, but not empire line. The center front skirt is slightly gathered into the bodice, and by slightly, I mean slightly. Discreet and no extra bulk is added over the abdomen, rather, they skim over the midsection.

There are princess seams that originate from the shoulder both in the front and the back. It incorporates great shaping into these seam lines. YES πŸ™‚

The short sleeves complete the look perfect for summer. Intended length is mid to below the knee.

The Celeste dress has been designed for lightweight woven fabrics. Considering the design, I have separated my recommendations into first choices, meaning these would be my preference and second choices. These could work but would not result in a look I am going for. Saying this, these are my personal opinions πŸ™‚

First choices: These fabrics will hold the structure of the bodice and princess seams, while still keep the volume of the gathers subdued and flowing.

  • Lightweight linen
  • Linen / rayon blends
  • Linen / cotton blends
  • Rayon / cotton blends
  • Textured mid-weight linen-look 100% rayon. This is my choice for the black dress. It looks and behaves like linen, but flows like rayon! win πŸ™‚
  • Mid-weight crepe

Second choices: These are still lightweight woven fabrics and they will also hold the structure of the neckline and princess seams, but as some of these do not drape, the gathering will be more voluminous and the A-line skirt more pronounced in its shape. In contrast, too lightweight and floppy like rayon will deform and make construction more difficult.

  • 100% rayon, lightweight: this is my choice for the colorful dress. I interfaced larger areas of the bodice and stay stitched around the edges to assist the pieces in keeping their shape. I would not recommend this fabric, unless we take extra measures to stabilise the pieces.
  • Poplin
  • Gauze
  • Cotton
  • Chambray
  • Shirting

The following chart has detailed body measurements, including individual cup sizes from A-DD. The Celeste dress is available in Sizes 00-40 US.

Cup sizes A-DD are available from size 00-20US and B-DD from sizes 22-40 US.

There is a detailed finished garment measurements chart and they are very helpful in determining the intended fit and confirming that it is meant to be relaxed and comfortable. Compare these to the body measurements to see how much positive ease in included.

Looking at these fun numbers, I made a straight size 14 with the C cup bodice option. I will have the following positive ease along my body:

  • 3 3/4″ of positive ease at the bust
  • 2 5/8″ of positive ease at the waist
  • 6″ of positive ease at the hips.

My fabric choices are slightly transparent in the sun. I will need a short slip and considering the positive ease, using a light layer underneath will be ok.

Personal fitting

I am 5ft 8″ and have a short torso in proportion to my height. Usually I need not add length on bodices with Itch to Stitch. However, I wanted to confirm I was happy with the placement of the front bodice seam on my body.

I made a quick non-wearable muslin with the following goals:

  • Confirm that I needed to lower the bust point (apex) by 5/8″. This is a common change I always need.
  • Customize the upper chest shape of the front princess seams to transfer these to the paper pattern
  • Check for the fit on the shoulder and sleeve
  • Check the height of the center front bodice seam on my body
  • See if I like the style as a top! and I do!

I was thrilled with the waist seam and the waist notches on the pattern against my bodice, confirming that I did not need to add length to the bodice. The only fit change my body needed was to lower the bust point. It can be done with princess seams and I have a video on my channel all about this. See it HERE.

About the skirt length. It is intended to hit mid-knee or below the knee. Because I am taller, the hem will be above my knee and this is the length I prefer for all my dresses. So, even though I am 2″ taller than the drafted height of the pattern , I did not add length to the skirt.

  • The Celeste dress has many pattern pieces, but they are easy to put together, aided by well-placed notches that match perfectly.
  • Notice below, that the neckline has been stabilized with strips of fusible interfacing. This replaces stay-stitching and will keep the neckline safe from it stretching and deforming,
Pieces for the front of the dress.
Pieces for the back of the dress
  • The center front bodice has a center seam. This pattern piece needs two pairs of mirror images. One pair, seen above, will be the Outer pieces. The other will be fully interfaced and be the Inner pieces and functionally will be the front facing.
  • The Inner center front pieces, the back neckline facing and the pocket facings need to be interfaced and I use the “block fusing” technique for more accuracy and to prevent the facings from shrinking.
  • I use a long-stitch (4.5) guide stitch on the edges of the facings at the seam allowance to facilitate pressing raw edges in neatly on the facings. This guide stitch is easy to remove later.
  • Seam allowances are 1/2″ throughout the pattern, except for one specific area: the inner center front pieces (facing). These pieces are folded in at 3/8, see above.
  • The front center skirt that is gathered into the center front bodice needs two parallel stitches with a long stitch length to allow gathering. The skirt piece is 40% wider than the bodice. The gathering is slight.
  • Sew with the gathers looking up at you, this way you can control them as you sew.
Pin for later πŸ™‚
  • The pocket construction is brilliant and easy to sew, does not require a pocket bag. It does not create bulk at the hips. The pockets are the reason that the side pieces of the dress are separated into two. The two pieces overlap to form the pocket. I hand basted the overlap before top stitching the bottom.
Pin for later πŸ™‚
  • This is how the completed front dress looks like and we press the seam allowances on the princess seams to the center front of the dress. This is important. The inner front pieces (facing) will cover these seams on the inside.
  • This is how the completed back dress looks like and I pressed the seam allowances towards the side seam. The later to have less bulk on the shoulder seams.
  • Some areas of the princess seams are meant to be snipped into the seam allowance to facilitate the curves conforming. I did not need to do this with my chosen fabrics. Snipping the seam allowance on curved seams is technically correct, but natural fibers tend to not require this and I prefer to keep my fabric intact, if possible, for longevity and laundering. To hear more about my opinion on princess seam construction, see this video on my channel HERE.
  • At this stage, we sew the shoulder seams and then comes the facing fun.

V Neckline:

Pin for later πŸ™‚
  • Align the facing RST with the neckline. Because the neckline has been stabilized and the inner pieces interfaced, they have kept their shape and match perfectly.
  • Note that the center front seams are not sewn to the edge . There is a dot that marks a small area that will be left open on the top of the center seams.
  • The seam allowances on the center of the V need to be pushed to the side when sewing on the round with 1/2″ SA. Start precisely at the dot….. then when reaching the other side, push the seam allowance aside again and sew to the dot. The seam allowances need to be FREE. I did not backstitch here. I secured this by hand neatly for more precision.
  • After grading the seam allowance, snipping into curves and under stitching, flip the facing towards the inside and you will have the BEST CRISP and NEAT V neckline that is bulk free. Note that the under stitching needs to start and stop about 3/8″ from the point to keep the seam allowances inside free.
  • The facing will cover the seam of the princess seams on the front partially.
  • The front facing will completely cover the seam with the gathering completely and that is why the seam needs to be pressed up towards the bodice.
  • The edges of the facings where pressed in at 3/8″ at an early stage. This will allow the edge of the inner front center pieces to protrude a tad over the seams of the dress sewn with 1/2″ seam allowance. Why? the facing being tad wider will facilitate stitching in the ditch along the princess seams and catching the facing underneath.
  • Alternatively, the facings can also be sewn by hand with a slip stitch. Because I am old school, I did this for both of my dresses, happily.
  • The sleeve cap does not have excessive ease and it is easy to set in.
  • The hem allowances are 1″.

Let’s see both of my Celeste dresses I am very excited to share them.

Black and white original dress (Tester version)

Colorful Sleeveless with two tiers gathering hack

I mentioned that I didn’t recommend 100% rayon for the Celeste dress . I took extra measures to stabilise the pattern pieces:

  • I interfaced a larger area of the outer center bodice pieces. I didn’t use a thin strip on the neckline as per the original. My piece was a couple inches wide and I cut them using the pattern piece.
  • I stay stitched the edges of the pattern pieces as soon as possible.
  • I wanted this version sleeveless and also stay stitched the armscye to prevent it from stretching.

No pockets adaptation:

All I did was fold away the seam allowance on the bottom side piece of the dress, as if the facings were sewn there (but they aren’t). I overlapped the bottom piece over the top piece, matching the notches and voila! One side piece with princess seams and no pocket.

This modified line art represents my hacked version:

Cheater’s Sleeveless adaptation:

I knew from making a muslin that if I wanted to make this dress sleeveless, I would have a slight amount of gaping at the armscye. I expect this. There is a sleeve meant to be on that armhole and we need ease for movement. Because I am working with a pattern that has cup sizes, the gaping is not excessive. The solution? I divide the 1″ of excess I had at the front armscye in half.

1/2″ will be removed from the front side seam. The other 1/2″ will be “removed” by “gathering” the front armscye, using the stay-stitching threads to pull it in a tad. There will be no gathers visibly, but the armscye will reduce its length “sneakily” this way. To make the armhole neat, it is imperative to use a NARROW bias tape to finish it. A wider bias tape will not work with this trick. See how I use narrow bias tape in this video on my channel. Voila! a sneaky sleeveless look without gaping.

Note that the correct way to do this would involve pattern manipulation: rotating the excess from the armscye to the bust or waist….. and I was not keen on doing all the arts and crafts with this project πŸ™‚ This can work too if the gaping is minimal.

Two tiers gathering in the center front skirt:

This little addition was unplanned, and it came to be because of not having enough fabric to cut this piece on the fold in its entire length.

I had about 15″ of fabric left on the bottom of my cut, in its full 58″ width.

I cut the center front skirt piece in half. Before cutting it in half, I folded away the seam allowance on the top and the hem allowance on the bottom. I added seam allowance to both pieces to keep the original length..

I knew that the center front skirt piece was 40% wider than the bodice. I measured the bottom of the first “tier” and added 40% by multiplying that measurement by 1.4 Simple maths πŸ™‚

This larger measurement was what the bottom tier needed to have to keep the gathering in the same proportion. I gathered the bottom tier onto the top tier, and the top tier gathered onto the bodice.

*I filmed an exclusive video for my patreon page with all the details of this hack and a look at my muslin fitting. Thee video is HERE *

To see a full video review about the Celeste dress , all the sewing techniques, the dresses on in movements and my thoughts, visit the video on my sewing channel. See below:

I love both dresses equally and plan to make this pattern many more times! as a top, as dresses, with chiffon, you name it.

It’s a loose, comfortable style that is not boxy and that is GOLD for me. I don’t enjoy hiding my body under boxy styles too much, and this design is feminine and cute. The cup sizes will always provide such a great fit and princess seams allow us to customise to the shape of our bust easily. What’s not to love.

*The Celeste dress has been updated to include sizes 00-40US and is 20% OFF, through Monday the 30th of August 2021. Get yours HERE. This is my affiliate link. If my sewing inspires you, consider supporting my work , at no extra cost to you, through my link :)*

Two dresses I absolutely love and feel amazing in. They are similar and also different. The small hack is so much fun because it does not change the fit or overall original look, but it adds a little something extra that is so my style.

Until next time, sewing friends!

DISCLAIMER: I was provided the pattern without cost, as a pattern tester, in exchange for sewing a muslin, providing feedback on instructions and fit. I Purchased my own fabric for both versions.

I have affiliate links in this post to the pattern company and the pattern. If you click on these links, at no cost to you, I receive a small commission that helps finance my sewing, blog and Youtube channel.


I spend a lot of my time sewing, filming/editing videos, writing and taking photos for both my Youtube channel and blog and if you love what I do and consider my work valuable for your own sewing, you can support me financially in a non-committal manner by purchasing me a ”coffee” through Ko-Fi here.  $3 gets me one cup of β€œcoffee”.

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9 replies »

  1. I especially like the abstract colorful print with the extra gathered tier. They should add that to their pattern and pay you a commission for it.

    • I let my creativity loose when I finish a pattern test and sometimes not having enough fabric stretches me to find solutions that are also cool. My ideas are free for everyone to gather inspiration from 😊.

    • I have soooo many patterns I haven’t sewn yet but I HAVE to add this one to my collection. Thank you for the extensive tutorials and all the time you spend on them. Off to buy this pattern and hopefully I’ll have time to sew it up this summer!

  2. Thank you for the video tutorial! I was curious about the pocket construction. I have a drapy, swishy fabric that probably won’t support a pocket. I love that your second version eliminates the pocket. Also, how would I draft simple 3/4 or long sleeve for this pattern? I have a soft flannel that would look great in this silhouette for fall/winter.

  3. I love the look of this dress but most of all I absolutely love Karina’s tutorials. They are very informative and they clearly explain the procedures. She is an excellent teacher!!!

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