My "Brazilliant" red Brasilia Dress

I’ve been wanting to make Rachel’s free Brasilia Dress pattern since she released it on Christmas Day, and I finally got the kick I needed, in the form of a big opportunity – ten days ago I was asked to speak at the House of Commons about a new stem cell bill! So of course I needed a new dress, and I figured the red stretch cotton sateen in my stash would be perfect, both for confidence and the connotation with blood.

The pattern is only available in one size (Rachel‘s), but through an extreme act of coincidence, I match her bust, waist, and hips almost exactly, only differing by a centimeter or two. Our lengths, however, are another matter entirely, so I jotted down mine for comparison on the size chart provided:

I was a bit confused as to whether I should adapt the pattern based on the given body measurements or the finished measurements (as there’s a big difference in the lengths between them), so I ended up measuring the pattern myself (which was somewhere between the two given sets) and made this match my lengths.

In the end, I removed 5cm above the waist, added 1cm between the waist and hips, and lowered the front neckline by 7cm (this latter change was just a personal style choice). My bust point was exactly the same placement as on the pattern, though in future I’d shorten the darts so they end an inch or two below the bust rather than right at the apex.

Can you believe this red stretch cotton sateen has been in my stash since 2010? What was I thinking not using it until now?! It really is cherry red and not fuchsia like in these photos, also! The only problem with stretch cotton sateen is that it shows way more wrinkles in photos than it ever does in real like! In reality, this might possibly be the best fitting sheath dress I own.

The real star of this pattern is the unique front seaming – there’s a centre front seam with diagonal bust darts, but also curved side panels that really draw the eye inward and help to accentuate an hour glass figure. Really very clever eye trickery, and pretty easy to sew, too!

In the back, there’s two long, fisheye darts to give shape, and a centre back invisible zipper. Happily, I also had a long red invisible zipper in my stash (also from 2010!), so I didn’t have to buy anything for this dress – it was entirely free!

The pattern comes as-is, with no instructions or linings or facings, so I drafted my own all-in-one facings for the neckline and armholes. But then I stupidly sewed the invisible zipper in the CB seam before sewing the armholes, result -> I couldn’t flip the dress right-side-out! Guh, just a stupid mistake but I was already having a bad day so I just unpicked the armhole stitching (I’d already clipped the curves, too!) and finished them by hand instead. This was great as it actually gave me something to do as I waited around the hospital for checkup appointment the next day, and the tiny fell stitches make me happy!

I opted to not line the dress since I had limited time and figured I could wear one of my many Ruby Slips underneath instead, so I just finished off the hem with lace tape in the only colour I had on hand, black! Saucy!

I really like using lace hem tape when hand sewing a hem – the scallops and lace repeats make it really easy to keep nice, even stitches (ie: stitch on the top of the scallop, stitch between the scallop, then the top again, etc).

Just for fun, here’s my attempt at Rachel’s signature pose!

Before we settled on the gate of the wharf next door for our location, we tried two other moorings locations first, so I thought I’d throw those in!

And yes, for all of you who sent me encouragements on Twitter, my talk to the Parliamentary meeting yesterday went very well indeed! It was amazing to finally be inside the Houses of Parliament, which felt so much like a real-life Hogwarts and smelled like an old library. Mmm. We got shouted at for taking photos, but they were allowed in the ancient Westminster Hall.

The meeting itself took place in a room in the long section of the building along the river, so while I spoke, I actually got to look out onto St Thomas’s hospital across the river, where I had the bulk of my transfusions before my bone marrow transplant in 2009.

This dress was absolutely perfect for a confidence-boost and it’s totally going to be my go-to Power Dress. Thanks, Rachel, for such a fantastic free pattern!

PS: I can’t take credit for the “Brazilliant” pun! That puppy is all Rosie‘s.

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