I decided to cut out the top part of this dress in some scrap fabric to re-check the fit having cut the pattern down one size. I left larger seam allowances on the shoulders so that I could take them in or out as required. That is an easy way to fix an armhole that is too low.
I'm glad I did this because right away I could see that I had the usual extra fabric at the top of the dress front. So I will move the pattern off the fold slightly when cutting out. Marcy Tilton gave this tip in her book on sewing knit tops and it works well and is so simple. It does add slightly to the bottom of the dress, but this is A-line so it doesn't matter.
Next I could see that I had to take in immediately below the armhole and I will use Carolyn's method of just sewing deeper seam allowances there, perhaps the top two inches. Not much is required since I had already pinched out a dart in the front armscye when I made this dress before.
But what I really noticed was that, if I sewed the facings on as is, the neckline and armhole would be cut in deeper and I was happy with them as they were, i.e with the seam allowances left on.
So I traced off the pattern again, this time drawing dotted lines on the center front and the underarm where I will make the small adjustments. And then I added 5/8" seam allowances to the armholes and the neckline. It was then easy to make new facings by simply tracing them off the new pattern.
The extra time to make that little fitting shell was probably half an hour, but I know that it will save me in the long run. After all, I would prefer a dress that fits nicely rather than one that is kind of sloppy in the upper neck area. Even though I will probably always wear this with a cardigan on top, I will feel better knowing that it fits well instead of settling for just a passable fit.
The cotton is cut out and I will iron the lining (which I had to run out and buy last night). I am going to line it with rayon lining to give the dress some substance. I have a couple of cotton dresses that I underlined with rayon lining and they feel wonderfully cool to wear, plus they have more body than just the single layer of cotton.
Check out Tany's blog and see how her lined cotton dress looks spectacular. Well, not that I am going to look like Tany but my dress can look as well made anyway.