Assembling the dress is pretty straightforward. First, because I’ve colorblocked the skirt, I had to assemble my skirt panels before sewing them together. As I go, I serged the seams, since both the pink and the spiderweb print are quilting cottons, and they will tend to fray.
The directions for Ava are very easy to follow for the construction of the skirt, as you simply sew the panels together along the seams, leaving space for the zipper on the right hand seam.
For the bodice construction, you first sew the darts in the front and back bodice pieces, and then assemble the lower portion of the bodice and attach the skirt. At this point, you do a fitting to see if you need to take up the bodice. I would actually recommend doing a muslin, but if you are working directly in your fashion fabric, I would try the bodice on before you attach the skirt to see if you need to take it up. Although I chose the size 10 based on finished measurements, there was enough ease that I still needed to take an inch (!) up on either side seam of the bodice. This may be due to my fit preferences, since I prefer my clothes to fit pretty closely, but it’s something to keep in mind. I attached the skirt, lining up the seams and darts, and then inserted the zipper.
Once the skirt was attached, it was time to attach the upper front and upper back bodice. The sweetheart neckline can be a little tough, but don’t be afraid to rip your stitches out and try again if you are not happy on the first try. It took me a couple of tries to get it right. Ava also comes with the option to add pleated trim and two kinds of sleeves. I skipped the pleated trim and the sleeves for this version, opting to finish the neckline and arm scyes with contrast bias binding.
The spider appliques were a fun learning process for me, since I’ve never worked with heat-transfer vinyl. It was pretty basic – you simply apply the applique, sticky side down, while it’s on the transfer plastic. You put a layer of parchment paper between the iron and the applique and use a pretty hot iron with no steam. It’s about a 10 to 20 second process on every part of the applique before it will release from the plastic, and then you go over it again, using the parchment paper as a pressing cloth, to be sure the applique has adhered. My spiders had some spindly legs, so they were a little tricky, but overall I am very pleased with the results!