In honor of the USA’s Fourth of July/Independence Day holiday, today I’m doing a quick and looooong overdue review of the Astro dress from Heart of Haute in the red, white, and blue star print.
I bought this dress ages ago and never got around to reviewing it, in part because it’s not actually all that boob-friendly and required either a pin to hold it shut or some sewn alterations. But I really wanted to wear it for the holiday this year, so it was finally my motivation to do the alteration.
First up, I had to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and scenery around my parents’ cabin in upstate New York, where I’m spending the extended holiday weekend:
Basics: Like much of Heart of Haute’s offerings, this one is made of high quality quilting cotton with pristine stitching. The belt is removable, and is held in place by two double-layered belt loops placed on the front of the bodice. I think a minor improvement could be achieved by placing another pair of belt loops on the back on either side of the zipper, since it tends to slide down a bit as-is.
Surprisingly, the red underbust section actually rests under my bust (surprising because my long torso and bigger bust usually means waistbands pull up to rest on breast tissue instead of below it where it belongs).
However, as I’ve experienced before with HoH, the boob space is a little wonky on me. Thanks to ample gathering at the base of the bustline, it appears to have enough volume to fit my boobs, but tends to float away from my chest, exposing bra and way more cleavage than I especially want:
Until I sewed a permanent alteration, I solved this by pinning the overlapping pieces together, but that ends up creating a broken line along the front, and the pin job is pretty obvious:
While attempting to figure out the best way to sew the top, I realized that simply pulling the overlapping pieces into place created a loose, gappy look:
However, pinching the front of the dress on each side pulled the neckline up without eradicating any volume in the cups, so I decided that was the way to go, even if it broke up the pattern a bit:
While wearing the dress, I pinched one side into place (in my case the left-hand side), folded it down, and sewed it in place with a super-loose baste stitch just to hold it there. If I was at home, I would have held it with several pins and maybe ironed it, but all I had at my disposal was thread and the single needle I’d brought:
Then I used a slip stitch to hand-sew the overlapping piece in place all the way from the front to the side seam (you can see a slip stitch tutorial in this old post of mine: Shrinking a Bra Band). Here’s how it looked after sewing my left-hand side (so the right side in this view). You can see it looks slightly cleaner overall and there’s no more visible bra:
For the other side, I sandwiched the two sides together and (lazily) just pinched it in place without bothering to baste it, and started sewing. It turned out a tiny bit uneven compared to the other side, but with the busy pattern I don’t think you can even tell:
The fabric is now flush with my chest instead of floating out away from it. It’s still fairly open in terms of visible cleavage, but I feel a lot more comfortable and taller folks can’t see down my top any more. This alteration did pull up the red waistband a bit so it’s now resting on breast tissue by just a little (whereas before it wasn’t), but I think this minor sacrifice is worth it.
There are no Astro dresses left on the HoH site (though there is one on their clearance site in XS), but several designs are quite similar, including the Irma, Jolene (which makes me think of the Dolly Parton/White Stripes song), Mallory, and Melinda, all of which I think would benefit from this alteration for big-busted ladies.
Happy Fourth of July, everybody!!