After aligning the bodice center on the 5/8-inch mark, I pinned the pattern piece to the test fabric, cut it out and marked the bust dart on the fabric's wrong side.
I believe most pattern instructions advise to end the machine stitching at the bust dart point, and maybe tie off the thread tails to keep them from separating. The problem with this is there is too much stress on the thread ends. Instead, I lift my presser foot so I can pivot my needle at the bust point and turn my work around to begin sewing in the opposite direction.
I then sew just below the original dart stitching, hugging the fold line of the dart. This will strengthen the dart stitching line and bust point, while placing the "weak" stitch endings within the dart fold where there is no pressure or stress. I learned this technique from watching HGTV's "Sew Perfect" with Sandra Betzina, and I love using it because it works everytime. Man, do I miss that show!!
I pressed the dart on my tailor's ham, and...
...confirmed the dart seriously distorts the stripes' appearance. I could use striping that is more narrow, but that will require more piecing work than I'm willing to do. Afterall, this is supposed to be a "fun" project - not special occassion or "haute couture", right?
So, I've decided to cut the entire front bodice portion of this dress out from the star fabric, with the front skirt-portion and entire back cut from the "stripes". Also, I believe the 3-inch stripes may be too large for the star fabric - the scale just seems off to me - so I will make the stripes a little narrower.
Thanks again for reading, and I'll publish update posts soon. Please leave comments below - I really love reading them!!