OK, now this one I am happy with.
This dress has been hanging around in its completely finished and *gasp* ironed state for about 10 days, and has nearly been worn to work a few times (alas, too cold,wet or windy for it), and nearly worn out to dinner twice (alas, not dressy enough). The fact that I keep putting it on and trying to wear it despite the weather and the occasion tells you I love it.
The pattern is Vogue 1137, a 1950 vintage pattern reissue, made as a straight size 15 - which is to say it's a size 14 but sewn with 1cm rather than 1.5cm seam allowances down the sides. Oh, the mad thrill of sewing without a muslin!
I managed to sneak these photos in just before the rain started up again...
Do you see how GREEN and healthy the garden looks? It is L.O.V.I.N.G. this summer.
But the dress. Yes, the dress.
It's much more fitted than I usually manage (a psychological block that I MUST get past for Julia Bobbin's Mad Men dress challenge!) but the dress is extremely comfortable, and I don't feel too exposed. Look everyone, a genuine smile!
So how long?
About 5 hours. Yes, I know I'm a slow coach. But on the other hand it's been a long time since I've had to do any unpicking - so there!
And how much?
A mere bagatelle!
$22.50 tops. All up.
$18 of fabric (a half price remnant from Tessuti fabrics), and $2.50 for a reel of thread. The bias binding was a leftover, and the zip has been in my stash for ages - which means I bought it second hand or on sale. We can call it $2 but it might have been 50 cents :-).
I didn't follow the pattern instructions and only really glanced at them to check for danger zones, so I can't tell you if they're any good or not - but with this sort of straightforward construction there's not too much scope for calamitous errors.
I did find one surprise with the pattern though, which was that there seemed to be less ease than usual for a Vogue pattern - either that or it's supposed to be extremely snug and foxy? Maybe so! FYI these days I sew a size 12 bodice in Vogue patterns (and a 14 below the waist), but the fit you see above approximates to a size 15 everywhere - and I wouldn't call the bodice particularly loose. So if you're thinking of making this I'd recommend you measure the pattern widths first.
I made a couple of changes...
- Smaller side seams - of necessity :-) - thank goodness I gave myself "extra" fabric to play with by cutting out too big!
- No hand sewing - I did glance at the instructions to see if they included a neat way of sewing the lining to the bodice outer but they didn't. They seemed to suggest sewing front bodice to its lining, back bodice to its lining, then hand sewing front to back at the shoulder seams, followed by neatening up the lining pieces on the inside shoulder seam. In my experience this approach often looks messy. Instead I sewed outer to outer at the shoulder seams, and facing to facing at the shoulder seams, then sewed the outer and facings together along the neckline. I turned the dress right side out and then pinned the arm hole seams together as far as I could reach in towards the shoulder seam. Sewing these seams with the machine took a couple of steps working up from the lowest points of the armhole and required some care close to the shoulder seams where there wasn't much room for everything else to stay out of the way. I think there are some good explanations of this method out there in the sewing blogosphere but I have to admit I didn't look it up - just tried to think about the dress in 3d terms.
- Self-fabric facings rather than full bodice lining. My fabric is a stretch cotton and I figured a non-stretch lining would strain at the seams and also make the dress too warm. I made a facing shape by basically tracing the bodice pattern pieces and drawing a wavy line that allowed for at least 6cm below the lowest underarm point and lowest part of the neckline. My facing ends just above the bust darts and I intentionally made it a little tighter on the bust than the bodice. And look what I also did - matched up the stripes on the outer and facing pieces!
- Order of construction - I like to join bodice front to skirt front, and bodice back to skirt back, before sewing the side seams. This lets me check stripes are matched on the waist seam without having copious amounts of fabric hanging either side of the needle, and also lets me fit the dress in one lovely long side seam. Especially since I'm bigger in the hips than in the bodice I don't want to sew side seams for the top and bottom parts separately - they might not be the same size at the waist seam!
- Sway back adjustment - I took out a wedge from the back bodice waist seam to remove some puffiness that turned up in the bodice back when I tried it on in pins
|This shaped waistline becomes a horizontal on me|
|Back bags be gone!|
- Straightened the side vents along the fabric stripe
- Left out the self fabric belt. Just for now. I have the coordinating belt buckle ready to go but am feeling nervous about this step - so am doing without for now.
A fitted dress like this - once it fits - gives you the opportunity to vary the ease, the neckline, the skirt shape and the length for some very different looks.
I love it. I'm tempted to make another, shorter dress in a very different fabric.