I shouldn’t really have made this dress. In a world where my sewing time is numbered in hours per month, where every precious drop of needle-time needs to count, this was not really the right choice. It’s impractical, non-seasonal, and doesn’t even have charming geeky pop-culture references. Sigh.* When I sewed this last weekend, we were suffering through wind-chills into the -40s. It’ll be weeks, more likely months, before this dress sees action. And I could have been sewing zebra print fleece! But, the choice was made, so let’s try to blog it, shall we?
So, I made Vogue 8916. Why? Well, I think I mostly felt challenged by the sheer butt-ugliness of the envelope photos, frankly. The model looks about as thrilled with the shapeless potato-sac outfits masquerading as Chanel chic as I would be, frankly. And yet, there’s this possibly-really-cute-dress-with-neat-seaming in there at the same time. So I made it. In this really neat abstract-butterfly-wings print whose cuteness almost makes up for its %100 polyester composition and the part where the (slightly glittery) black print melts when you iron it (all over my new-last-summer iron with the spanky extra-slidy sole, I’ll add. The press-cloth was my friend).
I’m almost as over apologizing for bad photos as I am over winter, so, they are what they are, which is grainy and not-very-in-focus. My “good” camera did not do a whole lot better than the iPhone (we tried both)—the culprit is simply inadequate lighting. Which, given my husband’s abhorrence of light in most forms, isn’t likely to change until I can go outside to take photos. In, y’know, a month or three. And I do better with a tripod than a photographer, just because I find it easier to let loose and be goofy. Although Tyo, my photographer, thought I was being plenty goofy enough.
Anyway, so the dress. I like the idea. I like the silhouette. I like the details. I did a decent job on the execution. But there’s a couple of things in the fit that I think are going to, well, irk me.
I haven’t made many straight skirts. Ok, I made one, a long time ago, when I was a baby stitcher, and I’ve only worn it about three times. More because I tend to destroy the back-slit every time I’ve tried to wear it than anything else, but the fact remains. I do have a couple of storebought (hand-me-down) pencil skirts of some kind of stretch fabric that are cute and I wear them a bit now that I have this staid little office job (though they still annoy me when going up and down stairs.) Anyway, the skirt features the very typical-of-straight-skirts front darts.
So I can kinda, if I squint right, see how these darts are right for most people. I mean, I’ve got some tummy pooch, especially the last couple of years (hello, mid-thirties!). But, for the most part, my stomach goes out in a smooth curve, sticking out furthest at my bellybutton, unless I’m carefully sucking things in for, oh, blog photos and whatnot. Anyway, it’s not so much the fit at the tummy that bugs me, as right below. My hips go back, and the skirt does not. Those storebought skirts just kinda suck in in this area—this non-stretch one doesn’t. If I’m standing straight, it’s not bad, but from certain angles it just looks poochy. Which I guess is cute. Also, while the curve of the hip isn’t as off as I was afraid it might be (my hips don’t curve out quite the “normal” amount, or so the vast majority of pencil skirts I’ve ever tried on have informed me) it’s not in quite the right place. It hits much higher than my widest part, like a good three inches higher. So yeah, I guess I’m short in the waist and long in the hips. I guess if I made more high-waisted stuff I would know this by now. This excess width at the high-hip also contributes to the pooch, I think. And then it’s quite snug over the widest part of my hips, which falls in the part where the pegged skirt is starting to taper in toward the hem. /sigh. So note to self—in future, add whatever length you take off above the waist on below the waist. Or maybe some more—I only shortened the bodice by about 1 cm (and yet, it does hit at my waist, at least when I stand straight.), and I think the “widest part of hip” needs to come down at least a couple of inches.
All the back photos came out blurry. Which is too bad, because I really like the back view. My swayback adjustment worked quite nicely, here. I may not need it in things with flared skirts, but I definitely do in something like this.
I spent a lot of time agonizing over how and where I was going to do the piping. I knew I wanted to highlight the interesting front seams, but just how? In the end, I went for minimal—just the front princess seams, and that under-bust cross-seam. Part of me wishes I’d done the waist, but I don’t like highlighting my natural waist, so I am content with how I did it. I’m a little disappointed that the under-bust seam is only in the front of the bodice, though—if I’d had more time/ambition I would’ve added it to the back and piped all the way around. In the past I’ve usually made my own piping, but this time I tried out this squishy-braided-flexible stuff from the store. I think the shininess works well with the fabric, more than, say, a broadcloth piping would’ve, and it was certainly less fussy than homemade satin bias piping. Anyway, it worked nicely, and I like the look and texture with this fabric. Incidentally, look at my piping intersection there! That was probably the most nerve-wracking moment of sewing the whole thing, so I definitely did a happy dance to the sewing gods when I got it just right. Also, this is the only photo where you can see the more subtle jaquard swirls in the fabric, as well as the black butterfly-wing bits. Cool fabric, no?
Other construction details? I underlined my fashion fabric, which was fairly floppy, with broadcloth. I also used broadcloth for lining, so this is really a fairly substantial-feeling dress. Unfortunately, the broadcloth lining doesn’t work with tights (especially lacy tights) so the photographed combination won’t work in real life. *pout* (I may pull off the skirt lining and replace it with a proper, slippery lining. I think the skirt-fit-issues would bug me less if the dress skimmed more anyway.) I finished the hem with some saddle-stitched grosgrain ribbon (off a spool from the dollar store—man, those don’t have much on them!) I love how easy underlining makes invisible hemming. I’m now officially terrified to wash this dress, though—red piping and red dollar-store ribbon on a white dress? I’d say disaster waiting to happen, wouldn’t you?
I added bust padding a la Tasia’s tutorial, much as I did with the picnic dress. Unfortunately, my only pic came out really blurry, but they do the job, which is basically just to add a bit of smoothness and structure to the bustical area if I don’t wear a bra. My bras are all padded in varying amounts, so my “size” without them is, um, a bit smaller. I made a size 12 for this, and it’s a bit roomy in the top, so maybe I really should be making a 10 in the bust for Vogues. I should also have done more stay-stitching or something around the top of the bodice, as it gapes a bit (and that’s after taking a bit off from the top of the princess seams.)
So, overall, I don’t really know about this dress. From some angles it’s great, from others the little things bug me to all hell. I probably do need to bite the bullet and play with the skirt side-seams, and replace the broadcloth skirt lining with a slippery one. In, y’know, a couple of months. On the other hand, I can see myself wearing it to work with a shrug or something to dress it down a bit (and to keep me from freezing!). I don’t have any glam-requiring events in the foreseeable future, so dressing it down will be a necessity. I suspect it’ll all come down to how it feels to wear it—and I won’t know until I try.
In a few months.
*I know there are plenty of people who love to sew nothing but the fun and frivolous, preferring to buy (or just ignore) the mundane and everyday. And I get it. But personally, I find it frustrating and disappointing when I can’t wear something I make. Like, right away. Preferably to death.