Side view. Spot the tummy poof!

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.

Bodice details

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.

Front view, with tummy pooch

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.

Back view, with blur.

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.

Piping intersection

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?

Hem, with grosgrain ribbon finish. You can see the underlining above the hem.

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?

Really blurry pic of the bust padding

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.

Instagram makes everything better.

*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.



Filed under Sewing

28 responses to “Butterflied

  1. bimbleandpimble

    Dark tights, a blazer/cardi and this is great for work. And I totally get sewing things that you will wear- my time is precious and what I make needs to be regularly worn.

    • Yes, I think if I bite the bullet and replace the skirt lining, so I can wear it with tights, it would be more functional. I wonder how it would look with any of my sweaters…

  2. Your dress looks great! I can’t believe you got past the pattern envelope to find such a gem. Pencil skirts look great on you…so tweak away until you are happy with the fit of them.

    • To be honest, I think it was the challenge of that that made me try it! /sigh. My issue with pencil skirts is mostly that, even when they fit, I find them restrictive (or just destroy them.) I really want to try the Cake one with the back flounce… one of these days. 😉

  3. Wow, this is freakin gorgeous! The piping detail is amazing and really makes the dress. Hurry up Spring!

  4. Sox

    It’s a lovely dress and the piping is a great touch. I’m dreaming of summer dresses too, but …(~sigh~)
    I hear you about hip placement. If one is instructed to measure one’s hips at the fullest part, or ~ 9 inches below the waist, do you not think the pattern drafters should place the fullness at the same spot?

  5. This looks great on you. That piping intersection is masterful; I’d show it off too

    • Hehe! Thanks! And I didn’t even have to rip and redo I was fully expecting at least a couple of tries to get it right, maybe even having to resort to hand-basting—but I got away with just some careful pinning right at the spot! 🙂

  6. Cute, cute, cute! Throw on that shrug and wear it. It looks great on you.

  7. Cute dress! FWIW the hip/belly adjustments you talk about are in the standard, “make your basic pattern” muslin and are very straightforward – much more so than a swayback or bust adjustment.

    • It’s funny, it’s not as if I haven’t made hip adjustments before… it’s more that in the past, the issue has usually been fixed by straightening the side seams, easy to do when fitting as you go—but for this skirt (maybe because of the pegged shape?) it feels more like the fullness is too high, not just too much.

      And the belly darts, I should look up getting rid of those for sure…

  8. I feel ya on making only what you’ll actually wear–same here, otherwise my budget wouldn’t allow me to continue the hobby. 🙂 Anyway, washing issues aside, the red accents on the black/white print are perfect, LOVE! And yes, SO SICK OF WINTER!!! Supposedly we’re going to be beautiful today, and I sure hope so, I’m desperate to open the windows and get some fresh air in the house!

    • Wow, we are a ways off open windows, yet, but it’s glorious not to be in the depths of winter. Although I’m sure there’s at least one more major blizzard coming our way…

  9. This is so incredibly cute, and the pattern envelope is something I never would’ve even looked twice at lol. That piping! Dude, how did you get that intersection so perfect without entering another dimension of space??

    Now that I read it on your blog, I think that hip-being-too-high thing might be the problem I’ve been having with my pencil skirts, too. So thanks, I could never figure that out, ha!

  10. trumbelinasews

    Your piping is awesome. I’m sure you will be able to get some wear out of it with a cardigan in the summer.

  11. Oh no, you SHOULD have made this dress, I’m in love with it! Great pattern and I love the black and white fabric with the red piping.

  12. I totally love this dress! Stellar fabric/piping combo – and even if it’s not weather appropriate NOW, it will be very soon, and you’ll have a gorgeous dress all ready to throw on and rock out in! ^__^

  13. LinB

    Doesn’t matter when you made it, you’ll wear this little gem to death. Yeah, you ought to address your skirt issues right now, or the dress will lanquish on the “I’ll get to it sometime” pile until TYO steals it from you. Or, possibly, SYO. That black/white print looks so fresh and summery … I, too, am tired of ice and (relative) cold.

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