Here is my first completed project for the blog and this year (I finished it on New Years day, so I’m counting it). This is the Vogue 1182 Kay Unger pattern which is a princess seamed dress with gathers at one side of the waist and a large feature collar.
I had this pattern in my stash for a while, and the impetus to actually sew it unfortunately came from an ill family member. With the possibility I needed a dress for a funeral I realised I had nothing suitable. I don’t own a LBD as black isn’t my colour, so I decided to make this dress in Navy. The main fabric is a navy satin, with navy poly-cotton for the lining. I decided to highlight the collar using a navy lace overlay – I had planned to use a navy fabric with a black pattern on it, but when I compared it to the navy satin the colours were just off, but this lace matched perfectly, and I love lace.
I read up about this pattern on patternreview.com and there is general consensus that although the pattern is a good un, the instructions get a bit unclear when it comes to attaching the lining to the main dress – a crucial stage.
In terms of pattern alterations I did my usual FBA using the princess seams. This was mostly simple apart from adding the extra length to the front piece – this was made trickier by the gathers which were at the bust apex where I would usually add this length, and I didn’t want to interfere with these so I added this extra length slightly higher between the top of the gathers and the neckline. Adding in the extra length I need above the waist for my long back was also made tricker by the gathers, which were unavoidable as they go from the bust to the waist. I spent a while thinking about this, and then realised that the size of one of the gathers was approximately the same amount I needed to add above the waist, so I split the patten between two of the gathers and inserted the required length then copied a gather, adding an extra gather with the length. The other pattern alteration I made was adding length to the skirt. I don’t usually need to do this (at 5’6 I am not excessively tall) but someone on pattern review mentioned the pattern ran short so I measured the pattern, just to check. What I found was that the pattern ran 6cm short, even after I had added 4cm above the waist for my long back!
Having made these alterations I skipped the muslin stage. This was due to my recent acquisition of Swedish tracing paper which is paper/felt which you can trace through and write on, AND still sew through. Therefore I was able to sew together the pattern pieces and check the length and the fit by lining them up on with the centre of my body – as it wasn’t a whole garment I couldn’t check for exact fit, but it was enough to check it wouldn’t run massivly too large or small anywhere – a really useful time saver. Once I had checked the fit I could then pull the pattern pieces again to use them to cut out the fabric.
Cutting out had a couple of small hitches – firstly I ran a little short of fabric, probably due to the length I had to add to the skirt. This meant cutting out the collar became an issue, and I wasn’t able to cut it out on the grain line but I don’t think this affected the final finish. Because of the shortage of fabric I also ended up cutting out the front bodice pieces the wrong way round so the lefts and rights were reversed – this would make following the pattern slightly trickier later on.
Construction was relatively easy apart from attaching the bodice lining to the main dress as highlighted on patternreview.com. Forewarned about this, when I got to this section I worked through the instructions using pins to make sure I knew what I was doing. What I found was that the written instuctions work, but the diagrams are not clear, and it is not intuitive. Once I had done this once using pins I did not need to read the instructions too closely when doing it for real.
Someone commented on patternreview.com that the instructions include a lot of handsewing – the collar, the lining on the back seam at the zip, some of the front bodice, and the hem. I found that with some good pining I was able to sew both ends of the collar, leaving just a small gap by the shoulder seams to hand sew. I managed to machine sew all the bodice front through some careful reversing of the fabics. On the back zip seam I machine sewed the lining right-side to the zip/skirt/bodice back seam allowance using a zipper foot to get close to the zipper. Below the bottom of the zip I continued sewing the back lining to the sides of the skirt back seam, and the sides of the skirt slit. This gives a slightly less professional finish as the lining does not join below the zipper, but is much much faster – good enough for me. With the hem it was easy enough to sew the bottom of the lining to the bottom of the skirt leaving a small hole to turn the dress through – then I only had to handsew this small gap and the ends where the skirt fabric folded back on itself.
Overall I am happy with the end result of this dress – it fits well and is very flattering. I think this will be a good all purpose slightly formal dress. The patten for this dress suggests mostly formal fabrics such as satin and taffeta for this dress, but I think it would work with lots of other fabrics such as linen. I could see it as a nice summer dress, or in a nice fine wool for a work dress.