Hurrah! I have finished a project that has taken 18 months! It’s not my wedding dress. It’s a Vogue very easy pattern. *sigh*. It became a bit of a UFO (and an unblogged item, as it was finished over a month ago)…
I started this project a year ago in December 2012, it was to be a work dress. I love this neckline and the shape of the dress. i picked option C, but with the simpler skirt bottom. I did some basic pattern alterations, I made a mock-up – it didn’t fit so I went back to the drawing board and bought the fabric (a medium weight olive green wool), then I got ill and didn’t do any sewing for three months. By the time I was better it was summer and I didn’t want to sew a winter dress, it wasn’t until this December that I picked this pattern up again.
The alterations I had to make to this pattern provide an interesting window on the development of my pattern alteration skills. The bodice is a classic basic bodice with a waist dart and a bust dart from the side seam. Therefore I started by spreading the bust dart for a FBA, and added length to the back as is my standard alterations. But when I made my mock up, it was too small at the waist and bust, so I decided to go up two sizes. I now know this was an error – I should have gone up a size for the skirt and graded this to the current size at the neckline and extended the FBA. *sigh* if wishes were fishes….
Instead I altered all the pattern pieces and made another mock up, however this is as far as it got as illness hit. A year later with the return of winter I started thinking about this again. Having made another dress with a side bust dart over the summer I had learnt that these fit me better if I rotate the dart around to the armhole (tutorial and discussion of this technique to follow in a later post). Having done this I fitted the bodice using Swedish tracing paper. It seemed to work, so I got on with cutting out the fabric.
Construction (as should be expected with a vogue very easy pattern) was pretty straight forward. The one challenge was that I didn’t cut out a lining for the sleeves – I don’t like lined sleeves. This made it tricker to finish the sleeves, and added some more hand sewing (the lining was already largely handsewed in). Having been inspired by goodbye Valentino I fancied putting in a metallic zip to this dress, but I couldn’t find a long metallic zip in the local shops, so I gave up and used an invisible one. I also added pockets, because all dresses are better with pockets.
The other alteration I made was to the sleeves – I cut out long sleeves, but decided I didn’t like them, so I cut them off to a cap length. To finish the sleeve I decided to recreate the finish from one of my RTW dresses – a trim band around the hem meeting in the middle on the outside of the sleeve for a nice detail.
The fabric for this dress is quite heavy so layering seams was essential and pressing somewhat of a challenge that I am not sure I entirely succeeded in. The waist is particularly problematic, because the lining is pulling up the waist seam, so it slightly overhangs the skirt.
When I had finished with this dress I wore it to work for one day, and then realised the fit was not everything it could be. So I went home and unpicked the lining, and readjusted. Basically, I should have used a smaller bodice size and done a larger bust adjustment – the neckline, back and sideseams were all too large. I took 1cm out of the side seams which fixed below the sleeves, then in the top of the back I took a chunk out either side of the zip. This mostly fixed the fit issues – I can’t say it felt particularly clever, but it did the job, and now there is only some slight gaping around the side of the front neckline.
So the finished dress finally fitted(ish). I definitely want to make another in a lighter summer fabric as I love the shape, but there are a few adjustments I will make enroute. The first will obviously be using a smaller bodice and doing a larger FBA. Secondly, I will replace the lining with a facing around the neckline as the current lining annoys me, and adds significantly to the sewing time with all the handsewing. Thirdly, I will move the zip to the side seam – at the moment it is tricky for me to get myself in and out of the dress on my own. I will also have a think about whether I should lower the waist seam a little more again, as at the moment it seems to be slightly too high.
Big thank you to Nicole for taking these photos.