Well, this dress turned out way better than I expected. I imagined destroying this dress in a fiery explosion, tossing it to a pack of wild dogs or most likely throwing it in the garbage. So, no, my expectations weren’t very high.
I had a wedding to attend in August, and I’ll use any excuse at all to make a new dress. I mean, I clearly had nothing in my closet that was suitable *wink*. So, I set out on a quest to find a pattern that would be appropriate for a late summer wedding but would also be a dress I could wear year-round. Enter Vogue 1586. This pattern was love at first sight. It was such a classic style, and I could see myself wearing it to the wedding and then to work functions.
Now you may notice that my dress looks only vaguely like the dress on the pattern envelope. Yeah. More on that in just a second.
The fabric I used is this AMAZING ponte knit from Mood. I ordered a swatch, after reading about how awesome it is on Beaute J’Adore (this is one of my favorite DIY fashion blogs, and I highly recommend checking it out). This ponte is the best I’ve ever used. It is an incredibly high quality, soft and has a lovely drape. The only slight criticism I have is that ironing it is a bit of a pill. No matter how low I set the iron, and even used a pressing cloth, the fabric tended to get those pesky shiny sear marks on it. This led to some delicate ironing that didn’t quite get the dress as crisp as I would like. That being said, I would absolutely buy more of this fabric. I even have a dress in mind for the black colorway.
Now, onto the pattern and construction – I hope everyone is settled in and comfy – this is going to be quite the tale. The minute I read through the instructions, I knew this dress and I were going to have a rocky relationship. The construction of this dress, while not difficult, was the most convoluted thing I’ve ever seen. In all fairness, I should say I used a slightly heavier fabric than what is recommended. So, that is on me. However, after making this dress, I realize that was such a minor issue.
The first thing I changed on this pattern were the lapels. The instructions direct you to make a narrow hem around the lapels – a narrow hem that will be highly visible. I tried making a narrow hem, I tried a not-so-narrow hem and I tried using my sewing machine’s rolled hem foot. I HATED the way all these treatments looked. Seeing the hems, especially somewhere so visible as the lapels and especially on a dress for a special occasion, just wasn’t going to cut it.
So, I did what anyone would have done (anyone who likes to make their life difficult, that is). I cut facings for both lapels. This was a bit tricky, since I had to cut them wide enough so they didn’t show, but not so wide that they interfered with the wrap effect. If this confuses you a bit, that makes two of us. I stitched on the facings and was immediately more pleased with the finish. I assembled the rest of the dress as directed.
For the ties, I followed the directions and made the narrow hems. I didn’t like them anymore than on the lapels, but doubling the thickness to make facings would have made the ties way too bulky. I also figured that it wasn’t as noticeable as the lapels.
For some reason that I will never understand, the pattern instructs you to insert a side seam zipper on the left side – the same side as the ties. This completely baffled me. Why on earth would you insert a zipper on a side seam where there is already extra bulk, when you could easily place it in the back of the dress. And guess what? There was already a center back seam. My zipper is in the back.
After I got enough of the dress together to see how it would look, I was horrified to find out the dress was huge on me. I selected my size based off the finished measurements but quickly realized that was a mistake. There was so much gaping around the armhole. What I probably needed was one size smaller and full bust adjustment, but it was a little late for that. I also was not a fan of the neckline. In that moment, I resisted the urge to chuck the entire thing into the garbage can, mostly because of the beautiful fabric, and instead hung it on the mannequin for a few days.
Taking a break from the dress gave me some perspective. And by perspective, I mean a burning desire to prove this dress was not the boss of me. I re-evaluated all of the issues and got to work, taking in each shoulder seam a total of two inches. I also took in the bodice about three inches on each side and tapered it into the original waist size. This gave me a much better fit. You could no longer see copious amounts of my bra.
I completely disregarded the instructions for finishing the back neckline and armholes with bias binding. At this point, I had gone completely rogue. Instead, I cut facings so all of the stitching would be neatly hidden away.
You might be asking yourself what happened to the neckline, and that would be an excellent question. I don’t know if it was the five million alterations I’d done, the lining on the lapels or just my bad mood after all of this, but I did not like the neckline open like on the pattern envelope.
After playing around with the neckline and contemplating throwing the dress in the garbage (again), I unfolded the left lapel and tucked the end under the folded right lapel. Hmmm…not too shabby. Not at all what I had in mind when I bought this pattern, but not bad. I also thought having just one lapel folded over gave it a cool asymmetrical vibe. Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
The last step was the hem. This dress is very long. It was basically a gown on me. I wanted something more cocktail length and cut seven inches off the hem. By the time the extra length was taken off, there was only about two inches of the front slit left– which, needless to say, looked ridiculous. So, I sewed up the two-inch slit and hand stitched the hem.
Phew, ok, I think that’s everything. I don’t always make muslins of my projects, unless I’m really worried about fit. I probably should have made a muslin of this dress. It would have saved me a lot of issues. Actually, had I made a muslin, I probably would have realized this pattern isn’t the best and picked a different one.
All in all, I like this dress. I’m not in love with it, but I know I’ll get a decent amount of wear out of it. It never hurts to have a good cocktail dress at the ready – and after making this thing, I could certainly use a good cocktail!
Until next time,