The night before pulling out the fabric for this project, I had some cotton out practicing with my rotary cutter by making a quilt block. (A side note, that finished quilt block is missing. I should probably send out an APB on it, more likely a CCR (clean the craft room).) Suddenly, my new little pet decided he was going to help out. I think he wants to be a debutant in the sewing community. Sewing community, this is Lala. He came home with me in October. He apparently has a love for helping out with crafts, throwing items (especially remotes) off the couch, getting into mischief, and thinking he is in charge of the power cord for the sewing machine (he doesn’t like the serger though). I think I have finally broke him of the bad habit of trying to chew the power cord but he sits right next to it and me as I am sewing. If I end up with a needle through my finger, it will be because I was too busy watching the bunny and power cord not focusing on the needle like I should.
It is a reprint from 1957. Vogue describes it as a pull over dress with a bias cut fitted bodice in view A which is the view I made. Vogue give you an unlined dress in this pattern. The neckline facings are attached to the bodice pieces so that they are cut out in one piece. Since I was using silk taffeta, I consulted everyone on Pattern Review as to if silk taffeta needed to be lined. They suggested to line it for better use. I picked up some silk lining also from a different online store.
Vogue rates this as an easy pattern. I think that is an appropriate rating. I started this on Saturday January 12th. By the end of the weekend, I had about the whole dress done and that was including several 30 minute breaks so the bunny could get out and play. He wasn’t allowed out of his cage while the silk was out. I was just missing back of skirt, skirt lining, horsehair braid, and waist stay. My progress slowed down after that weekend because I had to go back to work and hand sewing.
I should have been able to get everything done in a week if I had been better prepared with what I wanted to do. But since I wasn’t sure about doing two skirt panels or four, I didn’t have everything cut at the same time and had to go backwards to cut and serge edges. Also, I had a bit of a bunny dilemma. Monday night as I was preparing to cut the last of the silk, Lala had a tantrum in his cage and threw his litter pan across the cage. He wanted out to play. I didn’t want Lala out because I was afraid he would get dirt on my silk. He kept repeatedly throwing the litter pan after I would put it back so I had to keep putting his litter pan back while cutting. After I had everything cut taking 30 minutes instead of 10, I had to let him out so he wouldn’t tear the cage apart. I didn’t get my dress complete until February 4th. I could have possibly finished it over the weekend, but I went out to my parents’ house. I just didn’t feel comfortable enough with the Singer Futura 920 which is set up to operate on a knee peddle. I didn’t want to take chances with my creation just getting ruined because of unfamiliarity with a sewing machine.
The dress fabric is a silk taffeta I got from an online fabric store. I haven’t really used silk before this dress. I did noticed that my fabric had a great tendency towards fraying. So this did worry me a little. I went ahead and put the serger over all the edges to prevent fraying. It also made it much easier later to do narrow rolled hems with the horsehair braid.
Since this was a pricier fabric, I went ahead and made a muslin in size 14. I probably made the muslin back in September. After several months of not looking at it, I probably had a more objective opinion when it came to fit. So now for modifications-
• I had troubles with the front gaping- so I took about an inch off the length in the shoulders (so probably about a size 6 in the shoulders).
• I added 2 inches length back in under the bust. The finished dress has a wrinkle right at the bottom of the bodice so my 2 inches should have been more of a 1 ½ inch or less instead.
• I took about 10 inches off the hem.
• Since I was doing a lining, I didn’t bother with the arm facings.
• I hand sewed the neckline facings to the lining.
• I opted to do a narrow hem with half inch polyester horsehair braid in it instead of the 3 inch hem. I am trying to get all the fluff possible out of the skirt. That is why I went with all 4 panels in the skirt. Most of the versions I have seen online only used 2 panels. I haven’t decided if it needs a crinoline yet or if I am up to the task of making a crinoline.
• I didn’t add a waist stay yet. I need to look into some more tutorials for this to be sure I am inserting it in correctly. I think my original try wasn’t doing what it was designed to do because I placed it too high.
So there is one “mistake” on my dress. In trying to conserve fabric and line up everything evenly, I flipped the grain line on the back pieces which changed the color order from purple above pink to pink above the purple. I didn’t notice it until I had the entire bodice assembled. All the lines are matched up pretty evenly that I don’t think this one item will be noticeable by anyone who would see the dress. The only place you can really tell is at the side seams. I did test out this out on my parents and they couldn’t tell until I actually showed them. Otherwise, all the plaid stripes line up very well. But for anyone else making it, all arrows need to point the same direction.
The oddest part was the skirt lining pieces would not gather at all. I used china silk for the lining; it is possible that I needed to use a different stitch length than my normal basting length of 7. I had my two lines of basting stitches for the gathers. Every time I would pull the bobbin thread to gather, the fabric would just slip out of the stitches. I got some of it gathered properly. For the parts I couldn’t get to gather well, I had lightly gathered and sort of pleated it into the area I wanted.
I absolutely adore this dress. It has the potential of knocking the coral Simplicity 5267 from 1963 (http://sewbeading.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/simplicity-5267-1963-dress/) out of the position of my favorite dress I have made. But that is a tough competition. I can realistically see me making this dress again if the right fabric came along or if I had another special occasion requiring a new dress. It could be a cute cotton summer dress but the weight of the cotton material could be an important factor to consider. My silk taffeta was fairly thin and very crisp. So a thick cotton would probably not work easily. For a thicker cotton to work, the skirt would definitely need to be re-drafted so that it was lighter. All the skirt gathers would weigh it down too much.
I wonder if it would work as well in a knit fabric. Knits are not one of the recommended on the pattern envelope. I would imagine the bodice would work in a knit. The gathered skirt is very questionable. I just don’t have the experience with sewing knits to be positive if it would work. Last summer I had troubles finding appropriate sun dresses to wear to work when I had an allergic reaction to scented laundry soap. This style would be very work appropriate if made in a knit fabric.
Vogue 8789 should work well as a base for a fitted costume bodice. I had made a French maid costume from a different pattern before and felt that the top was not the most flattering. This bodice would have looked a lot nicer than the puffy one in my costume pattern envelope which made me look like a burnt marshmallow.
A special thanks to my co-workers. Not only did they allowed me to dress up and get my project pictures taken at their Wednesday night social but they also used my ultra fussy camera. Trust me, that camera is a pain. I have threatened to replace it multiple times. There was a reason it was in clearance when I bought it. It doesn’t like not using a flash, doesn’t take pictures immediately after taking one (the wait sometimes means I miss what I wanted) and so much more pickiness. Don’t worry about the dress. I changed immediately after the pictures. I didn’t want to chance spilling anything on my pretty silk dress. It is a nice change from me having to figure out where in my house to do pictures; hopefully you enjoyed the pictures too. Granted I took pictures of it at home too by myself.
Next up was suppose to be Vogue 2960, but I left my tracing paper out at my parents’ house which means I can’t work on fitting changes this weekend. So I will probably work on the Cynthia Rowley top in rayon challis instead over the weekend.