aka, War and Peace, the Pattern Review.
Pattern Description: From Vogue’s website: Close-fitting, lined, mock wrap, pullover dress has collar, neckline, front and back (bias) tucks, overlapped and stitched left front, right side front and back seams, no side seams, and sleeves with stitched hems and cuffs hand tacked and fold-back.
Sizing: 4-20. I made a 12
Machine(s) Used: Juki DDL8700 Straight Stitch
Needle/Notions Used: 70/10, Pro-Tricot interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, Tailors 1/2 inch shoulder pads from Gorgeous Fabrics, thread.
Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, eventually.
How were the instructions? Baffling in parts. In fact, they omitted a crucial step, without which the dress looks just awful. I’ll explain more in the construction notes. Even without that step, the instructions are pretty hard to follow at times. This is NOT a pattern for either beginners or the faint of heart. You have to be really meticulous about marking, and about following the markings, sometimes seemingly blindly.
1 – Make a muslin
This pattern is a bit of a puzzle, and it reminds me of an Issye Miyake skirt pattern I made back in 1991. You can’t tell from the pattern pieces what the finished product will look like. You have to go on blind faith in parts. Unless you make a muslin, you can’t figure out where you need to adjust to make the fitting changes (FBA, in my case). Additionally, making a muslin will give you a go at a test run in constructing this. I found that invaluable, because the markings are a little confusing at times. I made mine from some (sold out) wool jersey I had left over from a project I made last year. I only muslined the font/back piece (it’s all one), the side and the upper front pieces, so I could get an idea of how the whole thing would fit through the bust and waist. I didn’t bother with the sleeves or the facings.
Once I had the muslin put together, I took tailor’s chalk and marked the garment where I needed to slash it for a full bust adjustment. I then transferred those slashes to the pattern pieces, as you can see here:
2 – Expect to go down a size Even the size 12 is not as closely fitted on me as I would have expected from the pattern photo. If I had gone with my ‘usual’ V/B/M size 14, I would have been swimming in it.
3 – Mark carefully, and carefully follow the markings
If you look at this picture, you’ll notice that the markings for the dart legs are not equal, and there is a note to stretch the shorter leg to match the dots on the longer leg. This is critical. If you don’t do that, you’ll end up with what I call “cigarette rolls” – wrinkles on your darts. I didn’t pay too much attention to stretching on the muslin. Thank god I made a muslin and learned my lesson!
4 – The instructions, as written in the edition I have, are missing a crucial step
I have talked with Vogue about this, at length, and after they saw my pictures they agreed, and they are going to fix it in the instructions. Wow – I are a game changer!
Seriously, though, there is a real problem that can ruin the look of the dress. Pictures being worth a thousand words, here’s the issue: The lower front facing extends beyond the lower front and the upper front facing. But nowhere in the instructions does it tell you what to do with that. I characterized it as a uvula of jersey.
The extension needs to be attached to the dress. After I sent the pictures you see above, Meg, the very nice lady at Vogue Patterns, got right back to me and said they would change the instructions to add, after step 31, to sew the extension to the front, under the dart (just like my hand drawing – yay me). Once that little mystery was solved, the rest was reasonably straightforward.
5 – Keep the instructions and the pattern pieces close at hand
I kept referring to the drawings on the page, and then cross checking them with the marks on the pattern pieces, to keep myself on track. I took my time, and it all worked out okay, but this is not something that you can just whip out in a day.
6 – The cuffs and facings are… funky
Yeah, the instructions have you attach the facings in an unusual way (overlapping seams), which is not a problem and reduces bulk. But the cuffs? Whoa. They have you take a Ralph Rucci-lite approach and attach the cuffs at four points on the sleeve with tacks. I did one with my attempt at a RR style bullion stitch, then I looked at the result, said, “Yeah, that will totally end up in my cereal bowl or soup. No.”
Instead, I attached it in a more “traditional” manner and turned it up.
7 – Hem this on a dress form, or get a buddy to help with the hem
With all the curvature, funky pattern pieces, and (in my case) fitting adjustments, the bottom of the garment was pretty curved. Do yourself a favor on this one and get someone to help you hem it. Or throw it on a dress form and hem it that way. You’ll be glad you did.
8 – Lining is optional
The lining on this is a basic tank dress pattern, that has nothing to do with the outer shell. So I skipped it. I’ll just wear Spanks underneath.
9 – Your fabric choice is critical to the success of your garment
I can’t emphasize this enough. This pattern needs a fabric with some body to it. Much as I adore ITY jersey, it’s too light. You don’t want a heavy knit, but a jersey with good body, or a rayon double knit will work well. If your fabric is too lightweight it just won’t work.
Likes/Dislikes: I love this pattern, despite the work that I had to put into it. It’s a fun challenge that I need to hone my skills.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I won’t do it again, because it’s a once-in-a-wardrobe dress. But I do recommend it, if you have the patience. Don’t try to slap it together. This is a diva pattern that demands attention to detail. But if you have the temperament and the time, this makes a beautiful dress!
Conclusion: Love it. Enough of my yammering, here are pictures:
On a completely separate note, tomorrow is a very big day. We’ll be taking DS the elder to college! So far, I’m excited for him. I don’t know how I’ll feel when we leave the campus without him. Of course, we’re just taking him to band camp. We come back next Wednesday to move him into the dorm. Big changes afoot!