At long last, the Rucci dress is finished (Vogue 1239)

What a journey with this dress!  I bought the pattern in 2011 when it came out.  I found the fabric in 2012.  The envelop back said edge-to-edge lining, china silk, 60″.  I searched forever for a matching blue silk habotai in a wide width.  Finally, I took the pattern out and studied it:  not edge-to-edge, but facings, and 45″ would do fine.  Started enthusiastically.  Started sewing the lining and remembered:  I absolutely hate working with and wearing silk habotai. Ordered silk CDC, cut it out, and… stopped.  I needed to make Halloween costumes.  It stared me in the face for months into three years, and finally, I got back to it last week (enthusiastically, too).

From Vogue’s website.

I was ambivalent last night when I tried it on, but wore it to work anyway.  It’s the first thing I’ve made (that could be worn to work) that ever received open compliments, from the cleaning woman to colleagues to students.  They loved it.  By the time I had gotten to work, I felt good in it, and decided that my ambivalence had to do with two things:  I know there are many small errors  and that I’m not used to being so covered up  (warm climate).  So, as the day wore on, I felt more at ease with the look, though it really is pretty fancy for work, and maybe is best for an evening of culture.

As for the look: some have described it as sci-fi, or lab coat.  That’s what I was expecting, an ultra-modern look.  But it felt more like the 1950s.  My husband said it looked nice, and had a 1950s vibe (before I even asked).  He also said it reminded him of June Cleaver.  I was not annoyed – it’s exactly what I thought too!  So, I donned my grandmother’s pearls and headed off to work.

I’ve blogged this before here, here, here, and here.  But now the details, plus pictures (including me):

The pattern:  Vogue 1239, Vogue American Designer CHADO ralph rucci. Close-fitting, lined to edge dress has shoulder darts, side front pockets, inside ties, hook and eye closure.

The fabric:  The pattern calls for a crisp fabric (poplin, taffeta, shantung), which is necessary to get the look pictured. I chose a silk poplin (Isaac Mizrahi) in deep blue from Mood Fabrics.  I lined it with a very dark navy silk crepe de chine from Gorgeous Fabrics.

The directions:  were mostly good.  I didn’t have any issues except with steps 49 and 59.  In 49, you are directed to cut one upper front band lining section along line indicated in pattern tissue.  I apparently cut both when I cut the lining.  I  basted to see what would happen, and it was perfect.  So, I’m pretty sure you are supposed to cut both (and the pattern tissue seems to indicate this too).

Step 59 was a real problem. This was finishing those beautiful sleeves.  Well, I got mine done, but they aren’t as lovely as the photograph.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the directions wanted me to do there. So, I pressed under my edges, basted them wrong sides together, very carefully fell-stitched (or slip) them together by hand, then did my edge stitching.

Other things I did: I made a size 12, adding one inch to lengthen the torso.  I made a muslin, so this is what I concluded I needed.  I think now another half inch in length would have been optimal. I made no other adjustments on sizing.  After wearing it all day, I think I would decrease the circumference of the sleeve openings a bit.  They are on the long size, and make my skinny wrist even skinnier looking.

My initial tests with thread suggested a longer stitch for the edge stitching.  After several tests, I decided I got the cleanest look with edge, but no top stitching, silk thread and a length of 2.5.

The dress has no interfacing, and since I was not top stitching (which helps give the dress its structure), I interfaced all the facings with silk organza. In addition, to help keep the neckline from stretching, I basted organza selvedges along the neckline.

I reinforced my corners using the couture method from Claire Schaeffer’s book.

Finally, the dress may channel June Cleaver, but it’s a risky dress. With only ties, the belt and one hook and eye to hold it in place… well. Before I left for work, I added a snap at the bust line.  I also moved the eye over toward the side by nearly an inch.  The hook and eye is a little high and wanted to come undone, so I found myself tying the belt a little above my natural waistline.  I will move it down slightly, and add a second hook and eye.

Though it took me over night to warm to the dress, I like it. I would consider making it again, if I found a more casual fabric that suited the lines of the dress.  Oh, and I LOVE the pockets on this dress!

I’m not so great with photographs. I use an iPhone to get selfies. On top of that, my vision is such that I can’t see what’s on the screen without the reading glasses.  My contacts only correct for long vision.  Sigh, I need bifocals. Pictures of the odyssey:

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Yes, I pressed the fabric before continuing.

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Blurry, but look, it’s fall in Florida. Or winter. Okay, its 80 out.
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Focused, and you can see the oranges.  But I added the snap after this picture.  Did I say this fabric is impossible to press?  And puckers? The puckering was why I eliminated the top stitching and kept only the edge.

Sewing for my niece: McCalls 7079 & 7583, Little Hip Skirt

Everything is crazy here.  And sewing for myself hasn’t been going well… fit, design, motivation.  But, my sweet 4th grade niece recently asked me to make some dresses for her stuffed bunny… “and maybe, while you’re at it another skirt for me?”  Of course!  It’s been two years since I sewed for her, and I got excited choosing fabrics and trims.

Because she’s grown, and wants to pass the “finger-tip” test at school, I made up a sample dress for her (and one for bunny) and a sample skirt for her.  I used the size chart based on her favorite Lands End dress, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be too big.  I also used fabrics I had on hand, saving the pretty prints and cottons for when I have a better sense of her fit.  She’s a two day drive away, so I’ll have to re-estimate her size based on a FaceTime chat in a week or so.

From McCall’s Website, 7079

McCall’s 7079:  This dress almost identical to her favorite dress.   I used an amazing navy Rayon Doubleknit from Gorgeous Fabrics (still available as I type).  I need some for myself.  Yes, the picture shows a plain dress, but for a fitting dress, I think it works.  I made the flared skirt, plain back with sleeves, all to match school dress codes.  The hand-applied pink floral trim is from Farmhouse Fabrics.  This very easy dress comes together quickly.

Little Hip Skirt (OOP):  I have made this skirt before, but she said it’s too short for school now.  This time, I upped the size (for longer wearing) and made a single layer circle skirt (with yoke).  This time I used a woven, instead of a knit.  I chose the Loden Green Cotton Moleskin from Gorgeous Fabrics (still available as I type).  I bought it for another purpose (a lot of it), but it didn’t work for it so I set it aside.  Now I need a skirt made from this yummy fabric – very easy to work with, drapey and soft.  The hand-applied rosette trim is also from Farmhouse Fabrics.

From McCalls Website: 7583

McCalls 7583:  I have no idea how to fit a stuffed bunny.  Best I could guess from photos and measurements her mom sent, the bunny is a little smaller than an American Girl doll.  I used some floral cotton batiste leftover from making a maternity dress for myself 6.5 years ago (also from Gorgeous Fabrics).  The trim her is from Joann’s. I made this one in an hour, and it was pretty easy (except those quarter inch seams).  I’ll do the prettier dresses a little differently than the directions next time for a better finish (especially the neck and armholes).

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Summer Dress #3: McCall 7591

No, I’m not that fast when it comes to sewing.  Generally, the only time I can  work on the machine is after the little one goes to bed.  Amazingly, I can do handwork during daytime (non-work) hours. So I was able to work on the Marfy top and this dress concurrently.

But this dress didn’t work out so well, and I think it will go to the charity pile.  I love the fabric, and in principle, I thought the dress would work for me.  But it looks frumpy on – and adds pounds. In fact, I looked 6 months pregnant rather than just no longer having a flat tummy.  (I have seen this dress on others and it was very flattering – I’m a bit of a pear, so perhaps it doesn’t work well with that figure).

From McCall’s website.

The pattern: A 2017 release from McCall’s (7591).  From the envelope: Misses dresses and sash.  Fitted pullover dresses have lined bodice, front and back bodice variations, elastic waistlines and length variations.  I made view c, adding the sash from view a. I bought the XS-S-M; a medium corresponds with a size 12/14, which is what I made.

The fabric:  A very lovely silk jersey I bought from Emma One Sock in 2015. It reminded me of Pucci, and I was considering it for one of my Pucci patterns, but didn’t buy enough fabric.  I love the fabric, though the print  and colors are out of my comfort zone. Jersey is only one of the options listed, but you definitely want something drapey here.

Construction notes/changes I made:  I cut a size medium (12/14) and added 1.5 inches at the torso lengthen/shorten line – my normal alteration – but I could have gone with 2 inches here. The recommended lining is tricot, which I didn’t have on hand, so I used self lining. I added bra carriers to keep the bra from showing. Otherwise, I went by the instructions.  They were okay, but I’m thinking I could have done better had I not.

What worked/didn’t work:  For me, the overall look didn’t work.  What drew me to it was the neckline opening – and that was easy to do well.   Anyway, what didn’t work- the slit is shorter than it appears on the envelope drawings, and won’t hang properly.  The armholes are topstitched, but that (and the hem treatment) seemed to cheapen the dress.  I can never get elastic distributed evenly – here there is better gathering in the back than the front.  And those shoulders.  I did them three times, finally by hand.  This is something I cannot seem to master.  The approach is to sew the neck and arm seams, fold back the lining on the shoulder seam line, stitch the shoulder seam and then slipstitch lining opening closed.  It always looks homemade to me.  I definitely got better results when I inserted the lining by hand with the previous two summer dresses.  The sash could be wider.

You win some you lose some.  I’ll set this aside for a couple of weeks and then try it on again and decide what to do with it.

 

Opinions on a linen dress

I saw this linen on Marcy Tilton’s website and had to have it.  I had in mind a longer, perhaps maxi, dress.  I love the fabric even more now that I have it, but it has a tad bit of body to it (linen, after all).  I haven’t washed it to see if it will soften, but will do so.

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Copeland Digital print linen from Marcy Tilton.
But what to make?  Nothing with gathers, something sleek.  Not sure I want a full length maxi anymore, unless the dress is more a-line than full.

Here are options from my current pattern stash.  Thoughts?  Suggestions from patterns I do not know?  Thanks everyone!

 

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Vogue 8993, View B?
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Vogue 8997; view c is maxi, view b is knee-length.

 

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Vogue 2300

 

 

Which dress for a party? Time-hop.

My in-laws will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in August!  Yay (my parents did 50 last year).  They’ve decided to have a party in the southeast, at a planetarium.  The theme: “Across Time and Space.”  There’s no requirement for formal or even cocktail wear, but you can if you want.  They’re telling their guests that they can dress from whichever decade they so desire… which means… SEWING CHALLENGE!

Now, I love to dress up!  And I love to make pretty things.  So I went through my stash of patterns and selected a few patterns.  I can dress up/down with fabric/trim choices.  And if I don’t finish?  No problem, I already have a back up in my closet.

So will you help me choose?  Leave a note about your fave in the comments.

1960s:

From left to right:  Vogue 1128, Patou; Vogue 1340 (Balmain); Vogue 1931 (Cardin); Vogue 2249 (Pucci). The first two seem dressy, though I have almost completed Vogue 1128.  The fabric is a bit too dressy though (but pretty!):

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Where I left off on the Patou. The shoulders are pinned together, the belt is missing and I have a whole lot of fixing to do.

1980s-1990s (nothing from the 70s, that I already owned, made the cut, but feel free to suggest):

My younger sister wore the Kasper (Vogue 1623) to her prom in the 80s – long, bubblegum pink, poly satin.  I have a nice mesh net that would work for the skirt.  In that one, and the Vera Wang (Vogue 2291), I would make short versions.

2000-2016:

And, finally, the last 16 (!) years.   Vogue 2001 (Platt); Vogue 1267 (Platt); Vogue 1432 (Unger) and Vogue 1498 (Finetti).

Help me decide!

The Luau Maxi Dress that Wasn’t

IMG_0005Because I didn’t buy enough fabric and I ran out of time. The party was two weeks ago. I finished it yesterday.

IMG_1674The inspiration and pattern choice: I had a vision of what I wanted from this dress, and I almost got there.  I’d seen the Sloane maxi dress from Lily Pulitzer and thought I could make something similar.  I liked the midriff, the v neck and back and overall shape.  I thought that Simplicity 1102 could be altered to be close, though the skirt would definitely be fuller.

https://i1.wp.com/images.patternreview.com/sewing/patterns/simplicity/2015/1102/1102line.jpg

This dress doesn’t look that great to me on the envelope cover.  But when I looked at the line drawings, I saw possibilities. The bodice is fitted, eliminating gapping, the midriff was about what I wanted, only the skirt was too full.  The sleeves are awful, but I thought I would work with view C and lengthen to maxi.  Of course, I bought the fabric requirement for view C without thinking.  That’s okay – I like it, even though I didn’t do as well a job as I would like.

IMG_1636The fabric!  This is from Gorgeous Fabrics, called Boldly Go, in a silk-rayon matte jersey.  It has a nice hand, drapes well and is easy to sew.  I was nervous about the bold print on my body, so perhaps that’s why I’m okay with the shorter length.

Changes and Construction Notes:   I made a muslin of the bodice. Since I’m smaller through the shoulders, with a smaller bust, I was worried about fit and gaposis.  What surprised me was how modest the V was!  I ended up lowering the V by about three inches and widening it by folding back the pattern from the bottom of the V up to the shoulder line (and narrowed the shoulder on the inside by about 1/4 inch).  The pictures show some gapping on one side – this is a function of how I’m holding the selfie stick. This was a very clear case of less is more when it came to the dress – less coverage was definitely more flattering.  I also wanted to see if I could eliminate the zipper – but could not.

I wanted to remove some of the weight of the skirt.  I feared that much gathering would bring unwanted questions about children.  I liked the skirt from McCall’s 7121, but didn’t want to go quite that narrow (I laid the matching pattern pieces on top of this one to get a sense of what I wanted).  I carefully folded out 4 inches, along the grain.  I did this by folding out one inch midway between the CF and side seam and CB and side seam.  So far so good.

I had also seen a dress in a window in Santa Fe that had concentrated the gathers at CF.  So I did that as well.   This was a mistake.  I didn’t make adjustments for the grain, and now the skirt side seams hang forward, toward the front.  I should have tested this with a muslin.

Ugh! I didn't like this insertion method for the invisible zipper.
Ugh! I didn’t like this insertion method for the invisible zipper.

As for the instructions – they are fine, but if I make this again, I would not follow them, as I think they lead to less than professional results.  The lined bodice (lined with a sold out Gorgeous Fabric knit lining and the tricot interfacing from Fabric Sewing Supply) is finished almost completely before attaching the skirt and zipper.  By completely, I mean the lining is stitched down to the fashion fabric at the midriff.  This means that the zipper is inserted so that you can’t stitch the lining to the zipper tape and hide it.

Other changes:  I did the ruching and the underlining by hand using a small running stitch.  I also did a narrow machine rolled hem instead of a 1 1/2 inch hem.

IMG_1673Final notes:  I love the fabric and it’s so comfortable to wear.  Doing the muslin for the bodice meant the perfect fit there.  I have so many other things I want to make, but I might revisit this one down the road.  I wore it to the salon today and received many compliments!

M6612- Short floral t-shirt dress

Line Art
Line Art for M6612, from McCall’s Website

I needed something super-easy to get things going again.  I did make a linen skirt, but didn’t check measurements (new pattern company for me) and couldn’t zip it over my bumm (silly me).  I have also done muslins for a pair of shorts and a kaftan which are up next.  Enter M6612 – easy close-fitting pullover dresses with a variety of lengths, sleeves and necklines.  I’ve made view D before, and when I wore it the other day, I got so many compliments, I decided to make view C to warm up for the shorts/kaftan.  Here’s view D, which I made in a cotton lycra print from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I really love the green print on this version, and got really lucky with the placement in this case:

View D, made fall 2013 (not blogged).
View D, made fall 2013 (not blogged).

This time, I used the remaining floral ITY knit that I used to make my niece’s Christmas gift.  Easy to sew, no rolling, but a synthetic (not fond of synthetics).  The only fitting alteration I made was the same one I made to view D, which was to add 1.5 inches at the waist in length to accommodate my long torso (cut a 12 since I knew how close-fitting this was, though I’ve been cutting 10s in the bodice lately).

Pre-hem, late night trial.
Pre-hem, late night trial.

I pretty much followed the directions – though you don’t need them  – this is a super easy one night hit.  I did set the sleeves in flat instead of the way the directions requested.  I had plan to do the neckline, hem and sleeve hems with a double needle, but I got so much tunneling, I abandoned that idea.  Instead I turned a narrow hem and top-stitched it.

I encountered two sewing issues.  First, I had skipped stitches with my regular machine on the hems (you can see it in the neckline photo).

Second, I had a terrible time with control on the serger (Babylock 1034D). By control, I mean, maintaining a perfect 5/8″ seamline.  I was mostly wider, leading to a more snug fit than I would like.  The way the machine is designed, the easiest control over the seam line when serging is at 3/8″ seam. Does anyone else encounter these issues – if so, how do you compensate?

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The neckline.
The neckline.