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).
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.
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: