Let's revisit this Michael Kors dress. You may recall that I discovered the RTW version at Nordstrom Rack the same day that Vogue released it as V1090. It's from his Spring 2008 RTW collection (runway photo from Style.com).
And here's my version. I like it, a lot, but there are some problems...
I tried to outsmart the McVoguerick size chart but in the end it outsmarted me. Based on my, and others', history with their sizing, I figured I would have to go down a size or two relative to what their measurement chart told me - their reputation of including a large amount of ease in their garments is a common complaint. I measured the flat pattern and found that, with the smaller size I chose, I would have 4.5" ease at the bust and 5.25" ease in the hip. (The finished garment bust and waist measurements are equivalent.) Since I was willing to take a gamble, I skipped the muslin and proceeded with some inexpensive fabric from the stash.
Eventually I got to the point that I could try the in-progress garment on, and all seemed well. That is, until I raised my arms... When I raise my arms, the bodice raises, the neckband contorts itself into a strange outward shape and the dress pulls tight across the bust. Also, I notice that contrast shoulder yoke piece on the Vogue and runway models' dresses extend further down their shoulders than mine do. I'm guessing there is not enough ease, and I should have stuck with my original size (or larger) according to their size chart. What do you think?
Fashion fabric: Turqoise linen from the PacFab outlet, ivory linen from FFC, both longtime stash residents
Lining: White cotton batiste from my local fabric store
Vogue calls this an 'easy' level project, and with with the significant exception of the neckband (more on that later), I have to agree. 'Easy', though, does not necessarily mean 'quick'. There are 11 pattern pieces for this dress, and after cutting each from fabric/lining, most in duplicate or quadruplicate, you end up with 40 pieces of fabric to stitch together.
Lining - I followed Vogue's instructions for inserting the lining, which disappointingly do not result in clean finish for the zipper. So I finished the raw edges of the zipper with batiste binding. In retrospect, this particular dress really didn't need a lining because the linen is weighty on its own, but it's nice that the raw edges, which I know are going to fray like crazy, are permanently hidden.
Handstitching - There a decent amount of handstitching called for in this project, much of which could be avoided if you want - for example, the contrast band facings are slipstitched in place on the inside, but could instead be pinned in place and topstitched in place from the right side. Since a little handstitching doesn't bother me and I like the clean finish, I went with it.
Neckband - Okay, here's where I find the 'easy' rating to be a joke. There are five, count 'em, 5, corner seams to stitch. And they are right below your face, so you need them to look nice and sharp. If they are puckery and rounded, you will definitely be hearing people say, "Did you make that dress?" So, here's what you do. First, watch this Threads mag video featuring Shirley Smith for a great strategy on how to approach these little suckers. The Vogue instructions tell you to stabilize each corner with staystitching, but I really like Threads' approach of stablizing with organza. Now, get a good night's sleep, wake up refreshed on a Saturday morning, maybe do a little yoga first, and then you will be ready to devote yourself to the neckband. Take your time, and plan to rip & restitch any corners that aren't up to par. I did a lot of ripping and restitching, but it's worth it.
Topstitching The pockets are topstitched to hold them in place. The instructions also call for topstitching the neckband and shoulder yokes which is both decorative and which holds the facings in place. So depending on your design choices, you may need to be ready with matching thread for both fashion fabrics.
Conclusion Even though the fit isn't right for me, I am enamoured with this dress. The shape of the contrast neckband makes me think of Morocco, and in a crinkly linen, this dress is perfect for that summertime 'rich hippie' look. I'm crossing my fingers that my co-worker is the right size because I really want to find a good home for this dress!
I will make this again, in fact, I already have the perfect fabric, an Indian cotton voile from EOS that's been aging in my stash for about 2 years. I just need to find the right fabric for the contrast bands.