Monday, February 23, 2009

Almost



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?




Fabric

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

Interfacing: Pro-woven fusible from Sew Exciting


Notes on construction/alterations

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.

To be continued...

35 comments:

babsi1111 said...

Hi Sonja,
I'm sorry that the pattern didn't work for you but except of the sleeve problem the dress looks really nice and stylish on you.
Regarding the sleeve problem I have some ideas what's the reason for that.
a) The armscye should be high (about 1 to 2.5 cm under your armpit). In this case you also need a high and rounded sleeve cap to ensure that you can move your arms freely.
If the armscye is not high enough you will pull up your garment each time you lift your arms.

b)It could also be a problem of the armscye itself. If your shoulders are too small, the armscye lies too far outwards and you have too move inwards, but in the photos I cannot see any indications for this problem.

c)The third reason could be that there is not enough width in the upper bust area altough there is enough ease at bust height. This happens if you have a very, very erect posture and is often accompanied by a small upper back. YOu can fix this problem by doing the same alteration you would do for a broad upper back. If you need more details about that just let me know.
Sometimes this problem is also caused by a armscye that is rounded inwards very much. In this case you just have to straighten the upper part of the armscye which gives you a little bit more fabric in the mid part of the armscye.

d)The photos also indicate that you might profit from a bust dart. This could also help to give the armhole a better shape. But that's something you would have to try out as I'm not sure about that.

Hope this helps a little bit
Greetings from Germany
Barbara

www.anadiaz.fr said...

I like the turquoise one much better than the yellow one. It's veryyyyyy nice. But sorry, can't help about the measurements :-(

Uta said...

It's a very stylish dress, so I'm looking forward to the next version. Thanks for the tip on sewing the corners; I find that challenging, too.

AllisonC said...

The dress looks fab and I love that colour - just keep your arms down, it's worth it! I think Barbara has some great ideas on things to try to get a better fit - is there any way you could sneak back to Nordstroms and compare the 2 dresses (though I suppose it's sold out now). I agree this is not an easy dress, but I am still amazed there are 40 pieces to it altogether.

Catherine said...

The turquoise is a great color but I'm excited to see the cotton voile! I always want to try dresses like these but am afraid I'll look like I'm wearing a sack. This one, however, appears to give a better shape.

Dei said...

Boy that pattern is deceptive. It looks simple enough, but it's in the details. As for the fit through the arms, so sorry about that. All that work and you would want a proper fit which you should expect. I question that pattern drafters sometimes. Still looks lovely though.

Berry said...

I love your version of this dress, great fabric choice! I'm sorry the end result is not up to your expectations, I'm sure you'll be able to fix for the next one, it's worth it!

Stephanie said...

Wowsa! I love your version so much more than the RTW, even with the bust issues. I can't wait to see the next version.

If it doesn't fit your coworker, I'll volunteer to send you my measurements to see if it fits me! ;)

Cindy said...

Love your choice of fabric! It looks so comfy yet fashion forward! The insides looks as good as the outside too.

patsijean said...

Other fitting issues have been addressed so I will skip them. So...I have never heard of a reputation for including a large amount of ease in their patterns although I have often heard that complaint for McCalls and Simplicity. I would stick with your regular sizing plus the armhole adjustments mentioned. Take a good look at the photos. This dress is not meant to be a sheath dress. It is actually reminiscent of 1960's styling and shape so don't take out that ease. The dress styling will be quite flattering on you and you will wear it well. As your dress reminds me of a similar style I made in the mid 60's (also a Vogue as I used no other patterns) I may purchase the pattern myself.

Byrdie said...

It's a great looking dress but I can see your dilemma on the shoulder area. Give it another go... can't wait to see the second version.

paco peralta said...

the dress is beautiful, really. am sorry to have to make corrections. In my opinion, I think that is good but small part of the chest. You can open the pattern at chest height and the dart a little deeper. Maybe you can be the solution.

greetings, Paco

Lindsay T said...

I agree with the others: It's very cute on you and worth persevering at. Good luck!

Lori said...

I like the color and the style very much. I have learned so much reading all the comments on this dress. Good luck on the next one, the style is great on you.

Sew4Fun said...

Lovely dress! I like your colour choice so much more than Michael Kors.

I do agree though about the size. The dress in the first photo looks too tight to me across the upper chest and under the arms. This design is meant to have a lot of ease and has been drafted to sit away from the body. Can you let out the side seams and sleeve seams? That might be enough to save this dress.

Meg said...

I hate it when an'easy' pattern poses so many problems, the colour is gorgeous on you.

Columbia Lily said...

I love that dress on you, it is so cute! I would wear it with my arms down, although it does suck that linen wrinkles when you breathe on it.

Vicki said...

All the comments have been interesting. You know what to do with the next one. But for this one if all else fails, how about taking the sleeves out and have this one sleeveless? You could do white bands around the armholes. Shame to give it away when it is so cute. Love the colour combo.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

I'm sorry this one didn't work out for you and hopefully that it will find a good home. I am glad that you are going to attempt it again...because that style is so you!

Neesi said...

I am definitely excited to find out about this pattern as I get into my pre-summer sewing mode. A few suggestions for your problem areas...you might try using knit interfacing to reduce the pull you are experiencing. It allows you to prevent stretch without inhibiting the natural movement of the fabric/garment. I also agree with a previous note that you might benefit from some bust darts which are easy enough to add. I hope that's helpful.I love that color you chose. It's gorgeous!

flanthrower said...

Wow! This is great! I know the fit isn't perfect but I think this is a great first-go. Now you got me itching to go back to apparel sewing again. Maybe this weekend....since I'll FINALLY have some free time!!

Bonnie said...

Try adding a gusset under the sleeve. This will help save the garment.

Columbia Lily said...

looked at this again and would like to add that I LOVE that length of sleeve on you.

Pamela Erny said...

Overall...a stunning dress!

Though the devil is always in the details....

Pam ~Off The Cuff~

Nancy (nanflan) said...

It looks to me like the original dress has more of a dropped sleeve and more ease. I agree with Sew4Fun, who said this was supposed to have a looser fit.

Nancy K said...

It seems that the shoulder fit in the smaller size is quite a bit smaller so it doesn't look like the picture. Or, it just isn't drafted like the original. I have this pattern too, and I wondered, having read your post on finding the dress, that it was wool and not lined, why they chose to line this. It really is a lovely style for your figure though and would be worth making again in the larger size.

Leslie said...

Bummer! Gosh it's so cute on you, I hope you make another one with some more room up top! What a lucky coworker. :-)

Liana said...

Your version is very nice, and with all the help on fit, you should get it just right next time.

Something to keep in mind. The pictures for the Vogue Designer patterns are the actual designer garments, not a garment that Vogue has sewn up from their pattern they draft from the original garment. I've heard some question as to whether they even sew up the patterns they draft for these; not sure about that, but it is something to be cautious about, and make sure the details and proportions are what the designer and you want.

Johanna Lu said...

The dress is gorgeous and I think you've done a wonderful job with the detailing - it looks perfect from here :) As for the fit I agree with others the pulling is probably either because it's too tight above the chest or the front armscye is wrong somehow. Looking forward to more versions, this style is definitely a keeper on you!

Cindy May said...

i was going to say exactly what patsijean said. It's probably supposed to have like 8 inches of ease. You can tell by looking at the back of envelope or on the bodice. Somewhere on one of these two areas, "finished size at bust" should be printed. If it says the wearer is 32" ie, which is a size 10 for the big 4 and the finished measurements at bust are 40", then you know that it's supposed to have that much ease. It is drafted correctly in all the other areas for the 32" person but if she went to an 8 then it may be too tight in some areas. It is easiest to sew the correct size for your upper chest and just take in the side seams if it's too baggy in the waist and hips.

Tany said...

This pattern didn't catch my eye when I first saw it but your thorough review made me think otherwise. I think I'll buy this pattern; the dress is really cute and I think it would be perfect with just a little more ease across the chest!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for reviewing this. I love the style but I'm scared to buy it b/c something didn't look right on the model with the arm area. Not sure exactly what it was but it just didn't look right. And I was worried I would have to spend too much time trying to fix it. Sometimes it's so hard to tell with the patterns. But despite the fit issues, yours looks so cute. I'm still debating if I want it.

Anonymous said...

Also, I meant to add, maybe you could just snatch the details and add it to a shift dress that fits well. I think that might be easier than having to mess with the whole armhole, chest, and sleeve issues.

Morzel: said...

I didn´t notice this design at the Vogue site, as I don´t like this 60´s style that much. But seeing your much more fitted version and the different colour, I get intrigued. I´ll save this picture in my "ideas" file - for a sheat dress draft for later... Thank you for this inspiration!

ed said...
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