My concerns about this pattern:
There were many. My first concern was the actual design. I've made Marcy Tilton designs before and had a few muslin wadders as well. Would this unique design be another? Luckily, Pattern Review had some great reviews with photos that really helped with my decision to make this.
Another concern was the dress's volume, massive at the hemline. Most makers reduced this. But how much should I take out? Star's Threads took a whopping 54 inches from the bottom hemline. Yes, it's that full! Star's skirt is positively A line and lovely on her. But I wanted a bit more volume in mine, but just not all that Tilton intended. My version had 24 inches of volume removed from the hemline and I am happy with it. I'll talk more about this in Fit.
I also had concerns about the weight of the garment, even with all that volume removed. I used the two way stretch knits as recommended but dang, these were heavy fabrics and all that volume in the skirt hung from a really rather flimsy little bodice. I think I managed to overcome that issue fairly well and will get into that in a bit.
And what about those funky "epaulet" style straps that most rejected? And that really disproportionate hemline?
Then there was the challenge of fabric choice. Four fabrics were recommended for View C, the non-strappy version that I chose. Would they all go together and would I look like a circus clown when it was said and done? I used my personal tried and true method for working with various fabrics in a garment. I will do an upcoming blogpost on that. Fingers were crossed and spirits invoked hoping that this time the formula would work as it has in the past. I think it did. One of my favorite things about sewing is putting various prints together in a garment. No boring solid color blocking for this woman! If it looks clown like, please let me know, but I have hopes you will find the choices appropriate.
While there was much to be pondered before starting to actually sew the dress. I can honestly say the actual construction was quite easy. The most challenging part was the upper front bodice piece and that was not that bad at all, just the most challenging,relatively speaking.
This is Vogue 9108, a Marcy Tilton design. It's described as a "pullover dress, close fitting through the bust." That sounds right but it really wasn't that close fitting and I don't think it really is on others I've seen. I was not sure what size to use. Did I want to futz with an FBA and do the small size, my usual MO? There was huge volume in the small size so other than needing the larger bust it didn't need any further alteration. I flat pattern measured the bodice area of the garment and found if I used the medium size it would accommodate my C cup and I could deal with all the volume however I wanted. I cut the Medium. It worked out perfectly.
Changes I made to the pattern:
* I DID NOT like the look of the hem in the back of the dress being substantially shorter than the sides it matched up to. It makes the garment "feature" the back of your knees. Who's got good back knees? Other than Heidi Klum, I don't think this would flatter anyone in any way. I extended the hem in back a good 4 inches. Since I still liked the detail of the uneven hems where they meet I kept it one half inch shorter than the side pieces.
Below you can see how this half inch difference at the side seams makes a huge difference with its drape and the curved cut of the side pieces. But, it hides the back of my knees and that's good.
* I did not pleat the lower front as described in the pattern, step #5. The slinky fabric was unexpectedly bulky and it wouldn't work. So I moved the pleats closer to the center and eased in the difference across the front. It worked fine.
* I did not use the suggested facings, choosing a simple binding instead for the neck and armholes. I chose to bind the armholes with black ponte. I didn't want anything disturbing the simple black on the sides or busying up the design any further. The neckline was bound with the dots. You can see how the straps, front and back, are sewn into the epaulet. They are wider than the epaulet and I just did a little tuck to make them fit.
* I did not use the specified order of construction. I wanted to check the fit and strap length before binding anything. Many who've made this did without the "epaulets" connecting the front and back straps. When I tried the straps without the epaulets it pulled up the bodice/waist seam to an odd area of the bust. Think "recent Rue debacle" and you'll know what I mean. So for myself, the epaulets put the strap length right where I thought it most flattering, a little above my natural waist. It was not the "close fitting" bodice that the pattern described but it also wasn't made in the size I usually use. I like the fit and that's all that really matters.
I found the directions very clear. At the very beginning of the dress directions there is a "note" suggesting interfacing for knit fabrics in the pocket, pocket edges at side front and "upper edges on front" areas with tricot interfacing. Given that knits are the recommended fabrics why is there no interfacing shown in the yardage requirements on the pattern envelope? There are no yardage requirements inside on the directions either, just that "note" suggesting you use some. Grrrr.... luckily I had some fusible tricot on hand. All in all, the pattern was clear. I love that there are no buttons, plackets, cuffs, zippers, etc., just simple sewing.
So many fabrics! This was fun to play with and figure out. I decided on four fabrics, sort of. The back bodice and lower front are a really nice jacquard type slinky knit made from acetate and a bit of spandex., the usual slinky ingredients. I am in love with the ruby red color! It came from a thrift find, a Cold Water Creek large size tank dress that I picked up for a dollar. Gorgeous fabric!
Next, I took a hint from many body con dresses I've seen and used black ponte for the side panels, the better to give a slimming, taller silhouette. It's a rayon ponte, matte finish and with a very nice drape . The back panel, front hem bands and some binding were in a pebbly polka dot knit, also rayon and quite textured.
For the fourth fabric I took the black mesh point d'esprit knit and laid it over the polka dot rayon for the front hem band and for the front upper bodice.
These were the survivors of many combinations I tried. I really think picking fabrics for this dress s the most challenging aspect but a lot of fun.
The front and back upper bodices were fused to a woven cotton interfacing. This was not specified at all but is really needed to have the strength to carry the weight of the skirt, IMO. The upper areas of the ponte side pieces were fused with more black fusible tricot. I tried the woven but it showed through. Backing these upper areas was important to the their ability to carry all that weight from the skirt and I would highly recommend doing this. It will also help stay your binding areas and prevent sagging. I ran the interfacing from under the arm across to the bodice front. I also interfaced the "epaulets" as I didn't want the weight to pull on them making wrinkles. I've had that happen before.
There is no lining in this garment and one really isn't necessary.
This is all straight sewing and really quite simple. Here are a few things I did differently than the pattern, Some I've already mentioned and won't repeat.
*I stayed every vertical seam with seam tape or selvedge. I didn't want these heavy knits drooping off the seamlines. I think this is really important. It didn't make for the most lovely interior but it is serving its function.You can also see in this pic how I used the tricot on the upper side pieces and the woven interfacing on the slinky bodice.A lot of thought was put into this because of the weight the small bodice needed to carry. Seams were stitched twice and trimmed.
* The hems were interfaced with tricot, edge stitched and then stitched again 3/4 of an inch away. I really like hemming knits this way as it gives a sharp edge and a flat hem that drapes nicely.
* Armholes were bound with matching black ponte so as not to add another element to the design. I wanted to keep those sides all black. No facings, please! The pattern specifies a facing for the armscyes.
* Back panel, Piece 19, the dots, reduced by 2 inches in width.
Side panels, the ponte black, were reduced by 5 inches in width on each side = 10 inches.
Side fronts, black ponte, were reduced 6 inches each side = 12 inches.
Total reduction taken from hem = 24 inches.
The reduction was made with a ruler going from the hemline to the waistline and not altering from the waist up at all.
The skirt length was reduced by one inch all around.
* I highly recommend interfacing the top edge of the pockets. I used a 1 1/2 inch strip of fusible tricot on the slinky.
This jumper is a darling design that really needs to have volume reduced in the skirt to look it's best, IMO. It also needs that hem length in the back skirt lengthened. Making the back of a women's knees a focal point just is not a good idea on any level. This dress has no zipper, buttons, snaps, closures, welts or much of anything else for design detail. I LOVE that. What the pattern does offer is a great opportunity for creatively using various fabrics in one garment. I love mixing fabrics and have plenty of experience doing so but I found this garment particularly challenging. Hopefully staying with a tried and true color scheme helped.
I really enjoyed making this and it will be my go to dress for casual Christmas gatherings. I enjoyed the challenge and yet the simplicity. I am even tempted to make it again in maybe a long, sleeveless version for summer. I highly recommend this pattern with the modifications suggested. As it comes out of the envelope,,,,, not so much.....Bunny
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. We had a great Christmas weekend with our daughters in NH, lots of family, great food, snow, sledding snow ball fights, more food, and just great memory making. Whatever your celebration, I pray you were surrounded by loved ones and blessed with warmth and joy..........Bunny
New profile photo: I've gone natural with the hair. Yay, liberation!