Monday, 5 December 2016

Frocktails: Vogue 1342 aka "that" dress

Flatteringly, I've heard it said that some people think I'm "badder" than I look. :) The truth is, I'm pretty dull; no serious vices, no dark past....

Maybe that's why I'm drawn to a sewing pattern with a reputation. And, like a "bad" rockstar, it seems that you either love, hate, or struggle to relate to Vogue 1342 by Donna Karan
  

Me? I have a serious fan girl crush on this pattern. Probably in a way that's kind of awkward for a middle aged lady carrying quite a few extra kilos, but this shrink wrap knit dress pattern is brilliant.

I don't know much, if anything, about pattern design but I'm starting to notice that a lot of the time there's a basic block to which various combinations of sleeves, collars etc are added. Then, when a pattern like this comes along, and there is nothing at all recognisable about the pattern piece in its flat form, that's when I feel like pattern designers are amazing and I shall always value their work.


There's no better occasion to borrow a bit of bad, rockstar pattern attitude for than Frocktails. It's not the first time this pattern has been let loose to play at Frocktails, and it wasn't long after I'd picked up the pattern in a sale, that I saw Funkbunny's version and knew that one day I'd have to give it a go.

I arrogantly assumed that the fitting step would all come from fitting the lining, and IF one were to use fabrics with very similar stretch for the lining and the outer, then I maintain that would technically work. Of course that's not what I did, but you saw that coming, right?!


For the main dress I had the grey cotton knit with silver sparkly dots that was already in the stash. If I remember rightly it was $5/m from ClearIt. It's quite a thin knit and I knew I wanted something more weighty and smoothing (let's be honest and say compressing) for the lining.

I'd just made P some (still unblogged) arm and leg warmers for cycling and had just the right amount leftover of this thick, stretchy synthetic black knit to cut the lining. While I got the weights of fabric right - hefty on the inside and lightweight on the outside, I was badly mismatched when it came to stretch.


The black stuff was chosen specifically because arm and leg warmers need to stretch both in circumference and length. So this fabric has a lot of stretch, and great recovery, along both axes.

But not the grey t-shirt knit. That stretched nicely along one axis and not at all along the other. Of course the pattern plainly says the fabric is required to stretch both crosswise and lengthwise so I was being a bit foolhardy.

- as an aside. The common practice of referencing two and four way stretch is a confusing misnomer. Knit fabrics will stretch along one axis (selvedge to selvedge), or both axes (crosswise and lengthwise). When Vogue say two way stretch fabric required, they don't mean that your left and right hands move when you pull the fabric. They mean that it stretches in TWO perpendicular directions.

Having ignored that instruction, what do you do when the bottom hem of your dress is cut on the bias and loses all it's stretch? My solution was to buy some insanely divine shoes and make them the reason why I couldn't take big steps. See, not the dresses fault at all!


I'd drafted the dress in a size 16 blending out to an 18 below the waist. Easily done with the lining, but much harder to work out where and how for the dress outer. A better solution is undoubtedly to split and widen as shown by Cleo and Phineas here.

Because of my fabric differences the lining ended up too wide and loose. I ran the side seams back in and probably ended up with the straight size 16. But then I also added a few darts at the top back as that was gaping a lot. The outer dress on the other hand, was not giving me much wiggle room in the area that need to wiggle most....


The "center" back seam - I say "center" in quotes as there's nothing centered about it, was taken out to the limit of my seam allowance over my rump, but then taken in by almost an inch above the waist.

From the 4 or so versions of this dress I've seen now, I think it's safe to say it runs bigger across the  back than might be expected for the hip/arse sizing. I don't have all that much up front, and while it's roomy there I was grateful not to have to try and figure out how on earth you would downsize the bust.

Due to my taking in the center back seam (which ends up at one shoulder strap), and the very stretchy versus minimally stretchy fabric disparity, I ended up with this major pucker on the inside.


This is where the outer dress is sewn to the lining to hold everything in its gathered, twisty shape. I just went ahead and stitched exactly where the fabric had been pattern marked. I'm pretty sure it was my fabrics and tinkering, but of course, when you've got the whole thing half inside out and are sewing seam allowance of outer, to marked line on the lining, it's impossible to know how dodgy it's going to look. Once you finish and get this, you shrug, think sod it, it's on the inside, and congratulate yourself for sewing with knit fabrics 'cause you can get away with that kind of shit.

Keeping things honest,  here's the front shot of where the lining was about an inch bigger (too much stretch) than the outer and so the V becomes a small saggy U shaped hole.


So, there were plenty of challenges in sewing this pattern, both of Ms Karan's making and of my own, but once you get your head around it, it works. I can see that the steps where the lining is sewn in could be baffling. I find if I suspend any notion of knowing what I'm doing, and completely forget about anticipating how it's going to happen and just do as I'm told, it really does work. If I ever do make this dress again I would be sure to photograph those steps, but in the meantime, if you're having a step-20-what-the-f*&% moment, don't be afraid to ask.

One step that I think should be ADDED is understitching as much as possible of the back and side necklines. It's not that hard to get in under there and add some understitching in an effort to keep the lining from showing too much at the back.


Since I now need to wear those shoes at every opportunity until I die and they are buried with me, I put the whole outfit back on this weekend for a university reunion. (20 years, seriously)


Where I had to unpick the centre seam for my WAS adjustment a little hole formed. It's been interfaced and stitched, but I'm wondering about this dresses longevity... I seriously would do it again, but it would have to be the right fabric. If I ever find a sparkly grey fabric with two way stretch I'm on to it!

*that's a Wide Arse Salvage for new blog readers

26 comments:

  1. Love the saves you made to your dress! It truly is awesome and no one would even know there were any issues with it. Now I need to add this pattern to my stash!

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    1. Thank you, I really appreciate you coming over to the blog! It's certainly a pattern to have a crack at. Good luck!

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  2. Hot! Despite all the troubles it gave you, you ended up with one sexy dress!!

    I agree on confusing terminology re: 2-way vs 4-way stretch. Arg!

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    1. Cheers Meg. I seem to have this eternally optimistic body dysmorphia when it comes to fitting my butt into dresses :) But then I'd rather fiddle with the seam allowance than be all depressed about my bum size!
      I suspect the stretch thing is where self taught home sewists (that would be me too) have reinvented terminology, which is fine, until you run into old school "correct" talk.

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  3. Phemonemal! You are a sexy-mermaid-sewing-wizard.

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    1. I think bold and lucky is more accurate, but I'll take your mermaid wizard compliment!! thanks xx

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  4. Stunning and I really like your logic!

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    1. Thanks Sharon. If you ever need backing up on a shoe purchase decision, I'm your woman!

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  5. Man! You look absolutely stunning in this dress! I admire your fearlessness when it comes to taking on intimidating sewing projects. Also, I had no idea that's what two-way stretch meant! So odd, right?!

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    1. Thanks Rachel! When the fabric is cheap, and my time is only otherwise spent on dull chores, it seems silly NOT to try stuff!
      I'm certainly not the oracle of sewing terminology, but two way stretch MUST mean two axes of stretch. I did a quick google search for definitions and it certainly seems to be contentious. Some people even suggesting that one-way stretch would mean stretch, but no recovery (*bullshit *cough*).
      I should pencil mark this pattern to remind myself it needs "uppey-downey-and-side-to-sidey" stretch :)

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  6. Another brave pattern choice with stunning results! Whatever its limitations, the outer fabric looks wonderful and oh, those shoes!

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    1. hee hee, the shoe purchase reminded me of when people document their "baby's first..." . Well, these are "mummy's first, and probably only, Jimmy Choos"
      The dress was a bit of fun. I'm fond of the dive in without testing the depth first sewing - especially when binning it would only have been a $15 loss

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    1. :) Love a copy and paste comment! You cracked me up.

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  8. THIS DRESS!!! So glamorous, dare I say sexpot? You look absolutely fantastic. The back view is ridiculously pin-up girl sizzling. So good!!

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    1. ha ha, cheers Inder. You know I just found a fantastic version of this dress on Instagram, and I stalked the Insta feed until I found the photo with it modelled - by the most stunning drag queen. She nailed it!

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  9. I want to see the 20th step hahaha I admire your skills, seriously! The dress looks great on. All the work you put into it was worth it. Great shoes also ;)

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    1. If you can imagine sewing the inverted V of a sleeve placket only with about 2 kilos of gathered stretch fabric under your presser foot then you're on track with imagining step 20! :)
      thanks for the lovely compliments Jenya!

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  10. Wow, lady, that's hot! Awesome job! I made a holiday party dress and it looks like a feedsack in comparison!

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    1. OK, that I cannot imagine. You would look cute in a hessian bag anyway. Loved your Ms Frizzle (or was it Annie ;) ) outfit!

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  11. Shelly, I cannot tell you how fabulous you look in this dress. Really really lovely.

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