Earlier this Spring I took part in Seamwork's Design Your Wardrobe Challenge. It was a wonderful process of identifying not only clothing styles that I like but that I like to WEAR. The same went for colors. There are colors that I love (ok, so that's pretty much all color), but then there are colors that when I wear them I feel like a million bucks. The challenge walked us through that process and we ended up with a list of "looks" to make with an idea of what fabric we wanted to make them in.
Here's where my mood board ended up: casual with pops of color and a touch of a vintagey feel. This collage gives me all the happy feels!
I stuck with it pretty religiously until the last part where you designed the exact "look" (pattern, fabric, details, etc). Two things stopped me: one, you have to sketch the look on a croquis (figure drawing) and I'm just not good at drawing. My students will tell you that I basically work with stick figures so a fashion sketch would get me totally down on it. I can keep the picture better in my head. And two: I get bored of projects pretty easily and I worried that if I set out exactly what and how I was going to sew then I would be over it before it existed. Instead I gave myself some vague parameters: use lightweight natural fibers, keep it casual (except for one fancier dress), and mix colors and neutrals.
There hasn't been a ton of time to sew for myself lately, but with my sister's 30th birthday party, my sister-in-law's baby shower and a charity gala coming up I knew that I needed to take some time to sew up the first item on my list: a summery dress.
Enter Vogue 9253. I had seen this pattern around and, like many things, it took me awhile to jump on the bandwagon. I love Instagram for this reason: I can stalk everyone else's makes before I take the plunge! (Plunge is an accurate word to use for this dress!)
Do you see the deep V plunge there? That's wayyyy down there. And while I like to think I can pull it off (one of the benefits of being small chested), it wasn't going to quite fly for the family events where I wanted to wear it, so a few tweaks had to be made.
First up: raising the neckline. I probably brought it up about 4" and sewed the center seam together as part of the bodice construction. You can see the waist seam line below the slipping sash (a future change: sewing that bad boy into place). Bonus points: I can now wear a strapless bra with it if I want to.
The neckline gapes out a little bit at the bottom when I wear it. I don't think this is due to the pattern changes but more thanks to my shoulders rounding forward a little bit (and me always forgetting about when I make pattern adjustments--- I'm sure I was the only person at the party casually pinching out the extra fabric at my dress's shoulder seam thinking 'If I pull this in 1/4" at the neckline it will smooth out the front v...').
Now some views of the guts of the dress... (as in-- this is the inside!)
The original pattern has a narrow hem on either side of the neckline and bias binding around the back of the neck. With my pattern change this wasn't going to work, plus I didn't like the look of the stitching along the neckline. So I traced the new bodice pattern and cut out a facing with a sheer weight interfacing. I understitched the facing, used pinking shears to finish the raw edges and tacked it down along the shoulder seams and front bodice seam. The extra interfacing also helped keep a nice shape to the neckline.
Here's the back view of the neckline. I chose to use an invisible zipper instead of the simple zipper installation they suggested. I wanted this dress to work for casual and fancy and an invisible zipper looks so much more polished. I finished the raw edges under the zipper with pinking shears as well. The dress will always be handwashed so I'm not worried about excessive unraveling on these edges!
My pattern matching could be more on point but you can't win 'em all... The rest of the seams I finished with a french seam or turning the raw edge under twice and topstitching (this is how I handled the front bodice seam and the back skirt seam below the zipper).
Then of course since I spent so much time on the insides I felt the need to slip stitch the sleeve and bottom hem. I always forget how long that takes! But the finish is so worth it.
A quick note on the length: The pattern comes in this shorter length and floor length long. I was sure that I was going to prefer the floor length to the shorter version, but this fabric isn't exactly inexpensive (and nor should it be, but my fabric budget only stretches so far!) so I saved 2 yards and went shorter. I actually love it! I still want to make a longer version but this feels so summery that it was a good decision on my part.
I'm in love with this dress! I'll try to update this post with some photos of it on me, but I basically ran out the door with wet hair to my sister's birthday party (the first event) so those photos look fairly awful. Next event is my sister-in-law's shower so maybe that will work out better! But you can fancify this dress with some heels and gold necklace or pearls (I did the heels, without the necklace, for the birthday party), or dress it down with a pair of sandals (my plan for the shower).
And the fabric?? Oh the fabric is so good. I love Rifle Paper Co (the designer), and Cotton + Steel (the manufacturer) and rayon (the substrate) and Hart's Fabric (the store where I purchased it). It's soft and flowy and I want to live in it forever!
Look 1 of my summer challenge done!