Saturday, February 25, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Dare to Bare


When the Vogue Spring '17 patterns were released I knew I had to have and sew V1531. I was hot off the success of another vogue dress pattern (my little red dress from last month) so another fitted dress was appealing. I really loved the versatile cowl neck but the open back is definitely what won me over.

Vogue 1531 (Vogue Patterns)

The recommended fabrics listed are wool crepe, ponte knit and crepe-back satin. Since a shipment of David's Bridal Satin had just hit the website, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and use a fabric I wasn't too familiar with. There are several colors to choose from - violet magenta, scarlet red, hunter green and more - but I ultimately decided on this rich azure blue. I love this bright, bold blue!


I also chose this David's Bridal stretch lining as I knew these would work well with the satin because both listed 10% selvage to selvage stretch. If you want the snag the last bit of the azure satin, consider the blueberry stretch lining (this wasn't an option when I ordered).




On to the sewing. Off the bat there were a few things that concerned me about this pattern.
1) I wasn't sure that the satin (though luxurious) was really the right fabric for this dress. Mainly because of the wrong side showing in the cowl.
2) I'm not sure why there is a center front seam on the skirt. It seems unnecessary and a distraction. Maybe not as much in a ponte but in satin it is staring you in the face.
3) Will my back fat show?



Despite my reservations I went for it.The basic dress construction was simple. I used the instructions as reference but I completed the steps out of order. I started with the skirt and skirt lining because I wasn't quite sure how much ease I needed with the minimal stretch fabric. I cut an 18 but should have cut a 16 as I ended up taking in at least 1/2" in both side seams (I'm a 41-42" hip). Next the bodice, whipping up both the bodice and the bodice lining were quite simple. I wasn't initially aware that the bodice was self lined. I'm not quite sure that this is necessary but I'm assuming they added it because of the chance you would see it in the open back detail. If you understitch correctly I don't believe that would be a problem. Still I like it because the satin is very soft against your skin.



Things were going along rather smoothly until I got to the cowl. The cowl itself was a breeze as it's just a tube, however the bias tape (used to give the cowl seam a finished look) gave me a headache. Perhaps this was due to the fact I've never made my own bias tape before or maybe it was because I was working with satin that didn't press well when it came to folding the bias tape. To me the strip seemed too narrow and because I had a difficult time pressing it, it was a pain to apply to the seam allowance. I would have rather used store bought bias tape (though that wasn't really an option) or honestly just used a flat felled seam. I'm sure they were trying to eliminate stitching lines on the exterior of the cowl while keeping the interior clean.  Alternatively, I thought about just self lining the entire cowl. I will do this if/when I make this dress again but I could already tell the satin was not going to drape as it should and an extra layer would not help.

Front Cowl, Back Cowl, Hooded
Once I got the cowl, the bias tape, the facing and the drawstring completed I moved on the attaching the lining to the main dress and cowl. Sewing the neckline together was straightforward, but what I couldn't quite get was how to close the armscye. I referred the instructions after concluding that I wasn't sure how to proceed. Neither the instructions or the illustrations for this process made any sense to me. Now hopefully they will to you, but to me it was like a foreign language. AT THIS POINT I wanted to throw this dress out the window. I tried to sew the armscye as I typically do in lined dress but this trapped the cowl in a seam and wouldn't allow me to turn the dress right side out. So I pulled out my seam ripper and tried again. After another two attempts I think I finally got what the instructions were saying. You have to sew the bodice front to bodice front lining together starting at the side seam and go up about 3, repeat for the back and back lining, repeat again for the other side, then flip the whole dress right side out and slip stitch the remaining opening shut. I would honestly have to sew this dress again just to figure out how to do that again and I might.  If I do I will definitely do a photo or video tutorial.

Front Cowl, Back Cowl, Hooded

After I made it through that process every thing else was a breeze. I installed an invisible zipper and hemmed the skirt and was finally done.

Going back to my initial concerns.
1) All in all I absolutely love this luscious stretch satin, but sadly it wasn't the right fabric for this dress. Only because of the cowl, it would sew up a very luxe sheath dress. The fabric, for me, just doesn't have the right drape for all the cowl looks I wanted to explore. It works fine for the hooded look or the drape front, but it doesn't play nicely with the back drape or off the shoulder variations. I would make this dress again in a lighter fabric and other that doesn't have a distinguishable "right side".
2) I did find the center front skirt seam useless, I would remove the 5/8" seam allowance and cut on the fold next time.
3) On a PLUS side my back fat does not show!!!


Now please don't take this review as negative for the pattern or the fabric. I love both just not together. I'm thinking of making the dress again maybe out of the suggested crepe or a lightweight ponte. I would however make some changes like eliminating the front skirt seam, removing the vent flap and eliminating the drawstring. The satin is also fabulous and I think I want to whip up a dressy bomber jacket with it.

~ Tiffany

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