Monday, September 3, 2012

Vogue 1174 - Not for the faint of heart!

I had a formal wedding to attend, and no dress to wear, so decided upon Vogue 1174. Thankfully I was smart enough to start the project almost 2 months early, as there were many new techniques for me to learn. For other sewers that are new to interlining, boning, waist-stays, etc I'd highly recommend Gertie's bombshell dress video course. While some of the information was specific to the bombshell dress, much of it was relevant to this pattern as well. Go here for 50% off the Craftsy course. Well worth the $30!

I used a Carolina Herrera silk-lurex-blend brocade from Mood Fabrics. I had never ordered from them before, but was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the photos/descriptions of my two picks. The only other obscure item to find was the spiral steel boning - which lead me to Lacis in Berkeley which caters to your lace and corset making needs and has things like spiral steel and horse hair braids, and other such things I've read about but never seen. The remainder I picked up at Stone Mountain and Daughter - I think I made 3 separate trips! For interlining I used silk organza for the foundation and cotton muslin for the dress (I found the organza a little shifty after I pre-washed it, my mistake). I lined with china silk. For the piping I used silk charmeuse.

I ended up with a size 6 for the entire dress. I've never sewn anything in a size 6, so make sure to check the measurements (unfortunately no waist measurements were to be found on the pattern). I muslined both the foundation and the dress, since I needed an SBA in both. I had to add 1/2 inch in bodice length. I ended up taking it in 1/4 inch at the top so it would be snug. I also had to take a 1/4 inch out of the middle lower bodice piece from the top point tapering to nothing at the waist as it was a little poufy under the bust. I lowered the back skirt darts about an inch.

The construction was relatively straightforward after the muslining - just a few mishaps on my part like putting in the 2 of the back bodice pieces upside-down (not recommended after you've done the piping and seam finishing!). I also hand picked the zipper the first time around (again, a first), but found that it gaped. I still don't know how people get hand picked zippers to look good - maybe it's easier on something with a bit more ease than strapless? I gave up, took it out, and put in an invisible zipper instead - worked fine, just a bit sticky at the piping seams. It also allowed me to let the back out 1/4" so I could have a little more breathing room - make sure you account for the thickness of the boning, interlining, etc in your muslins! For the waist stay I followed Gertie's instructions rather than the pattern ones. I measured my waist, then tacked the stay down at the middle, sides, and at the zipper. No need to make the whole dress as slim as the stay - room for dinner is important! In the end it wore beautifully - able to breathe, eat, and dance the night away without having to tug it up once.

Here is the inside of the dress with the foundation - nothing like orange octopi to cheer you up!

Vogue Donna Karan 1159

There are many other reviews of this dress, but here is mine:

Fabric is from Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley. It's labeled as rayon and lycra, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a little bit of wool in it. After all of the fuss on pattern review, it really wasn't all that hard to make. You just have to be slow and methodical. I used thread tracing to mark the circles/squares for the first time, which was so much easier than trying to make out where my chalk markings escaped to. I also read the instructions about 3 times before proceeding, so I could visualize the construction. I made a size 12, because that it what I had bought to fit my hips. I was worried because I often fit a size 8 bodice in Vogue, and there was no way to make any size alterations on this one! Luckily, it turned out just fine. I did make a couple alterations:

1) Arm hole gapage - I used the pattern alterations from pattern review here. Sadly, the arm holes were still quite gape-y even after bringing them up an inch! I then unstitched and sewed them up at least another inch (it's not a straight seam, so I just matched them up as flush as I could). This ended up taking the bodice in almost an inch on both sides, which compensated well for it being too big in the first place!
2) Length - I initially tried it on and cut off 3 inches (I'm 5'5"). I tried it on again, and realized the front hung much lower than the back, so had to unpin the back and take a very small hem there. If you are like me and don't have a mannequin for fitting, make sure you measure from the floor, not just take off an even amount.
3) Lining - my fabric was relatively thin and drapy, and has more 4 way stretch that it should. I was worried about it stretching out too far, and given the negative ease of the lining, I thought that might lend some support. I used a silky rayon jersey I had left over, which was actually a bit thicker than my fashion fabric. I enlarged the darts to make it snug in the back. It works quite well, and the fabric drapes beautifully over it.
4) Neck gapage - I put in a couple stitches to keep everything in place. This might not be an issue if you are full busted, but would recommend it otherwise. I also put in a stitch where the front crosses.

Overall, I highly recommend this pattern. The finished dress has great draping and is very comfortable to wear.