I have worked long and hard on my latest project: Very Easy Vogue 8631, a pleated wrap dress. This dress pattern offers two versions: long sleeved and short sleeved. I decided to make the short sleeved version.
I have read quite a bit of the Colette Sewing Handbook. In particular, I read about altering patterns before making this vogue wrap dress. I am so glad that I got this book because it really shows how if you learn how to sew you can customize the fit of your clothes. In fact, there are standard alterations that many home seamstresses find that they routinely make on the clothes that they sew. Simple pattern alterations will make a huge difference on fit!
I had read that this dress pattern sizing runs very big! I decided to cut a smaller size for my first muslin. This size clearly did not fit me at all. It was too tight around the waist but had a ton of extra fabric on my upper back. It looked like I stuck a balloon between my shoulder blades. Hmm, giant hunchback? Not a great look on me.
I made a second muslin, armed with the pattern alteration tips from the Colette Sewing Handbook. I made the waist bigger, cut off about 4 inches from the length, and shortened the bodice. The resulting dress fit a lot better!
Because I was feeling ambitious, I also cut back on the three pleats on the side of the dress that is closest to the body. I made the dress so that the bottom layer of the wrap has only one pleat on the bodice and on the skirt. This side of the dress is covered by the second wrap part of the dress. The top layer has plenty of pleating in my opinion. I don’t need two full layers of puffy pleating on my stomach. My stomach is puffy enough and I don’t need to add more.
I decided to go ahead and make the dress using the fabric I bought. Unfortunately, the seams for the bodice and the skirt part do not line up correctly as a result of my pattern alterations. Adjusting the waist and length changed where the pleats and darts occur on the dress, something I should have paid more attention to on the muslin. I hand sewed on the hook and eye closures for the waist over and over again until I finally attached them where they wouldn’t show.
Despite my mistakes, I was happy to rush off to try on the dress. “Great”, I thought. “Its not perfect but I made a dress!” Then I started to wonder why the dress looked so familiar. “Do I already own something like this? No, I don’t think so…” Looking at myself in the mirror, under the harsh florescent lights, I looked tired and haggard. I looked sick. The pale blue green dress and my unhealthy appearance looked terrible. Then it occurred to me: I had sewn myself a fancy hospital gown.
The lesson here: Get new lighting. Also, if I have to go to the hospital I will be the most stylish patient around. Thankfully, the fabric color looks much better under different lighting conditions.
Luckily, I knew that I would likely mess up this sewing project, so I had used clearance fabric. No big loss, and lots of useful experience. I will make this dress again, but I will redraft the pattern so the pleats and darts match, and so that the bodice is longer (my fault for cutting it). I will need to experiment with my pattern alterations for a better fit. I traced the pattern instead of cutting into the tissue paper, so its no problem to try again.
Ultimately, I think this dress could work for me. Green Apples made an absolutely gorgeous version. She paired it with a matching belt, something that I will consider. Also, Lazy Stitching made a beautiful version of this dress. The dress looks great on her: its quite figure-flattering, in my opinion.