Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vogue 8555 - The Hibiscus Dress

I made this dress last year out of a small piece of very cheap cotton I'd bought about 6/7 years ago (I think the plan was to make a tote). Anyway, I was not confident of getting a good fit 'out of the packet' and before I wasted my animal print sateen on it, I thought I'd make it out of something I didn't love. (When tigerboy saw the animal print his eyes bugged out "Isn't it a bit cougarish?" "Well, I'm over 40 and with a younger man, I'd say if the print fits, wear it." "Okaaaaaay." Doesn't take much to shock Mr. Conservative.)

I had just enough to make the dress - I've only got a few centimetres left. With my limited amount of fabric I did at least try to get the stripes of dark and light purple to kind of match and I think I did the best I could with what I had.

To start with, I'll just get this right out there in the open for anyone that has spent ages poring over pattern reviews trying to work out if the person in the picture is their size and if so, which size they ended up cutting (I did that, boy did I do that). I'm 168cm tall and my measurements are 94cm (37"),  72.5cm (28.5") with the widest part of my thighs being 99.5cm (~39"). According to those measurements, for this dress Vogue says I'm between a size 14 and 16, actually, nearly exactly smack bang in the middle. Additionally, I have an upper bust measurement of 89cm (35"), so if I went by that, I'd be choosing a pattern between a sz 12 and a 14. To confuse things even further - I'm a D or DD cup, have been ever since I was in high school. Nearly everything I've read says that with only a 2" difference between upper bust and bust, I shouldn't even be a D cup. The thing is, my underbust is the same as my waist, so does this mean I have a narrow back? Gah, all I know is that I always have to make patterns smaller.

I had to make quite a few adjustments. I cut a sz 12 for the armscye and neck, a size 14 for the shoulder (length), sz 14 for bodice sides and skirt.  And this was what I got from that. Baggy bodice and baggy skirt.

 The bodice alterations:
  • Change midriff side seam to between a sz 14 and a sz 12 just under the arm, grading to a sz 12 for the waist.
  • Sewed bodice to midriff with a 5mm (under bust)-1cm (sides) seam allowance because I was concerned about the bust pulling the back forward and the midriff not sitting properly under the bust.
  • Sway back adjustment in the back midriff (a horizontal tuck of 3cm in total in the centre, graduating to zero at the side seam).
I could have taken the bodice in a bit more, as you can see from the last pic, there was still plenty of ease in the waist. Next time I'll reduce the sides even further. Unfortunately, these alterations happened after I'd lined the bodice - I hate unpicking but there was just no way I'd wear it the way it was (even so, I'll only go so far). So that left me with a baggy, baggy skirt.

The skirt alterations:

  • Lengthen darts on skirt considerably and change hip curve (my biggest part is lower than Vogue thinks it will be).
  • Change skirt to size 12.
  • Add a vent to the back centre seam of skirt.

 In the future, I'll just cut a size 12 of course. I also think it is a tad too long in the shoulders, cutting the size 12 for shoulder length would have fixed that.

I used a very old interfacing that I had, it's stiff like cardboard. I remember that years ago when I used it it ended up bubbling, so I didn't actually fuse it to the fashion fabric, I just sewed it in with the fuse side to the lining. The dress would look better if the midriff was fused to interfacing.

For the lining I used an old piece of plisse that came from my Mum's stash - it was only a tiny piece, just enough to line the bodice. Plisse is like a tiny seersucker. Turns out that although I cut the lining 5mm smaller, plisse is not a great lining fabric, due to the weave it has a bit of stretch.

Plisse lining

Plisse lining

As I'd spent so long fitting this skirt, I actually used it to convert to an A-line when I made the cling wrap bodice dress.

I do plan on making another version, I think I'll incorporate less ease when I make it with the sateen - I'm still planning to go all cougar ;)


  1. Your dress turned out beautiful - even though you are not 100% happy with the fit - it looks great on you and the fabric is lovely - just the right thing for a warm Aussie day.

  2. That is so pretty! Your "cougar" version is sure to be striking also. I laughed when reading your post as my Minoru jacket has jaguar lining and my husband was very put off by my choice. I believe he is worried I'll start dressing like my stepmom did!