Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vogue 8728 - Knit dress x 2

Way back in January I entered the red dress contest at Sewing Pattern Review with the intention of entering a red version of Vogue 8728. Being uber organised, I actually planned to get the inevitable fit issues out of the way with a muslin made of a couple of metres of a dusty pink, very thin but heavy, very stretchy knit that I have oodles of (another stash mystery, like the pale blue knit that I have 10 000 000 metres of). Oh, and in keeping with my ability to choose knits that wrinkle, this one takes the cake in that department. This dusty pink knit, let's call it the 'nightmare fabric' just never ends, so far I've made three(?) dresses from it and a pair of pyjamas for Mum and I think there's still about 9 000 000 metres left. It's a bad choice for a muslin because nothing is going to look good made out of it and I don't have any other fabric with it's particular irksome properties - so why do I keep doing it to myself?

Anyway, so that I didn't have two identical dresses, I thought I'd put my a-line skirt on the nightmare muslin and the intended skirt on the final red dress. This dress has a lot of positive reviews and they all look great (that should have been my first hint as to just how much I'd have to alter it to fit me). The first version I saw was The Sew Convert's version here. Loved it, straight on to my (very long) wish list.

The wearable muslin (which I do actually wear around the house):

Vogue 8728 - the unironed, wrinkly muslin. (Looks like I haven't even pulled the back bodice down, or put it on straight, ah well)
It's been a (long) while since I made these dresses but I remember that when I glanced through the instructions, I thought that there were a lot of unnecessary steps. As I'm lazy efficient, I did what made sense to me:
  • that whole thing about cutting out tear out interfacing and sewing the gathering to the interfacing to get the right length, then tearing it out? No! I just gathered it until it corresponded with length.
  • attaching the bodice to the waist  - folding it over and top stitching? Right sides together and zip around with the overlocker for me.
  • top stitching around the waist on a knit? Ah, no, I'll skip that thanks.

It's not very obvious from the last pic but I didn't bind the entire neckline - I decided to leave the gathers raw (on purpose) because I liked the look and thought it would be one more thing that set it apart from the red dress. Here's a closer pic:

The 'raw' gathers at the neckline.
To secure the gathers, I just sewed them to a piece of ribbon (more than likely, one of those loops you get inside every top you buy these days to keep it on the hanger).

Sewing the gathers down on to the ribbon.

The fit issues:
I started with a size 12 but the lower bodice was far too big and baggy.
I ended up reducing the lower bodice to less than a size 8.
V8728 - My new lower bodice
You can see in the pic above that I lowered the top centre. It would have been better if I'd just taken more from the upper bodice portion but for the purposes of this dress, that was a change that was made after I had overlocked the upper and bottom together and when I saw the sagging of the upper bodice, I just overlocked it again (and probably again) until the bagginess was gone, so I took from the top and the bottom when it would have been better (say, if I was less lazy and liked unpicking) to just take from the top part.

Of course, then I had to make corresponding changes to the upper bodice:
V8728 Upper bodice adjustments.

The back is where I had to take out a truck load of fabric (I think I might have a narrow back?)
V8728 - Back pattern piece adjustments.

I took the side seams in to just under size 8. Due to gaping at the back neckline, I needed darts there. As the existing darts weren't enough, I had to enlarge them too which resulted in two seams in the back of the dress. (In the red version, I just took approx 2", yes 2 whole inches! out of the centre back by making a new fold line 1" in).

V8728 - Back with two seams (no, those blue dots aren't actually on the fabric - that's just me trying to point out where the seams are) - I could not believe that they actually matched, first time.

No zipper necessary with the nightmare fabric - this would still stretch out to a size 46 if it needed to, it's that stretchy. This version was hemmed with hemming web because my machines do not play nicely with this fabric if there are less than three layers.

On seeing this dress tigerboy's eyes bugged up and two grabby hands came up "Uh, honey? It really show cases your ........!" I assured him that it was only this particular knit, due to it's thinness.

So, on to the red version:

Now that I'd made all of the fitting changes, I was on easy street, right? Cut it out, sew it up and enter the competition. Well, no, that's not what happened.

I made it up, with all of the changes (except I forgot to shorten the upper bodice in the centre more and not lower the lower bodice top centre) and the intended skirt:

V8728 - Frump city

Frumpy, frumpy, frumpy! When I showed tigerboy? Worried look on his face "It's not finished yet is it?"

I hadn't made the belt at that point and thought that maybe a belt would help lower the frump factor. To make the belt, I covered some non-roll elastic in the red jersey and used a hook closure with another piece of red jersey to slide over the hook.
V8728 - Red elastic and jersey belt
So, how about with the belt?

V8728 - With thick belt.
No, tiger, you've just made it worse!

So, maybe the belt needs to be thinner? New belt coming up!

V8728 - with a thin belt - still frumpy

 Well, stuff it, maybe I'm just not used to this silhouette on me - I'll hem it and wear it.  Verdict? I felt frumpy all day. The skirt kept ending up between my legs when I was walking and driving me nuts. The belt kept sliding up because the waist on this dress is actually below my waist. Complete fail! Then, to make matters worse, I threw it in the wash (with disgust) and out it comes with the hem all down - hemming web does not like this fabric (likes it enough to stick to one side of the fabric though). Complete, complete fail!

Skip ahead a few months (well after the competition is over) and I'm sick of seeing this pile of red on my sewing room floor, chair, bench etc. What to do with it? Let's just call it quits, chop off the milk maid skirt (chop, not unpick), cut that down to an A-line, reattach and hem. So, that's what I did:

V8728 - with A-line skirt. I'm sure the torpedos aren't as prominent in real life, I think that was the way the light was falling on the deck that day.

V8728 - doing my "did it take the photo yet?" twist.

Still looks like I should be serving steins at Oktoberfest but at least it no longer looks as though I just came from the milking sheds as well.

The problem here (one of them, anyway) is that I should have made that top bodice piece wider (for more gathers) and deeper, so that I did still end up with gathers over the bust, instead of big blank spaces where I've filled them up - live and learn.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the gathered skirt is not for me. I've read a lot of tips that say to do little tucks instead (and I now remember that I did try that for the red version before I resorted to the A-line - it still looked awful) which is what I'm going to try for the burda dress I'm currently making but so far, it's not thrilling me either.

Who likes the dirndl/gathered skirt look? If you don't, what do you do instead?


  1. The 2nd red dress is definitely much better. Look good. Not sure if I like a gathered skirt on me - I haven't tried one.

    1. Thanks Beajay - good enough for grocery shopping anyway. Much better colour for me too (although, as we know, I have no idea about colours).

  2. I think the slimmer skirt is inspired. This dress lays much better on you than me- the back neckline kept creeping up on me.

    1. I did take a whole 2" out of the centre back though - as well as taking it down to less than a size 8 at the sides (crazy sizing). I thought the gathered skirt on your version looked good on you - you didn't have the problem of it getting stuck between your legs? I might need to slow down and take dainty steps (sure, that's going to happen).

  3. I made a muslin of this pattern - nearly died laughing when I saw it on me - and then put it in my "must sell on ebay some day" pile. The word stein also appeared in my blog post about it :). I like the A-line skirt idea, though, so I might revisit my muslin.

  4. Yes, I'm reinventing beer hall attire, down with the dirndl, up with the a-line. Can you believe I did it twice?!

  5. You really hung in there on this one! 2nd red version - but not my fav look for you!

    1. How optimistic was I? Not one but two! Not my fav look either, believe me.

  6. The red dress is really nice!! May I suggest a different color belt?

  7. PS The side view looks great :)

  8. You did well to rescue this - version 2 is a big improvement on version 1. Sewing can be a bit frustrating when you can't tell in advance if the shape is going to work for you or not! I guess it's just part of the never-ending learning process :-)

    Personally I find gathered skirts exaggerate my hips, which I don't like, especially as my waist is not very small. Skirts with a lot of pleats or tucks can have this effect on me too, so I prefer skirts that either have only a few pleats or that are more fitted or straight.

  9. I agree with Neeno: the side view looks fantastic. And the front. And the back.
    I tried to sew this patter for my mother-in-law (of all people, I know, but she is a dear) in a Non stretch fabric. What a nightmare! She is a really busty woman so the comment you wrote about the Oktober Fest, applied to her too, big time!
    I found so many fitting issues I just gave up, the pieces are still in a bag, all basted together, and I don´t think they will ever see the light of day again!.

  10. Thank you for the review. I've been thinking of making this dress in a jersey. I think I will muslin the top of the dress and take care of fitting issues first, and then make an A-line skirt. Looks amazing!

    1. Glad I was of some help but no more of this dress for me.