This is out-of-print Vogue 1158, by Tracy Reese. It's a really cute summer dress that I've had since it was released 6 years ago. For years, I've pulled this dress out with the intention of making it and I always ended up putting it back. The problem was that I never found fabric that I loved that would truly compliment the design and also, devoting time in the summer for such a detailed garment. It looks pretty simple from the picture, but there's a lot going on there.
First thing first, I had to find the right fabric. During the last days of Hancock Fabrics, I ran across this stripe cotton/linen blend. I instantly liked the earthtone palette and I knew it would challenge my sewing prowess to match these unbalanced stripes on the bias.
I cut the size 14. Like I said previously, I bought this pattern years ago. So today, I could've cut a size 12, so it started out a little big in the bodice. But I still needed to add an inch of length.
I also added 2 inches to the skirt's length.
The first part I laid out was the skirt. The skirt was pretty tricky because of the unbalanced stripes and that it's cut on the bias. If you're new at matching stripes, I would suggest starting out with balanced stripes (stripes that repeat in the same order in each direction). And unbalanced stripes do not.
Matching stripes at the seam can often be frustrating. It's not difficult, but it is something that you need to think about -- especially before you buy and cut into your fabric. Whenever you have to print-match, I highly recommend buying extra yardage (1/2 yard extra should be enough) so that you can easily match the prints at the seams. And always, always cut each pattern piece on a single layer.
For this particular design where the skirt is cut on the bias, the objective is to create mitered stripes at each seam. This is done by cutting the pattern pieces in mirror image panels. I did this by finding a matching point -- a point in the print where I will use to cut each piece. I used the grainline marking on the pattern piece to align it. As with any pattern when your are cutting the pieces on a single layer, cut the first piece right side up and the second piece right side down.
I made the same marking on the back pattern skirt piece so that the stripes would match even at the side seams. As much as you may want to, you can't cheat with this -- especially if your stripes are unbalanced (and the same goes for asymmetrical plaids). Just take your time and the design will be worth it! And major tip: Use your walking foot to prevent the fabric from shifting while sewing.
The bodice is both pleated front and back. And so are the lining pieces. Oh... did I mention that this dress is fully lined? See... big time involved. I used a very lightweight white muslin fabric. Okay, back to the bodice... The bodice front and back is sewn to the the bodice lining pieces. And even though it's lined, all of the seams are French seamed. If anywhere on this garment you'd want to cheat, I would suggest skipping the French seamed bodice. I feel those seams could easily have been been pinked and pressed open. They will NEVER be seen... like ever! The neckline and the armholes are finished with bias cut binding.
And one of the cool aspects of this dress is the armhole insets. When you first sew this, the armholes look suspiciously low. Like scandalously, boob-peekingly low. So this is a great style-saving detail.
Here is the bias bound back.
The dress also has covered shoulder pads made from cotton batting. And an invisible side zipper.
The full lining.
Here are the narrow hems...
And the French tack.
The dress has an attached belt.
It too is bias bound.
Now that the dress is made, looking back I think I would probably leave the belt off. I'd like to keep my options open for different belts.
For a casual summer dress, this was a lot of work. But it was like sewing course in high-end dressmaking. And I really did enjoy the process.
And this one will be a summer favorite!