Well, I cut into the fabric and cleared my sewing table of one piece of jersey: the wildly coloured animal print cotton jersey from EmmaOneSock. Hey – she’s having a great sale all weekend, so click on the link and buy yourself something. NOTE: she is not responsible (and neither am I, by the way of referral) for any fabric addiction and the damage purchases may cause to you or your sewing budget!!! 🙂
Anyways…. I decided it was time to cut out Donna Karan’s dress (Vogue 1159) and see what would happen with it. I was excited to work with this fabric. It wasn’t slinky or hard to work with. It had a middle-weight substance to it that made it comfortable to handle.
So I taped together the three sections of the front-back piece. Yup – the skirt front and back and the bodice front and side backs and the shoulders are all one very VERY big pattern piece.
So I opened up the jersey, spread it open and laid the pattern piece down. I had a very good look at that pattern piece for a couple of reasons: 1) I am short-waisted so I always make a 2″ adjustment on waist length; 2) an FBA is required at all times for me, even with a two-way stretch knit, particularly if it’s a cross0ver type neckline such as this; and 3) the pattern specifically states “NO PROVISION FOR ABOVE WAIST ADJUSTMENT”. Hmmm…. Well, I never actually believe it when Vogue writes that. It just usually means they haven’t put the horizontal “lengthen or shorten here” lines on their pattern. I have found that it does not necessarily mean that you can’t adjust the pattern to fit yourself properly above your waist. It just means you need to do the fitting, fussing, thinking and calculating for the adjustment using your own brains and skills. Hey – that’s how I learned – trying and failing and trying again.
So… I shortened the bodice front by 2″ at the shoulders and re-marked the pleats. After measuring the width of the bodice at the bustline, I decided against adding any more as an FBA. I calculated there would be enough to satisfy my modesty requirements.
So I cut and transferred all the pattern markings v.e.r.y c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y, keeping in mind that some of the reviews at PatternReview.com for this pattern said the notches were off in anything other than a size 10. I cut a size 16.
Then I started sewing. And this dress was fun to sew. I like a challenge that’s outside the usual staid design demographic, and I really enjoyed putting this dress together. I found the instructions and the diagrams were well-written and for the most part, easy to understand. For the two or three times that I didn’t quite get what was wanted, I held up the garment, had a good look and could see where we were going with the construction. That said, there are two instances that stand out in my mind where I did a “huh!?”:
Step #12: This is where the markings do NOT match.
But this is how the notches actually (don’t) match up.
Well, I just ignored the mismatch as it went together properly otherwise. This discrepancy showed up in Step # 18 when the lining is attached to the bodice, as well. But if you get the small circle markings matched up at the front of the skirt, then you can ignore the mismatched notches on the waistline seam. There was no extra fabric to ease in or other adjustments to be made. I just had to pass over the mismatched markings.
Step #18: With wrong sides together, pin upper edge of lining to upper back between small circles, etc., etc. I pin basted this first, and thought, “That’s funny. If I stitch the wrong side of the lining to the wrong side of the bodice back, then the RS (right side) of the lining is going to be facing out, instead of towards the wearer, like a lining should.” Or maybe I just read it wrong. Anyhow, I left it like that for two reasons: 1) the darts in the lining are facing me, so there’s no seeing the outline of them through the fashion fabric; and 2) it finished the inside waistline seam nicely.
Other than these two stop-and-think-about-this-for-a-minute moments, the dress went together very easily. I did stitch the underarm seams an extra 2″ so my bra would be covered properly, as noted in the other reviews posted about this dress. One other thing that kind of bugs the everything-has-to-be-beautifully-finished-on-the-inside part of me is that this dress has a lot of unfinished edges on the inside. I did serge some, but in retrospect, I would probably just double stitch the seams and trim the allowances close to the second line of stitching instead of serging them. I think it would produce a neater finishing effect.
By the way, what is it about Donna Karan’s dresses? This is the second dress I’ve made of hers where the armscye sits at the underbust line. This just doesn’t work when you’re wearing a bra, and I’m not one to put a cami underneath a dress that gapes open. If I do make this dress again I’ll shorten the length of the armhole opening by 2 or 3 inches.
I really really like this dress. It’s super comfortable to wear and it’s very unique in it’s design. I would love to have another one in a solid colour – it would show the draping design off better than this print does. Like I said, I had a great time putting this dress together. Now I’m going to have a great time wearing it!