The Hot Date Dress

I swear I didn't plan it this way, but life has a funny way of working things out: My last post was on October 6th of last year. Today is October 6th. It has officially been 1 year since I've updated this dusty old blog! Well, it's about time, isn't it? After I started sewing for a living, it became harder to find the time and motivation to make things for my own closet. I spent most of my time researching new techniques, testing ideas for new classes, and making things for clients. Add a whole lot of sewing ADD into that mix and you have a recipe for never getting anything done for yourself!

I actually started working on this dress back in April. A friend was hosting a swanky martini party and I was determined (especially since we became friends through sewing!) to make a swanky dress to wear to this party. I had one week to get it done so I hit up Joann Fabrics and started looking through the pattern books. I proceeded, of course, to pick out the most complicated pattern I could find - Vogue 1286. It has a grand total of 43 pattern pieces to cut out (that's including the outer shell, interfacing, and lining). But for whatever reason, this was the dress that called out to me the most. Every dress I've made so far has been cutesy, retro inspired, and A-line. I really wanted to branch out and make something totally different. Something possibly even a bit modern and sexy. The cover photo for this pattern wasn't too convincing, but I saw some major potential in the line drawing. I really love the straps in the back, and I thought with more of a pencil skirt bottom it would be the perfect Little Black Dress for any future swanky events I may need to attend...or invent, more likely.

So, did I finish the dress in time?

Pffffftttttt....nope! Luckily, I had a fancy dress left over from my engagement photos that worked perfectly. And I'm really glad I didn't rush to finish. I learned my lesson after staying up all night to finish my winning Hawthorn dress...which looked lovely in photos, but my slapdash sewing didn't hold up past 3 washes. So I decided to take my time and not impose any deadlines. I worked on it whenever I felt like it, picked out every mistake, and worked on the fit until it was just right.

Last weekend, Scott and I went to Orlando and celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary, so I thought that would be the perfect time to finally hem the dress and wear it out.

If you live in Gainesville, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Ummm, Shona...that's the Thomas Center. Not in Orlando." Clever you! Yes, these are recreated photos because the ones I took on my actual anniversary didn't turn out. It was dark. And I forgot my real camera. And my curling iron. So hey, here's how I intended to look on my anniversary date night!

All the caffeine has left my body, rendering my brain useless. Pattern Review format to the rescue!

Pattern Description: Lined dress (close-fitting through bust) has bands, three-piece bra, semi-fitted skirt with darts stitched on right sides of fabric, back-button, self loop and invisible zipper.

Pattern Sizing: Misses 6 - 22. I made a size 6 bust, 8 waist, and 10 bottom. These were each 1 size down from the size recommended for my measurements and I still had to take it in at least 1/2" at the sides.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. But, you black.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were very well written, I thought, and I learned a lot by making this dress. The only part that stumped me was step 66 - joining the lining and facings to the shell at the side seam. Once I got to that point, re-read it about 20 times, practiced putting the pieces together every way I could think of, looked at it upside down, sideways, and right side up a few times, then took a night to think it over...suddenly the next day it made perfect sense!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really think this pattern should come with different cup size pieces since it is built from a bra top. I'm lucky to be close enough to a B cup not to need it, but most women are much more busty than I am. Luckily, it is pretty easy to alter the cup size - try this tutorial from Ohhh Lulu if you need to do that.

Fabric Used: Cotton jacquard with a bit of stretch, lined with a cotton silk blend. All from JoAnn Fabrics, suprisingly!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I tapered the skirt down at the bottom to make it more like a pencil skirt and added a small slit at the back seam for walking ease.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I probably won't be sewing it again, but it was a good experience and I'm extremely proud of the result! I think it's the most difficult and professional looking thing I've made so far.

Conclusion: Make if you love this dress and have plenty of time to devote to working on it. Take your time with the fit. Expect to make at least 1 size below what your measurements suggest (within the lower size range at least, I don't know if this is the case for the larger sizes). Also keep in mind that it's very difficult to find a bra that you can wear with this dress due to the strap position and plunge neckline. I sewed bra cups to the inside of the dress, but I'd much rather wear an actual bra if I could find one that wouldn't show.

Of course we hit up Disney (or part of it) while in Orlando but that wasn't the real reason I was there. Real reason? BELLE AND SEBASTIAN. Seriously, I've been waiting for over 10 years for them to come anywhere even remotely near me and they finally did. On my actually anniversary day! It was amaaaaaazing! /fangirling

Next up - my version of The Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. If you've stuck around with me this long, after a year of not updating, seriously - thank you! I'm finally on a roll finishing up the giant mound of UFOs I've had going on forever and it feels great. Yay blogging!

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