Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Vogue 1087 Donna Karan Dress

I was working on pants pattern drafting and fitting for SWAP and needed a break . Okay, a bit of honesty here. I am not happy that the Christmas cookies I ate are still residing on my hips. So while I step up my exercise and decrease my food intake to dislodge the pesky things, I decided to sew something else. I had a whole pile of new Vogue patterns lying on my sewing table. Vogue 1087 was on top.


It is discribed as a fitted dress, below mid knee, with pleated and tucked front forming wrap effect. Front extends to back at sides, back with zipper and hemline vent. No side seams. My initial thoughts about this dress, while studying the picture on the front of the pattern envelope, was "what a neat dress, but is it wearable by the average woman?" Then I noticed that the dress has a fairly fitted bottom, like a pencil skirt, with long fabric extensions, straps with tucking and pleating, which crisscross the body and go over the shoulders forming an X shape. The eye follows the straps up and outward, or at least mine did, so I thought there might be a good chance that this dress would give an hourglass shape to my pear shaped one. And the recommend fabrics are stable knits, which are easy to sew. I have lots of this kind of knit, including a red piece donated from a friend that was reducing her stash (no preconceived plans for it and it didn’t cost me a thing ) And I have a Valentines day event coming up. All the justification I needed!

I verified flat pattern measurements and I pin fit the pattern on my paper tape dress form before cutting it out. I had to make a full center front piece to do this.
The draped/tucked pattern pieces looked pretty crinkled and messy, but it gave me a good idea of the construction and fitting issues. It showed me that the dress is truly fitted and that I needed to make a size 16 top/18 bottom combo.And that I was pushing the limit of the built in ease on the bottom.(those darn cookies again). I added some length to the bodice center back as I always do to any top pattern. And two inches in length at the skirt "lengthen/ shorten here" lines. The lengthen/shorten lines cut right through the seam for the center front piece which curves from center front to back hem, so I had to realign the curves using my curve sticks. Curve sticks are pattern drafting tools that have long gentle curves. Great for this kind of alteration, and crotch to knee seams when drafting pants.

The "Advanced" rating of this pattern is well deserved. There are so many matching marks, squares, little circles, big circles, and triangles on this multi size pattern. I resorted to coloring the ones I needed for my size. I had to reread the directions many times, study the pictures and do the folding on the pattern pieces before actually doing it on the fabric. The instructions were fine. It was just that the pattern pieces were so odd shaped and the pleating with hidden tack stiches so unfamiliar, it just took longer for my brain to process it all.

The issue that puzzled me the most was the front bodice pattern piece. This is a piece with the horizontal neckline that is under the crisscrossed straps. It has four darts in it for bust shaping and attaches to the side seam of the bodice back pieces. It hangs free in the center like one of those triangular modesty panels that you can put in a deep V neckline. The picture below is the dress on the dressform before the straps are draped over the bodice.
The paper pattern piece is full width, but I assumed it was symmetrical until I cut the interfacing and didn’t bother to make sure the pattern piece was face up on the non fusible side. It is not symmetrical. The two bust darts on one side have different dimensions and are different distances from each other.


One side seam is also ½ inch shorter than the other.


Now I could understand one short side for a dress like this where there is some asymmetry. The two strap pieces are different shapes and lengths, because one goes under the other. But I would think that on a pattern piece that has a horizontal neckline and is shaped around the bust, the bust points should be the same distance from the center line and from the top edge and the darts should create the same cup shape. Also the markings on the back side seam are the same for left and right and the instructions do not differentiate with text or pictures between the left and right sides. I puzzled over this for quite a while. Here is what I chose to do. I determined which side of the bodice piece matched the bodice back side seam (the LHS). I used that side of the pattern piece, putting the center line of the pattern along the fold of the fabric, to cut out symmetrical front bodice pieces. It seemed to work. I don’t know if this pattern piece is correct or not. I have sent a copy of the pattern piece and my questions to Vogue.

I finally got the dress together and the drapes/pleats actually look like the picture on the pattern. Only dislikes are the back darts are made to the outside, which doesn't seem to tie in with any other details of the dress. They poke out funny on me. I think I will resew them to the inside. And I think I will make a lining/slip of some red tricot for the skirt, attaching it to the waistline seam in the back and under all thr crisscrossing in the front.

I enjoyed the challenge. I think the dress turned out well and looks okay on me. I think it would look stunning on someone with a youthful hourglass figure.

21 comments:

Vicki said...

I think it looks fabulous on you - love the red and you have much more an hourglass figure than a pair! And I can understand the little bit extra padding - I have more than my share too at the moment.

Claudine said...

What a treat to see this pattern made up! I think it looks pretty darned stunning on you. Nice job.

Linda said...

Great job on an apparently difficult dress to make. Like you I liked the look of this dress but shyed away as I don't think I have the youthful look for this dress. After seeing you in it I may rethink that. However, I have too many other patterns in my line up to tackle. Again you did a great job on this and hope you get a response from Vogue.

Vicki W said...

I think the dress looks GREAT on you!

Bunny said...

You definitely achieved your hourglass goal and it looks wonderful on you. What a fun, challenging pattern. Don't you just patterns that make your brain think? The red is super on you.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Audrey that is stunning on you! And I'm sure that if you posed in the twisted way that the model is you would have more of an hourglass figure too! :)

Thank you for sharing your journey in making such an amazing dress.

j.kaori said...

The dress is beautiful on you, especially the color! Thank you for sharing the process. Would love to know what you hear back from Vogue.

BeeBee said...

I think it looks fabulous on you. Christmas cookies and all (personally, I'm toting around some extra Chex mix, but that's what makes us all unique) Enjoy the party, you'll be the fashion icon.

AllisonC said...

Wow your dress looks stunning! This pattern was by far my favourite of the recent new ones to come out and it's great to see it made up. I'm definitely getting it - your detailed review will be really helpful.

Bonnie D. said...

This looks fantastic on you!

Shannon said...

This dress is absolutley gorgeous on you! I'm so glad you made it and took the time to share the details. I was thinking about making this one for my upcoming anniversary- and I was thinking about red, too! I think I like yours even more than the one on the pattern envelope!

Kelley said...

You look absolutely fabulous in the dress - the red was spot on and the shape is perfect! This dress looks so much better made up than I thought it would. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

KimP said...

Wow. That was a lot of work. And so worth it. First of all, you look great in red. Wear more of it! Second, I think I would have given up on all the matching points and triangles and such. You are so patient to see this through to the end. Great dress!

Berry said...

I'm impressed at the work and I'll remember to always check the symmetry of a pattern piece. I would have tried to figure out what's wrong with the pattern, not noticing it's not symmetrical.
Anyway, the dress looks beautiful, great color and it fits you perfectly!

Isabelle said...

This is so beautiful - you look fabulous! Great job.

Pip said...

Wow! That's stunning. I love the colour on you too!

Tany said...

This was one of the few bew Vogue patterns that interested me. You really did a superb job, the dress turned out fabulous!!

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love your dress. Great color and great detail. As far as the hourglass figure goes, your shape is as cute as a button. As I am sure you know, undergarments are an asset to the fit of any garment. Have you thought of wearing a spanx garment under this dress. I think you would love the result.

a little sewing on the side said...

It looks amazing on you!
I love this pattern, too, so it's nice to see it made up.

Anwen said...

Stunning! The colour is great on you, and the shape is fabulous too. I actually prefer your version, because I think the pattern picture looks kind of top-heavy in a slightly carroty way, on you it looks more balanced. So there!

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

This pattern sounds like it truly was a challenge, but the end result...it looks beautiful on you!