Sunday, October 4, 2009

No Jewelry Required - Vogue 8594 dress

I had a business trip to Chicago earlier this week. It was my first visit to this city and I really enjoyed it. It had big city atmosphere and activities, but it was clean, with friendly people. Granted I saw a very small section, and from watching the local news, I know that things aren’t as nice in other areas of the city. All the direct flights from Richmond to Chicago leave early in the morning, so I had some time to kill before the conference kickoff reception that evening. I had planned to do some cultural stuff and fabric shopping. I took a taxi to the Chicago Art Institute and spent 3 hours walking around the exhibits. It was really exciting to see paintings and sculptures that I had only seen before in books, in person and up close. American Gothic, Monet’s Water Lilies, Mary Cassatt’s The Child's Bath,

Van Gogh, Frederick Remington’s paintings and sculptures, so on. The rest of the afternoon I had planned on fabric shopping at Vogue Fabrics and Fishman’s Fabrics. Some of the fabric stores often mentioned as the source of the lovely fabrics used by Chicago sewing blogger Cennetta . But my guilt over the amount of fabric I have recently purchased made me reconsider. Instead, it being a beautiful day, I decided to walk up N. Michigan Ave to my hotel, about 13 blocks , stopping in the stores and parks along the way. I did some snoop shopping in the designer clothes departments of Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom's for ideas to use up my fabric stash. Gorgeous garments! Paralyzing prices! Tired from all the walking, I finally reached my hotel late in the afternoon. My hotel room was on the 33rd floor of a building with a clear view of the lake, two blocks away. A strong wind was whistling against the window, and I could hear the creaks and cracks as the building flexed in the wind. It reminded me of the sounds I listened to the night that Hurricane Isabel roared through Richmond. I know the wind is not unusual in Chicago, nor I guess, is an out of town guest’s unease. Part of the bed turn down goodies included earplugs and a card stating "Pardon the Chicago wind noise… This building has been constructed to withstand high wind velocity, and like every high-rise building, it is designed to sway. Due to this factor, we do encounter creaking sounds in some of our rooms depending on wind direction and velocity. We hope that these unpredictable circumstances with not inconvenience you tonight. Should you hear the wind noise, the earplugs are provided for your sleeping comfort." Thankfully, by bedtime the wind had dies down and it was quiet.

The dress I wore the welcome reception that night was one I had made the previous weekend. Vogue 8594, a fitted dress with some interesting seaming.

I had really liked a simple brown sheath dress displayed with patterned tights and high heeled pumps on a mannequin at my local Macy’s store. I bought the tights with the idea of making the dress using this pattern. In my stash I found suitable brown fabric; a crepe type weave with multicolored threads of gold black and brown. One of the pattern illustrations, View A, showed contrasting fabric used for the triangular shaped sections on the side waist. I have a fondness for garments that combine fabric and matching leather. So I decided to see if I could find some matching leather to use for the side waist sections of my dress. I found some fake suede at JoAnne’s in a similar color, but later, digging through a box at Tandy Leather, I found 4 scraps of matching leather, just barely large enough to cut out the pattern pieces. The brown fabric, even with matching leather, was still a bit too boring for me. I don’t know why I decided to make a brown dress. I should know by now that I rarely wear clothes in earth colors like brown and dull green. I also liked the pattern view D which had "flexible trim" applied around the neckline. Finding trim that would curve around the neckline and match the brown fabric was going to be tough. And I didn’t have enough time to weave or braid my own a la Kenneth King. Instead I decided to jazz up the dress by using iron on metallic studs.

The studs were gold and silver, in various sizes, with an occasion small crystal thrown in, They were already arranged in a random pattern on a backing sheet. I cut small sections of the studs and arranged them in a 1.5 inch wide band below the neckline seam. I really enjoyed doing this.

I followed the package instructions, ironing the wrong side of the fabric with high heat to melt the adhesive on the back side of each stud. The adhesive held very well. I had to remove a few studs that I inadvertently placed too near the seam line. They came off when I reheated the glue using the iron. But they left glue residue melted into the fabric. After sewing the seam I affixed smaller individual studs over the glue spots to hide them.

I originally made a size 14 top and a size 16 bottom in this dress. A normal split of sizes for me when I use Vogue patterns. Surprisingly, the size 16 bottom was too big for me. Because of the seaming details I could not just take it in on the side seams like you would a simple skirt. If I had, the seams that started in the front and curved over the hips to the skirt back would no longer match at the side seams. Instead I had to unsew the skirt pieces and recut them to the smaller size. I highly recommend making muslin of the dress bottom if you think you might have fitting issues.

After adding the stud trim, I really liked the dress and I will wear it. And it doesn’t need any jewelry, what with all the bling at the neckline. A perfect travel dress! Alas, the patterned tights don’t look good with it. I guess I’ll have to make something else to wear with them.