The summer dress that wasn’t

Sew Weekly Theme: The Perfect Summer Dress

The Facts

Fabric:Approx 3.5 metres of yellow floral cotton (from my stash – price unknown but I’m guessing around $6 per metre)
Pattern: Vogue 2561, a 2001 re-release of Vogue 689
Year: 1952
Notions: 23cm invisible zip ~$3.50, vintage hook and eye, vintage dome
Time to complete: 4 hours
Will I wear it? Sadly, no

Total cost: ~$27.50

Adjustments I made: A did a small bust adjustment on the upper bodice and removed approximately half the volume from the pleats. I also made the straps about 1cm narrower than they should be, as I didn’t realise until I’d cut the fabric that the person who I purchased the pattern off had cut out the size 12 and 14 necklines and left the size 16 only. Which resulted in having to shave some width off the back straps to make them fit the (now slightly too narrow) front straps.

What I didn’t like about this dress and pattern: Quite frankly, it looks awful on me. Despite removing half the volume from the bust pleats, there is still waaaaaay too much fabric there! (Really, how big were they expecting women to be who wore it?!? With the adjustment it’s still bigger than most 1950’s dress patterns I’ve made up!) I had a couple of issues with getting everything to align as well – I’m not sure what happened but it’s just not sitting right and I can’t make it work for the life of me. The instructions confused me a little when it got to the skirt as it never showed the square waistline, but only what it looked like after it was straighted out. If you’re using this pattern, just imagine there’s another image before the skirt one shown, which shows you reinforcing the areas around the small circles and clipping diagonally to them so you can then pull the square out into a straight line. It works, trust me. 🙂 One other adjustment I’d make next time is to add another 1cm onto the length of the bodice straps at the front. This is an issue I’ve found with a lot of vintage re-released Vogue patterns – they’re just too short in the bodice. In the case of this one, it means the strap seams are about 1cm lower than they should be in the front and they pull the dress up in the centre back as a result.

What I love about this dress and pattern: The skirt worked out quite well – the pattern is interesting as the waistline of the skirt is square, which is what creates the soft folds in the front and back. I may just use this technique in the future, as I like the way it hangs gently. I like the fabric I’ve used for this as well – it’s not my normal colour, but it makes me feel summery and happy, which is always a good thing!

This weeks Sew Weekly challenge was to create the perfect summer dress. With the help of some of my friends (thanks ladies!) I decided to use Vogue 2561. I’d picked this pattern up at Fabric-a-brac last year, and have been dying to use it ever since. I even got so far as selecting the fabric and laying it out, before I got distracted by something else and packed it all away again for a few months. I love the idea of this pattern – cute and demure in the front, but with straps at the back for a saucier summery style. Cute!

So it was with quite a bit of excitement that I approached this challenge. Hey, even though it’s winter here in Wellington, that’s no excuse not to make a summery dress, right? Even if I can’t wear it until late November, it can still sit in my wardrobe and make me happy when I spy it peeking out at me with anticipation of warm summery days.

All seemed to be going well. I came across a couple of issues due to alterations the previous owner of the pattern had made, but made my way past them without too much trouble. I did my usual and took out half the volume in the bust pleats as a small bust adjustment, no worries there. I planned to put a pocket in (because in my opinion, perfect summer dresses should always have pockets!) but then I forgot to – oops! Never mind, it would be summery enough with it’s happy yellow and cute flowers, right? And of course those straps – I’m a sucker for strappy summer dresses, especially vintage styled ones. Perfect!

And then I went to try it on. Not so good. Not so good at all. Despite my small bust adjustment, the bodice was still waaaay too big. Yep, even with taking out half the volume, I reckon you’d still need to be a C-cup to fill it enough so the fabric doesn’t sag. And I’m not a C-cup, no way, no how. I shudder to think how large this bodice would have been if I hadn’t done a SBA – eek!

That wasn’t the only problem, either. The shoulder straps were just too short and the seams sat too far forward, which in turn dragged up the back of the dress. And for some reason, one side at the front kept pulling and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Quite frankly, it just didn’t work. And I can’t see any way to solve it, other than re-doing the entire bodice and taking out about three quarters (or more!) of the bust volume. And really, I can’t face the idea of doing that, especially since it still might not work. I’ve got about half a metre of the fabric left though, and I like the skirt on this dress, so I’m thinking I might take a bodice pattern from another dress, unpick the skirt from this one, and create a hybrid vintage style dress. In a few weeks, when I can face it again, that is. Because, quite frankly, I’m pretty disappointed in this one. It’s been a while since I’ve made a dress that I’m unhappy with (the last one was my March dress last year – also from a re-released vintage Vogue pattern, and too long in the bodice), so I think I need to put it aside for a while. It can go and join that March dress in my mending/alterations pile, and hope it gets selected one monday mending pile day to be fixed up and made wearable.

So there we have it – a summer dress when it isn’t summer, and one that I won’t wear either. Hence why I’ve named it “the summer dress that wasn’t”.

And hey, there’s still half a year until summer, right? Plenty of time to re-create it in a different style!

6 responses to “The summer dress that wasn’t

  1. Oh…so sad that you don’t like it! Maybe you can save the skirt portion and do a high waisted skirt and make a halter top or something from one of the main colours in the dress? The skirt looks awesome and honestly, I think the dress looks great! I absolutely love your tatoo on your back!!!

    • Thanks Debi! 🙂

      You know what I’m totally loving right now? All the positive feedback and suggestions from you awesome sewing ladies! I’m inspired to see what I can do to fix the dress up today – wish me luck!

  2. The dress looks nice to you. Nice back tatoo.

  3. I LOVE the straps in the back. I totally understand how you are over this dress at the moment, but I think you should revisit it some time in the future!

  4. I agree, I love the back straps (and tattoo!!) and the fabric is awesome. Let it sit for a while and percolate; you’ll come up with a way to transform it into something even better.

  5. Pingback: Looking forward, looking back (a.k.a. 2011 and 2012) | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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