Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Look 6394 Maxi Dress


This is an oldie but goodie. I made the first version over 13 years ago for my 21st birthday and wore it at my college graduation as well. Around the same time I made a short casual version out of a rayon that I've worn as a beach cover up and occasionally a dress off and on over the years. I hadn't made it since, but had better sense than to get rid of the pattern.

Then Cidell went off on a maxi dress tangent. I resisted for a long time, pleading height issues, or perhaps lack thereof issues. But eventually, she wore me down, and this seemed like the right pattern.

I've learned a lot since the first time I made it, and a lot of what I've learned is how to treat my small bust. So I gave the front bodice pattern an SBA:

Front Alterations

OK, fine, I have to admit that I didn't narrow the dart on the pattern piece until after I made the dress and the dart pokes out way too far. It's lost in my big print, but it's definitely pokes out way beyond my bust. Lesson learned. It's funny because I've been working on a post about SBA and I couldn't find a photographic example of a bodice pattern with a narrowed bust dart because I haven't sewn anything with a bust dart in several years. I just find them impossible to work with my bust. So I can excuse myself for forgetting that step.

As you can see, I shortened it below the armscye, tapering smaller at the CF point where the left and right bodice meet up so as not to lower the V. Then I shortened it at the shoulder (because with a smaller bust there is less distance between ribcage and shoulder), taking a wedge-shaped tuck that is deeper tuck at CF (about 1.25") to reduce that distance more and smaller (about 1/2") at the armscye.

The shortening at armscye was because I thought the bodice too long overall; I also shortened the back about an inch. I think it could stand to be shorter still, but it's not grotesque.

I loved this fabric when I saw it on the $2.97/yd table at G Street. Something about the big painterly lines and the little touches of yellow just made it perfect. It turned out to have a weird sort of coating on it; it was hard to sew and the needle left a trail of little puncture lines behind it. I suspect it was some sort of home dec or something.

When I was cutting, I was in a bit of dilemma about the print for the bodice pieces. I actually cut two more after I posted the two choices presented, but ultimately I went with the second one from that post. I'm thrilled with my choice, actually, and I love the way one side is black-with-white and the other is white-with-black, and it sort of matches with the way the print is positioned on the skirt as well. I had intended to put in side seam pockets, but I forgot and anyway I put the zipper down the left side (I hate back zips and avoid them whenever possible). The dress really needed pockets, so I cut them to sort of balance/echo the print placement on the bodice and I like them.

My tip for this dress is about the lining. When I went on my "I'm getting rid of my car!" trip to Ikea, I picked up some $1.99 Knoppa twin-sized sheets. They are a poly-cotton blend with an almost waffley/gauzy texture. While I don't think they would be great to sleep on (they don't list the thread count on the package...), they are EXCELLENT for lining/underlining. The waffle texture is very breathable and kind of makes it "stick" to the fashion fabric, while the poly in the blend keeps them from wrinkling. They're not entirely opaque, but two translucent fabrics here made a solid. And $1.99? After spending $5/yd on cotton batiste last time I was at Chic in NYC, I decided I needed to be a little more circumspect with it. For some projects, only the best batiste will do. But for other things, like this project, the $1.99 sheet is actually better. Now I have to figure out how to get back to Ikea somehow.

I feel like Angelina Jolie--minus the boobs, babies, and Brad Pitt--when I wear this dress. I've worn it twice and both times was complimented on the street (unlike its poor earlier "ugly dress" sister).

All photos are here.


Myra said...

Really pretty!

Anonymous said...

Thank you again for such helpful posts on SBA. The illustrations and description are exactly what me and my SB need! Interesting to hear your comments re darts ... I have two patterns completed recently BTW that have worked well with darts. McCalls 5315 dress (fits really well in the bust) and BWOF 03-2008-109 top (although your skills would allow you to further size the bust correctly) are both my favourites in the last year. Your maxi dress is fabulous!

Natasha (from Australia)

-E said...

LMAO! I didn't believe you about not having sewn bust darts - I actually had to check your reviews! How could you get away without sewing bust darts!!?? I didn't know they made patterns without bust darts! It's always the first annoying thing I do on a pattern, and they are not friendly to me. I think you just solved some issues for me :) thanks!

loopylulu said...

You look so much more jolie-er than Angelina in this dress.

Vicki said...

You look great in the dress. I like how you have placed the print on the bust. Very nice!

laura said...

Wow! I love that whole black/white and white/black thing you have going on there! And my answer to the SBA is to wear what I call my Wonder Woman bras; I'm pretty sure I can deflect bullets with them.

Anonymous said...

this dress looks absolutely fab on you! I love the way you cut out the bodice pieces and the pockets.

Little Hunting Creek said...

Beautiful dress! I especially like how both halves are different. And I love the shrug too.

kasizzle said...

This looks great on you!
I, too, have felt too short for a maxi dress. You've given me hope that I don't look as bad as I thought in them.

Anonymous said...

I am so jealous! I wanted to do a maxi all summer and never got to it! I love the pattern. Thanks for the support on my blouses--I got a bit compulsive! let me tell you--the one step buttonhole is the way to go!
In a past post, you mentioned a Chicago visit--try to go to Vogue if you have an opportunity! They have a huge selection right now---and I am always a willing participant in fabric shopping! cindy

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toy said...

wow,, I really love this, when I was thinking of getting something in Harvest yellow to where with my black and white, I guess I could have used this photo, if you had already posted it, that dress is such a cool spin on the maxi, it looks very designer, the fabric is gorgeous, I love it, hmm,,, I love that fabric ALOT
great post!

Emily said...

Very cute, esp. with the shrug!

Christina said...

That is the kind of pattern I would totally pass over at the thrift store but I *love* how your dress turned out. Great fabric.

And your Mondrian dress is *awesome*. That damn kid! I hope you're able to get the stain out.