Friday, January 9, 2009
When I was deciding on my wardrobe for Germany, I planned to take my black suit to wear on the most formal day, and then dresses to wear under the jacket for the rest of the days. A black jacket is very versatile and gave me a lot of flexibility in the dresses.
When I was going to pick up my serger I knew one of the first things I wanted to do was my first sweater alteration, but I also wanted to try out the legendary serger sewing of knits!
For some reason, I felt the urge to go into deep stash. The mesh knit overlay fabric and the Vogue 7898 pattern had been earmarked for each other and sitting in stash for at least a year, and probably quite a bit longer, so that qualified. I was seduced when I saw the mesh knit on the $2.97 table at G Street; love the print and the colors are totally me. I bought it even though I *knew* that mesh knit would be an absolute bear to cut and sew. (I was right.) On my way back from picking up my serger I stopped by Exquisite Fabrics' moving sale for the wool to match my Goodwill Bennetton suit (they are still closed; the website says their tentative opening date in Georgetown is January 17). Because they were closing out all the inventory there wasn't much left but I managed to get the last four same-color cones of serger thread they had, in navy. Good enough!
When I was preparing the pattern I could see that the angle of the asymmetric hem was way too steep. There was clearly too much difference in length. I think this pattern is showing its age because it had to have come from a short moment in which ridiculously dramatic asymmetric hems were de rigeur. I shortened the long side of the pattern by three inches before cutting out, and even still it was too much. Had I cut it as drafted I think the long end would have dragged on the ground, while the short end is above my knee! Ridiculous! I shortened it another three inches, and now I think the hemline is interesting without looking clownish. In preparing the pattern I also, of course, did an SBA on the front neck edges.
Laying the pattern out for cutting was dreadful, as it was impossible not to be stretching the mesh knit. I thought I got it right in the end, but when it was all sewn together the underlay/lining was hanging several inches longer than the mesh overlay. I had sewn the lining and overlay separately, joining them only at the armscye, in case of any weird pulling. At first I was going to trim away the lining, but then I decided (1) that would make the short parts of the dress too short, and (2) I actually kind of liked it with the two layer effect.
Other than the hemline and my usual SBA, I didn't change anything other than the tie method. This is actually a mock wrap dress, though it looks like a real wrap. The directions want you to sew the fake tie into the left side seam and the D ring onto the right front, so they basically just meet. I thought that wasted a perfectly good opportunity to have the tie go across the back and deal with my swayback issue, so I sewed the now slightly-less-fake tie to the right side seam and bring it around the back to catch into the D ring. The right side is gathered around the D ring; I found it necessary to sew it in by hand.
I used my new best friend for knit wrap styles, clear elastic, to snug up the neckline. Pin each section of clear elastic slightly shorter than the neckline section so that in the end your elastic is about 3 inches shorter than your neckline and twin needle in place. The neckline on this is very low and no amount of futzing with how I placed the right side over the left raised it. Since I am flat-chested I don't think it's too va va voom for work on me, but someone who has any boobs at all will have to save this for evening, I think.
I wore this dress the day of the official state dinner for the conference, and felt very pretty in it. All photos are here and the review is here.