Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sweetheart Jersey Dress Knockoff

I posted a bunch of inspiration pictures a while back, including the very cute ABS Sweetheart Jersey Dress (not so cute in that blah solid brown, in my opinion, but great design). I got encouragement in the comments (thank you!) to give it a shot.

Sweetheart Dress Thumbnail

Rather than try to draft from scratch--I have only done this a few times and it takes me 8-9 muslins for even very simple designs--it seemed that frankenpatterning would be a more efficient process.

I started with Vogue 2980, the Sandra Betzina bolero shoulder top for the fauxlero, bodice back, and sleeves. I also drafted the midriff based on the front and back width of this top. The first time I made this top I cut a size A at the top, transitioning to a C at the hip and found it a little snug. This time I cut a B (since I was only using the top portion I didn't need to transition larger).

Serious Staytaping of Back Neck EdgeI don't know if it is the difference between my two fabrics--a sturdy cotton jersey versus a lightweight poly/lycra--or what but the back shoulder on this dress came out waaaaaay too wide and floppy. It kept wanting to open up around and slip off my shoulders, creating sagging and bagging at the underarm. To "fix" it without taking the entire thing apart and starting over, I took up as much width as I could by "easing" the back neck/shoulder seam onto twill tape. By "ease" I mean almost to the point of gathering. This helps the dress wear more comfortably, but I am curious what happened there.

Then I went to Burda 05-2009-103 for the front bodice. It was a good match, as it has pleats to create bust ease in the surplice/crossover pieces, rather than gathering, as the original dress appears to have. The V2980 top is designed so that the front bodice is not a full bodice piece that attaches at the shoulders, but instead is matched with the bolero at the lower armscye and stitched about halfway up the armscye, and then the square neckline goes straight across. At first I tried tracing the V2980 armscye curve onto the Burda piece, but it was just not happening for me. This sounds simple, but somehow it was insanely complicated. So I gave up on that and just used the Burda armscye curve as it had been drafted on the original pattern piece.

I then measured the depth of the armscye on the V2980 front bodice piece (i.e., how far up the armscye the front bodice goes) and marked that on the Burda piece. Using that marking, I created a new diagonal line to the pleated tip of the bodice piece, creating the neckline.

Sweetheart Front Bodice PatternI decided to get fancy and self-face the front bodice piece. The neckline looks right, but in the end I'm not sure it was the best plan. Where the pleats overlap, the bodice is 8 layers thick. Even in a lightweight poly knit, 8 layers is really, really, really thick. Add in the midriff and midriff lining layers and there are 10 layers in spots on the front. Had I changed the pleats to gathers self-facing might work, but I think a better plan probably would have been either to create a separate facing piece with the pleats folded out and just a little gathered ease, or just to have a single layer bodice and finish the neck edge with a twin needle and clear elastic as I often do for (faux) wrap necklines.

The other issue I had with the bodice, which I knew I would have, is that I didn't do do a small bust adjustment on my fancy self-faced piece. Normally, I adjust a wrap style so that it won't gape on my bust by taking out some length on the diagonal neckline edge, as seen here. I didn't do that here (too impatient, truth be told), so to get a good fit on the bodice I had to stretch the bodice pieces way beyond their intended meeting point. The front midriff is about three inches smaller than the back midriff, if that tells you how much stretching I did!

Once the bodice was figured out the rest was cake. The midriff is just a straight piece because it's high on the ribcage where I don't have much contour, and the skirt is straight out of Simplicity 2754 (with the inverted V folded off to have a straight edge at the top as I'd done for the back in the gray and yellow fan dress version of S2754).

Bodice CloseupAfter it was all put together not only were the wide back shoulders slipping off, but the bolero was flopping open like crazy. In the first iteration of this top I'd had to hand-tack the bolero onto the bodice because it was bunching under my arms, so I wasn't surprised I had to some post-construction molding. I did a little hand-sewing magic (aka slapdashery) and gathered the bolero below the neckline to stop it from looking floppy, and then stitched the bolero and neckline edges together to keep my bra straps covered. In the photo at left, one side is hand-tacked and the other is not--you can definitely see a difference.

FrontI could certainly have done a less slapdash job on this knockoff, but I don't know that I would have been *that* much more satisfied with it. That is why I am slapdash. It doesn't take too much to make me happy. `-)

And I am satisfied with this dress! It is really cute in a nice print and the shapes come together in a very flattering way, making the most of nice collarbones, giving the illusion of a bust, and emphasizing a narrow ribcage while accommodating a larger belly and hips. Plus, sewing problem solving is fun and you feel so accomplished when it's done. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement to give this project a shot!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

53 comments:

Claudine said...

Great dress, and very impressive problem-solving. I'm a huge fan of the frankenpattern.

Diane said...

I love it. I have decided to draft a facing on a dress I am sewing right now AFTER I have pleated the neck. The layers of fabric kind of worry me a bit. Your patterned fabric conceals all of that. You did a fabulous job. (And the pink tights are PERFECT) My girls will strongly approve.

Christina said...

I am impressed! You found what must be the 3 perfect patterns to create the ABS dress. I doubt I'd have the patience :)

Andrea said...

Amazing. Hard work and persistence pays off. The dress is beautiful.

Lucy in the Sky said...

Wonderful dress and I just love the word "frankenpatterning".
Lucy

Reethi said...

Wow, great job! I'm very tempted to copy this, which I mean only as the sincerest form of flattery.

Sewlovely said...

A very flattering Style for you and great job on mixing and matching the patterns. It is so gratifying when things come together so well.

KID, MD said...

Beautiful! I like your version so much better than the ABS one. The print is perfect. It looks fabulous on you.

beangirl said...

Much cuter than that boring plain brown dress, this is a winner for sure (and like anyone will ever know that you hand tacked that thing down. Never! I'm all for slapdashery.)

Little Hunting Creek said...

wow this is really cute, and super flattering on you. Great work, Dr Frankenstein!

amber said...

I LOVE your version of that dress!! So flattering on you! I don't think I'm at a level to try something like that (yet), but I will file this away for later. :)

Pamela said...

Bravo and well done! As an aside, will be in Singapore next week and intend to fully explore Arab Street and Little India. Can give you the relevant infor later.

Sewfast said...

Adorable! Your Frankenpattern works!!!

Nancy (nanflan) said...

Very cute style on you, Trena!

Lindsay T said...

My daughter's strapless dress is a frankenpattern. I swear, you and your cute print knit dresses. You could really give Diane von Furstenberg a run for her money!

Birgitte said...

Looks awesome on you! I'm so jealous of how well you wear these knit dresses- darn it, oh well, maybe in my next lifetime...
Happy New Year!

Susan said...

You are a genius! Great job on combining the patterns to make a phenomenal Nordstrom knock-off.

TALL said...

It looks great!

Jenny said...

Your dress is awesome! My franken-patterning never comes out that well. :-)

Adelaide B said...

Super Cute!

NGLaLALa said...

Cute!! Great job! I need to try some "frakenpatterns," too. :)

selfishseamstress said...

Wow, that is some really impressive frankenpatterning! And, very impressive wordsmithing! Great job and it looks fantastic on you.

Heather said...

Holy cow! That looks awesome! I would have never figured out how to do that on my own. I'm in awe! You look really adorable in it too!

Jill B said...

Looks great! That pattern works well with that, uh, pattern. :)

lsaspacey said...

Slapdashery...brilliant! You are my sewing hero! So glad you live on the East coast too, hopefully we will meet one day.

Rachelle said...

Holy macaroni, that's awesome! Way to go!

Shannon said...

Excellent frakenpatterning - I think you're bang on! And of course it looks adorable on you.

kbenco said...

Fabulous dress, and your frankenpatterning is very clever.

Lisette M said...

Super cute dress!It really gives the illusion of a bust ;)

Faye Lewis said...

Ahhhhh, so cute!

Dharma said...

Love the dress! Your glasses are cute too!!!

AuntieAllyn said...

Genius work here! The dress looks terrific on you.

judy said...

I know that you have a ton of comments, but I just had to add one more! I absolutely love your dress and am very impressed with the morph! Great job and you look fabulous!

marysews said...

That dress does a good job of balancing out your figure!

Ivalyn "Tee" Jones-Actie said...

Love it when all that hard work pays off. You look stunning!

Noile said...

What a great job! Suits you to a "t", too!

HeathersSphere said...

Wow! You used a very clever recipe to create your ABS knockoff. I adore this style on you and your breathtaking dress is much more enticing than ABS's. Kudos to you!

Lori said...

Very cute.

Chan Rash said...

Hi I'm Rash form India.
I love the designs you do.

senaSews said...

Super cute dress! I loooove the neckline. Very nice!

lasandrou said...

Wahou, I'm in love with your dress!!!
I like how you "frankernpattern" to make your dress.
I'e been wanting for a while to make the burda but the skirt was on my opinion too tight. I thinks I'll your example and just make "frankernpatterning".

Uta said...

What a great dress! I totally understand on the slapdash solution, and it's not noticeable at all.

Anonymous said...

This dress is a complete success. You look fabulous in it. I use frankenpatterns all the time--why reinvent the wheel!!!

Dalila said...

I think your frankenpattern is a complete success! The slapdash elements that you mention aren't visible and your dress looks comfy, upbeat, stylish, and fun. Congrats!

gwensews said...

You did a terrific job of morphing those patterns. The dress came out beautifully, and fits you like a dream. It would look stunning for evening, made from a stretch velvet.

AllisonC said...

This is the perfect illustration of frankenpatterning! The finished dress looks great and will look good either dressed up or down so hopefully you'll get lots of chances to wear it.

Capital Sew and Sew said...

Brilliant! Can't wait to run into you wearing one of these Frankenpatterns on the streets of DC!

Brenda said...

Darling dress! I never sew knits and would like to. Do you use a serger and if so, what brand/type is it? (if you don't mind sharing). If you only use a sewing machine could you please share some techniques?

Thanks!!

Sigrid said...

Wonderful dress, you really managed to find the right patterns to end with this result. Good job.

Vicki said...

You are such a clever girlie! Gorgeous....and the pink tights - perfect :)

Cennetta said...

Way to go! Looking good.

eword10 said...

My fave part (aside from the gorgeous fabric) is the fauxlero. This dress looks great on you and I love that you paired it with pink tights. Genious!

Mary E said...

This is so totally my kind of dress. This is impressive. I would have NEVER thought to put all those patterns together. I want one just like it!