Thursday, April 8, 2010

Simplicity 2497, Rufflicious Cocktail Dress

Simplicity 2497 Thumbnail

A dear friend got married last weekend and the attire was "cocktail." To me, this implies something different than semi-formal. They would probably be the same skirt length, but cocktail is a little more playful and stylish, rather than timelessly elegant. It seemed like the perfect venue for Simplicity 2497. It is not your typical "short, tight, and shiny" cocktail dress (much to my date's chagrin, I am sure) but definitely has an element of playfulness as well as a tasteful level of sexiness.

Fabric Evolution The fabric is the fabric.com $1.99/yd Vera Wang silk/rayon satin I bought in a frenzy in January. The fabric was lovely when it arrived (I couldn't get a photo capturing the satin sheen but trust that it is like normal satin), but pre-treating crackled and ruined the finish.

Figuring I had nothing left to lose, I ordered some iDye in violet from Dharma Trading (why did I not also order some iDye poly in black??? I am so annoyed with myself. I feel their shipping is too high to do a small order but I don't need anything else.) The fabric took the dye well, but I did not like the way the right (satin) side looked. The color was very grapey, and although the surface crackles were gone there was definitely some kind of textured look going on, sort of like a sand-washed silk, maybe. Bottom line, it just wasn't pretty or youthful.

When Cidell visited I solicited her opinion and she said she liked the wrong side of the fabric best. It took me a little bit to adjust to the idea of using the wrong side, but it was definitely the best choice. The wrong side dyed evenly and more richly than the right side. It has a twill weave that gives a little bit of visual interest. And I had been uncertain of satin anyway as it pretty much always looks like a bridesmaid dress.

The fabric is almost beyond medium weight into heavy, which had it's good and bad points. It did not need lining, which was fabulous. On the other hand, it did not interact well with my serger so I had to flash back to the olden days and zigzag all the edges. Ughhhhh.

Hem Lace for Blind Hem The neckline and armscye are finished with self bias tape and I couldn't get a great turn of cloth on them. They are fine--especially as the neckline is covered by a ruffle!--but if I'd had time it would have been better to get some coordinating fabric for the bias tape. If I'd been thinking about it I could have thrown some into the dye bath, but it was way too late for that. To reduce bulk, I used lightweight lining for the front pocket bags and the midriff lining. I wanted to do a machine blind hem on the skirt, but there was no way I could turn under the edge and then stitch the turned under edge for the hem as it would have been too thick, so I used hem lace, which gives a nice little touch inside.

Pocket Alongside Zipper Side The pattern instructions provide a clever and vintage-y method for installing a pocket along the side seam with the zipper. I'd run across such directions once before but moved the zipper to the center back, as is my preference. Here, I feared moving the zipper to center back would make the back too bulgy. I followed the directions, which seem complicated but aren't if you follow them step by step. I am very pleased with the way the pocket turned out, although in the end I wish I'd moved the zipper to center back. Better a symmetrically bulging center back than one normal side and one bulging side. Ugh. It's not necessarily going to catch the average person's eye, but it is obvious to me that the two side seams fall very differently (you can sort of see it in this photo; the zipper is on the same side as the pin on the midriff).

My biggest complaint about the pattern is that the neckline is LOW. I mean LOW. I have no such thing as cleavage and don't mind a low neckline but even on me this was ridiculous and showing my bra. Because of the thickness of the fabric, I had to hand gather and then hand-stitch the collar to attach. I used the ruffles as strategically as I could to provide more coverage, but really I needed to raise the neckline at least half an inch, maybe even a full inch. Also, I took about an inch total, half inch on each side, out of the width of the front bodice below the bust point for a small bust adjustment. I think I should have taken it out of center front instead so that it would narrow the neckline.

The Bride and II had very little time to make this dress and did almost all of it in 30-60 minute increments on week nights. Luckily, it's not that hard. I was pretty skeptical about it while I was making it and did not think it would be flattering. I feared the waist would fall too low and the bodice would be too billowy even with the SBA. I experimented with pleats instead of gathers but couldn't come up with anything satisfactory and was running out of time so just went with gathers. I was hoping it would be one of those projects that looks terrible until the very end, but was already figuring out which backup dress I should wear.

But I think that it did end up being one of those projects that looks terrible until the very end, and when it was finished I was mostly happy with it (the bra-revealing neckline and bulgy zipper in side seam being the causes of the "mostly"). I got a TON of compliments on it at the wedding, but most people knew I sew my own clothes so I can't tell if they felt obligated to compliment me or or actually liked the dress, lol.

I don't think plan to make it again but how cute is Meli88a's casual seersucker version?

I did not have Cidell to do my pictures, alas, but I did have a human photographer who even managed to include my feet in a few shots. All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

I'm going to have to do some sewing this weekend because I am now pretty much caught up on project blogging (Ok, there is a blouse and a hat still to go)! Eep! I still have a dozen or so pieces from last year I could write about, though, so maybe I'll just do some pictures instead. `-)

51 comments:

Sickofitcindy said...

That's a very cute and sassy dress. I love the color too!

Cindy said...

I love, love your dress! The color is great on you too. Wow!

Lisette M said...

Well, you looked gorgeous! Using the wrong side was a good call, the color turned out beautiful.

meli88a said...

Beautiful! Nice job dying the fabric too. It's the perfect color on you.

senaSews said...

I do love this dress. I wasn't drawn to it when it came out. But now that i see your version i have to rethink it. Also, the color is just amazing on you. You look gorgeous, the compliments were definetly for real!

stitchywitch said...

What a great color on you! I'm a big fan of this pattern, and plan to make it sometime. Thanks for all your comments on the construction!

Trudy Callan said...

Gorgeous. That was the perfect choice.

amber said...

Beautiful dress. Love the final color.

Jane M said...

Wow, you look fabulous in this beautiful dress. Wonderful color, great style and so perfect for the occasion.

meli88a said...

and hey, thanks for the shout out in your post! :)

KID, MD said...

Lovely dress! The color is so rich. It looks beautiful on you.

McVal said...

That is adorable! Check out the strapless dress and shrug I just made for my daughter a few days ago on my blog.

Tasia said...

Gorgeous! What a striking colour!The neckline is super flattering and looks awesome in photos. Excellent job!

Angela said...

Beautiful dress!! That color is awesome on you!

Byrdie said...

Gorgeous dress! I love the style and the color looks great. I can't believe you saved that fabric with dye! I would have given up and thrown it away. You are very clever.

RiAnge Creations. Ltd. said...

Nice dress. The colour looks great on you. You have convince me to stitch this up.

~buzzybee~ said...

It looks stunning on you - and you really suit the colour! The brooch really completes the look.
When I insert a zip into a curved seam, I fusetape the seam allowance to prevent stretching - would this help your asymmetry that you commented on?

Marie-Christine said...

That is really cute! Perfect cocktail mood, I think you nailed that. Maybe you should try one of those neckline-stabilizing tricks, where you use a piece of boning attached only to the top of the dress in the middle, and stick it in your bra, so it still looks wearable in public :-)? Threads had an article on that, way back when..

Adelaide B said...

I'm so glad this dress looks great on you. It looked so bad on me that I wouldn't post a picture of the original dress. It is really lovely on you.

Lindsay T said...

Love that blast of color on you! Great dress on you.

Shelley's Garden said...

I agree the compliments were for real. A very clever idea to dye the material to save it.

Ripple Dandelion said...

So very good. And I'm not just sayin' that 'cause I know you made it yourself!!

Susan Fogel said...

The deep rich blue and your red hair are a hot combo! The dress is eye-catching and perfect on you. I love the ruffled neckline.
You look great!

Andrea said...

I love how your version of the dress turned out, and I love the rich color of the dye you used. It compliments you so well. Beautiful job as always.

Faye Lewis said...

That is delightful!

Carol said...

I love the fabric and the colour works for you. I didn't like the pattern when I saw the envelope initially, but I like it on you. There's also a green version I've seen (AllisonC perhaps??) and I loved that one, too. Just goes to show how important this blogging community is, because yours is the second dress I've seen this week that I passed over and now really like!

AllisonC said...

I absolutely love it, and I also love your idea of using a pin on the waistband. It's funny you found the neckline low because I didn't on this one and usually it is a problem for me. I just finished a non ruffly version in a casual cotton and I still think I may make an LBD version of this one day in addition to my green silk one.

Sue said...

I wasn't taken with this pattern when I first saw it but it is growing on me! Your version is lovely and looks perfect for a wedding.

j.kaori said...

This dress looks fantastic on you! The ruffled neckline is so flattering and the color is beautiful. I think I need to get this pattern!

Vicki said...

Boy, does that suit you! The colour and the collar framing. Beautiful.

HeathersSphere said...

Delectably gorgeous dress on you! I adore that fierce color and style on you. Your dress is better than the original!

Lynn said...

I think it's a very cute dress, a nice color and looks good on. Very classy cocktail dress.

selfishseamstress said...

This is beautiful on you! The color is just perfect for you. I started this dress a while ago, but the silhouette was all wrong on me. It looks *fantastic* on you though!

kbenco said...

You look terrific in this dress. I love the ruffly neckline and the gorgeous colour. It is so much more pretty than a short, tight and shiny number.

cidell said...

Really, truly terrific on you! Love the color. And so impressed what you can do with weeknight sewing!

Eugenia said...

Stunning dress! That vibrant shade of blue was a perfect choice - it very much suits your colouring. No wonder you got so many compliments on this dress. I have made up this pattern and agree with you that the neckline is low!

karin (the mrs) said...

What a lovely dress it is. And the colour looks fabulous on you!

gwensews said...

That beautiful dress can go a lot of places. Clubbing, for instance. The color looks great on you.

Little Hunting Creek said...

Cute dress - great color on you too. WAY better than the pattern version

jay said...

Beautiful dress, Trena.

Linda said...

Your dress makes the pattern more appealing. Great color on you!

Andrea said...

A great look for you! Fits perfectly, is charming and feminine and flirty, elegant and casual - all at once. Very well done!

Uta said...

That dress suits you perfectly. So cute!

emadethis said...

You never guess it gave you so much trouble. It's beautiful, and it's a charming color on you to boot!

Karin said...

Wow! This is a great dress on you, both cut and colour. I hope you'll have another occasion to wear it. It would be a shame to only wear it once when you look so pretty in it.

Cennetta said...

The cocktail dress is a winner and definitely an attention getter. Perfect for the chosen occasion attire.

Isabelle said...

What a great cocktail dress, Trena! It looks fabulous on you.

A Sewn Wardrobe said...

This has been on my to-sew list, but I've been thinking of making it without the ruffled collar for a casual summer dress. I now know to definitely raise the neckline! Yours is such a great color. I am sure you received compliments because it was a stand-out, beautiful dress.

Sigrid said...

Of course you got a lot of compliments,it's gorgeous.

Ivalyn "Tee" Jones-Actie said...

Wow, I love this dress! You did a great job, some of best work comes out of things I make with little time.

eword10 said...

GORGEOUS! Period!