Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rachel Comey Vogue 1161: Business in the Front, Party in the Back

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I was afraid that I wouldn't have time to do any sewing before PR Weekend Montreal, and would be forced to wear something that had already been seen to the cocktail party. Horror! However, I had a burst of sewing time and energy the weekend before leaving (I flew out on Monday) and managed to turn out not only this dress but another dress *and* a top. Phew! I was quite worn out by the end.

Rachel Comey Fall 2009 Ready-to-Wear Collection Slideshow on Style.comI have been without access to a car (and Joann pattern sales) for over 6 months now, and I had been itching for some new patterns. I went to Dallas for work and rented a car and managed to find a Joann near the conference where I was speaking and snuck over to hit the Joann sale before heading to the airport. Vogue 1161, this Rachel Comey, was my top pick of the patterns I picked up. I don't really dig the original in animal print, as shown on the pattern envelope and on the runway. I am not really drawn to animal print in the first place and the busy print hides the great design lines. And the design lines are fantastic! Love the demure front bodice with open back, separate midriff, and the seaming on the skirt with the flat front and slightly flared back. Such interesting design! I kind of wanted to call it the "Mullet Dress" because it is business in the front and party in the back, but it doesn't *quite* capture the elegance of this piece.

Although I think the pattern is probably best in a slinky, drapey, silky fabric, my $3/yd cherry-embroidered cotton voile from London Textiles at PR Weekend Philly was such a perfect print for the dress that I had to give it a shot.

I was making this in a hurry so I didn't take any in-process photos. To prep the pattern I:

-narrowed the front pleat for an SBA. While the directions have you just fold over the pleats at the seamline, I stitched the pleat up to right under the bust. I find it just looks like saggy boobs if I don't.

-added an inch to the hem in cutting, as it looked a bit short and I wanted the option of longer if I preferred. I ended up taking about 3/4 of that inch off in hemming.

-added width wherever possible in the skirt pieces to increase the hip size, as the envelope had 6-8-10-12 and my hip really prefers a 14. I added at center front (also to accommodate belly), center back, side, and the CB/side back seams for a total of probably 2 inches (which is larger than a 14, I'm sure). The dress is comfortable and not unduly large, so I think it is drafted to be quite snug. Again, this would probably work better in a silky fabric that would skim rather than cling, but frankly I'd be uncomfortable about it.

Inner Workings My voile was quite sheer so I underlined each piece in cotton batiste. I was hoping to get away with not underlining the skirt, but as I used a gray slippery rayon lining for the skirt the color change was too much without the underlining.

I lined the front and lower back bodice in cotton batiste, but used a self-lining in the upper back. I was concerned that when I tied the knot the white batiste might flash through. I didn't experiment to see if that would actually happen, but I think self-lining was definitely the way to go with the upper back.

I lined the skirt in a slippery rayon from the Vera Wang collection on Fabric.com so that it would drape nicely. I think it would have been nicer to have a plain skirt front and back for lining, rather than repeating the bulk of the seams with the lining, but with my limited time I was not up to figuring out how to put the tissue pieces together to create a single piece. Well, even with all the time in the world I'm sure I wouldn't have done a great job. As it is, my lining doesn't add too much bulk and with the extra room in the hips there is plenty of space for all those seams.


Topstitching DetailI topstitched most of the seams--no way was I going to all the trouble of putting together all those millions of pieces and having it hidden by the print! This is what mystifies me about the original--all that design thought and detail and it doesn't show at all. Some of it affects the hang of the garment and the way it moves, such as the flare in the lower back of the skirt, but the princess seaming of the upper back skirt and the triangular inset of the upper front skirt are mostly decorative (darts are rotated into them, but darts are easier to draft and sew than piecing).

I used two threads of regular sewing thread in the needle; I think I should have increased the tension because some of the stitches are looping out a little. I was undecided how to treat the center front skirt seam because I didn't do a double row anywhere else, but I think the double row works. After I finished all the topstitching I realized that the triangle points of the front skirt insets are not parallel! The one on the right is nearly an entire inch lower. Man. If that doesn't convince you I am a slapdash sewist I don't know what will. Except maybe that when I realized this I didn't even consider unpicking the skirt, I just ripped out the topstitching and fudged both sides so that the topstitching makes it appear that the points are approximately parallel.

Back V1161 LOVE the way this dress came out. It is understated sexy while still being comfortable to wear. The open back is a cool surprise and makes it seem really bare, when in fact it's not that low and I can just wear a regular bra. Apparently there have been concerns about back gaping on this. Although the back of mine is more round than the geometric, angular back of the line drawing, I don't have a problem with it gaping although it wouldn't have hurt for me to ease the upper edge of the lower back onto some twill tape when doing my topstitching. With the upper back, you can make the knot tighter or looser to deal with any gaping (within a small margin; it won't solve a big problem).

When planning and making it I was hoping I could wear it to work with a little shrug to cover the open back, but alas, I think it is only a date night dress. I wore it on Saturday to go to dinner and a girl in the bathroom asked me if it was from Anthropologie. Theoretically this dress is a step up from Anthropologie (this comparable Rachel Comey dress is nearly $500), but it was still a good compliment!

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.

49 comments:

selfishseamstress said...

Cute! This cut is adorable on you and the shoes are terrific. Nice job- this doesn't look like an easy one to fit.

eword10 said...

LOVE this dress. O wasn't wowed when I saw the pattern initially. But now that I've seen what did, I have completely changed my mind. Beautiful. And the topstitching is a great touch.

MushyWear said...

What a great dress! I love the print you chose for it and agree with you, It's nice to see all the design details! The shape of the garment also looks perfect on you.

Rachel said...

That is so pretty!!! I agree about the seaming. I think it should stand out and I love the way you did it with topstitching.

BeccaA said...

Your dress is lovely and very flattering! You looked great at PR weekend. All that seaming is so pretty. I agree about the animal print not being appealing for this dress.

stitchywitch said...

Very pretty on you - I love the cutout back! I had no idea this pattern was so neat until it started showing up in solid colors. I hate the leopard (and I'm an animal print fan, but she looks like a cavewoman.) I'm planning to make this in a solid rayon challis (I had dreams of silk crepe, but I'm cheap!)

Claudine said...

Great dress! It looks fantastic on you and I love the topstitching. Several people bought that fabric, if I recall correctly, and this is the first time I have seen it made up.

Uta said...

So pretty! I love that pattern, and the cherry emboidery is just perfect for it. I would have done the exact same thing with the uneven seams! No re-sewing, no no.

Karin said...

I skipped by this pattern thinking it was a little over the top, but your rendition looks great. The cherry print makes it playful rather than "cougar-like" and the top stitching is a good idea- it highlights the strengths of the design.

KID, MD said...

Love this!! So much better than the original version. The print is fun and the topstitching is genius.

Adelaide B said...

Wow, this dress looks great on you! It's one of my favorites that you have made. The fabric is perfect too. (I love cherry fabric. One of my many not-so-secret weaknesses.)

McVal said...

lOVE IT! Looks like 2 dresses with the same fabric! You had a much more productive weekend than me sister!

Cindy said...

I think your dress is the perfect summer dress! There appears to be a billion pattern pieces needed for this dress! Great job!

Rebecca said...

Cute dress! Did you flat pattern measure first to try to figure out where to add the inches you needed for the hips? I'm asking because your garments always seem to fit well and that is what I struggle with most :)

Thanks!

Clio said...

First off, kudos on using the words "mullet" and "elegance" in the same sentence.

I love the peek-a-boo back - what a great detail. And you are totally right about the top stitching. The animal print version looks like a simple sheath, while your version really pops.

Marie-Christine said...

Another really smashing success! Why couldn't you wear it work? I'd think by now a cardigan would be mandatory to offset the A/C :-).

Alex said...

Very cute dress! and it looked even cuter in person! I love the print!

Vicki said...

Just gorgeous. Love how you accessorised it too!

Victoria said...

Very lovely! I really liked your choice of fabric for this! You look so pretty:)

~Sherry~ said...

Very cute in your cherry fabric, and I like your idea of red topstitching, and your accessorising!

Marybeth said...

Wow! I LOVE this dress! You look so awesome!!!! I've been on the fence about purchasing some fabric w/ cherries on it, but now I think I'll go ahead and get it :)))

Sew4Fun said...

What a great dress! I love how the front gives no hint as to the gorgeous back. The dress is very flattering on you, especially the back.

Gail said...

This is definitely among your best work. The fit especially at the back is perfect. Well done.

cidell said...

Pretty fantastic I must say!

Jane M said...

Wow, fabulous fit and wonderful design on you. Bravo!!

Lisette M said...

Really pretty, your cherry print was perfect for it.

Nancy K said...

This is a wonderfully flattering dress on you. The fit is great and the rear seaming, which doesn't show well in the busy print of the original, is a great detail in your version.

AllisonC said...

Despite the fact that now I will never be able to think of this pattern as anything but the mullet dress (!) I adore this and can't wait to make it up. All the details are amazing and the topstitching to show the lines off was a good idea.

Carol said...

I totally agree about the understated sexy. I had ignored this dress before, but seeing it in this fabric makes me want one. The red stitching is lovely and gives it a sweet, whimsical feel. I saw some tiny cherry earrings somewhere recently (can't remember where) that were so understated they would work with this dress. I'll see if I can find a link.

senaSews said...

Such a cute and flirty dress! Perfect!

Eugenia said...

Gorgeous, fabulous dress! I love your version of this designer style - you've really made it your own and it suits you so well.

Trisha said...

Love your version of this dress! The topstitching is the perfect touch for this dress.

laparesseuse said...

Wow -- that's adorable! You look fantastic!

Karen

Stef said...

It's AMAZING, and it looks great on you. I adore all of your sewing, but this one in particular is spectacular.

Bea W. said...

This is so cute. I adore your sewing and really enjoy reading your blog.
Sassie Lassie has asked me to answer some questions in the game of 8 questions. I have just finished answering mine. Will be posted on Thursday.
Anyway, I wanted to ask you next to join and share the answers to the following 8 questions with us.
1) What outfit from a movie would you love to re-create?

2) Tell us about your sewing spot/room. What is your favorite thing about it?

3) Where did you learn to sew? Who taught you?

4) If you could have dinner with one person from the past, who would it be?

5) What/Who inspires you?

6) What will always make you laugh?

7) What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

8) What is something you would like us to know about you that you have never shared on your blog?

Sigrid said...

Lovely pattern, you really chose the right fabric for it. So nice the difference between front and back.

Lindsay T said...

I thought I recognized that pattern! V. cute and v. you. Love it.

loopylulu said...

I never noticed the lines on this dress. It's beautiful and I agree the print and light color brings out the design.

Elaine Finn said...

So what did you say to the girl in the bathroom? When you get a compliment like that do you tell people you made the garment, demurely mention it's a custom design made especially for you by a high end couture shop, or give some version of "oh, this old thing?"
My biggest sewing fear is I'll wear something out and someone will say "did you make that?" Worst thing you can say to a sewer! Biggest compliment is "where did you buy that" and you surely deserved it with this beautiful dress.

Isabelle said...

Fabulous doesn't begin to describe this dress! You did such a great job - I love the cute fabric you chose, and the topstitching - and all the nifty little details! I hadn't realized the open back still allowed for a regular bra underneath.

A Sewn Wardrobe said...

I am so impressed that you made this. I bought the pattern, but am too terrified to even open the envelope. Especially after reading Very Prarie's review of her attempt of it. You make it seem so easy, so you're giving me hope. It's really flattering on you. Especially love the little kicky flares at the back of the skirt.

Orchidophile said...

Cute! Nice job! Love the title of the entry.

MaryJ said...

What a cute dress. You are such a beautiful woman!

gwensews said...

That is a totally cute dress! It looks fantastic on you. OMG--I can't imagine being without a vehicle!

Jos said...

LOVE it!

Angela said...

Super cute!! I've been wanting to make this pattern for awhile now. Glad you were able to squeeze it and in.

Clare said...

love your version of this! you've made it look far better than vogue's styling of it!

Kathi said...

What a great dress!! It looks great on you! You did a nice job with your topstitching. I like your fix for the parallel problem - sounds like something I would do. It makes me feel better when I read about other people doing things like that also!!

Lisa said...

Wow I seriously LOVE this . This has got to be one of the nicest things you have made , it's beautiful.