Based on what I see on the street, the pleated neckline trend is still going strong so I decided to make my fabulous hot pink and black G Street Fabrics $2.97/yd knit print for possible inclusion in my Turkey wardrobe out of Butterick 5382.
I had previously purchased nearly identical Vogue 8593. However, the Vogue does not have a waist seam and I have pretty much given up on dress patterns that don't have a waist seam. For a serious pear like me, it is the rare pattern in which I can cut a 6 or 8 shoulder/bust and a 12 or 14 hip in one length of fabric and have everything work out in the way it hangs and fits. I really need a waist seam that will allow me to dart extra fabric into the lower half. A waist seam also allows for much better swayback correction. So I was overjoyed to see the Butterick pattern come out with the waist seam and skirt darts. V8593 can be made into a great tee as demonstrated by KBenco, so the pattern won't go to waste.
This dress was so successful and so easy once you put in the pleats (only four pieces, plus sleeves and a way to finish the neck) that I decided to go ahead and make it again with short sleeves.
As with Burda 11-2008-111, I found that where the shaping for the bodice and bust is in neck pleats, the small bust adjustment is done by shortening the lower edge of the bodice piece at center front, tapering to nothing at the side seams. Here, the shape of the bodice pattern is actually concave at the center front and it would be more trouble than it's worth to adjust the pattern piece. Once the pleats are made in the fabric, it's easy to cut off that lower curve.
The most challenging part of this pattern is finishing the neck, simply because there is a huge amount of bulk with pleats upon pleats. For the pink version, I actually used the facing (*gasp*). The black/pink fabric is a thick, spongy, cottony (yet polyester) knit and there was no way a binding would work. I lengthened the back facing to give it more weight and help it stay in place better. Once sewn in, I hand tacked it at the shoulders, the front pleats (hidden by the other pleats upon pleats) and the center back. The plus side of this thick fabric is that although there is no seam at CB, my hand stitches taking up a few threads of fabric don't show.
The black and white fabric was purchased from Fabric.com with all the Vera Wang pieces back in January for $1.95/yd. However, based on the product code, it is not actually from the VW Lavendar Collection (it doesn't match the style/colorway, either). It's one of those really stretchy wovens that are so stretchy they're almost a knit. Not lightweight, but not as thick as the black and pink fabric.
I decided to finish the sleeve and hem with a serger rolled hem in black, so to continue the black finish motif I used a black knit binding at the neckline, intending to act somewhat as piping. I cut it about two inches wide (should have done 3, given how much bulk it has to fold over), folded in half, sewed it to the right side of the neck with the cut edges aligned with the neck edge, rolled it to the inside leaving just a hint of it showing at the neckline, and topstitched in place. I probably should hand stitch the seam allowances onto the pleats at CF, but so far they have stayed in place.
I had been planning to get myself a Brother 1034D serger for my birthday because the tension on my secondhand White is not great. However, it had been behaving so well and I have been spending so much on travel lately that I decided to defer it. But for this project I couldn't get a good rolled hem on this fabric so now I'm considering whether I should just go ahead and get it. For the hem edge, I folded the fabric along the hemline and then serged juuuuuust next to the fold. I miraculously did not cut into the fold anywhere! This gave it more body for the serger to grab onto, but the tension wasn't enough to actually roll the hem to the inside.
This knit dress pattern is drafted with a zipper at center back. I thought that this was one place where a knit dress might actually need a zipper because the neckline appeared narrow, but several of the pattern reviews said it could be left off. Sweet!
For the pink version, I cut the bodice back on the fold but the skirt with a CB seam for swayback purposes. I had to tweak the length of the back dart, ultimately adding about 1.5 inches. I also had to shorten the front dart about an inch to give myself more belly room. I didn't fit the swayback closely because I wanted to keep that room in the belly.
However, for the black and white version, I decided to do an exposed zip using a metal zip I believe I bought at Jomar a couple years ago. This trend has been around for so long that I'm sure I just gave it the kiss of dress by finally making a dress with one but that's ok. Because of the zipper feature, I wanted a close fit at the swayback because a baggy exposed zip was not the sexy look I was going for here. However, you can see the price I pay for swayback definition: belly definition. Before you protest: (1) I know I'm slim (and I work hard for it), it's a proportion thing. (2) Especially looking at this picture, I can see that with the architecture of my body there's just no room for organs if I had a flat belly. This was taken first thing in the morning when my belly is at its flattest *and* I was sucking in. It normally sticks out about 2 inches more than in the photo. For real. I generally look about 5 months pregnant. I think I will only be wearing this dress when it's cool enough for tights. Tummy-sucking-in tights. Not to mention that this fabric is the plasticky kind of polyester; definitely can't be worn when it's hot anyway (warm, maybe, but not hot).
I install an exposed zip just like a regular, non-invisible zip: baste the center back seam, right sides together; press seam. Place zipper over the seam, in this case on the outside of the fabric. Stitch. Unpick basting. At the lower edge of the zipper I turned in the little extra flaps of zipper tape and at the top I caught them in the neck binding.
My only quibble with this pattern is that the sleevecap of the long sleeve is too high and pointy. I thought that would be the case when cutting it, so I basted it in and it created a little peak at the shoulder. I rounded out the curve and it installed much more smoothly. The sleeves are a little slim cut as well, but of course I serged off my seam allowances (did both dresses almost entirely with serger construction) so oh well.
LOVE this pattern, tummy psychosis notwithstanding. Of course, my taste in crazy prints means that the neckline pleating detail is pretty much lost, but I know it's there.
I am calling the black and pink version my "architectural dress" because both the pleating detail and the print are architectural. I spent a lot of time laying out my fabric to get the best looking print layout, resulting in an uncharacteristic amount of wasted fabric, and I succeeded beyond my expectations. I love the way the bodice front and skirt match up and I *think* the print matchup there is low enough and close enough together that it does not look like peek-a-boobs, just like a cool design feature. I like the pattern placement on the sleeves, and the long lines on the skirt lengthen my short legs.
I'm not quite as crazy about the black and white version. However, I hope the boyfriend will like the exposed zip (though he doesn't notice clothes 98% of the time--my fashion is wasted on him unless it's short and tight, but this is sort of both so fingers crossed) and it looks good under a black jacket for a work thing that doesn't require a full suit, like a speaking engagement.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.