Green Gathered Neck Dress

By | August 9, 2015


So, Vogue 8593 happened. In the grand tradition of, well, me, I managed to take a simple dress and wonk up several things. But first, the good stuff!

The overall look is what I was hoping for–a bright, jewel-toned column with long sleeves, perfect for staying warm at work without an extra layer. (I’m so over you, mumsy cardigans.)

I sewed this in a lovely ponte di roma from the awesome Hart’s Fabrics in Santa Cruz. It had more stretch and give than I had bargained for, but that just means it’s wonderfully cozy to wear. That, and the extra stretch probably saved my zipper-hating self–more on that later.
My favorite part is, not surprisingly, the pleated neckline. ┬áThe neckline came out pretty much as expected. It’s one of those “just follow the instructions and cross your fingers till the final step” details.

I don’t love that it stretches out a bit at the bust when I’m wearing it, but it doesn’t totally ruin the effect.
Vogue 8593 neckline
I’m also pleased with the sleeve length and overall dress length. I bought the exact amount of fabric called for (because I still act like a n00b), and–dude!–had basically nothing left to spare. Typically I would’ve added a couple of inches to the length to make sure it was work-appropriate, but not having that option, I think Vogue drafted this in a totally reasonable length right out of the envelope.

I swore a lot while sewing something I thought would be an easy make. First of all, I’m not a fan of putting zippers in knits, come to find out. I struggled just to baste the sucker in, and about 6 inches into sewing in the actual zipper, I realized it was not going to be good times. The fabric kept stretching over the feed dogs, pulling and puckering. So I ripped out the zipper, basted up the side and back seams, and tried the dress on. It fit over my head successfully–not smoothly, but also not my main concern–so the zipper got chucked out the window, to my great satisfaction.

If that hadn’t been an option, I would’ve shortened the zipper by a good 10-12 inches at least. I didn’t need a 23″ zipper just to get the dress over my head, and I certainly didn’t want a crappy, wavy, tuck-filled monstrosity hogging more of the back view than was necessary. I also considered leaving a gap and adding a button and button loop at the top. I’m glad I didn’t have to pursue that option, because I would’ve had no idea what I was doing.

Zipper issue resolved, I went to work on the sleeves. Through no fault of the pattern’s, I managed to sew one sleeve backwards. Yeah. I remember marking the dart and notches, then putting a pin in the fabric to designate front from back since they look pretty much the same on ponte. Apparently, I can’t decipher my own codes (“fuschia” pins mean “front”), because I made the dart on the wrong side of the fabric. The moment when I went to set in the sleeve and realized it was backwards? So much swearing.

But you know what? I didn’t have any extra fabric, I was not feeling excited enough about the the dress to go back to the store and buy another yard (and drive up the cost of the dress by 50%). So I just set it in backwards. And it’s not that bad. Sure, I have a dart on the inside of my elbow on one side, and the outside on the other, but this was a pretty symmetrically drafted sleeve and overall, it didn’t come out terribly.
You can see the offending dart on the inside of my left elbow.

You can see the offending dart on the inside of my left elbow.

I mean, the dart isn’t really even on the right part of my elbow on the correct side, so what’s there really to be fussed about? The whole reason behind this dress was have something with long sleeves, so I was super reluctant to cut them off above the dart as a possible solution. I think my mom and a fellow sewing coworker are the only people who might possibly notice. Fortunately, I have no shame. (Unfortunately, I will probably point this error out to everyone anyway.)

One final issue: the front neck facing didn’t fit. At all. I had to use my one remaining scrap to cut a new facing after retracing the pattern piece and adding a full seam allowance to each side. I’m perfectly willing to take the blame on this, though I’m not sure how any small margin of error in seams and pleat folding managed to eat up a full 5/8″ seam allowance on both sides… Whatever. I solved the problem, this time with only a moderate amount of swearing. Victory in our time!

As with the rest of the dress, I just used a straight stitch for hemming. I’m curious to see how it will hold. I do a fair amount of awkward moving around at work, so we’ll see if I get any popping. [Update: 2 wears, and no popping!] Because the ponte won’t fray and I wanted every damn centimeter of length, I didn’t even do a narrow hem. I pinked, folded up once, and stitched away.
After this exhaustive review, I’m feeling like the dress may be a pretty accurate reflection of my overall sewing experience in general: great intentions, lots of errors, some roundabout fixes and questionable stitchery, but in the end, a wearable garment that will gather lots of compliments from non-sewers who don’t know any better.

Finally, a note on budget: the ponte was $12.99/yd. At 1.5 yards (and not including the zipper, which is now in my stash), this is a $19.48 dress.