Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vogue 8904: The Shingle Dress

Based solely on the pattern as modeled on the envelope, I would never have given Vogue 8904, a Marcy Tilton designer pattern that she calls "the shingle dress", a second look.  A pencil-thin, hipless model in a sheath dress?  I just couldn't picture how it would ever look good on me, a far from hipless woman.  However, after seeing a bunch of Vogue 8904 dresses pop up on sewing blogs and in light of the fact that the pattern was voted one of the best of 2013 on Pattern Review, I gave it that second look. Lots of women with curves were posting pretty bangin' photos of themselves in this dress (case in point: Manju over at Sewmanju), so I figured it was worth a try!

And worth a try it was! I love it, even more than I thought I might!  It's super comfortable, first. Second, the "shingles" sorta float over your love handles, etc., so it's very forgiving and not at all clingy. And, third, I think it's just pretty damn cool looking.  I think in the stripes it's really interesting and eye-catching, but I think it could be a really awesome basic dress in a solid color or a fun statement dress if you did some pattern mixing. 

Sleeveless + gladiator sandals = summer concert dress.  
Sleeves + heels = comfy but classy office wear.  

If you need more convincing that this pattern is a good buy, check out how much they are charging for very similar dresses at Anthropologie. I think mine ended up costing less than $20.

I made up view B, the longer, sleeveless version in a striped cotton jersey knit (maroon with white and black stripes) from L.GEMini here in Bangkok.  My fabric choice may have been a little bit heavy for this dress; it's like a t-shirt weight. Since the whole dress is double layered (and where the "shingles" overlap, triple layered), things got a bit bulky.  But it's definitely still an awesome and totally wearable dress.  Next time I might just choose a thinner jersey... even some of those jerseys I bought on the internet and have since set aside for being too sheer (I feel like lots of internet fabric shoppers find themselves in this boat occasionally?) might work quite well with this pattern.

Ok, dress construction:

This is basically a 2 piece knit sheath dress with 10 "shingles" of fabric sewn on top of the inner sheath dress (5 in the front, 5 in the back). I basted together the inner dress to make sure the fit was ok before cutting out the shingles, because there are so, so many of them, so cutting them in the wrong size would be disastrous!  I actually think this pattern would be worth buying on sale just for the basic sheath dress pattern sans shingles- it's got a really nice hourglass shape to it.

I cut everything on a single layer of fabric, which worked well to help get the stripes right.  I wasn't too precise about lining up the stripes at the side seams, but it worked out that they matched up 90% of the time anyway.  Mostly, when cutting I tried to make sure one of the thicker black stripes was running along the bottom of each shingle.  Cutting on the single layer helped with saving fabric, too, I think.

Like I said, lots of layers- super thick on the seams, plus a 5/8" seam allowance, so I used a zig zag stitch on my machine, then pressed the seam allowances open and finished them with the serger.

I attached the neckline and arm bindings after putting the shoulder and side seams together, kind of like a t-shirt binding.  Then I topstitched them down, but I think I may have stretched the bindings out slightly at that point. Eh, no big deal: 

The pattern calls for leaving all of the hems unfinished.... the part of me that likes everything in its place is freaking out a bit over that, but the part of me that is lazy is like "Yessssssssss!!!!"  My hems (all 10 of them) are curling a bit, but I think it adds to the texture and attitude of the dress, so I am trying to be cool with it and not obsessively smooth them downward.

Here's me wearing my dress on the last day of Me-Made-May, out for a beer: