Thursday, March 5, 2015

Miss Barbara Goes Her Own Way: Vogue 9023

Good afternoon, friends! Today's dress is not one I'd planned on blogging. While I don't mind reading about wadders on other people's blogs, writing about failed sewing projects is not my favorite thing. It's bad enough putting all that time, effort, and fabric into a dress I abhor, but to then spend an hour rehashing it all? Egads. I'd rather be eaten to death by carnivorous snails. 

Yet, here we are. Talking about this damned pink dress. There are two reasons for this: 
  1. There is no review of this pattern, Vogue 9023, anywhere on PR or in the blog world. When considering a pattern, I always look at available reviews, so it only seems right to catalog my knowledge of a mystery dress. 
  2. I love a timely and amusing comeuppance, even at my own expense, so couldn't resist posting a dress that can only be described as "unflattering." The universe has a wicked sense of humor, doesn't it? 

Alright, let's discuss the Pink Dress of Horror, Terror, and Mild Dismay. How did this happen? What was I thinking? Well, as we've discussed, I'm going to be on camera soon and it was requested that I wear long-sleeved, solid colored clothing, not in black, red, or navy. Unfortunately, I'm a prints girl and, on the off day I don't wear prints, I'm wearing--you guessed it--black, red, or navy. Something had to be done. 

That something, my brain decided, was ordering three lengths of ponte from Fabric Mart. I ordered the same fabric in cobalt blue, mint green, and this watermelon pink. That was my first mistake. Ponte is not my favorite fabric on the best of days, as I find the label too liberally applied. Ordering ponte online can result in anything from a matte, unstretchy, almost scuba-like fabric to a shiny, drapey, stretchy fabric that you would swear was jersey. Then, we have the incredible variance in fiber content. This one is on the poly side of ponte at 89% polyester, 7% rayon, and 4% spandex. Seriously, y'all, what was I thinking? Heavily polyester ponte is dreadful, especially when you live in Texas. This particular one is shockingly lightweight, doesn't breathe at all, and shines like a disco ball. Its only saving grace was the price: $4/yard. 

When it arrived, I had to chuck my plans of a pretty Burda dress, meant for stable knits. Despite being a two-way stretch fabric, it's just too drapey for such a pattern. So, I went pattern hunting and came up with Vogue 9023. Here, we have my second mistake. 

I swear to you, that hemline is not curved. The camera angle + my posture are doing strange things. 

First off, Vogue 9023 is a legitimately cute pattern. It's a knit dress (obviously), with underbust gathers, an empire waistband, pleated front skirt, short and long sleeve options, and the choice of a jewel or vee neckline. In my quest to be a Grown Up, I was taken in by the pattern illustration. Look at that woman above! Doesn't she look professional? This pattern, my brain insisted, would be an effortless work piece--secret pajamas, with a tailored, office appropriate design. I had struck pattern gold!

Never mind that I look dreadful in empire waists. Or, conversely, that the ponte I bought was so thin that it would show every line underneath, from booty lumps to facing edges. This dress was going to be bangin'. In a mature, professional way, of course.

Ha! To quote the grand Horowitz, "As if." 

There is a fairly substantial slip under there and still those lines show.
Run away! 

In my doggedly optimistic way, I cut into the pattern and fabric. Based on a bit of flat-pattern fitting, I performed an FBA and did a substantial narrow shoulder adjustment. Thanks to the magic of knit patterns, the FBA was terribly easy: I just added 1.5 inches to the underbust curve and tapered it back up to the side seam. This was going to be fantastic! I was going to have the best dress ever! 

Construction was beautifully easy. The details were done on my sewing machine, with a ballpoint needle, and the seams were serged together. The neckline is finished with a facing, while the sleeves and hem were stabilized, then twin-stitched in place. Everything came together wonderfully, in just a matter of hours. The sewing gods were on my side. 

Then, I tried it on. Despite under-stitching, the neck facing rolled like the devil. The shoulder was still too long, thanks to the excessive stretch of the fabric, and all the careful pressing in the world could not keep my hem from waving. Worse yet, the waist was impossibly big, but somehow the fabric clung to my butt, like a rabid squirrel on a pecan tree. I tried it on with a slip, which marginally helped it, but then the fabric showed both the facing lines and the slip's hemline. Curses!

I showed Sam and he tried to be diplomatic, really he did. A few quotes, for reference:

"It's very pink! You look good in pink."
"You have arms and it shows that!
"Once you cinch in the waist, I'm sure you'll like it better, love."
"Why, look! That's a squirrel over there, clinging to a pecan tree. It reminds me of something."

This is the face of pain. Why am I wearing watermelon polyester? What have I done?
Look at your life! Look at your choices! 

Back to the sewing room I went. Brandi Carlile's new album was played at a very loud, very ranty volume. 

I took a total of four inches out of the waist, top-stitched the facing in place, and steamed the hem and side seams to death. Victory! Well, sort of. The bodice fits much better, but the skirt pleats pull, after being taken in. The hem was less wavy, but still not up to my usual standard. 

It's really a bit dreadful. This pattern would be so cute on someone else, but it's just not for me. Empire waists emphasize my magnificent bosom, sure, but they also make me look like I'm all hips below that. My waist, being so much smaller than everywhere else, is absolutely lost. In the end, this dress is an almost success. The color is great, but the fabric clings. The neckline is really lovely on me, but the skirt portion is, yes, unflattering. The whole thing is perfectly fine now, as you can see in pictures, but I still actively loathe it.

This dress is simply not me. 

Also, small rant: This fabric wrinkles really easily, which completely defeats the purpose of a knit dress! I should not be ironing ponte all the time. What the hell, polyester? Are you actually good for anything?

In retaliation against this dress, I have finished another shirtdress and cut out three circle skirts. Vengeance is mine! Luckily, there was one other thing that took my sartorial pain away...

I saw Fleetwood Mac in concert, last weekend!

As a graduation present, my wonderful Aunt Beth and Uncle Jerry bought me a ticket to the show, and I tagged along with them on Sunday. It was a phenomenal show, y'all. My lifelong lady crush on Stevie Nicks was magnified by fifty. A tambourine has never looked so glamorous! Poor Sam has been forced to listen to Silver Springs at least a hundred times, in the days since.

Meanwhile, I now want a really dramatic black dress.

And a top hat.

And a tambourine. 

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