Despite her last-minute change of plans and reservations about her alternative pattern choice, Gabrielle of Up Sew Late has sewn a gorgeously practical dress for #VPJuly! In her floaty coral number, she's certainly channeling Diane von Furstenburg by the Castle.
When you hear the name 'Diane von Furstenberg', wrap dresses are probably what spring to mind. They're the style she's most famous for of course, but she also designed loose fitting dresses like this one - and from the number of copies of this pattern I've seen for sale, I'm guessing it must have been a popular style.
The pattern is this one, Vogue 2065, a Diane von Furstenberg for Vogue American Designer Originals from the late 1970s:
The back of the envelope description reads as follows:
Loose-fitting, A-line, pullover, blouson dress, seven inches (18 cm) below mid-knee or ankle length, has scooped neckline, round collar, center front neckline slit with button and thread loop closing, elasticized waistline, pockets in side seams, narrow hem and top stitching and edgestitch trim. Above or below elbow or full-length sleeves are gathered into buttoned, shaped turn back cuffs. Purchased belt.
And why did I choose to use this pattern? Well, to be honest, even though I'm very happy with the dress I've made, this pattern wasn't my first choice!
I had two first choices: a red and cream striped 1940s summer dress, and a cream wool and lace 1940s winter dress, both already well underway. I'm very sorry to say fitting issues with both dresses got the better of me when I tried to finish them up (for now - but I will conquer these dresses!), so I had to step away from the 1940s and towards a more recent era.
My next thought was to sew something fun and exaggerated from the 1980s. I got so far as to identify a couple of very cool and unusual Vogue Individualist patterns in my 1970s/1980s filing cabinet drawer, but then an annoyingly sensible voice piped up in my head and reminded me I already have a wardrobe full of fun clothes that get very little wear. So I made a second pass through the filing cabinet drawer, this time looking for 'wearable' and 'suitable for the office (or casual weekends)', and came up trumps - THIS DVF pattern; pretty, office-appropriate and very wearable, and even in my size.
I really hope the very bright pink fabric stops it from being a boring choice!
By the way, please excuse all the crumples in the photos - I did iron the dress properly, but I then drove into the city to take these photos wearing the dress, and apparently driving makes silk crepe de chine rumple and crease!
I usually sew a size 12 in modern Vogue patterns for my upper half and a size 14 for my lower half, but I thought 1970s sizes might be a little smaller than modern sizes, so the straight size 14 in this pattern looked about right - and it was. The pattern was straightforward to sew, though the amount of hand stitching required took me by surprise and meant the dress took a lot longer to finish than I'd anticipated.
My gorgeous, very drapey silk crepe de chine comes from last summer's sales at The Fabric Store here in Sydney, and it proved to be the perfect choice of fabric for this dress, even if I didn't have quite enough of it (my neckline and cuff facings are cut from a different fabric).
It's hard to show movement in photos without jumping around (and also being a good enough photographer to capture the jump!); the next photo is the best we managed to show the swish and drape of the fabric:
You don't normally see castles in Sydney, but yes, the building behind me in a couple of these photos is very castle-like. The building was apparently based on Inveraray Castle, and was originally built as a 'palace for horses' (ie stables!) for the 5th Governor of New South Wales. And it's now the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, which I think is a much more suitable use of a small castle!
If you compare my dress to the detailed description above you might notice a couple of differences... firstly, my dress is knee-length, not 18cm below mid-knee, and secondly, where's that top stitching?
It's knee-length because I just thought the shorter length looked more balanced with the elbow length sleeves and simple bodice (I did try the longer length and it was rather nightie-like). I normally add between 7 and 10cm to skirt or trouser lengths in Vogue patterns, so it was a novelty to get rid of some length - a full 16cm, and that's with enough fabric left for a nice deep hem too. I should point out though that a lot of that excess length probably came from my fabric "dropping"; the much smaller collar pieces certainly stretched out significantly even with minimal handling. And as for the top stitching, well it turns out it was only supposed to happen at the hemline, and other than that, the instructions are all about slip stitching and more slip stitching! I ended up continuing with the slip stitching theme for the hemline anyway - when you're on a roll...
Here's a close up of the collar - it's not perfect, but given the amount of adjusting that was involved to cope with the un-interfaced collar upper stretching out I'm pretty happy with it:
I did have to make another surprise adjustment as I was sewing the dress - but it's one that's not as noticeable. When I tried the dress on with the cuffs pinned in place before sewing buttonholes, I noticed that the cuffs were very tight on my arms, so to gain a few millimetres of width I've sewed press studs with buttons on the outside instead of buttonholes. There was actually supposed to be a second button on those cuffs, just in case the cuffs were too loose, but I didn't see any point adding buttons that I will never be able to use so I left them off.
Obviously too I have yet to get a purchased belt, and my hemline really needs one. I did a lot of measuring and marking and trying on to make sure that hemline was horizontal, but you wouldn't know it because the elastic at the waist tends to move up at my hips when I walk around, and that makes the hem rise at the sides! I wish I'd noticed before we took photos... but I know it'll be fine when I add a belt.
So, what's the overall verdict? Well, pleasantly surprised!
Mid-way through making this dress I was really worried about my pattern choice; it was looking so much like a nightgown that I thought it was going to be a wadder - and what a waste of hours of handstitching that would have been! Thankfully the elasticized waist pulls it back into "dress" territory, as does the shorter hemline - phew! - and I know this dress is going to get a lot of wear.
Thank you so much for having me, Marie!