Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vogue 8904 - Marcy's Shingle "Wiggle" Dress

I think I've figured out why this sort of dress is called a "wiggle dress"!
For me, at least, wiggling is involved in taking it off!

This is the closest I've gotten to making a mainstream style dress in twenty years.

And I love it!

There is lots to say about this excellent pattern, so let's get started.

This dress consists of two layers of fabric, except for the sleeves. There is a base layer, and then the "shingles" are laid on top, from the bottom up, and stitched in place. I used a St John's rayon lycra striped knit that I bought from Emma One Sock some time ago. I did not have enough of the stripe (I had maybe 2.5-3 yards) for the entire dress (I made the long view, with 3/4 length sleeves) so I cut the base layer out of a solid black rayon lycra. The sleeves are a single layer of fabric.

This pattern is described as "close fitting" and calls for either a "rayon spandex" or "cotton spandex" fabric. Vogue patterns typically have the finished measurements for bust, waist and hips marked on the pattern tissue. That is not true for this pattern. So you don't know what "close fitting" means unless you measure it yourself. I never let the pattern company decide how much ease I want. I am the boss of me. ;) I am not sure why Vogue didn't include the finished measurements, but maybe they think that negative ease will scare people.

I measured the size 14 and 16 at the bust and found that they used about 1.5" to 2" of negative ease. For example, the size 16 is designed for someone with a 38" bust and the pattern tissue measured about 36.5" at the bustline. My full bust currently measures 41". I measured my best fitting t-shirt and decided I wanted to use the size 16.

If you want a looser fit, use a larger size. If you don't wear dresses, make this as a t-shirt. :)


I used a few alterations on the paper pattern:

  • The neckline is a boat neck. That does not work well on my narrow, rounded shoulders. So I changed the neckline to a jewel neck. This involved modifying 4 pattern pieces: the front, back, the front shingle and back shingle.

  • Because I chose the size based on the finished bust measurement, I didn't want to add width for my bust. Therefore, I did a vertical only FBA. I wanted enough fabric to go up and over my bust, so I added 1.5" to length at the bustline - this excess gets eased in at the bust level as I sew the side seam. This alteration involved modifying the front and the front shingle.

    The neckline alteration and the vertical FBA.

    I shortened the sleeve to 3/4" length.

    I did NOT have to reduce the shoulder seam, which is very unusual. Therefore, this pattern has a much narrower shoulder than most Vogue designs. (I usually have to pull in the shoulder seam by 1.5" to 2" on Vogue patterns.)

Once the dress was put together, I tweaked a couple of things. I like to do this during construction rather than during pattern alterations. I narrowed the sleeve by 2" so that it would hug the arm at the bottom edge. I also had to remove the considerable pear shaping at the hip. I removed about 6" from the hip, and carried this right down to the hem.


A few notes about the construction of the dress:

  • All of the edges are raw. You could, of course, hem each shingle, as well as the sleeves, but if the shingles were hemmed, it wouldn't lay in quite the same way.
  • The pattern instructs you to finish the neckline with an encased binding. I didn't do this. I used one of my favorite Marcy Tilton finishes. I've never seen her publish this anywhere, but I saw it on one of her garments several years ago and have replicated it several times. It also produces a raw edge, but it's stabilized by several thicknesses of fabric, and I think it's perfect on this dress. You can see it in detail on this blog post.
  • I was a bit leery of stitching the shingles onto the base layer. Rayon lycra can be a flimsy, stretchy beast. So after I cut out the front and back layers from the solid black fabric, I used painter's tape to mark where each shingle would go. I placed the tape 5/8" above the line marked on the pattern tissue. Then I laid the shingle so that the raw edge met the edge of the painter's tape. I used lots of pins to hold the shingle in place. I stitched the seam with a long (4), narrow (2) zig zag stitch. The tape helped stabilize any wiggling. Once the shingle was secured, I removed that length of tape and proceeded to the next shingle. I don't know if these precautions were really necessary, but they worked for me.
The front with the painters tape applied
The first two shingles attached

A couple more notes about the shingles.:

  • Before I cut out the shingles, I used a sharpie to draw a line perpendicular to the grainline on each shingle. This makes it much easier to make sure you are cutting the shingles correctly by aligning the sharpie line with the stripe. I cut each shingle out one at a time, single thickness. And I hope it goes without saying, you want a stripe that has stretch in both directions. There should be a lot of stretch *around* the body.
  • One of the lower shingles. The perpendicular grainline has been drawn with a blue sharpie.
  • As you attach a shingle, it overlaps the shingle below by about 3". This is good, so that the seams and the base layer of fabric aren't exposed as you move around.
  • Once all of the shingles are attached, you are almost done. It's easy peasy from this point on - like sewing up a giant t-shirt. However, you now have multiple layers of fabric to deal with. What I did was to sew the shoulders, then to baste the neckline layers together and try them on to make sure there was no weird bumps or wrinkling. I finished the neckline. I then basted the armscye and, once again, made sure everything laid well. I sewed on the sleeves. I then basted each side seam separately (front left, front right, back left, back right). I *then* pinned the side seams, matching stripes as well as possible, and stitched. Since there is no hemming, this is a pretty fast dress to sew.
Look Ma, No Shapewear!

I have three events in the next month where I can wear this. I really like my funky boots, but am not sure I like them with the dress. Thoughts?

Vogue 8904