Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vogue 8726 - Mother-of-the-Graduate Dress

I am not a dress girl. Let's establish that fact up front. :)

I made a dress last October. It was a black and white Sandra Betzina dress. I have never worn it once, though I do like it. A week ago I asked my daughter, who graduated from high school today, if it would be a good dress to wear for her graduation. She replied that she'd rather see me in something with color.

Rats. Why did I ask her, anyway? :)

I took this as a challenge. I decided to make a dress with some color. I quickly went through the Vogue, Butterick, and McCalls offerings. I clicked on parts of the pattern catalog that were totally unfamiliar to me.


I came up with this Vogue pattern. I liked the side panels, but there was much I knew I would have to alter.

I bought the pattern and fabric on sale at JoAnns. I rarely go to JoAnns, but I was under a time crunch. Did you know that, according to the unfriendly sales associates at this particular JoAnns, that they have removed all mirrors from all JoAnns? It is (so they told me) a corporate-wide edict. If true, that tells me that JoAnns has really decided they are done with garment sewists.

But I did buy a colorful, wild print, even though I was unable to hold it against my body to see if I liked the print/color on me.


  • Sweater knit from JoAnns.
  • Black poly/lycra knit used for contrast bindings.

Alterations and Modifications:

  • The pattern drawing is misleading.

    Note how it shows that the insets land on the waistline. This is not accurate. It's hard to see the details of the finished dress on the envelope, because it's black, but the insets actually land on the model above the waist.

    I lightened these photos and added arrows pointing to the top of the inset seam. It is definitely above the model's waist, not at her waist.

    When I held the pattern tissue to my body, the insets landed on my bust, not below it. This is not a good look for me. The first alteration I made was to slash the pattern, both front and back, between the armscye and bust dart (about an inch below the armscye) and added 2". This lowered the inset and the bust dart.

    The back bodice, lowered, and the back neck, raised.

  • After lowering the entire bodice, I sliced the front pattern horizontally, about an inch above the inset. I then did the FBA just on the upper portion, as I did not want to add width to the lower portion. I then merged the upper and lower portions together.

    The pattern piece is upside down, but the bodice has been lowered, then the lower part has been sliced off and the FBA added. Finally, the upper and lower portions were merged back together. This is how I do an FBA without adding width to the part of the garment where I don't need it.

  • The pattern is designed for wovens, but I made it out of a knit. I eliminated the back zipper.
  • The pattern has no pieces for facings, as it is intended to be completely lined. I omitted the lining and finished the neckline with a narrow contrast knit binding in black. I didn't follow this technique exactly, but here is an excellent video on a neckline binding by Threads magazine, featuring Sarah Veblen.
  • To echo the neckline binding, I put flat piping on the side panel seams.
  • I lengthened the cap sleeves to below elbow length. I finished them with the contrast binding.
  • I topstitched all seams.
  • At the end, during the fitting, I raised the bodice by re-sewing the shoulder seams one inch further down. I think that my original alterations were fine, per se, but the knit was stretchy and a bit heavy, so it hung lower.
  • I sewed the bust darts and upper side seams towards the very end, so I could pin them right on the body.
  • I narrowed the shoulder about 3/4".
  • I made the longer length on the pattern and just did a 1" hem. It's pretty long, and I'm not sure if it's the most flattering length. If I wear this dress again, I can always shorten it further.

Notice how I show the dress with a wrap. This is because I do not think it is a flattering dress on me, even though it fits me pretty well. Is this because of the wild print? The silhouette? The fabric? I'm not sure, but I did wear it, with the wrap. Later today, when the same daughter had a ballet performance, I wore my black and white Sandra Betzina dress. I just think it's a more flattering dress, though I wore the same wrap with it.

Ready for the ballet, though I should have photographed it with the same wrap.

The best shot I could get of the dress, sans wrap.

Pic taken when I got home from the graduation.