Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Finished Object: V1179

I've made V1179 enough times now to tell you that it never fails to fuck up big time. Do not believe the 25ish other people who've posted about this DKNY dress - who all say: This was a piece of cake! Three pieces, 2 hours, done! Any beginner could manage this with no problem. It's actually so fun to make.

No it's not. It is not fun. It took me 8 hours to put this fucking dress together (as it has done every other time I've made it) and, once again, I took a gorgeous piece of fabric and veritably wrecked it. I do not understand it. Truly, this pattern should be totally easy (pleats aside) but everything seems to go so, so wrong whenever I wade in.

I'd just throw the pattern in the bin if I hadn't actually worn my other versions into the freakin' ground - despite the fact that a) this dress pattern makes a sack b) I've sewn it crazily - and observably - poorly each time and c) I loathe sewing it.

But have a look, why don't you:

Vogue 1179 - DKNY

It's not actually black-striped (as it appears). Photo below shows it's true navy colour better, even if it is over-exposed...

Look, I realize that these are shitty photos that do this dress no justice but I can scarcely be bothered to show this to you at all. That's how much I hate it right now.

Weird side note: Swearing asided, my current level of exhaustion is really taking the edge off my vitriol. I'm almost over these 8, head-down hours that may have been all for nought cuz honestly, it takes energy to be angry. Did I mention that it was sunny outside all day (gold!) and it's probably going to rain starting tomorrow? Not my best planning but, really, I couldn't be bothered to leave the house.

Other, totally unrelated side note: I believe that my dwarf lilac is going to go straight to leaf this spring. It still hasn't bloomed (although you can see little mini buds) and many trees have suffered this same fate this year, due to a bizarrely warm winter and a crazily cold, drawn-out spring. Outrageously, I hear that the cherry blossoms in High Park did not bloom this year for this very reason. So sad.

But back to the topic at hand, the jury's out on whether to keep this dress (right now the garment is hanging, pre-hemming). And let me tell you why...

Let's Lead with the Good (It's a short list):
  • The fabric is truly gorgeous. I spent a wad of money on it from Blackbird Fabrics but it did not disappoint. The drape is terrific. It recovers beautifully (trust me, I know cuz I hacked at it incessantly). It's soft. It's light, which is what you need when you're wearing a cowl in a heatwave. If only I'd done it justice...
  • The dress is easy to wear, all the time. It's comfortable, you can eat dessert, it's cool.
  • While most of my stripe placement went sideways (see below), I did manage to position the stripes on the cowl very well in conjunction with the stripes on the dress.
  • It only takes 1.5 yards of fabric (60" wide).
 But What Went Wrong (this time)?
  • For starters, the pleats were as freakin' hideous to actualize as they always are - maybe even moreso this time because, with stripes, you have to be considered. This took me a good hour to sort out.
  • And, a propos of stripes, I spent a ton of time making sure that I would be able to match them all spectacularly, but my serger (and gremlins) seemed to snuff out the dream...
  • ...Because when I went to serge the body and cowl, I forgot that I'd removed one of the spools of thread (for left needle) and put it on my coverstitch. And by the time I figured out why my poor gorgeous fabric seams looked like they had been sewn by drunk mice, it was too late to fix things. Honestly, you might wonder what's holding these seams together, that's how sad they look.
  • Did I mention that my time-intensive coverstitched armscyes look like shit. Not joking. A five-year old on Gravol could have done a better job. The problem is that coverstitching takes actual practice and I'm a total novice (despite the fact that I own a fancy machine). But how will I ever get there if I don't wreck some pretty armscyes?? I know, first-world problem but when you have OCD these things can become the subject of intensive rumination.
  • And, on the topic of the armscyes - well, for once they would not fold under to form a hem (not that this slap-dash method hasn't almost failed with each previous version). No go. This fabric isn't as stretchy or as thin as the others I've used and the underarm curvature requires more fabric ease than I could wrangle. So, after spending an hour ripping back stitching and coverstitching etc. I opted to sew a band around them (the likes of which one sews onto a t shirt sleeve at the hem).
  • That worked well enough (thank God) but it means that the shoulders are slightly wider than I'd generally prefer and the armscye managed to get very high. Even higher than it usually is and most people have to alter the pattern, as drafted, to be able to fit their actual armpits in the armhole. I've never before encountered this as I'm small of shoulder. Moreover, see stripe issues (above).
  • But here's where things went totally strange (as they never have before): Somehow, the seam where the cowl joins the pleated front body was set too low in this version. While it's the kind of thing that might have gone unnoticed in a busy floral, everything is so apparent with stripes. I ended up raising that seam (by serging another 3/4 inch off the seam at the front where the pleats meet the cowl). This alteration gives more visible lift at the bustline but I still feel that it should be higher. Damned if I'm going to push my luck by pulling it up anymore - you only get so much wiggle room with on-the-fly fixes. On the plus-side, I have more than enough length in this unstructured dress to do this.
  • I made the exact same size as I always have and this dress still fits well - I mean, it's a freakin' sack. But I wonder to what extent, 1" horizontal stripes are not the natural friend of the sack dress. There's a lot of width going on, people. Particularly at the bust. This is what might actually turn this thing into lawn fodder in the end. Cuz while I can deal with bad stitching and unmatched stripes and wider-than optimal shoulders, I cannot deal with a dress that makes me look fat.
At any rate, I've decided to let sensibility prevail - and this isn't a common thing for me. I'm hanging the dress for the night, to facilitate even hemming. I'm going to shorten it more than my previous versions because I sense that I need to minimize the stripey volume still further and the easiest way to do this is by cutting off a whack of fabric. Thankfully I have good legs.

I really don't see myself making this dress again. Oh, who am I kidding - if I pull off a decent hem (and I'm going to coverstitch it well this time) I'll probably give this dress another go next year.

Just goes to show that the sewing goddess is fickle and there's nothing like staying in practice to maximize the likelihood of successful outcomes. I'm doing what I can but I'd happily settle for some dumb luck right now.


  1. Keep it! Wear it! Love it! I bet it look fabulous on you. Navy and white stripes are always so fresh!

    1. I'm thinking a bit more optimistically this morning, thanks to your comment. Off to hem it soon. Stay tuned.

    2. I was about to say exactly the same as Gillian! Go for it!

    3. You know, it did work out alright in the end. Have you made this one, Evie? I think you'd look fab in it.

    4. I haven't...but I'm tempted!

  2. Can you fold the bands to the inside? Do you don't end up with wider shoulders and higher armscye? I admire your perseverance!

    1. You know, I might be able to but I think it would add too much bulk at the edge. Not a bad idea though!

  3. I'm with Gillian---I think you will rock it! #optimism

    1. Why thank you. I'm inclined to rock it, if only because I went through so much struggle to make this dress. I'm going to hem soon and I'll let you know if it's a thumbs up :-)