Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vogue 1252 - Tracy Reese knit dress w/ front drape

This pattern was not in my original picks from the Vogue fall pattern offerings. I loved the other Tracy Reese dress with the front twist and wasn't sure I needed another similar dress. Then I looked at the pattern construction at the fabric store, and was sold that I needed this one as well. It is gorgeously constructed, which I will write about further down.
The reason this jumped to the top of my fall sewing plans is that I already had this knit on hand. It was purchased this past spring from JoAnn's and was part of their green/camo inspired line which I have forgotten the name of. It was going to be for a sleeveless summer dress but I thought it looked very fallish so got reassigned.

I LOVE the ruching along the midsection, the elbow length sleeves, the front draped overlay, the full skirt, and...

the back exposed metal zipper. When I first modeled this for Justin, he was not all that enthusiastic about that design element - he thinks it is an eyesore in an otherwise pretty dress. I think it adds a bit of oomph to the back. This is my second dress with this kind of closure and possibly my last. It's a fun look, and I enjoy jumping on a trend now and then, but metal zippers are honestly a little irritating along the spine. Perhaps I need to wear a cotton undershirt with it.

You can see the front drape in this neckline close-up. The other side of the neckline has ruching along it's top and bottom as well. That side gave me a bit of trouble at first because the outer fabric hung off the lining fabric. It wasn't at all taut like ruching should be. I remedied this by cutting the extra fabric off of the outer fashion fabric. I had to repeat this process in other areas of ruching too.

When I first attached the full skirt, it was gathered all around. However, I don't like gathers along the sides of my waistline because they add bulk to my already square shape. So I took the skirt off, regathered the skirt, and reattached. This dress has a TON of gathering. If you aren't fond of gathering, I suggest you pass on this pattern.

Along the sides of the fashion fabric, I cut 3/4" from the side seams, so that when they were gathered and attached to the lining, the ensuing gathers would be taut. I basted the zipper in by hand, and then went back and stitched it with the machine. These sorts of zippers always make me nervous. It went in twice as well since the first time I stretched the fabric too much and had a pucker at the bottom.

This is the fullest skirt in my closet and I love it's twirlability. The length was really dowdy at first and I kept second guessing weather I would like the finished dress or not. Does anyone else do this? About 50% of the time when I'm making something, I convince myself that it won't turn out as cute as I'd hoped. Then I flounder around for a few days wondering if I should put any more hours in on it, and finally decide to just power through. I usually end up loving it. When I hemmed up the skirt and cut off the excess length, it magically transformed into a really lovely garment.

This full knit lining is what sold me on the design. I have never put one in before and have never worked with knit lining fabric, but I do love a beautifully finished interior and was excited to try something new. This lining is tricot from Fabric.com in a beige color and was a dream to sew. It had lots of side to side stretch but no top to bottom stretch, so the ruching along the side seams stayed put without having to use stay tape.

 I didn't want to ruin the clean finish of the dress interior, so I added bias tape along the sleeves to enclose that seam. The neckline is also finished prettily with a bias facing included in the pattern. I basted it in first so I could machine stitch along the outside of the dress and get a nice uniform topstitching. I'm becoming a big fan of basting stitches lately, and like to use a really bright color like red so they are easily seen and removed.

Okay, so I'm actually really excited to have this completed because it took a full two weeks of sewing time with lots of little stumbles along the way. After figuring out how to get the ruching taut, the next main obstacle was the length of the bodice. I should have measured it - this is an alteration I often have to make lately as bodices seem to be drafted shorter and shorter. But I looked at the example dress from the envelope picture and thought it would be long enough. It was not. Without the skirt attached, the bottom of the fabric hit me well above the belly button. I had already invested at least a week for the bodice and was extremely depressed over this blunder. After sleeping on it and thinking about the problem in the shower (does anyone else work out sewing issues in the shower?), I decided that I could add to the bottom of the bodice and it would be invisible amongst all the ruching. That involved drafting 4 more pieces - front and back lining and front and back main body fabrics - and more gathering and matching up of side seams. I ended up adding 1 3/4" to the length, as you can see in the picture below. This was taken before the outer bodice lining was put in.

I used the tricot as an underlining in the bodice to gather the side gathers onto and to eliminate the need of stay tape, which I didn't have on hand and thought might add some bulk to the sides. This worked extremely well as the  tricot was very thin and remember it has no top to bottom stretch. One thing I love about this pattern is the tacking of the ruching to the inside. (That's what looks like black thunderbolts in the above picture.) WHAT a great idea. In the other dresses I've made with ruching, I find myself constantly adjusting that area while I'm wearing it. But with the ruching tacked, there is no to do that! Also, with having an underlining, I could tack my ruching to that and the actual lining covers up and protects those stitches.

Other tweaks I made were to cut the sleeves slightly longer so I could take a deeper twin needle hem and left off the front pockets. I cut a size 10 and the waist is very snug, so I eliminated the waist elastic.

Whew! I am relieved to have this project completed. I originally thought I might remake this dress without the front drape, as the neckline is so pretty and interesting underneath it. But with all the gathering and fiddling about with thin stretchy fabrics, that is unlikely to happen. Besides, I still have the other Tracy Reese dress with the front twist to make up, and it has a ton of gathering in it as well.

57 comments:

  1. The dress fits you beautifully, and you look so happy in the "twirl" picture. What part of the dress are we looking at with the thunderbolt tacks? I don't see any of that in the pic of the full lining, so is this another layer of lining in between the fashion fabric and the full lining?

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  2. June, this is the underlining that I wrote about.

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  3. What an excellently constructed gem! This is the only new Vogue pattern I like and I sense it is more work - and learning - than I'm interested in right now.

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  4. Wonderful dress! It is totally cute and flattering.

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  5. What a lovely dress! The fabric and the zipper really make it shine.

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  6. Your dress looks like a piece of art. You did an amazing job!

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  7. I love that dress and am planning to make it really soon. I will definitely be referring to your notes. I am working on a Vogue knit dress now and am using that same tricot from fabric.com. I too noticed that it did not have any vertical stretch, but it does not seem to matter in the dress that I made. I always love seeing your creations.

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  8. WOW, that is one knockout of a dress! I love your fabric choice too - it's perfect. You do such gorgeous work on both the outside and the inside. Do you always use bias because you don't have a serger or you prefer that to serging? I've always wondered and decided to ask.

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  9. The dress looks great. I like the exposed zipper (and I usually can't stand them)!

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  10. I love this dress. The exposed zipper with this print is perfect. I love it paired with the opaque black tights. You did such a beautiful job on construction and working out the fit issues. Thank you so much for sharing your notes on this. I picked up this pattern a couple of months ago and definitely have it on my "to make" list. Great job!

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  11. Amanda! This is soooo soooo cute on you. I absolutely love it!
    Well done!

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  12. Stunning dress, and a perfect use for that fabric. Congrats on powering through the low points of the process. It was worth it! I will have to be content with admiring your handiwork, as I can see this pattern is outside my garment-sewing comfort zone and far more work than I'd be willing to put in.

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  13. Very pretty! I'm glad you ploughed through and finished. Thanks for the tips about all the gathering. I haven't bought this pattern yet but might break down.

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  14. You did a SUPERB job! Your fabric is gorgeous!

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  15. Awesome dress, though I have to agree with your husband about the zipper. I've never been able to get into the whole exposed zipper thing. And no, I don't think of sewing stuff in the shower, I just dream of it while I'm sleeping and then have to go do it or write it down as soon as I wake up so I don't forget. ;-)

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  16. I love this dress! I saw the fabric at Joann's and never envisioned something so pretty & feminine coming from it. You have a very good eye!

    I am just starting to sew with knits and the stretch scares me. You seem very adept at sewing with them, especially the finish work that you do. Do you have any tutorials on sewing with knits?

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  17. Excellent, Amanda. The dress is beautiful. I like the trendy exposed zipper, but have never tried one. Thanks for the heads up on the spiral irritation. Alway, I'm adding this pattern to my list.

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  18. I forgot to mention that those shoes are awesome!!!

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  19. Wow. Gorgeous dress, impeccably sewn. It is amazing

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  20. Really pretty dress. And I have to disagree with Justin, that zip adds something special/couture!

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  21. Amanda this looks great on you. Thanks for a really informative review on this pattern. Was the bias you used around the armhole made from stretch fabric? It really finishes off the inside really nicely. I like to do a fair bit of basting too. I read somewhere that using silk thread made it easier to pull out. Well, I tried this and it works really well. Gutterman makes it. It is readily available. All colours. Plus somehow it makes me feel more like a real sewer!

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  22. Beautiful dress, perfect fpr fall.

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  23. Hi !! I love your blog. I have an event in November and I need a blouse elegant organza. I will see your files to see if I find something I like.. We are in touch and thank you very much.. Greeting from Chile...

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  24. This dress looks really great on you. I love your fabric choice. I really appreciate the pictures of the inside of the dress.

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  25. Wow! This is a really special dress - so pretty and it definitely has that 'designer' look about it. I am always so impressed by the way that you go that extra mile to overcome difficulties so that everything you make is perfect. The fit is spot on and all the gathering has worked beautifully - it is very flattering and you wear it wonderfully well!

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  26. Twirl away! You look fabulous in this gorgeous dress. The fit is perfection and you chose a lovely fabric for this dress. Thanks for the details about inside....and I love the tacking down ruching also. Well worth your time and effort in every way.

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  27. I love it in a print! Wow, double wow!!! I want one too!!!

    Really great job and you just made this pattern for me!!!

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  28. That is a beautiful dress and as always, impecabily sewn. Nice work.

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  29. I am always so impressed with your sewing skills. This is another great looking and fitting dress. I like the lining. Great job as usual.

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  30. This is a stunning dress. I second guessed a print (wasn't crazy about the pattern photo) but your version looks great -- you can really see the seam details.

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  31. Beautiful! I just love the way this looks on you. So flattering and perfect for you shape. The zip is a great detail.

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  32. Absolutely stunning! The dress shape is perfect for you, looks ultra comfy yet ultra put-together and that zip..... *sigh!!!!!

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  33. What? You can line Knits?? Awesome! I learn so much reading sewing blogs! Your dress is fantastic - I know what you mean about exposed zippers - I just sewed one in for me too and it may be my last - it is a fun trend. Fantastic and Congratulations!

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  34. This looks like a lot of work but the results are well worth it, you look fantastic. I absolutely love the exposed zipper detail.

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  35. This is a beautiful dress! Definitely worth the effort. I've always shied away from zippers in knit dresses with all that stretch to worry about, but I really love the exposed zip in yours. I guess I should get brave and try one.

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  36. Gor-ge-ous dress! You should get commission from Vogue - I'm really tempted to buy it, and I normally steer awy from dresses which are quite that involved (not to mention with a knit lining - where the frig do you get knit lining in the UK?). I love the fact that the neckline is interesting and flattering while providing some coverage for warmth.

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  37. Fabulous dress! The fabric is perfect for it and it was well worth the time and effort you spent on it.

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  38. I haven't seen such a pretty dress in a long time. The fabric is gorgeous as well. There is indeed a lot of gathering and I guess that's not great for my bodytype but on you it looks smashing.

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  39. What a gorgeous dress! That fabric is perfect for it and I think the zipper goes well with the dress. And all beautifully sewn as always.

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  40. This is a very beautiful silhouette for you. I love seeing all the inner details and especially love the metal zip--it adds an edge to an otherwise very feminine style.

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  41. Wow this dress is stunning and looks gorgeous on you! You have constructed it so beautifully too, well done! x

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  42. Super cute dress, The fabric print is a unexpected, but it looks great.

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  43. This dress is amazing! YOU, look amazing!

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  44. Women tend to "get" the extra design elements more than men. lol. Your dress is phenomenal.

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  45. thank you for sharing the inner construction of your beautiful dress - I've been thinking about linings for knit dresses lately so this was really helpful!

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  46. Wow, stunning dress. Your dress turned out sooo beautiful - from the outside as well as from the inside. You look amazing!

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  47. Fabulous dress and so well executed!

    Karen in Houston

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  48. oh I'm SO glad you reviewed this (I read it while I was on holiday but couldn't comment from my phone)! This was one of the 3 Vogue patterns I've bought in the last four years, and I've even got the exact same tricot lining from Fabric.com, too!!

    I hope my future dress looks half as great as yours!

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  49. I'm so happy to find your blog! I just ordered some silk jersey to make this dress! Taking in the side seams is a good idea. Vogue always seems to have too much ease which can result in poor fit. Your dress fits perfectly and looks great! I have to make Vogue 1253 first then I hope to tackle this one!

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  50. Kozy Kitty,
    Thanks, but I did not take in the side seams. If anything the dress is a bit TOO snug on me.
    Amanda

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  51. Thanks for the clarification. I see that you just removed some of the outer fabric. That's good to know. I guess the trick is to fit the lining piece when making a muslin then make sure the outer rouched piece is pulled tightly enough against the lining so that the rouching lies correctly!

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  52. I am so glad I remembered your review. I want to make this dress and just checked PR and there are just three. One of which couldn't make the pattern work. Thanks for all the details!

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  53. Wow, what a lot of work and detail that went into this dress! Your garments always look perfect!

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