The dress represents for me my overall madness for sewing. Madness in a good way and sometimes in a “black heart I stab at thee” madness. That kind of craziness that comes over you and you drive yourself mad trying to figure it out and you’re just stuck in this endless insanity. Usually I have the good sense to bail, but this one, ah, she was different….
I bought this pattern back in the 90’s and have always been a big fan of the shirt waist dress. Very popular in the 40’s and 50’s and every other year or so we see it back in various styles. Michael Kors had something along these lines for Spring 2015. All very lady like and really, hands down my favorite look. I think the style of dress is dress at it’s best.
If you like to look through vintage sewing patterns from the 40’s you’ll see this style in many incarnations, some housework casual others lunch with the ladies chic. There are hundreds of patterns new and old that have a similar look. But, for whatever reason, I HAD to have this one work. There are a few I have worked on with varying results but always longed for my white whale of a dress: Style 2708.
The dress is easy to make, but looking good, not so easy. I made the dress straight out of the package at a size 12. I, being naive and new to the murky waters of fit I thought that the dress would fit because the measurements on the package told me such. And, you guessed it, the fit was horrible . So, I put the dress and pattern away and revisited it every so often when I would hear its siren call to me: “Try one more time”. All in all, I made 9 alterations to the pattern and at least four dresses in various fabrics. At some point a year or two ago when I was going through my patterns I almost got rid of it. I hadn’t tried to make the dress in quite some time and was really ready to just harpoon it in the face and be done with it. I tried every pattern company as substitutes, but they just didn’t do it for me. I tried one more time and this is the result. Near perfect (except those damn sleeves).
Changes I made
- Went down a size (helpful)
- Narrow chest adjustment
- Raised the bodice 2″
- Lengthened the front/back and side skirt pieces
- Added 1″ to the underarm
- Added 1″ to the sleeve pieces
- Took the side seams in (then took them out when I gained some weight)
- Moved the buttons holes over about 3/8″ and decreased width between buttons
- Took 4″ off the sleeve
What I learned
- If you love a pattern buy 2. I bought 2 and I’m so glad I did. After practically destroying one I luckily found another uncut version in my stash. I now have a copy on Swedish tracing paper.
- Save your muslins. All of them. I only saved the first one, so after not working on the dress for quite some time I wasn’t sure where I left off. I had to basically start all over. Or at the least take notes.
- Sometimes it’s the pattern. The dress is kind of weird.
- The gathers at the bust and where they hit at the bodice if they aren’t perfect you look like you have saggy boobs.
- The 3 piece sleeves are wack and there is way too much ease on the front and back of the sleeve. You can see it even in the line drawing. I think the ease is there to accommodate for the shoulder pad but it’s just way too much.
- The armholes are gigantic even with a small shoulder pad.
What the future holds
- I have another one cut out in a rayon crepe. I think I’ll like the drape much more.
- I now am using this dress as a sloper/block sort of thing
- Experiment with cap sleeves
- Sleeveless version with facings/lining
- Converting gathers to darts
- Want to take a great fitting sleeve/armscye from another pattern and transfer it over to the sloper and see if I can’t make traditional, better fitting sleeves/armcyes etc.
- I want to make 5 and wear them every day of the work week!
- Make different collars
- Maybe take the neck in or whatever that would be. The neck area looks a little big but it could be the stiff fabric.
- Double gauze for another version
Any other ideas?
I’m so glad I rode this one out and didn’t abandon the whole thing. Most of the issues are in the bodice area and then those blasted sleeves, all of which my limited fitting skills early on just could not handle.
And, that is my Moby Dick of a dress. Very happy I ‘stuck’ with it.
Do you have any white whales in your sewing archive, projects that keep calling you back? Success, failures, madness? Do tell!