Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A pair of Corner dresses aka modified Vogue 1404

This project started way back in the spring. Something about the silhouette of this dress, Vogue 1404 Ralph Rucci dress,  really appealed to me. The nod to a sixties silhouette but with updated styling and details.

With mockup in hand I brought it to my mentor, Sarah Veblen, to assess the fit and help me make the necessary fitting changes. For this dress it was easier for me to start with a mock up of the pattern since I did not have any master pattern that was even close to this design. I did a full set of flat pattern measurements and made several adjustments from the start. The fit of the mock up was not too bad! My usual changes had to be made, including re shaping the entire armhole!

With the mockup of the dress on it was cute, it was an ok design but not the awesome amazing design that I wanted! Sarah took a sharpie and just started drawing right on the mock up. What if we did this? changed this? so with our heads two heads working together in collaboration we came up with a final design that still resembles the original Ralph Rucci silhouette but has really been changed to make it all mine!

In the photo below you can see the basic changes that were made to the design.

  • Neckline changed to a square
  • upper side front piece added, this lines up with the lower side pieces and creates a nice line. Also allowed for removal of the dart, acts as a princess seam.
  • Changed the waist inset piece and removed the ties.
  • changed the sleeve to either sleeveless or cap sleeve, also working on a 3/4 length sleeve for colder months.
  • added back shoulder darts
  • modified length.
  • redrafted my own lower band pieces.

Original line drawing versus my design changes.

    Here you can see my sketch of the design and my final product. The sketch still has a rounded neckline, as well as 2 different options for the cap sleeve.  I am very happy that I changed it to a square neckline! Works much better with the overall design of the dress.
 There are some differences between my own 2 versions. This was mostly due to the fabric choice.
The pink/floral dress is made from a floral print woven with some lycra along with the pink linen. I did not want to have so many seams or the topstitching on the lycra because as you know there can be some distortion and stretching with the lycra fabric.  Due to the lycra content the the pink/floral version I eliminated the front and back center seams using only a short side seam zipper for entry into the garment. I also eliminated all of the topstitching. Making these changes also made the construction of this garment much, much faster! The pink floral fabric was from Sawyer Brook fabrics (no longer available), the pink linen was from my stash possibly from fabricmart...

The pink/floral dress has a short side lapped zipper from above the waist inset detail to the underarm. 
The sneaker dress is made out of a japanese cotton twill and was oh so much fun to create!! Every single seam is topstitched using gold jeans thread. This meant I had to make quite a few needle and thread changes but it was so worth it! (of course in hindsight it would have been faster for me to just set up a second machine with the topstitching thread...) I used a 22 inch long invisible zipper down the center back seam. I tested several different colors and stitch types before deciding on the final top stitching. This fabric was from Louise Cutting that I purchased during the ASG National Conference.

Sneaker dress, in three views
The print of this fabric was so much fun to play with. I really took my time at my work table and thought about all of the components and how they work together and relate to each other prior to cutting out the pieces. Each piece was cut in a single layer so that I could place the pattern exactly where I wanted. On the pattern pieces I even lightly drew in the shape of some of the sneakers so that when I flipped the piece over I could make sure that things lined up properly. I am really glad that I purchased 4 yards of this fabric! I used up almost every bit.. I have some small scraps left and that's it! Instead of colorblocking on the this dress I did what I call print blocking. I used the directional print for the garment and in different areas I turned the direction of the print for more interest. In the photo below you can see the arrows pointing to different areas

  • top Arrow: the side front piece print turned sideways so the sneakers come across my body.
  • second arrow: main body of the dress and lower side panels, sneakers going up and down, print carefully cut to keep sneakers in pairs.
  • third arrow: waist inset: sideways print so sneakers go across my waist
  • forth arrow: pockets, sneakers cut sideways to add interest and break up the print on the side panel.
  • bottom arrow: The bottom panel print cut off grain so that the center front has 2 pairs of sneakers lining up to face each other.

Print placements along the dress

What really made this dress challenging was the inset corners. There are 4 inset corners that have to be sewn. The rest of the corners are either faced or seamed. I practiced a bit on the inset corners before sewing them in my fashion fabric! I made 2 muslins of the dress, the original and then one with all the design changes. I also just cut out some scraps and tested my inset corners on my scraps before proceeding.To be succesful with my corners, I did several tests and I documented what I did with my tests so I could recreate the results! Having to pick out an inset corner in fashion fabric would have been a nightmare and the chances of getting a good result would have diminished exponentially! Practice allowed me to give my hands the feeling of what needed to be done so my brain could less worry about if I was doing it right. Hopefully that makes sense!!

The inset corners on the pink/floral dress were harder to do because the lycra content provides a measure of squishiness to the fabric that is not present in an all cotton woven. The corners below look real good to me. Not 100% perfect but that's OK!!

Detail of pink/floral dress inset corners.
Detail of inset corners and top stitching on the Sneaker dress
After construction of the pink/floral corner dress I did have to make a slight adjustment to the dress and the pattern. The armhole was just a tad too high. I wore the dress as constructed to a day long meeting and then when I got home I promptly re-cut the armhole lowering it by 3/8 of an inch. This made a big difference in comfort! I transferred these changes immediately to the master pattern so I would not forget them...The lower armhole is bias bound in the version with the cap sleeve and the entire armhole is bias bound for the sleeveless version. I used pre-purchased bias binding from my stash for both dresses.
Bias faced armholes on both dresses.
Both dresses are unlined and have serge finished seams for neatness. There are a couple small spots on the pink/floral dress that are just finished with pinking shears because I was in excited construction mode and forgot the serge finish them before the next step! I like having them unlined to wear in the hot humid weather however this does mean that I have to wear either a skirt slip or a pair of shorts slip like this one from Soma. It keeps the fabric from clinging to my tush and also removes any chance of thigh rubbing!

inside of the dresses, unlined and 3 thread overlock serge finished for neatness.

Here are some photos of me in my dresses! Unfortunately I don't have any real good ones of me in the pink.floral except for this hotel room selfie! It will have to do for now!.
Pink/floral corner dress with pink and orange leather flats. Perfect dress!

Photos of me being a tourist along the National mall. At the WWII monument and in front of the Holocaust museum. I have paired my Sneaker dress with a pair of yellow converse! I wore this dress ALL DAY and must have walked miles and miles in it and it was wonderful! Comfortable, cool and certainly unique. I received many compliments from strangers that day.   

Happy Sewing!
Cheers from Princess Victoria!!


  1. These dresses look great on you! I'm impressed with your inset corners. really!


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