Coming off the back of my last make – converting the Betty dress for stretch velvet – I had to get my hands on more velvet. As winter approaches, there’s something even more attractive about velvet and my RTW velvet dresses have seen better days.
I got this gorgeous navy velvet from the same online store as the cassis shade – Sew Anonymous. The quality (and the price) of this fabric is excellent and it is a real pleasure to sew with.
After chatting with a friend on Instagram about wrap dresses, I decided to give this Vogue pattern (V9251) a go – it was this or the Sew Over It Eve (which will feature in a future blog post, I’m sure).
I usually find Vogue patterns poorly suited to my body type and needing a lot of work to get the fit just right. This was a totally different story. I made up a toile of the bodice – because we all know the neckline of a wrap dress always needs some kind of adjustment – and discovered that all I needed to do was take a couple of inches out of the front bodice piece neckline (but I have to do this with 99.9% of patterns. I’m really happy with the neckline – there’s no gaping to worry about.
The pattern is marketed as ‘Very Easy’ but I would say it depends on your fabric choice (based on my personal experience). It is manageable, even enjoyable, to make up (I’ll say a bit more about the issues I did have later). However, despite Vogue branding it ‘Very Easy’, I’d urge you not to be complacent – read the instructions well before starting as they are quite scant (this is the main reason I prefer indie patterns to the commercial ones).
A part of me thought I didn’t need another navy velvet dress in my wardrobe – I have a full length navy velvet dress already; however, it is a totally different garment and all it really has in common with this make is that it is made of navy velvet and is full length. It is sleeveless, straight and has a high neckline. The V9251, on the other hand, has a lot of dramatic impact – it really plays with the movement of the fabric with the tulip opening hem, while the flattering plunging V neck wrap over is nicely fitted. I originally opted for the ruffly sleeves which have a really sensual feel to them but I changed my mind once I had made them up; my reason was that I just didn’t love the hemming – I followed the instructions but the velvet was maybe just a little to heavy for this hem type (I’ll also admit that. more experienced sewist would have handled it better). I abandoned the sleeves and just extended the short sleeves to three quarter length instead. it was a bit of a gamble as I was worried that the longer sleeves might have been too much when the garment is quite fabric heavy but I ended up loving the final look.
Apart from the modifications to the bodice mentioned above, I didn’t make any adjustments to the garment other than to cut the back skirt on the fold. I have no idea why you’d leave a seam in the back skirt of a dress that does not have a zip! I also left out the pockets – I know, it’s hard to believe I made a dress without pockets – because this dress is suited to carrying a lovely clutch so pockets are, basically, extraneous. I also cut it to fit neatly at the hips and pockets would have compromised this. I didn’t shorten it even though it is standard procedure for me to shorten garments – I wanted this to be a full length gown and, with heels, it’s just the length I wanted.
My main issue with the dress goes back to the same problem I had with the flouncy sleeves – the fabric was thick so the hemming method in the instructions was just too much for me to cope with. After getting the whole thing pinned, I recoiled from actually stitching it as it was going to look so bulky – instead, I took another risk (as if the sleeve decision wasn’t stressful enough!), overlocked the entire hem and topstitched it. Is it perfect? No. Should I have done the entire thing by hand? Probably but life is too short and I guarantee I’d still be slipstitching this time next year. When it’s on, though, I think I’ve got away with it.
The neckline is finished with a bias binding so it’s a nice tidy finish; again, with using velvet (and with the slippery nature of it), it wasn’t entirely without incident and there were a few choice words used; another reason I’d say take the ‘Very Easy’ with a pinch of salt.
Overall, while I’m not sure it’s the kind of pattern I’d make two of (or 4 as the case has been in the past with the Betty, for example), it’s definitely a dress I’ll enjoying wearing, especially over the Christmas / New Year festive period (without sparing the accessories)!