Vogue 8805: Color blocking and proportions

Pattern: Vogue 8805

Fabric: Linen (pink and turquoise) and Linen/rayon (navy) from SR Harris

Notions: Ambiance lining fabric

Notes:

I have fallen in love with all the pretty color blocked dresses in the stores right now.  I’d been dreaming of making one, so this pattern (by Vogue) seemed made for me!

I knew that I wanted to use linen.  While I usually would default to ponte for this sort of dress, I don’t like wearing ponte in the summertime (so hot!)  I was also envisioning something like the Kate Spade Hana dress:

I wasn’t wanting a copy (or those pockets – odd placement!) but I liked the breezy feel of the original.   My only initial alteration was to take up the shoulder seams by 1″ total.  This is a common alteration for me – I do it on nearly every pattern.  I apparently have shorter shoulders than average.  I also added a full bemberg rayon lining.  I cut it in two pieces – one for the middle and bottom segments, and another for the top (it was easier this way than taking out that seam.)  The lining is attached at the neck and tacked to the side seams with thread loops.  I fit the lining before making the dress to check for alterations.  I found none, but was displeased with the initial dress:

(Please excuse my expression – I took these yesterday, and I was having a glasses sort of day!)  I felt like the finished dress was a little matronly.  The fit was fine – it’s loose but not too oversized.  The kimono sleeves aren’t bad.  But I felt like the proportions were off somehow.

After a lot of staring in the mirror, I decided that the issue was the turquoise band.  It’s larger than the coral band on the top, and the assymetry doesn’t work for me (is this the golden ratio at work?  I’ve never been good with that!)  I decided that I needed to shorten the bottom piece to be roughly the same size as the top.  This would also raise the hemline, which is a good thing – I follow the rule that the more shapeless the dress, the shorter it needs to be.  I marked a new hem 3.5 inches shorter than the old, and here are the results (also seen in the first photo):

It’s just the way it looked in my head!  Note that the turquoise band is in much better proportion here – it’s about the same width as the coral (including sleeves.)  I cut a size 8 on top (with shorter shoulders) and a 10 at the hips.  It fits really well – not enormous, but it doesn’t cling anywhere.  I’m really glad for the lining, which adds to the cool summer feel and helps with wrinkling (doesn’t eliminate it, but helps.)

Here is the back:

When I sewed the lining to the dress at the neck, I was careful to set the edges of the back slit in a quarter inch so they don’t show.  I hemmed them before attaching to the dress.  The dress is fastened with a brooch in the back.  The patter calls for a hook and eye, but I hate sewing them on and will use almost anything else (a thread loop and button could also be really cute here!)  Even with the slit, it’s still a little tight going over my head.  Keep in mind, I have a giant head (I had to order an extra large for my graduation hat.)  Still, it’s a little small.  It should probably be extended, or alternately you could do a zipper.  It’s also possible that my shoulder alteration is the issue here, and yours would be fine.  It’s hard to say!

I recommend this pattern – it was dead simple, even with adding a full lining.  I do recommend thinking about proportions with any color blocking project.  Even little things like where you place the darkest color can make a big difference!