Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vogue 1258 - Vena Cava Dress

NB: I wrote this entire post in June but never got around to taking the 'after' pic. I finally have the 'after' pic, so I'm just gonna post it holus bolus.

I 'finished' this dress late last year but there were certain things that I knew had to be fixed if I ever intended to wear it. After much stalking research, I finally determined that maybe a size 12 (even though Vogue thinks I should take a much bigger size) would do the job and set about making a muslin from the bazillion yards of this pale blue knit that I have. Why do I have all of this pale blue knit? I don't wear pale colours and don't particularly like them on me - it is yet another of my stash mysteries. Anyway, clearly I wasn't going to throw too much of a tantrum if I managed to stuff it up completely.  The thing with this knit? It's very stretchy, quite soft but thick and heavy at the same time, I also seem to have a knack for choosing knits that wrinkle more than some linens I have - what a handy characteristic to have in a knit (no, really, it isn't!). Ever tried ironing this dress? NOT FUN.

Without further ado, here is what I ended up with.

Vogue 1258 Vena Cava - Before (sad & droopy)

Obviously I didn't add the proposed extension to the tie, I also raised that neckline.

The sheer weight of this dress at the front where all of the gathers come together was an tear/rip waiting to happen, I ended up hand stitching (and stitching and stitching) the hole closed so that it was more secure. It will now be the absolute last thing to give way on this garment - those securing stitches probably added another half a kilo to the weight of the dress.

See those stupid sleeve extensions? I've folded one under because clearly the intended way looks daft. (Didn't bother with all of the top stitching lines - I had a feeling it would be wasted time.) The instructions for that part were convoluted but I went against the grain and followed them for one of the extension - hmmmm, I ended up with a raw edge. Well, Vogue, you're not getting me again, I'll muddle through with the way I think it should be done on the next one.

Nice wrinkling on the back there.

Now, as much as I love the pockets idea, they weren't working, they sagged down and puffed things out just at the right place to emphasise the saddle bags - strangely enough that's not a feature I've been looking for in a garment.

My Mother's take on it? "Well, it certainly brings attention to your rear and we don't really have the type of rear that should have attention brought to it." Mum always likes to point out that we have the same body shape - "Our arms are too fat to wear sleeveless garments." (This, at a time when I went to the gym regularly and had quite defined arms.) "We have short fat necks and can't wear raised necklines or dangly earrings." (I love turtlenecks and wore large hoop earrings for years - without them resting on my shoulders.) The list goes on .............. I learned a long time ago to disregard most of it - this is one of the functions of mothers isn't it, to toughen you up towards criticism and teach you to sort the wheat from the chaff. In this instance though, I can't say that I find this rear view flattering - maybe if it wasn't a light colour? Not sure.

The back skirt looks kind of tight but actually it's not even stretched - odd, I think that effect is caused by the weight of the fabric.

The entire front looks kind of like it's drooping too.

This dress is also a magnet for pinchy fingers on the tush if tigerboy is around - he says it makes my bum look soooo good - I choose to leave him to his delusions. Of course in his mind this solidifies the fact that this dress should remain a house dress only (only when he's not in the house, if I want to have bruise free buttocks!).

Yes, clearly it needed to languish in the sewing room for half a year soaking up more creases before I could determine once and for all whether it would be worth making it out of a fabric that was more 'me' than uber wrinkly, thick, heavy, baby blue cotton knit.

So, here we are six months later and I've added a WIP list to the blog sidebar which is kind of long and I realise that something has to be done about it. Let the fun begin!

Vogue 1258 Vena Cava - After

I got rid of some of the sway back wrinkling by increasing the sa on the top back piece in the centre and graduating down to normal at the sides.

I turned those silly sleeve extensions under and sewed them down. Yes, I should have cut them off etc. but this fabric is so smooshy that the stitches sink in and unpicking was just too difficult. Quick and dirty was the answer (this dress won't be seen in public anyway, it's more of a proof of concept).

Removed the pockets and while I was at it stole some of the front skirt fabric to put more into the sa's and alleviate some of that drooping.

Raised the centre front to try to get rid of yet more drooping.

The hem seems to be going up at the back - that would need to be fixed.

It looks better, but as yet I'm not convinced of it's actual wearability, even in a darker or patterned fabric. Another six months and I might come up with a conclusion.

EDIT: (Current time) Now that I see the after pics, it looks much better, so I'm thinking maybe a bigger size for the back skirt and a smaller size for the front portion? Will it work? Maybe in this fabric?

Hey, I'm mid 40's, I should have some bling going on right?


  1. Found your blog via PR. I've often wondered about this dress, and seeing the final version on you makes me think it would be worth a try. Love it on you. It's flattering and wonderful. Definitely worth all the tweaking and futzing you did. And I agree - bling is required after 40! lol

  2. Wow, it must look better than I'm thinking if it's actually turned someone on to the pattern! I'm honoured. Of course, now I'm annoyed with myself that I didn't make it out of a fabric I'd like to wear - guess I'll just have to make another! (The blingy version!!)

  3. I like it a lot, actually. If/when I make this, I too will get rid of the sleeve things and the tie extensions. As for your behind, I think it looks great. Of course, I come from an island where big is better were posteriors are concerned so I may be biased... Though, that said, your CB hem does do the bell thing. Maybe add a bit to the curve of the skirt seam, like when you do a FBA on a princess seam? Something like that. Definitely deserves a second iteration, IMO, and in that fabric. Go for it.

    1. yes, I'll definately be adding to the centre back hem ..... and I think 'that' fabric is what I'll be making it out of......... number 123456789 on the 'to be done' list :/

  4. I think the second version looks great and you could easily wear it in public. I have this pattern in my stash but have been too scared to attempt it as I am sure it would need a lot of alterations. Ingrid

    1. Thank you Ingrid - all of these comments have certainly helped with the confidence to wear it. Tigerboy will have a fit (another one!)

  5. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog, I've now added your blog to my reader because I also love dresses and I think we both have similar body shapes (the sway back, the saddlebags, although I am losing my small waist, help!). I love the huge improvements you've made on this Vena Cava dress. I passed it up for fear it would highlight my saddlebags but you've managed to make that go away, and you look FAB in it with a super tiny waist! I hope you do wear this dress out of the house and make more than a few heads turn...

    1. Thanks for the compliments. My waist used to be much smaller too which made it almost impossible to buy pants or anything that fit in both the hips and waist, now that it's getting bigger, the difference isn't as dramatic and it actually makes things easier fit-wise (I can actually buy things that fit these days) .... as I told my mother, while I've still got a waist, I think I'll try to make the most of it, who knows how long I've got before it's gone?

  6. You know I looked at the original first pics and went "what is she going on about? I would KILL to have a bod like that mid 40's!"- and then your second lot of pics....honestly? I would be jumping about in next to nothing and getting it on film and in duplicate! (at least!). You can totally rock this look! Kate ;)

  7. Ha! Thanks - I did finally make it up in the emerald glittery fabric and even wore it out once but unfortunately, I tend to forget about the dresses that are in the "never get a wrinkle drawer" and by now I've probably put on a bit too much weight .............. should get it out and see.