V1218: Dress S.O.S.

This dress was the first pattern I ever bought. When I finished my beginner’s sewing course back in March 2011 and presented this pattern and the fabric I’d chosen to sew it with – my beloved sewing teacher kindly advised that I might want to practise my skills on woven fabrics first – that knits were a different kettle of fish altogether and were something I could tackle when I’d had a few non-stretch garments under my belt.

I hid the sting of disappointment, and ended up becoming so excited and involved in other patterns that this happily sat on the back burner. But then the time came.

The lines on this dress were made for stretch fabric – I love the way they wrap around the body:

I had bought a gorgeous artichoke green (my favourite colour) wool and spandex blend from Tessuti, sort of in line with the fabric requirements (2 way stretch knits only – rayon spandex and cotton spandex).

But somewhere between starting and finishing this dress I lost my mojo, and it sits unfinished in a crumpled heap on my dining sewing table:

The truth is – a *very* fitted dress like this, made from a thin and unforgiving fabric like my wool spandex (or any of the fabrics recommended, really) – just isn’t going to be all that flattering. Even with spanx underneath.

A few reviews on patternreview.com later, and other ladies who are obviously further down the learning curve than myself seem to know exactly what I mean, with their versions being made up in thicker, more figure-friendly knits like ponti. So, I got another burst of inspiration, and went out and bought some, nice, thick blueberry coloured ponti (also from Tessuti):

The dress also requires an unusual notion – wired ribbon, which presumably helps to hold the pleats at the neck together if you choose to make it from the floppy, non-supportive fabric type they recommend for the dress. No amount of Internet searching or asking in shops has yielded a result on this. Fellow pattern reviewer Jo Jo Sews had a fabulous idea – using garden ties, which she left to sit in water for 24 hours to see if they rusted or not. I might have to see about raiding Mr poppykettle’s tool box when he’s not looking:

The other thing with this pattern? It’s shockingly drafted. As the four other reviews on pattern review say – pattern piece 2, which is the part that goes over your shoulder – has a a good extra 9-10cm hiding in there. What were you thinking, Vogue? And how did that go unnoticed when you were whipping up the white version for the pattern slip photo shoot?

I also added a bit to the arm hole seam at the back to give it a bit more coverage. Just a persnickety little thing, really.

So, the question is – will this new fabric save the day, and indeed the dress?



  1. Hmm, interesting dress – can't wait to see it made up. The blue ponti is a beautiful fabric and well suited for this pattern. Can you rescue the green and refashion? Good luck.

  2. I think this will be great. Erica Bunker made up this pattern in blue ponte, and it came out really well. Here is a link for inspirationhttp://www.ericabunker.com/2011/03/vogue-1218-donna-karan-dress.html

  3. This is one of the first patterns I bought too. I'm not ready to tackle it, after doing a few double knit projects, I've had my fill of them for a while.

  4. I hope you make it work because this is a beautiful dress. It always catches my eye in the catalogue too…Wired ribbon; could they mean that sort that is used in craft? Good luck!

  5. I finally tracked down some wire ribbon at Textile Traders. Carolyn's suggestion of craft ribbon was my first thought too but I found it could not be laundered so that was not a good option. I am looking forward to seeing your finished dress. Your blue ponti looks perfect.Jenny

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