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Best Summer Party Dress: Vogue 8241

Aunt Toby doesn’t do a lot of pattern reviews, but when I find something that works on me (5’2″, shorter-than-normal arms, a bit thick in the waist), then I’ve got to promote it. Seriously. This is a great dress for anyone.

Very Easy/Tres Facile. Misses/Misses Petite Dress and Belt: Semi-fitted, pullover, lined dress with waistline casing in seam and blousing in the bodice, back neckline opening with button and loop closing. Knee and floor length. I made the floor length for a ‘black tie’ affair we had at the local university last night. Also comes with pattern for tie or covered buckle belt.
Fabrics: Crepe back satin and soft faille. Also for A: Lame and Sequin.

So, let’s analyze:
Separate bodice with inset shoulders. Elasticized waist. Skirt that gets gathered by …the elasticized waist.

Why did I choose this dress for the event? Well, as some of my loyal readers know, I broke and dislocated my shoulder early in May. I just got out of the ‘strapped up and slung’ stage and entered the “physical therapy’ stage. I find it really difficult to get in and out of fiddly clothing. Most of what I am wearing these days are made out of knits (preferably with some lycra in them) and with a fairly open neck in them. Although this dress doesn’t have an open neck, per se, it does have enough room because of the slit in the back and the button-loop closing for me to gather it all up, get my arm that is healing into one armhole, get my head into the neck opening and then get my good arm into the other side. Pull everything down with one hand, find a volunteer to button the one button in the back, put on a belt and voila! As easy a dressing up experience as I was going to find. Yes, it does have inset shoulders. And my biceps are about 13” around. Generally, I am pretty self-conscious about my arms, but let’s face it, with a broken shoulder, I have the attitude that comfort comes first. And, my arms are big. That’s the way it is.

I made this dress even more easy: I used bamboo and lycra jersey (which I got from Fabricmart) and lined the bodice with some nude net from Joanne’s Fabrics (you can find that in the section where they have all the fabrics for dance costumes). It’s very soft and stretchy. Using a knit meant that I could downsize this – I usually have to use a Vogue size 18 or 20 AND do an FBA. With the knit and the measurements of the pattern, I graded from a “16” at the shoulder to an “18” at the side seam.

Any changes: I also raised the bottom of the armscye an inch on both the front and back bodice pieces because I knew I was going to wear this with a racer-back bra (which worked really well). And instead of lengthening the bodice front to accommodate for the needed bust length, I added a 2″ insert at the waist. THAT is what I used to put in the elastic (I used 1″ elastic and just sewed it directly onto the 2″ insert and then sewed the insert to the bodice and then to the skirt). It gave me a little bit more of a ‘blouson’ in the bodice but worked really well with the elastic (I am not a big fan of putting in casings and stringing elastic through casings and all of that). I used very lightweight weft-insertion stabilized in the hem and the back slits. I don’t have an overlock machine but this works really well on my sewing machine with knits. No skipped stitches.

Accessories: There are all sorts of accessories tricks that you can do with a dress as plain as this:
Fabric flower at the neck or the waist. Long dangly earrings. When I saw this belt at Chico’s, I was able to convince myself that the price tag was worth the money. This is a belt I can wear with dressy clothing. I felt like a zillion dollars in it; it dressed up the dress wonderfully, took the attention away from the big bruise (it takes a long time to get rid of one of these from a fracture) on my arm, and gave me the feeling of being very very dressed up.

Why do I not have a photo of the dress? Well, I have to say that the reason I don’t is that my very efficient husband decided to get up and do all the laundry this morning and…it went into the laundry. Another time.

Anything I’ll do differently next time (and there will be a next time because I can’t think of a nicer, easier, cooler dress than this one turned out to be)? I think I’ll stabilize the edges of the neck and the armholes with the same weft-insertion interfacing that I used in the hems and the slits. That’s really about it.

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6 Comments

  1. Debi says:

    That looks like a great pattern! I loved the ‘bloused’ look.

  2. Toby Wollin says:

    Yep – and the set-in shoulders give it a modern look that is very nice. I have a hard time avoiding ‘dowdy’ because in general, I’m sort of conservative, but this looked very youthful on me, so I think this is definitely a ‘keeper’ for everyone.

  3. Carolyn says:

    It sounds like it was the perfect dress for the event! I’ve heard another good report about this pattern and have looked at it maybe I’ll check it out again! Glad to hear that your shoulder is healing!

  4. lsaspacey says:

    Please bring it back for a picture when it’s out of the dryer. It sounds lovely!

  5. Auntie Allyn says:

    I love the elegant simplicity of this pattern! I may have to pick it up when Vogues go on sale again.

  6. Aunt Toby says:

    Aunty – definitely worth it to have it. My plan is to make several of the shorter ones in less formal knits – stripes, prints – for this summer. Just the easiest dress.

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