Thursday, August 29, 2013

VPLL 1940 day dress - L

The VPLL is back under new management.  And I got the opportunity to test this 1940 day dress.  I love the pattern, and its hint of rockabilly sensibility.  I decided to burn down some stash fabric so all I had to get was a zipper and some buttons.
(in fact, this fabric is left over from my first Victorian outfit - picture at the end of the post). Before I get to my review of the pattern and instructions, here's a picture of the finished dress.

The fabric layout is for widths that are not common at modern fabric stores, however additional width will not allow using a lot less fabric as the layout will require at least 2 times the length of the finished dress.  I was short fabric and added a contract band at the hem to get the length I wanted.  The contrast band is not part of the pattern.

After looking at the picture, I decided that the vertical seams were piped.  It's not needed, but it adds a lot IMHO.
I'd add the piping option to the instructions

The main seams of the pattern matched and went together easily.  Seam clipping was definitely needed.

For the ruffles around the collar and pockets:
Instructions say this is optional and suggests a 1 3/4 strip of fabric of the 'necessary length'.  Assuming 3 times the length will make cute ruffles, then the collar ruffles should be about 18 inches, and the pocket ruffle should be about 12 inches.
I chose to pleat them rather than gather because (Robin has my ruffler foot) I'm lazy and pleating was faster.

I made up the collar, pockets and waist tie in contrasting fabric and I made them up before I started the main part of the dress.

I suggest a minor change to the instructions - to add the collar pieces to the front after step 7.  The instructions current have the collar added after most of the dress is together which makes it more difficult to wrangle that neck opening.

I added the ruffles per the instructions, BUT then I discovered that when I reversed the piece, the ruffles should have been carried into the body of the collar and pockets to fill in the seam allowance.  I had to stretch the ends of the ruffles to tack them in place.  (I hope that makes sense)  I don't have a good picture of this, but imagine sewing around the piece shown and reversing it.  The ruffles are 1/2 inch short of the body of the collar at each end.  I made it work fine, but a beginner would find that bewildering.

The dart placement was good (for a change).  I raised the ties over an inch higher than the recommended placement.  I'm chubby and short waisted so this wasn't a surprise.  I DO think they are sort of low.

There were two small mis-matches in the actual pattern.
First was the pocket placement.

The markings for pocket placement do not match the shape of the finished pocket.  They are exactly a seam allowance short on the top and bottom, although the side to side measured correctly.

I found a similar problem with the collar.

The length of the collar was a LOT longer than the 'V' in the center front.  I made the 'V' in the main body larger and I'm glad I did.  When I finished the dress, a smaller opening wouldn't have gone over my head.
Generally, I found attaching the collar a bit of a pain.  There was a lot of bulk at the base of the 'V' that had to be turned and sewn down with the facing.  That's not a flaw.  It's just how the pattern IS.  The narrow bias facing worked well for me.  It does need to be a narrow facing.  Otherwise the bias will not allow the sharper turns around the neck.

Finally, there is no mention of shoulder pads.

This era was renowned for shoulder pads, and I would suggest adding instructions for them (again, as an option).

Here's how I made them:

Each shoulder pad started as a 6 1/2 inch square of dress fabric, with a 6 inch square of poly batting AND a 4 inch square of poly batting.  I centered them, and folded them in half diagonally and zig-zagged around the outside.  Voila!

And just for fun, here is the original dress made from the teal plaid....