Holiday Sewing with V1558 by Rachel Comey

Happy holidays, everyone! Today I bring to you my 2017 execution of the (often annually coveted by many) holiday dress!!

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Although I yearned to make a sparky “fancy” party dress before heading to England, I had resigned myself to the impossibility of this happening. I hadn’t even had much of a concrete plan to make one when returning back home. However, when I stumbled on this shiny, metallic knit in Montreal, I knew it’d soon become the Vogue Patterns by Rachel Comey V1558.

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It’s hard to gauge the reception of this pattern since it appears to be building a slow, but sure, momentum. From the feedback I’ve seen, few were convinced by the busy fabric used on the pattern design, and for this reason, didn’t have much direction interpreting the pattern.

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I was on the fence, too, at first. But, the line drawings looked great–interesting and unique. Then, Allie J’s pink version and a green version by @maisewdelic showed me how this pattern would work in a solid color. I loved both! Another great version of this dress that caught my eye was a sparkly blue RTW version in Comey’s collection. I had a vague hope of getting some kind of mix between examples, and was able to do so when I found this burgundy metallic knit.

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There is a lot to love about this dress pattern–pleats, big sleeves, elastic, length. It’s fun and chic and has some kind of demure extravagance I’ve fallen for. When I decided to make my own clothes, I hoped I’d grow more in touch with a sense of personal style. I just didn’t imagine it’d look like this. This is not a complaint, by any means, just a consideration! There was a time when “party dress” meant “sexy,” but I’m glad it is now more evocative of intrigue, playfulness, and confidence because this is how the finished project fells to me.

While, construction wise, the dress is not too complicated, it does require precision and patience. Likewise, I used a solid 3m of fabric. As with any knit pattern of this style, making a muslin is not practical unless you intend to make a test in the actual fabric. I’d rather fit as a go, even if there are bumps along the way.

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Before even starting, I sized down. This is a 14. The size chart places me at a 16. One aspect I enjoy in particular is that the dress is both loose and fitted simultaneously, allowing for movement, comfort, and drape without being shapeless.

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For the most part, the fit was excellent–I simply added some curve to the center bodice seam. The waistline placement was really the main challenge. Lower than I’d like, it needed to be raised, which is easy enough unless you’re dealing with matching pleats! When I raised the waist, the pleats I had diligently basted were out of sync and I had to go back to reset them–a pain that was well worth the time.

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On a second version, because–oh yes–, I’ll raise the waist by an inch. In addition to being a little low for my tastes, the weight of the skirt brings down the waistline even further. This is quite normal for a pattern designed for knits. The weight of the knit will, of course, influence this detail. And since I took of about 5in from the length (I thought shorter would be better giving the intense fabric), I’d like a midi-length version.

Because as with the best projects, this dress (and pattern!) is a new favorite, and plans for the next developed even before I hemmed it. I’m dreaming of a simple version in a large black rib knit or sweater knit that hopefully I’ll find on before long. Quite a fun project!

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