Like Edith Piaf, je ne regrette rien, except for a couple of notable exceptions, one of which I’m still having to grapple with daily. I am talking of course of my boob job which took place around 18 months ago. Part of the fun of living with Bipolar Disorder and a Cadbury’s selection box of assorted other mental ailments is that I have a LOT of “what were you thinking?” moments, and this has been one of the most regrettable. But although I take 95% of responsibility for this SNAFU, a bit of credit has to go to my bargain-basement surgeon (who I believe was the inspiration for Dr Nick Riviera) who decided to freestyle it and give me larger implants than requested. But hey, when you buy KFC you don’t expect haute cuisine.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mentally scarred by this. I just don’t think they suit me and I’m finding it hard dressing for my new frame. It seems like all the styles I love – empire waist, high neck, babydoll etc – look atrocious with my new figure. “Wear a v-neck!” I hear you cry. Did I mention I hate v-necks? Some people are so hard to please.
So when I was looking for a summer dress pattern, I decided scoop neck was the way to go. In my research, Vogue 9100 kept on cropping up and what I liked about this pattern (apart from the words “Very Easy” emblazoned on the pack) was that it could look either really casual and almost pinafore-like or like a 1950s-style dance dress, according to fabric choice. I think Jorth really illustrates that here with her reviews of the two makes of the dress over on Patternreview.com.
The dress has princess seams rather than darts, which were new to me but I’d read could work better for a fuller bust. The other element that appealed to me when I bought the pattern was that it features separate pattern pieces for different bust sizes. Standard patterns are fitted to a B-cup bust, and when I started sewing I knew I’d have to learn how to do the dreaded full bust adjustment to accommodate my F cup bust. But with this pattern the drafters have already put in the hard yards, so with this in mind I obviously selected the pattern piece for a D cup, which is the largest bust cup they go to. As I’ve discussed before here, due to the insane levels of ease used in commercial patterns I ignored the pack measurements which placed me at a size UK16 and opted to sew the size UK12.
I made a few rookie errors when I started sewing the pattern. First of all, I decided to toile the pattern in some cheap polycotton fabric which just happened to be gingham. D’oh! Straight away I realised that if I wanted my toile to be near wearable (which I did) I would need to match the squares across the bodice and make sure the skirt was applied straight (and what beginner hasn’t whacked on a wonky skirt, hemmed and hoped!). This was all OK, because I see everything as a good learning experience at this stage of my sewing journey. I pattern matched as best I could and stitched up the bodice.
And guess what – apparently Vogue thinks that a D cup is bigger than my Fs – the fit on the boobs was way too big. I’ve read elsewhere that Vogue use a high bust point and this was borne out here – apparently Vogue draft for enormous torpedo-tits. I sized down to a C by comparing the difference between the C and D pattern pieces and removing the same amount from my toile. This worked well and I achieved a good fit on the bodice.
The rest of the pattern wasn’t so simple as Vogue liked to kid on. Although I love the brilliant and clear instructions included with indie companies like Tilly & the Buttons, I mainly sew with Simplicity/New Look and I find those instructions brief but fairly clear. But I didn’t find the Vogue so easy. I struggled with inserting the pockets so the raw edges didn’t show and was completely stumped at attaching the shoulders and lining together. I was rescued by Sew Over It’s amazing tutorial. This is the sort of step which, although clear once you’ve done it and seen how it works, really is complicated for beginners and if Vogue are going to market their patterns as ‘very easy’ it would really help if they provided some online support/tutorials like the indie pattern companies do. After all, they have far more resources!
Once the shoulders were sorted the rest was fairly simple. Here’s a snap of the finished version one (excuse fluffy hair!)
The fit isn’t bad (at this stage I hadn’t inserted the zip so the dress isn’t sitting quite straight on me) and the pattern-matching was okay-ish. I consulted my bestie, the indispensible Mr I. Having a male friend is dead handy when it comes to things like this because they don’t flatter or sugar coat. He reckoned that the pattern matching over the bust could be better and on balance I agreed. I wielded my trusty unpicker and had another go.
Version 2 was much, much better. Although I did have enough fabric spare to re-cut the bodice pieces if need be, it actually wasn’t necessary. I managed to tweak the neckline and seam allowance to better align my squares/lines. A lesson I learned in pattern matching was that in cases where you’ll never get perfect matching, such as with curved princess seams, you should aim for the best match to be at the focal point – in this case across the bust of the bodice. I’d originally matched the pattern pieces from the shoulder downwards.
Here’s the finished garment:
Although I like the end result, and I love the sort of Alice vibes of this fabric/pattern combo, I decided not to bother making up the dress again with my proper fabric. I didn’t find the scoop neck as flattering as I’d hoped (and I should point out that when I say ‘flattering’ I mean just that – I’m not looking to make my boobs look smaller, just wear clothes that show off my body the best). I personally think that neckline may have looked better an inch or so lower. Having said all that. I’ve worn the dress several times and will continue to do so – it’s perfect for the current heatwave!
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