Before I get into the sewing process, I thought you all might enjoy learning more about how the VoNBBS Evening Dress is constructed. To this end, I have created a Flickr set that includes the entirety of the book text for this project! (Fun fact: the rights to this book long ago reverted to Conde Nast--who owned Vogue Patterns at the time. So it's not owned by Vogue Patterns as we know it, and the original publisher, Simon & Schuster, lost their rights to it after they took it out of print. Hopefully Anna Wintour's goons will not come after me with a cease and desist letter.)
Here are my observations, after reading both the pattern instructions (which are quite pithy) and the book instructions (which are very very detailed).
- Though the dress can be made in one fabric, VoNBBS shows you the construction technique for using three fabrics: a lace overlay, taffeta underneath, and an organdy collar. I've substituted embroidered illusion for the lace. (I'll just refer to it as lace for this post, however.)
- As always, VoNBBS instructs to baste the whole dress together by hand, do a fitting, and then permanently stitch the dress.
- The bodice and skirt pieces are cut out in both the taffeta and lace. The taffeta and lace layers are made separately and then basted together after the seams are sewn.
- The skirt gathering is done with two lines of hand basting, in a heavy thread or buttonhole twist.
- The neckline and armholes are finished with bias strips--the neckline with bias strips of organdy, and the armholes with bias strips of lace.
- Tailors tacks are used for marking, and the seam allowances of the taffeta are pinked. The lace seam allowances are left unfinished: "You don't have to finish lace seams--isn't that nice?"
- There is a 12" side zipper opening that uses a lapped facing (like I wrote about here).
- The skirt is four panels, which are all the same. Instead of being rectangular, like most dirndls, they curve slightly in at the waist. The seams of the skirt end up at the princess line locations in front and back, rather than center front and back/side seams. This means that a slash has to be made in the left side of the skirt to make the zipper placket in the skirt. This is a little odd, but I do think the skirt seams will be more pleasing in this position.
- There is an "inner belting" (aka a waist stay) inside the dress to support the skirt.
- The hemming method is a little strange: "Now turn under lower edge of lace and stitch it twice. Finish taffeta the same. Press both hems. Easy, wasn't it?"
- There is a supplemental page on making the dress in white pique. This method only uses one fabric, and store-bought bias strips for the neckline and armholes.
As always, I struggle a bit with the VoNBBS instructions. Some of the old-school methods are very precise and couture-based: like the marking, basting, and fitting. But others just seem a little dated. For instance, I think it would be nicer to line the whole bodice to the edges in a breathable cotton rather than having strips of itchy lace and stiff organdy to finish the edges. What do you think?