Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Little Red Dress

                 Just in time for National Heart Month, I finished my little red dress. 

I used Vogue 1432, a pattern by Kay Unger. 

This pattern can be a little intimidating at first glance. There are 22 pattern pieces and 14 of those are dedicated to the assembly of the front bodice alone. A look at the line drawing above gives the impression one has to carefully plan and figure out the placement of fabric pieces especially when doing color or print blocking. However, upon closer inspection, each pattern piece is labeled to make it easier.

Here is a simplified breakdown:

1. The bodice front is divided into three sections: 

Right top front--pieces 1-4
Left front--pieces 10-14
Right bottom front--pieces 5-9
           2.  If you decide to color block, pieces 1-4 will coordinate 
                            with pieces 10-13; pieces 5-9 will coordinate with pieces 10-14.

*In my case I used only four different fabrics instead of 5 and just repeated the cycle for the fifth one. 


See how the pattern pieces are marked "right 1," "left 2," and so forth? That makes matching the fabric pieces less confusing.

After figuring that out, everything else is pretty straightforward. The instructions are clear and well illustrated. 

Now that we have gotten the front bodice out of the way, here are some more tips which I hope will be helpful:
1. All the front bodice pattern pieces are cut on a single layer of fabric with the right side facing up. 

2. Choose the fabrics carefully. Plan ahead of time:
    Pieces 1 & 10 will eventually make up the keyhole so it is ideal to use a fabric that presses well so     one will have a nice flat edge. 

I used a solid red polyester shantung.

View from the inside.

     Pieces 3 and 12 will form part of the shoulders. In my case I used the jacquard fabric.

3. If using fabrics of different types, try to make them of similar weight. If not, try interfacing the really lightweight ones. This will help the bodice lay out nicely. 

I used a fusible Pro-Weft interfacing on my shantung and Duchess satin pieces. I did not interface the jacquard and the embroidered pieces. The latter was already thick enough because of the stabilizer sewn on the wrong side.
4. Trim and press as instructed after every piece is sewn, no matter how tedious it sounds. HOWEVER, press gently. For my first attempt, I was too zealous with my pressing and treated my delicate fabrics like cotton. It's not like strip piecing in quilting. Just press down gently without having to open up the seams all the way. This will prevent the fabrics from becoming deformed out of shape,

A look at the "assembly process."
5. There are many markings but the ones that must not be skipped are the markings for the center front on the lowermost portion of the bodice front, in other words pieces 4 and 9. These markings will be important when it's time to attach the skirt. For the others, I got by with the notches. 

Center front marking using tailor's tack.

View of the inside after bodice and skirt were sewn together. 

6. I serged all side seams after front and back were sewn together. I also serged the free edges at the back opening before attaching the zipper. Since the garment was to be lined, I did not serge the seams of the bodice front pieces as I didn't want to add any more bulk.

7. During skirt and bodice assembly, I ensured intersecting seams aligned by basting them first. I also used walking foot for even feeding. 

8. Prior to sewing the invisible zipper, I stabilized the bodice back which was made of jacquard with a strip of tricot interfacing. My skirt was underlined with organza so there was no need to stabilize it. 

9. To make sure the back seams align, I "keyed" the zipper during attachment. 

Here are more inside views of the dress:

Enough of the construction process. The most fun part was choosing the fabrics for the dress. I was able to use leftover fabrics from my previous projects and this made my dress really special.

Fabric 1: dupioni from stash
Fabric 2: embroidered fabric from an old pillowcase

Fabric 3: jacquard used to sew my Christmas dress here. I also sewed the same dress for my beloved sister.
Fabric 4: Duchess satin used to sew my daughter's Pepper dress which can be seen here.
Fabric for skirt: crepe back satin used to sew my daughter's Prom dress seen here.

This was such a fun project made all the more special by the memories it evokes!


  1. This is an ABSOLUTELY beautiful dress! Your workmanship is lovely, and it looks good on you. Thank you for breaking down the construction process.

  2. Very lovely dress in red. You did such a nice job of blending fabrics that work well together. Love it!

  3. Absolutely stunning.

  4. This is beautiful. I just love your choice of fabrics for the bodice. I have to say, I've never sewn anything with 22 pattern pieces before, but your lovely dress makes me want to rethink that.

    1. Thank you Nadine! If you group the pattern pieces by sections (bodice pieces together, interfacing pieces together, etc), hide the sections you're not working on and concentrate only on one section at a time, it won't be as intimidating!

  5. Gorgeous dress and love the fabrics you have used.

  6. What a beautiful dress. In my opinion, this is couture!

  7. Your dress is lovely, and I really like the fabric combinations. And thank you for the construction photos and tips.

  8. Thank you! I'm glad the tips and photos are helpful!