My La La Land Cocktail Hour Dress

I loved the dress, which I wore with a big petticoat, bolero jacket and black court shoes
I loved the dress, which I wore with a big petticoat, bolero jacket and black court shoes

I decided to combine two projects in one by making one of the lovely new Cocktail Hour Collection dresses at the same time as making it in a brilliant canary yellow – the result, my very own La La Land dress.

 

I used Vogue Pattern 8997, which is a Very Easy Vogue design with Custom Fit for A,B, C and D cup sizes which are such a boon if you have a fuller bust. I’ve made view B, the sleeveless option with full skirt which I can wear with a cropped jacket to cover the arms.

As usual I took my measurements and then following the chart on the first page of instructions, I could see that I was just over a D cup. It’s important to check your size every time you make a pattern and compare these with the size guide on the envelope of course, but with the custom fit bodice pieces, you also need to determine which cup size to cut out – and it is not the same as ready to wear! When buying a bra I can be E, F or even a G, depending on the bra style. For patterns, I am just over a D cup – I like that!  Because I was just over, I knew all I had to do was add a little to the seam line to cater for the extra ½” I needed. It’s one of the great things about the custom fit patterns, you don’t have to do a full bust adjustment, the custom fit pattern pieces do it all for you.

The other thing I decided to do was raise the scoop back so that it would cover my bra strap as otherwise it is rather low – lovely if you can go braless and for evenings, but not right for me. I did this by using a French curve to redraw the curve, raising it up by approx 8cm (3”).

 

My version of Vogue Pattern 8997
My version of Vogue Pattern 8997

I chose to make the dress in a soft furnishing cotton I had in my stash for years and years – too many to remember! I washed it first which again is something you should always do – but its particularly important with soft furnishing fabrics that often have a ‘finish’ on them and are prone to shrinkage.

 

The dress calls for lining of bodice and skirt, but because of the weight of fabric I only lined the bodice, leaving the skirt unlined (and I wear a big net petticoat to give it volume anyway). I started by tissue fitting the bodice sections together to check – again something I always do as usually I have to alter patterns to fit my figure – high bust is a size 12, with full bust at 18-20, midriff a size 12, waist size 16-18, hips 12. I did need to adjust the fullest part of the curve of the bodice as it was too high for me – another sign of age unfortunately is the bust point moves south! Once I’d done that I cut the fabric and lining and then made up the lining first as a kind of toile so I could make any further adjustments to the main pieces before making them up.

 

The original pattern image, Vogue Pattern 8997
The original pattern image, Vogue Pattern 8997

I inserted an invisible zip rather than a centred zip as per pattern instructions because it is definitely my zip of choice. Finally I left the dress to hang for 24 hours before hemming and then once it was straight, I overlocked the edge before turning up a narrow hem and top stitching. This is the easiest method when working with a full skirt as it avoids the need to ease in fullness. However, if the fabric I’d been working on was lighter weight, I would have eased in the excess – by stitching with a long stitch length about 12mm from the edge, turning up the hem allowance, gently gathering the stitching to ease in any fullness as you turn under the raw edge. Any gathers are on the hem allowance only and the outside is lovely and smooth.

 

wendy with cocktailI’m pleased with the result, the shaped waistline gives a flattering silhouette and I love the full skirt. It’s such a lovely bright colour too that it will see me through summer beautifully. So now I am ready to sip a cocktail or two in the sunshine!

Cocktail Hour Sewalong – it’s started!

 

Make your own cocktail dress and join the Sewalong parties  Vogue Pattern 1471
Make your own cocktail dress and join the Sewalong parties Vogue Pattern 1471

Join the 2017 Sewalong and make your self a lovely little cocktail outfit. A cocktail dress, or little black dress (LBD) is an essential item in any woman’s wardrobe. Useful to take you from drinks to dinner, it can be long, short, sleek and fitted or frilly and full.

 

It doesn't have to be black to be a fabulous LBD. Vogue Pattern 1208
It doesn’t have to be black to be a fabulous LBD. Vogue Pattern 1208

The Cocktail Hour Collection has been put together by the team at Vogue Patterns to provide a great mix of styles to suit all figure shapes and styles. The idea is for everyone to make something to fit their lifestyle and of course, whether it is shown in traditional black or not doesn’t matter one jot. As sewists, we get to choose in what fabric and what colour we make our own unique outfit. So whether you want to make the traditional knee skimming LBD, or a classic trouser pattern to wear to your special event is entirely up to you.

The first step is to choose styles that suit your body shape which can eliminate a lot of pattern adjustments. Vogue Patterns has a Figure Flattery symbol system to help you determine your body shape and thus choose patterns to suit you.

Figure flattery shapes are shown on most Vogue Patterns to help you choose designs to suit you
Figure flattery shapes are shown on most Vogue Patterns to help you choose designs to suit you
  • Inverted Triangle – large bust and/or broad shoulders with narrow hips
  • Triangle – Small bust and/or narrow shoulders with full hips and/or thighs
  • Rectangle – Balanced on top and bottom, but boxy with little or no waist definition
  • Hourglass – Equally balance on top and bottom with a trim waist

Ease and Designer ease

Another elegant Cocktail hour design , Vogue Pattern 1532
Another elegant Cocktail hour design , Vogue Pattern 1532

Another thing to consider when deciding which designs suit you and your lifestyle is to look at the descriptions on the back of the envelope which includes how a garment is designed to fit. The difference in the body measurement and the garment measurement allows for ‘ease’ and Designer ‘ease’. Garments are designed to range from close fitting through to very loose fitting. A close fitted garment will have from zero to 7.3cm ease so will be that much bigger than actual body measurements at bust and 4.8cm at hips whilst a very loose fitting garment may by over 20 – 25cm at bust depending on the type of garment. So do check the description and the Finished Garment Measurements (on the back of the envelope), compare these with your own body measurements and even a similar garment in your wardrobe.

Sewing ratings

It doesn't have to be a dress if you prefer an elegant floaty jacket to wear with trousers, Vogue Pattern 1505
It doesn’t have to be a dress if you prefer an elegant floaty jacket to wear with trousers, Vogue Pattern 1505

As well as choosing a design by the style, do take a look at the sewing rating which will help you determine whether you have the skill base and/or time to make your chosen pattern. Nothing is more frustrating than getting bogged down with techniques that are strange to you, or simply running out of time to finish it perfectly!

Very Easy – these are quick and easy to sew, great for beginners or those with limited time available. They include only limited construction methods, little hand sewing and simple fitting. Easy to sew fabrics are recommended.

Easy – these will have more details than the Very Easy category but will also be easy to sew so ideal for those with limited sewing knowledge or time. There will be more pattern details requiring simple techniques and a few with more detailed techniques. Some fitting knowledge is also needed.

Average – perfect if you have more time to sew and more experience. You will find more challenging designer techniques, tailoring and unique construction details. You will also need to master more fitting and inner construction. Fabric choice will be more varied, ranging from the stretchiest knits to synthetic leathers and suedes.

Advanced – the best of the European and American Couture patterns will be advanced. Perfect for those who like a sewing challenge, professional tailoring and fine couture techniques, you can expect intricate fashion shaping, hidden construction details, touches of hand sewing and bias draping. Fabric choice will be totally varied ranging from sheers and laces to beaded, sequin, furs and more.

 

Have fun deciding which of the Cocktail Collection you wish to make and do share. We will be adding blogs and pictures on our website of course and the event will culminate in special events – so watch this space.