Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zoe Dress

I really wanted this dress to work.  Like really, really wanted it to.  But I think this is a case of trying to fit a square peg in to a round hole.  The style of this dress just does not suit me.  And I knew that before I made it.  I pushed on anyway.  I so desperately want to be able to wear sack dresses.  You know, dresses without a defined waist.  I know that is not everyone's cup of tea, but I love that easy, laid back, bohemian sort of vibe.  They look so cute on some.   I am realizing that I really need a waistline when it comes to dresses.  I can do a shapeless tunic, but not a dress.  I guess maybe it has to do with length.  Also, the armholes on this dress are not doing me any favors.  The back of the dress has dropped armholes and a slight racer back.  I seem to store nice little pouches of fat there under my arms (for winter ;) Not my favorite place to highlight.

  
This is the Zoe dress from Tina Givens.  I really enjoy her designs.  But again, not everyone's cup of tea.   I did have a few issues with this pattern.  Most of my issues were probably a result of fabric choice.  The pattern envelope stresses to use a lightweight woven, like voile.  I think most of Tina Given's designs are for natural fabrics, like linen, silk and voile.  I used a drape-y crepe de chine.  It's actually two different colors of the same print- black with ivory dots and ivory with black dots.  The drape works really well, but it is heavy.  Not only did I use a heavy crepe de chine, but I also lined the whole thing with a rayon batiste.  All the bodice pieces are underlined while the skirt has a free hanging lining.  I had to baste the underlining in by hand because of how slippery the fabric was.  It makes for a really nicely finished, but weighty dress.  The weight of the fabric pulled down on the bodice so much that I had to make some adjustments.  I sewed the back yoke/bodice seam in another half an inch to raise the armholes up and bit and then I chopped three (!) inches off the bodice.  To be fair, I believe the pattern is supposed to have a dropped waist.  But that is another design feature that does not work well for me.  I really love how the pattern has a 1920's sort of vibe.  It is totally different from anything I have ever sewn before.  I also turned the neck and armhole bindings to the inside, just out of personal preference.

I shortened the bodice so that the hip yoke piece sat around my actual hips.  When I put on the finished dress, I liked it from the front.  And then I turned to the side.  Humph.  Can't do sack dresses.  See my stank face above.


I was done at that point.  I wasn't sure how I was going to take in the waist seam, or if I even should.  I put the dress on a hanger for another day.  Later that weekend, I saw a solution on someone's top out in public.  It was all I could do not to stop her in Target and ask if I could examine the back of her shirt up close.  She was wearing a long tunic button up shirt.  But the back was cinched in with a button and a loop.  Have you ever seen that before?  I was inspired.  I came home and ripped out the waist seam of my Zoe dress and added a button and loop.  The difference is subtle from the front, but it makes a world of difference from the side.  And I could technically wear it unbuttoned if I decide I want a more shapeless look.  Still not sure how I feel about it, though.


The two photo collages below show the dress unbuttoned, and then buttoned.  It's not a huge difference.


Anyway, I'm on the fence.  Other than my issues with whether or not this dress is flattering, I really liked sewing it.  I love the piecing.   Everything fit together perfectly, except I did need to slightly gather the skirt to make it fit the hip yoke.  Just every so slightly.  For now, I'll wear it with a denim shirt tied around it.  Or a cardigan.  And maybe I'll figure out a  solution for the armholes later on.   Or maybe I'll just change my mind and decide I like it as is.  Definitely a pattern I want to revisit next summer in a voile like the pattern suggests.




40 comments:

  1. Stank face!! I have to agree with you - with my short-legged rectangular figure, I prefer to keep my beloved waistless dresses/tunics around or above the knees. That said, I think your fix looks quite good and I can't see any problem with how the armholes look on you! And that piecing really is cool.

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    1. And wow, I really prefer your version to the one shown on the website!

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  2. I think it's cool, but I totally understand too. I always want to do the long shapeless dress and it just doesnt do me any favors. I like your changes though. It it were me I would put a belt on and maybe even shorten it to the knee.

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  3. Thanks for making this, and showing us what it looks like. I think it might work for someone who is really tiny and wants to look bigger? I love the idea of a loose dress, but I look really really huge when I wear them. I do like it with the denim shirt!

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  4. I think the button/loop make it work for you! Looks like part of the design, too, which is great. Wear it! :)

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  5. I love the button and loop solution! I honestly think that if you shortened this dress, it would be really cute!

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  6. I think you're too close to this project and I know of what I speak having recently been in the same spot! Adding the button and loop makes a huge difference in this dress! Even adding the denim top makes it look fantastic. Hey I add a topper all the time.

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  7. I agree that the dress looks great on you and the button trick definitely made it more conventionally flattering! Been here myself - sometimes the vision in my head and the garment on my body don't quite match. Really cute!

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  8. Interesting design and the button and loop really make a difference! I just thought about style-issues yesterday... how great wouldn't it be if someone gave you a pattern and some fabric and promised that the end result would be great? But maybe that's part of the charm, never knowing what to expect...

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  9. i don't think it looks like a sack at all! it's an interesting design, and i really like the button and loop you added.

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  10. Ugh, my comment got eaten, now I've got to remember what I said!

    Firstly, I love the ingenious button and loop fix, it makes a big difference.

    Secondly, I wonder the white contrast panel across the hips has a shortening and widening effect? To my mind it might work better with less contrast between the 2 fabrics - a darker hip panel (and other contrast areas) might give a slimming and lengthening effect (not that you NEED slimming!) I'd love to see this dress made up in a single fabric with maybe contrast piping to highlight the seam lines?

    That's not exactly what I said in my original comment (I worded it better before), but it's along those lines!

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    1. I think you are definitely right about that hip panel. If I make it again, I'll pick fabrics that are similar in color-- not so much contrast.

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  11. This is a gorgeous dress that really reflects the work you put into it. I have a lot of trouble with no waisted too, being short and curvy. Mentally I am angular, flat-chested and tall (lol). Generally I go with tunics and tight bottom half like leggings or skinny jeans and hope I don't look pregnant! Having said that the older I get the less I care about creating a figure as it were having started to require comfort above everything ;) Personally I think you can carry this off no problem, both ways, but the fix is ingenious. Yes I really like it. And I'm glad it's not just me that wants to examine the clothes of total strangers,when I spot a unique detail!

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    1. I am huge fan of tunics with skinny jeans. I always hope people don't mistake me for being pregnant, too!

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  12. There's a lot going for this dress, and man, it looks nothing like the pattern photo (which doesn't seem to have a yoke so much as a waistband, interesting). I'm with Sam, I think it's a great dress, and although it would be a big task, a darker hip panel would probably take this one over the "sack dress" fence to flowy and glam. As for details on strangers, I've had to stop myself from snapping a photo a couple of times! I have taken notes, though :).

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    1. I really tried to scrutinize those photos on the dress on the website. I think the dress is kind of hiked up around the models hips in the photo. I can't really tell, but it definitely isn't where the hip yoke ended up on me. Anyway, I think in a lighter floatier, fabric it would work better.

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  13. I wear quite a lot of loose dresses. I love the comfort of them. I agree with the others the button and loop are inspired and I think they make a lot of difference. I was guilty (less now that I sew) of buying clothes I like but never wear as they don't suit me!

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  14. You look gorgeous in this dress. I wouldn't change anything else. I would put it in the back of your closet and take a break. It is a spectacular dress on you. I love that you are sewing up Tina Givens. What about the free top she has on line? For this style on me, I am a curvy short person, am going to stick with all black. This style is an alternative look which I adore.

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    1. Do you mean the bloom dress? I have actually made that one up, too! Not blogged yet. I did have to modify the neckline because it was way too wide, but I really like the end result. I'll blog it one day!

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  15. (Don't know if my previous comment went through, so here is another try): Am I the only one who likes this. Looking at the comments it looks like I'm not. I really like this on you! You have such great style and I don't see what's wrong with this dress. Yes it's shapeless and not very fitted, but it does look really nice.

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    1. Well, thanks! :) It's growing on me.

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  16. Oh man! I'm sorry you're on the fence about this dress! I just love it! Haha!! The piecing is really wonderful, I love the matching yet contrasting fabric you chose, and the loose, flowing shape just looks so easy and comfortable. I also really love your fix to give the dress some shaping. It's super genius and I think it helps a TON to give the dress some shape! Hope you can find a way to work this guy into your wardrobe - looks great with the button up too!

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  17. I actually really like it, especially buttoned! I also love it with a shirt over it, really can't go wrong there!

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  18. This is such a unique style! My two cents is that this wants to be a top! How would you feel about cutting off the dark skirt portion and hemming it as a top? I bet it would be really cute with skinny pants. And then the skirt fabric could turn into a tee or something?

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    1. I actually did think about making this a tunic. But man, is the skirt fun to swish around and walk in. It has the best slinky drape. i don't know if I can hack it off.

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  19. Your fix totally works. I really love how it looks with the blouse.

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  20. Get down from that fence girl, the dress looks great and so do you. That button fix on the back is genius!

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  21. I love this dress! I hardly have time to comment these days, but I had to stop and say WEAR THIS! Your button / loop modification makes the would of difference, the armholes are fine and it has that bohemian vibe that you love. Put it in the cupboard for a week, so you forget your issues, then get it out and start wearing it.

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  22. I really like how you've styled it with the denim shirt.
    The panelling on the dress is lovely, but choice of colour for each panel would effect how flattering the dress it.
    That cinching loop and button is genius!
    I hope this dress grows on you because it looks lovely.

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  23. I really like it after you added the button/loop to the back. The dress has an unexpected shape, but the piecing is beautiful and the two different but coordinating fabrics are so pretty together.

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  24. I really like that curved panel at the hip. Combined with your genius button loop fix, I think this dress is quite flattering. This is such a unique dress--one you definitely couldn't buy without getting pretty spendy--but that's the beauty of sewing, isn't it? BTW, good luck with back to school!

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    1. Thanks, I hope you've had a good start, too!

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  25. Don't rush into making any changes. I personally love the dress as is - both with and without the shirt. The cut of the top and armholes is classy and the contrast panels are lovely. Bet the weight gives it a luxe feel too even if it's not the recommended fabric. By all means experiment with the pattern in a shorter length if you fancy it but I really don't think this version needs any changes. Give it some time and see how much wear it gets and whether you feel comfortable in it (most important!)

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  26. its a beach walking vacation frock. The throw on type. That's not bad, sometimes you need that floaty business. I love the shapes involved, but I'd look like an ocsasional table in it.

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  27. I actually really like it worn with the denim shirt! Looks more like a maxi skirt that way, and I really like it :)

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  28. Yes, I can see you on the beach in this dress. It's gorgeous, and the button loop idea is brilliant.

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  29. Thanks for all the nice, affirming comments friends! :) I am very late in replying (back to work for me) but I appreciate all the votes of confidence and suggestions.

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  30. Wow, I agree your fabric is so much prettier than the sample. I think it still has a lot of potential to work. It may be more effort than you're interested in, though. I think the white at the waist is pretty, but maybe it would still look better higher on the body so that the contrast of the skirt isn't hitting at the apex of the hips. Try folding out a 1-2" tuck in the bodice above the waist seam all the way round the body and see if the lines are improved. Then how about shortening the skirt? You could cut an arc that mimics the shape of the skirt yoke, longer at the sides higher in the front, and maybe do something closer to knee length and just skip the hem trim. Just my inclination, could be all wrong. I do really like the back button tuck, too.

    I'm a sucker for sack dresses, I kind of taken with the one on the cover of the new Ottobre Woman. It's made up in woven or knit: http://www.ottobredesign.com/lehdet_js/2014_5/index.html?en It would be a dressing for me sort of thing, but I could see really liking it.

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  31. I bet this looks better in real life. I like how you've styled in cinched and with the jacket.
    It has a beach dress feel to it for when the day is long, hot and humid. Give this pattern another go now that you know what works for you.

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