Back in December of last year, I was shopping with my sister and Mom at good ol’ Macy’s department store. My sister was looking for new dresses for some holiday parties she was attending and I, who was about to start my RTW diet and thoroughly sick of having so many clothes, was “window-shopping”.
I was helping my sister pick out things for her to try on and I came across this dress in Rachel Roy’s Rachel collection
That’s my Mom holding it up in the change room.
My sister liked it, but it was a little long on her and outside her price-point. So, my Mom told me to try it on, for fun.
I can’t even explain how much I fell in love with it! The colors were so beautiful and the mesh detail at the back was sexy yet cool, but most of all, it was sooooooooooooooooo soft. When I looked at the composition of the main fabric of the dress, of course, it was a modal/polyester/elastane blend. I say “of course” because all of the clothes that I own with a high modal percentage are super duper soft.
Instead of buying it, my Mom encouraged me to try to make a version myself. Truth be told, it looked easy enough to make. So I thought, why not?
Months passed and the dress went on sale, then on clearance. I didn’t budge – RTW diet or not, it would be such a cop out to buy it after saying I was going to replicate it!
(In the above photo, you can also see how the version on the model has the fabric print off center at the center back! Tsk Tsk Rachel.)
I bought these 2 pieces of fabric from Jo-Ann’s last year.
The first was to be my muslin. The second (a modal blend which could only be dry-cleaned according to the fabric care instructions) was going to be THE knock-off.
Initially, I was going to pull out my TNT Vogue 1314 pattern and to begin drafting the back to include the mesh detail. But Winter and Spring and then Summer came and went, I never got around to drafting much.
How fitting is it now that I’m taking a knits course and our first project was to make a dress sloper and an accompanying dress made from that sloper? Kismet I tell you.
In our class, we made a bodice, skirt and sleeve sloper for knit fabrics. Because of my slight sway back, my teacher suggested that for the best fit, I always have a CB seam and that it was up to me if I wanted to insert an invisible zipper or not.
After making up the initial dress sloper, I had to look up in our text book
(amazing book for working with knits, by the way) how to convert the regular deep sleeve into a raglan. I was really nervous about this at first because I didn’t think it would be very easy, but I was wrong.
Pattern drafting blows my mind every time I try it. I suppose I’m not used to having the freedom to make every design decision when working with commercial patterns, but being able to put the seams and design details wherever I want is super empowering.
I made up the first draft of the raglan dress in a turquoise printed jersey I got for $1/yard at the FIDM store.
I found the sleeves a little tight below the elbows and the waist too loose. I also decided to bring down the front angle of the raglan seam on the front. I, then, made another draft/muslin to see the changes.
I liked the changes, and decided it was time for me to work with the pattern to create the mesh insert at the back. I generally prefer to wear a bra under dresses. And I don’t really like when undergarments show underneath clothing so I wanted to change the mesh cut-out in the back so there was a bit more coverage. I changed the cut-out into a more modest type of reveal.
This version was getting really close! But when I saw the “modest” back, I decided I didn’t like it that much. I realized that the mesh should be more shaped and not go all the way to side-seam. So, I decided to ditch the modesty and go back to the original design (closer to the Rachel Roy inspiration piece), as well as, tighten the dress at the waist and hips a little more.
The final dress sewed up in no time at all! I was praising myself for taking the time to make all the muslins because my final dry-clean-only dress was perfection.
Or so I thought.
When I finished the sleeve hems, dress hem and inserted a neckline band, I noticed that the neckline was kind of droopy as I held it up. I decided to try on the dress and lo and behold, the neckline was really loose and cowl-y! I had made the neckline too wide/low and when I had inserted the neckline band (which I had made too loose) the whole neckline just flopped around.
I was soooooo upset as I had sewn up the whole dress with the overlock and finished with a coverstitch (read: a lot of thread and permanently cut seams). I knew I had to go in with my ripper/snippers and cut out the whole neckline band and tighten up the neckline at the front sleeves. This literally took longer to do than sewing up the actual dress took – the main reason why I hate altering clothing. But! I pushed through and forced myself to do it (because it was a project that was due on Monday).
Below is the end result. Not perfect and the raglan seams are a bit weird/puckery/bunchy, but it looks so much better and feels so much better to wear.
In hindsight, I think it would have been nice to add some mesh detail to the sleeves (like a hidden cut out behind the forearms) to tie in more of the mesh to the rest of the dress but that can be something I can do in the next project (knit pants!). I wasn’t able to take the mesh all the way to the hip like in the inspiration dress either because it would have interfered with my sway back adjustment, but I’m happy with the depth of the mesh on the back. Since this is a somewhat special piece because the dry-clean-only aspect of it doesn’t make it a daily wear, I don’t mind wearing some super sticky petals to show off the sexiness of the back. I’m looking forward to wearing it this holiday season!
I’m so glad I made this dress as it truly was a year in the making!
Re-create Rachel Roy inspiration dress? Check!
Learn how to pattern raglan sleeves? Check!
Use fabric from my stash? Check!
Make a dress instead of buying it (as per the RTW fast – which has been quite the struggle for me this year)? Check!
This was a 4-way win!
What Fall/Winter items are you making this year? Any pieces that you’re finally getting to after a year? Has anyone been super successful at the RTW fast or the stash diet?