If you like a pattern, and have altered it to fit you well, and it looks nice on you, and you wear it a lot, why not make it again? This is Vogue 1749, a Diane Von Furstenberg dress.
I am wearing this dress today, and publishing this post, to welcome Diane to London. My dear friend Anne-Britt Karunaratne had offered me a ticket to hear Diane herself discussing her designs. Unfortunately I have to speak at a conference on The Future of London, so bunking off work is not feasible.
The first version of this dress was in a piece of jersey I found in the remnants bin at Simply Fabrics. I loved the three shade of blue with a brown smudge. I liked the scale of the design, and although you can see the hem is a little dubious. (It was cut nice and even and stitched neatly so its just jersey doing its own thing). On a cold day I wear a light blue, brown, navy or grey T shirt under this dress, and a navy or grey jacket. Sometimes with thick tights and boots, other days with sheer tights and courts. Its very adaptable as a work dress and my husband always says I look slim in it. So I thought I would make a second one. At the same shop I found another random length.
The jersey for the second version was slightly stretchier than the first one, and I love the colour scheme with a dark blue back ground, light and deeper grey and two shades of turquoise and touches of white. It is maybe a bit more 1970s. But it is pretty close to the first one, isn’t it? I am wearing it with thick turquoise tights, grey laced up shoes, and a white T shirt as it is getting colder. (I think the necklace is a bit big, by the way. It’s all that Frida Khalo stuff I have been reading recently).
Dress number three used a different type of jersey. Again it was a remnant so I can only guess its composition but it definitely includes polyester. I haven’t done a burn test but you can tell from the slight “squeckiness” of the cloth and the fact that it has less softness and drape compared to the cotton and viscose jerseys.
It has a deep blue, slightly greeny, background and reminds me of the curtains they used to produce at Rainshore. I was amazed what a difference a different fabric made – the slightly firmer fibre in this jersey affects the stretch quite a lot and it is a much more structured dress. I like it more as a result, as it holds its shape better, but the softer jersey is ultra comfortable. Anyway the lesson of using one pattern three times is of course that the fabric choice is everything. Even a slight variation in the composition of the cloth (all are more or less the same weight) comes through strongly in how the dress makes up and how it looks on.
This pattern, or the perfectly acceptable “own brand” version from Vogue, is a delight.
The construction is simple, logical and successful. The instructions are straightforward. It takes one evening to cut out, tailor tack and prepare the facings and tucks, and a further evening to sew it all together.
It does have one design fault – one I encounter often – facings that won’t stay put. Even with labourious, graded trimming, careful measuring and understitching, and regular pressing throughout the construction process they do not behave. I always have to tuck the facings in when I dress and they do creep out from time to time. On the third version I tried something new.
Fabric glue is not a product that would have occurred to me, but my mother swears by it for sticking up hems if they come down unexpectedly (!). She pressed this product into my hands as I said farewell last month (for the daughter who sews, a gift of “No-Sew” – do you think it was a message?). I tried it, and my verdict is that it does work. The facings are stuck down with something like iron on interfacing, but without the interfacing, and not quite as good. You apply the glue, let it dry, push the pieces together and then press. If I had met DvF maybe I could have asked her “Diane – Do you glue?”