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?”
Three has worked out best, although I find the fabric a little photographic and funereal. You look fantastic in a wrap dress, slim and bright. Good use of off cuts, too! I always see those scraggy bits and think
A lovely dress and one of my favourite shapes. As a novice, would you recommend that I could try this pattern? I used to sew a lot but in recent years have only made curtains and blinds!
This is one of my favourite designs. I might even try it myself. I used to sew a lot but have only made curtains and blinds in recent years. Is it easy enough to try as a relative novice?
Absolutely Lyn. It’s not hard but you need to use jersey which behaves differently to wovens. Have a practice first. Good luck!
Thank you. I will give it a try and will let you know! First, I have a vintage knitting pattern just arrived which I think you would love too. I’ll be writing about it in Connect so you will see the pattern.
Hi Kate, I must still be sleepy as I’m not sure which pattern you used – the vintage one or the modern one? This shape and style definitely looks great on you and I like the fabrics you chose. Diane is an interesting woman – would be interesting to have heard her speak.
I went through a phase in which I wore DVF dresses. I bought vintage ones from the 1970s, of which I still have two in my closet. I’m not sure why I stopped wearing them. I think maybe because they just weren’t warm enough (usually layering separates provides that extra bit of warmth) and I always had to wear a t-shirt underneath to prevent gaping at the bust. The colours that I chose were also not optimal. I may drag one out of the closet today and see if I feel good to wear one again, as they are a very nice cut that flatters the figure well.
It’s a mash up Stephanie. I used the vintage DVF original for the first one, slightly altering the collar to make it a little smaller. But I also bought the modern generic version so I could pull it around a bit and chop it up, use as a pattern I can stick pins in etc, rather than tracing off the vintage one. These cost around £30 on the internet and the only difference in the two is that the DVF collar is bigger and the length of the ties, as far as I can see.
Thanks for the reply. I get it now!
I like the first one best ,but all suit you and look lovely. I bought the original patterns a few years ago, made one up which was a disappointed and put the patterns away. Every time I put the dress on I feel a little ambivalent about whether or not it suits someone with a 32A inch bust and struggled to get the length right for me.
Your comments about creeping facings could not have arrived at a better time. I have almost finished a 2002 Vogue Geoffrey Beene shift dress (2660) which fits beautifully (no modesty issues here) in a deep red Jaeger wool crepe which is extremely spongey. The back of the neck has responded perfectly to under stitching, but the diagonal closure facing conceals a zip and no matter how much steam and pressing I have thrown at it still persists on rolling outwards. Do you think an application of glue would hold it back?
I am a newcomer to your blog but am really enjoying your posts – which led me to dig out the shape appropriate shift that had been in my stash for years.
That Geoffrey Beene is a lovely dress Jane! It is extremely elegant and the sort of dress I would love to have. But I can see why the diagonal closure is troublesome. The crepe wool, if cut on anything other than the straight grain will tend to fight back. The glue was surprisingly useful but I would hesitate to use it on a quality cloth. If you have some fabric left I would try the glue on a spare piece first. The other idea is to post the question on Artisan Square. There are a lot of experts out there who will help.
Fabulous dresses. Love your fabric choices – especially number 1. Interesting concept – glue. I often use hemming tape – must try out the glue.
Three beautiful dresses, that really suit you. A versatile style that can be worn in different ways. Thanks for the facings tip. Will have to remember this.
DVF was interviewed by Jenni Murray on Woman’s Hour earlier this week. It was very interesting. It should still be available on the BBC iPlayer and might be repeated on Weekend Woman’s Hour tomorrow.
Thank you very much Maria. I will try to listen to it over the weekend.
Yes, it is a lovely pattern and went together beautifully until my foolish schoolboy error of failing to sufficiently consider the nature of my fabric – have not used wool crepe for years as I always associate it with Jacques Vert occasion wear in the ’80’s ……
I am going to try hand understitching with a silk thread then possibly making 3 rather than 2 buttonholes if necessary – appropriate level of consideration leads me to conclude fabric glue wouldn’t work in this case.
Thank you for introducing me to Artisan Square – lots of interesting browsing ahead.
All three versions are beautiful on you. I have made several versions of the very easy vogue version, and wore them all to death. Thanks for reminding me that I could do with a new fresh one.
(I increased the neckline seam allowance and used clear elastic or lingerie elastic in a self folding edge finish instead of facings – the facings were maddening!)
I have seen your posts on clear elastic. Time to have a go, I think!
Thanks for the glue tip! I wouldn’t have tried that on my own.