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Apr 112014

Last weekend I finished the Victory Patterns Anouk dress just in time for a meetup with other Chicago sewing bloggers.  Just like the last time I met with them, it was tons of fun.  I love talking to other sewists, not least because when I mention how much I hate doing alterations for other people (or even myself!), people like Mari and Liz immediately know exactly what I’m talking about. In addition to Liz and Mari, I saw Michelle and Meg again, and met Ashley, Sally, and Pat for the first time. I saw Rhonda but unfortunately didn’t get to officially meet her because I didn’t see her while shopping in the massive Textile Discount Outlet, and then she was sitting way at the other end of the table during lunch. I also met a friend of Michelle’s who doesn’t blog.

Even though I’d only met the group once before and it’s not like they would be tired of seeing my whole wardrobe repeatedly, I felt like I wanted to make something new for the meetup.  I’m really glad I did, because I haven’t been sewing a lot lately and this got me back at my sewing machine.


First I had to cut my pattern out, though, and Desdemona generously offered to help.  She loves my desk because it’s right in front of the window (or what we refer to as the cat television), but it’s usually piled high with fabric, patterns, and other assorted junk, so she can’t sprawl out and make herself comfortable.  When I clear it off to trace patterns and cut fabric, though, she believes it’s all hers.  Bonus:  she can plop down on fabric or paper, which are obviously perfect cat bed materials.  If I leave a single sheet of paper out, this cat will find it and take a nap on it.

This dress looks pink, but it’s actually red chambray.  The mixture of red and white threads makes it look pink from a distance.  The white yoke and bib are linen, and both fabrics are from Vogue.  I think I paid $3.99 per yard for the chambray, and the linen was a remnant that I got for a few dollars.

I made several alterations to this dress, the first of which was removing the gathers from the front center skirt.  The fabric is supposed to be gathered right underneath the white bib, but on my muslin, it made me look pregnant because it was ballooning out so much.  I took out the gathers by removing about 3 inches from the front center.  I removed about an inch from the back center and a half inch from either side as well, because this dress ran pretty big.  I think I made a 12, which is a size smaller than I’ve been making in other patterns, and it was still too big.  I think it’s meant to be blousy, but I’m not a huge fan of blousy on me.


The dress has pintucks on the back and ties that are attached in the front and wrap around the back.  Speaking of blousiness, I have to sort of pull the top of the back of the dress over the ties to make it look a little blousy because I have a major swayback issue going on with this dress that I somehow forgot to take care of in the muslin stage.  There’s lots of wrinkling of the excess fabric at the small of my back and it ends up looking terrible when it gets squished by the ties, so pulling it up makes it look a little neater.


For the front bib detail, Victory recommends you use a striped fabric, which you then cut on the bias for the two center strips and cut lengthwise along the stripe for the two outer strips.  I may use a striped fabric on another version someday, but I knew that wasn’t the look I wanted for this dress.  A while ago, I saw an Anouk on the Victory Patterns blog that used pintucking to create some visual interest on a solid-colored bib, and I knew that would look perfect with this chambray.


The wide pintucks I made wouldn’t match up with each other where the horizontal pintucks meet the angled ones, so I didn’t even try – I just staggered them slightly.  I don’t know if my pintucks were just slightly off or if it was something mathy about the way the angled ones worked with the horizontal ones.


One of the fit alterations I had to make was changing the shape of the yoke because it was totally wonky on me.  If I had the two pieces overlap where the pattern said to have them do so, I had a lot of neckline gaping and it was at an odd angle.  I overlapped them my own way until they made sense, but as you can see here, the two sides don’t meet properly at the bottom.  I actually kind of like it this way – the way the little flap angles up looks whimsical to me!  One of the things that happened when I made all these alterations is that the flaps got a lot shorter vertically.  You’re supposed to have enough room for two buttons to be sewn on in a vertical line.  I obviously didn’t have enough room for that, so I decided to go with three smaller ones in a line horizontally.  These buttons are from my friend Annah’s grandmother, whom I’ve mentioned here before.  Thanks, Annah’s grandma!  I initially thought these buttons would be too pink, but of all the reddish buttons I pulled from my stash, these matched the best.  I’ve just realized while looking at this photo that the one on the left is a little bit too high, though!  I’ll have to remove it and sew it back on.


The inside yoke and bib are lined with a clean finish.  This pattern had instructions to do the clean finish that were a little different than what I’ve done before for clean finish bodice linings, but I followed them and it all worked out okay.  I think the other way I’ve done it is easier, but maybe it wouldn’t have worked as well because of those flaps?  I wasn’t sure so I just did it the way the instructions told me to!


And there’s the inside of the back of the dress.  You can see the pintucks on the wrong side there, though it’s hard to tell it’s the wrong side because the clean finish lining makes it look so pretty!


I haven’t seen a ton of people making this dress, but I really like it.  I really wanted to try out Victory Patterns because a little independent fabric shop near me carries them, and I like to support the shop.  The Anouk was my absolute favorite, though the Nicola is also pretty cute.  I actually got this pattern last summer and then made the muslin in the fall.  The muslin looked like it was going to be too big and it had all these complicated markings for all the pintucks and I just got intimidated.  I’m really glad I decided to get it back out, though, because I really like this dress, and it’s gone over very well with everyone’s who’s seen it.  I think the pintucking looks more complicated and time-consuming than it really is, so people are amazed by the detailing – I was thrown off by that as well when I was contemplating finishing that muslin, but it really wasn’t that hard!