But, I think I just may have got there with this one:
This is Vogue 1152, one of Rebecca Taylor's designs. I've admired this one for the past few years, but couldn't quite bring myself to hand over $30 for the privilege of owning it. But when Spotlight had a $5 Vogue sale last year, I pounced!
It's (directly from the envelope, this) a "loose-fitting dress with front and back princess seams, front and back gathers, front insets with contrast piping, back elastic casings and side invisible zip". I jettisoned the "short sleeves with pleated cap and gathered lower edge into self band", since I don't love short sleeves (again, Wardrobe Architect ;) ), especially puffy ones. I also left off the curved shirttail hem. I have no quarrel with shirttail hems - provided they're on shirts. Instead, I just cut the hem at the length of the centre front.
The fabric is an Alannah Hill silk crepe du chine, that I found last year at Clear It (thank you, Sarah!) I'm not often drawn to floral prints, especially larger scale ones, but I loved the colours through this and the way the design is broken down so it almost looks abstract. I think silk crepe du chine may well be my new favourite. It drapes, it breathes and it behaves. In short, a dream fabric!
Please forgive the tights in the photos; it was early morning, about 3 degrees and the deck was slippery with ice. Dedication to blog photography only goes so far...
I didn't actually do up a muslin for this, just held the front bodice pieces up against me. Word of warning: this neckline is LOW! I raised it here by 5cm/2", and while I could wear it without a cami underneath, it does feel a little bit cleavage-y that way. That's irritating, because I really wanted this to work for being out of the house on really sweltering summer days. It's also irritating, being an avoidable and self-inflicted issue. Maybe I'll just get a crop top bra thing...
One thing I didn't notice until the end was that the front bodice gathers on the left side (in photos) aren't sitting quite right; it puffs out a bit on that side. It can be folded back into place, but I prefer to put on my clothes and forget about them, rather than having to monitor and adjust throughout the day.
But what I really love about this dress is how lovely it is to wear. It's SO comfortable! I'm a bit wary of loose fitting styles, as being short I tend to feel swamped by excess fabric, plus I like a defined waist. You can see above how much extra fabric there is at the waist, but it doesn't feel or look "tent-like". I'm not sure if that's down to the drape of the fabric or the drafting of the pattern, but I love it. (It'll be an excellent choice for heavy eating days ;).) The two rows of elastic at the centre back help give it overall shaping too.
I tried a few different colours for the contrast piping at the front. I have, as previously mentioned, a sizeable scraps stash, and I really didn't want to go out and buy such a small amount of fabric. The best choice to my mind - contrasting, but not too starkly - was a soft brown crepe, which I think I once used for a muslin for something.
My recently discovered edge-stitching foot (oh, how I love this!) was particularly appreciated when it came to sewing the casing for the elastic at the back:
Something else I liked very much about this pattern was the attention it paid to the finishing on the inside of the dress. Those extra pieces below are to hide the piping seams, and are sewn in along one edge and then hand stitched in place along the other. The self-lined yoke at the back is finished in the same way.
I finished this back in early May, and liked it very much on the hanger. But the couple of times I wore it, something didn't feel quite right. It felt...frumpy. (Me Made May, below - and I still don't know why those mid-grey tights look so very dark in the photo...)
Eventually I worked it out - it was too long. I'd made it knee length, which I've always liked, but the knee length skirts I wear are either fitted or A-line styles. So with more confidence than I felt, I took 10cm/4" off the bottom, and I think it's a much better proportion on me now.
It's also getting a lot more wear! I think it's a much better length now to be worn with jumpers and scarves for cold weather, and the fact that the colours are quite deep and rich mean that it doesn't look out of place or inappropriate as a winter "skirt". (Unlike every summer dress I tried to "winterfy" in my first Me Made May...)
It's funny how sometimes the things we make need a bit of wear, evaluation and adjustment before we're completely satisfied with them. It's been a good lesson to me not to write a not-quite-right garment off too quickly.
Have you ever experienced this with anything you've made? What was your solution or magic fix?