Hindsight is 20/20: Vogue 1558

If I ever need a quick fancy dress costume I think I’m sorted; I’ll just wear this dress, borrow a toy lightsaber from my son, and say I’m Princess Leia.

This is the original pattern: Vogue 1558. It’s a Rachel Comey design from maybe 2018. Surprisingly it seems to be out of print already. I think I bought it when it was first released, but never got around to making it up because it’s difficult to find the right fabric for. It needs a lightweight but relatively stable knit. Anything too heavyweight would make the pleats at the waist very bulky, but the wide skirt needs a lot of support so too much stretch is to be avoided.

The original Rachel Comey dress is made from silk jersey, which was never going to be an option. I decided on ‘silk touch’ poly lycra from Tissu Fabrics. It’s stretchier than I’d like, but I attempted to compensate by not lengthening the bodice pieces by as much as I normally would. It’s also inexpensive so I bought some extra to make underlayers for opacity: a basic crew necked t shirt and an underskirt. I had a clever idea I wanted to try out with the underskirt: I put side seam pockets into it and left slits in the dress side seam to make them accessible. That way the dress has the benefit of pockets without all the pulling you normally get from pockets in a lightweight knit.

Unfortunately I underestimated the stretch and everything ended up much too long. I needn’t have lengthened the bodice at all. The pocket idea worked, but as I can only just reach the bottom of them they are not exactly practical.

I did manage a good invisible zip insertion, which in this difficult fabric is a minor miracle. Yes the pleats aren’t quite symmetrical.

It’s not just the stretch though. The whole style is wrong for me. This dress is soft and pretty whereas I feel more comfortable in something sharper edged. I thought the strong vertical lines of the pleats and the high neckline would make it work for me, but the midi length and bishop sleeves are what is coming through. I could chop off some length – it’s not currently hemmed – but I’m not sure that would save it and anyway it’s winter here right now. So I think I’m chalking this one up to experience and moving swiftly on.

31 thoughts on “Hindsight is 20/20: Vogue 1558

  1. Hi Catherine, I think it could work for you without the Bishop sleeves. And in a darker color, perhaps. I quite like the pleats on your body. It is streamlining you. Of course it’s up to you, but I don’t think the dress is too fluffy or romantic for you.

  2. It is so interesting what different fabrics do. Somehow yours looks quite billowy, whereas the fabric on the pattern envelope seems more restrained. The first photo looks great with your hands on hips – I wonder what it would look like belted? Or would that be even more Princess Leia?

    1. It was a windy day when we took the pictures! I guess as long as I don’t go with silver for the belt it wouldn’t be leaning into the cosplay effect 🙂

  3. I see it would work for Leia-ing. Ahem. I also see choir robes…
    BUT it is still kinda cool. Maybe chop it off to an asymmetric tunic length to see if that rescues it? Just cut, no faffing. Might salvage it.

  4. I like the pattern. How about chopping it and making it a tunic. You could wear it with leggings and possibly a black or colorful scarf?

  5. I think I’d take out the sleeve hems and replace the elastic with pleated cuffs, sort of like the pleating on the bodice. Maybe ones that extend to nearly the elbow? And yes, chop the length to a tunic to wear with leggings. OTOH, that sounds like a lot of work on a garment you’re mentally over with.

  6. I’m sure it was tricky sewing all those pleats! I think a darker colour would give it a very different look. I see the Princess Leia look but also a ceremonial dress for a modest cult.
    I like your idea of side seam slits for the pockets in the underlayer.

    1. I think the dress looks great on you. And I think a cummerbund or obi type sash would make it look even greater. Something with matching drama. A beautiful colour. Or even a soft metallic leather. Polyester dyes well if you have the right type of dye. I hope you don’t ditch it.

  7. I love the last photo of you with the sun making you radiant! However, I can see all the things you pointed out. As one who finds it difficult to let go of these problem makes I would agonise over fixing it, but maybe letting it go is the right choice. Although trying it a tunic is worth a try.

  8. I wonder if you’d like it better with the sleeves of an ordinary turtleneck, or maybe narrow, but with a narrow band to mimic the neckline.

  9. Hah, I didn’t think “Princess Leia” when I saw the first picture, but now of course I can’t unsee it. I was bitten like that by a similar pattern–also with a waist seam and pleats at the waist. I chose an overly runny knit fabric, and the waist line sagged… that dress is no more. The zipper must have been a beast to install!

  10. Understand why you feel that way but from here the details really look quite lovely on you. The neckline, the pleats, the sleeves, the length. As you mentioned the waist is too low, but in the right place and possibly a diff color (to exorcise the Princess Leia demons) and I think you might really like it. Fantastic work on that zipper.

  11. (smiling)… I appreciate the humorous comments. Now I can’t unsee the interpretation others have for this garment. Really this dress does have nice features and all the previous comments are valid, constructive comments. Another option could be to dye this dress a darker color. Sometimes the adventure in making a new pattern is an unexpected endpoint. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You are a great sewist with a vision for the garments you make. Be proud of your work.

    1. Darker would definitely be an improvement, but sadly it’s polyester so not the easiest thing to dye. I shall hang onto it for a bit and see if inspiration strikes.

  12. Try something new! If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But I think a different color and a more stable fabric might have produced a more favorable result. I know what you mean about silk jersey though… Try a dark belt to raise the waist? Maybe wider (but not Leia wide)

  13. I think the main issue is that the waistline is too low – it’s a major detraction. Somehow that white fabric isn’t working in this instance either. Sometimes you do have to know when to cut your losses and you have so many fantastic garments behind you I would give this a miss. Shame because you have done a beautiful job of that zipper (kudos given the fabric hand!) and the pockets in the underskirt were a great idea too.

    1. It’s odd about the white – it’s normally a good colour for me but I think this style just doesn’t suit it. Still, failures are learning opportunities 🙂

  14. How about trying this – cut it to a tunic length. Then see if the sleeves look too “sweet”. If they still bother you, cut them off or cut off the cuff and add robbing (like a sweatshirt). I can see this on you with your black leather leggings or maybe your silver jeans. I do think you can save it. Pick a different fabric for the pattern, I do think it looks like it could be edgy…but with a new sleeve, please! Happy Holidays, Catherine…or maybe Happy HoliDAZE is better!🎄

Comments are closed.