I’m getting the Star Wars thing out of the way in the title, because there’s no denying this dress is something a Jedi would wear. It’s not just my version though: look at the envelope art below. All the girl in brown needs is a lightsaber to hang off her utility belt. And I can see Princess Leia in the white outfit although obviously she’d have some amazingly elaborate hairdo to go with it.
Anyway. This is Vogue 8512, a pattern from the Very Easy range that I was given for Christmas when I first started sewing. I don’t think it stayed in print very long; there are only two reviews on Pattern Review which implies it wasn’t particularly popular. It certainly is a simple pattern in its original form: kimono sleeves so nothing to set in, princess seams for easy fitting, and there are only four pattern pieces to worry about as the lining is cut from the same pieces as the dress. The pattern has a zip down the centre back but it’s not needed if you use a fabric with any stretch. I made it up in dark grey doubleknit when I first got it and skipped the lining, substituting a facing around the neck. I never managed to get the neck to stand up as well as the one in the envelope picture though. This was way before the blog but there are some murky photos of that version here and here.
Recently I was going through my stash trying to reduce it a little and found some mocha ponte double knit. I had a plan for it when I bought it, but life moves on and the dress I’d originally intended won’t work for me any more. So I went looking for an alternative pattern with long sleeves, pockets, and a skirt I can cycle in. Nothing completely fit the bill, but Vogue 8512 looked easy enough to alter. I traced it again and altered the pattern to have large pockets in the princess panel. I also extended the sleeves to full length. I then made separate pattern pieces for a lining with facings of the body fabric around the neck, rather than simply reusing the body pieces for the lining.
I was also determined to make that boat neck look like the one on the envelope. I interfaced the neck area with some knit fusible, but that didn’t look like it would give enough shape so I also attached two layers of poly organza to the wrong side of the facings before sewing them to the dress. This was not a scientific process: I tore a couple of rectangular strips of approximately the depth of the facing and basted them along the neck seam, letting the bottom edge of the organza hang free. It seems to have worked: the collar stands up on its own. I honestly did not adjust it at all for the photos, and it was a windy day when we took them.
There’s a back zip in this version because despite using a stretch lining (The Lining Company’s stretch poly satin) I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get into it without. It turns out there was no need to bother. But it’s a good invisible zip insertion.
The lining was bagged: I’m proud to say there isn’t a stitch of hand sewing in this dress. I didn’t make a perfect job of it; the lining tends to pull on the lower hem a little, hence some of the strange shapes in the pictures above. The sleeve hems don’t seem to have the same problem. But now I’ve figured out the process I’ll do a better job next time.
Although this is certainly a practical dress and I’m going to wear it, styling it is a challenge. It definitely needs a belt. The one above is the best out of the ones I already have, but I think it needs something slightly different so I’m looking for a new one. Right now I’m wavering between canvas webbing or full-on metallic. Suggestions welcome!