Vogue 8899 – And why I love rayon challis

You know when you’re 3/4 of the way through a project, and you put it on and think “Damn. This… is going to be… AWESOME”? As soon as I attached the bodice to the skirt on this dress, popped it over my head, and took a few steps to test the swish-factor, I was in love.

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I don’t want to brag… but then again I do. I loved this dress when I first tried it on, and infatuation grows each time I wear it. The pattern is Vogue 8899, a now out-of-print pattern with lackluster cover art that could easily be overlooked:

With that transparent shoulder shawl thingy, I was thinking this pattern dated back to the 90s. But apparently it’s from 2013? I took a chance on it whenever Vogue last had it’s big sale on patterns going out of print.

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Once again I have to apologize for my photos. These were snapped with an iPhone because I forgot to bring my camera on vacation this summer (*facedesk*). These photos were snapped on a dock in Charleston, SC right after my lovely cousin’s wedding. Charleston is hot and humid in June, and this dress was the perfect solution. Rayon challis is soft and floaty and breathable, and this dress makes perfect use of all those qualities.

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Thanks to the wind, you can check out all six slits in the six gore skirt. Can you believe I almost left these out? I thought I’d just sew the seams up all the way and go slit-less, but I’m glad I came to my senses. I think the slits really make the dress, which otherwise might be just another maxi. I also learned that there’s really no point to a slit if you’re just going to make it to the knee (or whatever length you typically hem your dresses). I tried this at first, but didn’t feel like the slits were doing anything for me. So I raise all six of them several more inches. If your skirt slit isn’t slightly scandalous, why bother with a slit at all? And really, this skirt is so full that you only catch glimpses of the slits when you walk (or when the wind blows your way).

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This pattern and fabric combo allowed for some fun print placement. I didn’t have a lot of fabric to work with, but still managed to work something out that I think is very pleasing to the eye.

I’m a big fan of rayon challis because it drapes beautifully, it’s cool in summer, and it’s usually quite cheap. On the downside, it can shrink a lot in the wash. I always pre-wash my rayon at least twice. It’s also often hard to find in nice prints. I don’t know why, but there seems to be an awful lot of outdated rayon challis prints hanging around outline fabric stores. Maybe no one liked them back in the 80s/90s, and they’re still trying to get rid of them?

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A rayon challis perpetrator from Denver Fabrics – this one maybe all the way back from the 60s?

Luckily, there are also treasures out there to be found. I have a bad habit of checking Fabricmartfabrics.com almost every day to see the new arrivals, and I’ve found some very pretty rayon challis there, including the fabric for this dress. I bought three yards, which was barely enough to eke out this dress in a size 14 (I’m about 36″-29″-42″). I had to get creative though. The skirt panels are voluminous, and I had to take a fold out of them to get them all to fit. I seem to have lost the photo I took, but I folded a sizeable wedge out of each panel that must have removed about four inches total width at the hem and tapered to nothing at the waist. Despite this adjustment, the skirt has plenty of volume.

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I also had to tweak the bodice after making a muslin. There was more room than my 36A requires, so I also took a vertical fold out of its width. And finally, to decrease gaping at the neckline I took a wedge out of there too. I probably could have taken a bigger wedge than this, because there’s still some gape issues. But this is a very breezy carefree dress, and to be honest I’m not too concerned. If someone catches a glimpse, oh well. Oh, the v-neck is also quite low cut, as you can see on me in the photos. That doesn’t bother me either, but some others might want to raise it up a little.

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back bodice piece on left, front bodice piece on right with some width removed and a wedge taken out of the neckline

I was pretty good about following the sewing instructions – to a point. The bodice of the dress is lined – I used a lightweight white rayon, also from Fabricmart. I did everything as instructed until it came time to sew the triangle insets in. Then I ignored the instructions and attached the lining triangle piece to the main fabric triangle piece like an underlining. Next I attached this underlined piece to the bodice front along the two upper sides of the triangle, making sure my two lines of stitching met together in the middle. That left a little point of seam allowance at the top of the triangle. I folded this down and turned it under, hand stitching it in place. Finally, I was left with the two free edges of the bodice lining that meet up with the upper sides of the triangle. I turned these two edges under and hand stitched them to the underlined triangle inset.

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So blurry! Very sorry. Here the bodice and lining are attached around the armhole and neckline, while the bottom edge and sides of the triangle opening are left open. The triangle insets are underlined.

The pattern also calls for a skirt lining, which I skipped. The side seams of the skirt are just serged individually and pressed open. Then I topstitched around the slits to keep the seam allowances from turning out. It might not be the most elegant finish, but in this busy print you’d never notice. The elastic at the waist is inserted into the seam allowance casing created by joining the bodice and skirt. This is maybe the one thing I don’t like about this dress. Because the elastic is in the seam allowance and isn’t tacked down to either the skirt or the bodice, it tends to roll up and down against my belly. I suppose I could stitch its edge down, but then you’d have visible stitching on the outside. I think I’ll just live with it. Last of all, the hem I turned up and hand stitched in the car on the way to Charleston, with the help of my Mom – thanks Mom!

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My Mom and Dad looked spectacular for the wedding too. For several years now they’ve been paying special attention to their health – going on daily hikes/walks and eating better. My mom did an overnight hiking camping trip recently with her friend that probably would have had me complaining by hour two. They are a big inspiration to me, and I hope that as I continue to get older I take care of myself as well as they do.

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And here’s a shot of the handsome hubs, just to show off some more.

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In sum – dang! Aren’t we a good looking bunch when the light hits us right? Also, I love this dress (did I mention I love it?), and I highly recommend the pattern. The bodice allows for fun print placement, the elastic waist is comfortable, and the slits are sexy and great fun to walk in.

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Have you had a great sewing success lately? A make that’s truly fun to wear and reminds you why sewing is so awesome? Please share! I would love to ogle your projects.

P.S. Thanks for following over to my new website. Things might look a little weird around here as I try to get used to WordPress. But who am I kidding – the Blogger site never looked top notch either! Hopefully this will be an improvement.

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