When the Winter 2009 Vogue patterns were released a few months ago, I absolutely fell in love with 1151, a fitted knit dress from Cynthia Steffe. I loved the fabric, the style lines and that exposed zipper. Erica B recently made it up and her dress was beautiful, which made me want my own version even more. However, I've been preoccupied with baby gifts and such so it got pushed to the back burner.
Skip to the beginning of December. Jim and I decided last minute to go to Vegas this past weekend to help his brother celebrate his birthday. Jim has complained in the past that when we do Vegas in colder months that I "tend to dress like a nun." Hmph! My answer has always been that I'm way too old to run around in a skimpy dress when it's 40 degrees outside. But, it did make me think that maybe I should put a bit more effort into dressing more vegas glitz and less nunnery chic for this trip. And I immediately thought of that Cynthia Steffe dress. It would be a perfect!
This dress was done on a total time crunch and while I was recovering from a nasty URI and sinus infection. Thankfully, I had already purchased some beautiful aubergine rayon poly lycra doubleknit fabric from Fashion Fabrics Club (sold out now) earlier in the summer without any specific plans for it, just that I had fallen in love with the fabric after purchasing a RTW dress that was made in a similar fabric. Really, this stuff isn't your grandma's doubleknit. It's nice and stable, but is much softer than traditional doubleknit and looks a bit more luxe. The interfacing and thread were easy to pick up, although the zipper took longer than it should have to find locally.
I cut a smaller size on top than the bottom to accomodate my very pear shaped figure, but after I put together most of the dress, I realized it was all too big. Grrrr. Thankfully, I have been to enough tailors in my years that I had a good idea of how to fit the dress. I grabbed a box of pins and went to town on it. I pulled several inches off the top and about an inch off the skirt. By the time I was done with it, things were looking great! The collar and arm facings needed a few alterations, too, but I was really proud of myself for being able to identify the problems early and fix them without hassle.
As for the finished dress? I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this dress!!! LOVE IT! It looks chic and rich and is so very comfortable. I think this might be the most on-trend I've been for a night out in Vegas in years. The dress itself is hot, but paired with patterned black tights, booties and my new fancy hair style, I felt like a million bucks.
I think this is my favorite thing I've made so far. Not only because it turned out so well, but because it opened my eyes to the world of fitted dresses again. I haven't bought a RTW fitted dress in years because to get one that fits my hips, it requires too much expensive tailoring to fit my bust. Just not worth it. Instead, I've stuck to dresses that are fitted up top and full through the hips and thighs. A good style for me, sure, but one that gets old when you've been wearing it for years and years. I love having this whole world of fitted dresses opened up to me. I've been dreaming of tailored work sheaths and fitted cocktail dresses since I finished this little number. Oh, next year's sewing projects are going to be so much fun!
Lastly, I loved that I was able to have a designer dress for a fraction of the cost. This dress pattern is a pretty exact copy of the Cynthia Steffe Lia dress, which retails for $258.
My version - $35, including fabric, pattern and notions. Mmmm hmmmm. Pretty substanstial cost difference, eh? ;) Not to mention that the original would have never fit me off the rack. I just keep liking my version more and more.