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31 January 2015

Vogue 8828 to copy a designer tweed dress

Hello, hello sewing friends!

I have been sooooo long away that I hardly know how to restart this blog. But what better way than by joining my absolute favorite contest of all: Pattern Review's Bargainista Fashionista!

This time around I made a copy of a Fendi Tweed Sleeveless Crewneck Dress worn by Kerry Washington a couple of years ago.

I used pattern Vogue 8828 view E, the straight skirt, but with a couple of major modifications.

The biggest change was lowering the waist seam to the natural waist. This was not particularly difficult, just required a bit of precision. I first drew the seamlines on the skirt and bodice pieces and matched them to each other in the corresponding pieces, then I traced a bodice that was 9cm lower and similarly a skirt that started 9cm lower, at the natural waistline.

The second modification was adding the inverted pleats in a contrasting fabric. These pleats are just made with a rectangle of fabric sewn at the princess seams all the way from the hem to the lower hip. I did three things to ensure that the pleats behave nicely. First, I understitched the seams with the tweed so that the white fabric naturally wants to fold under the tweed. Second I edgestitched the folds of the inverted pleats. This is not really visible from the outside except when I walk, but it makes sure that the white fabric keeps wanting to go back and stay folded keeping everything straight. Finally, on the inside of the dress I "hung" the top corners of the inverted pleat from the dress waistline, to ensure that the pleats don't droop and become visible under the tweed at the hem. All of this seems to have paid off since the dress hangs very nicely when I just stand straight.

I also added sleeves, which are included in pattern version E, so that was not a pattern alteration. More an adaptation I made to the original designer dress I was trying to copy. I want the dress to be office appropriate and sleeveless is not really okay in my work environment, only perhaps on very hot days in the summer, but then I wouldn't be wearing a wool dress!

A minor modification was that I lengthened the skirt by 4cm to reach my favorite skirt length, just below my knee.

I used a wool tweed from the Spanish distributor Cadena. The twill is lovely! It is loosely woven but so well behaved that it moulds easily to any shape you want, so setting in the sleeves was a walk in the park. The contrast fabric is a remnant in just the right shade of off-white. And when I say "just the right shade" boy let me tell you, it was hard to find a white fabric that went well with the tweed! After buying two remnants that I was sure would work but didn't I started carrying a swatch of the tweed around with me until I finally came across this rayon-blend broadcloth remnant. It has a wonderful drape, much lighter than the tweed obviously which works well in the inverted pleats. It was a bit translucent so I used it double and that works even better, not just for opacity but also by making it heavier to match the thicker tweed.

For the contrast trimming I used folded bias tape 12mm wide in matte black. I had never used this kind of tape. I've only used the satiny sort that is very shiny. But all that shine didn't go well with the texture of the tweed, so I opted for this matt one. And you know what? I bought 12 meters of it, and I never found a joint! The 12m was one enormously long continuous tape! How is that possible?! Anyway, I added the trim by hand, pick stitching and that took fooooooreeeeever! I wonder how the trim is attached in the Fendi dress, I can't imagine they also did it by hand...

Now for the cost calculation. I got this tweed form the remnant table at the Cadena shop in Madrid. It was €63 for the 2.2m piece. I used 1.4m for this dress so that comes to €40.09 for the wool tweed. The white rayon blend broadcloth from the pleats came from another remnant table, and it was only €4.00 for the 1.2m piece. I used 0.80m so that comes to €3.20. I lined everything in a grey poly lining from the stash. I can't remember how much that was anymore, but it is from before I knew about Bemberg linings, so that is over 20 years ago! I was a student then with no money so I would not have dared to pay more than US$5.00/yd back then. And I have like 10m which means it was probably a super deal. Anyway, I'll say it was $5.00/yd and I used 1.5yd so $7.50 for the lining. And since the Euro and the US Dollar are just about on par lately (sigh!) I will call it €7.50. I also used a hook and eye and an invisible zipper, but those we don't have to count so that only leaves the black trimming. That I bought 12m at €0.30/m so that comes to €3.60. So the grand total is: €54.39.

The page at Barneys where I pinned the inspiration dress from is amazingly still live: Fendi Tweed Sleeveless Crewneck Dress. However there is no price anywhere anymore and I cannot find any reference to its price anywhere else. So I looked up other, current Fendi tweed dresses. I didn't find anything truly similar to my inspiration but other current Fendi wool dresses seem to range between €1,000 and €3,000. So I'm going to pick the middle and say it is €2,000.

That means that the percentage I saved is 1-(54.39/2000) = 97.28%. Wow, now that makes me double happy with my dress!

My review and entry is here at Pattern Review.