14.9.13

Donna Karan Body Con Dress

I wore my new dress to a beach party last night.  It is so different from my usual style.  It really was a case of "sew the dress and the occasion will come".  I was planning this dress for my husband's 40th, but didn't get it finished in time, and my friend suggested that I wear it to her beach party a week later.  Up until then, I was thinking some sort of Hawaiian print sun dress, or perhaps a maxi...and that is what everyone else wore.  I think those European sewing patterns magazines are having an effect on me...why not wear a tight fitting dress to the beach?  It's not like we would be swimming, with all those crocodiles lurking in the water!



The pattern is Vogue 1342 Donna Karan.  Not my typical style.  My favourite dress silhouette is 60's mod tunics and I rarely wear things fitted at the waist, because the balance seems all wrong with my pear shape.  There is much talk about Donna Karan and her ability to flatter real women, so I thought I would give this pattern a go, with all of its distracting gathers.

I cut a size 12 for the top half and moved out to a size 16 for the bottom half.  Even this seemed a bit tight on the bottom half so I let the seam allowances out as much as I could.  For the lining, I cut a 12 for the top half and an 18 for the bottom half and then had to take the bottom section in a bit.  Different fabrics I guess.  The pattern suggests that you hem the dress and lining separately, but I bagged it out as much as I could, because the dress is significantly longer than the lining, and I thought all the gathers in the dress would drop out and the dress would hang low if I didn't attach the 2 hems.   Only, I should have measured the dress hem and lining hem before I did this (sewing on the run!) as the lengths did not match that well after all my taking out and letting in.  This resulted in a bit of twisted bubble hem effect, but I think that works with the rest of the dress.


I totally love the colour.  I've never had my colours done and never even looked at peach and coral tones, until I used a gifted peach colour fabric for a muslin a while back.   The fabric I used for this dress is still available at EmmaOneSock.  I had other plans when I bought it, and didn't really have enough fabric for this dress, so I had to piece a section at the bottom, which again, doesn't seem to matter too much with this style.  The fabric has a metallic sheen and I spent ages trying to work out which was the right side.  I even took it outside to the sunlight several times because my house is on the dark side.  Then, just a few minutes into sewing, I realised I sewed it with the wrong side out.  Perhaps that is the real reason people pay big bucks for designer clothing...so that their clothing is not sewn inside out!


So, how do I feel about the final body con result?  I have shown you the better photos.  Some are less flattering and perhaps different undies would have worked better.  My younger son did comment that I had "really muscular thighs", which I thought was hilarious, though I suggested he not give that "compliment" out to other people.  I had to wriggle into the dress and then it sounded like a hundred elastic bands pinging as I adjusted the gathers...which became all a little futile after the first toilet stop in the dunes (tmi!!).  All up though, I totally forgot about the tight fitting nature of the dress once I was at the party and was not self conscious at all.




Some sewing info.
  • This dress was fun to make.  The construction was different to most projects, and I was totally reliant on the instructions, but it was not difficult.
  • Okay, perhaps one little bit was difficult.  For step 5, very early on in the construction, I studied the diagram.  Then I basted my pieces together.  I checked.  Convinced myself it was right.  Over locked.  Decided it was wrong.  Cut the overlocking off.  Studied the diagram some more.  Realised that I was right the first time around.  Re-sewed.  That was the only problem step though...everything else came together slowly but surely.
  • There are a lot of markings.  I clipped and pin-basted all the pleats down the centre back.  I used tailor tacks for all the other markings, using a different colour thread for the small circles, the large circles and the squares.  This could be what everybody else does all the time, but I thought it was an ingenious idea to use the different colours!
  • Another moment of ingenuity...The dress is tacked to the lining in several lines along seam allowances.  The first couple I tacked by hand.  Then for the last long line, I decided to use the blind hem stitch on my machine, zig-zagging in the seal allowance of the dress and swinging over to the lining, which I had folded out of the way.
  • I bagged out the hem, as discussed above.
  • I shorted the bodice at the straps.  I always need to shorten the bodice of Vogue dresses.  I knew I was going to adjust the strap length, but totally forgot that when I carefully gathered and stabilised the ends of the straps, as instructed.  I cut 8 cm off the straps, which was to be expected as I normally shorten through the bodice by 4 cm.  This has had the effect of raising the V at the front, but I do not mind, and it was easier than figuring out how to short the bodice equally front and back.
It took me 2 half-days to sew the dress, which is not too bad for a designer dress.  All up, it was a fun and engaging sew, and I am rather happy with the result.

35 comments:

  1. Oh wow! You match the scenery...so beautful!! And what a perfect dress for a beach party. Nice job.

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  2. What a stunning dress and lovely scenery, a perfect match!

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  3. Gorgeous dress. Really stunning. You look absolutely breath-taking in it.

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  4. You look fantastic in that dress. The accessories you chose really add to the beachy feel.

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  5. This is so lovely on you! Gorgeous colour.

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  6. Your dress looks lovely and lovely on you. I know what you mean about figure hugging styles. I tend to love them on other people but never feel comfortable about them on myself.

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  7. You look stunning - go with your curves. And well done on the dress construction - it looks like the usual rewarding but difficult DK jigsaw!

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  8. Oh it is lovely and the peach colour is great on you. I have that pattern too and some lovely Japanese stretch stuff I bought from Spotlight for this a little while ago. I'm glad for all the tips and also saying it's quite easy. I've been avoiding it. It does look fantastic and has a real wow factor.

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  9. You look great and I agree that the colour looks fabulous on you.

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  10. I think your dress looks great and that colour is a good one for you. Sometimes it's nice to do something different to everyone else :)

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  11. Gorgeous!! This is an amazing color on you, and I really like the body con silhouette. Are you serious about the crocodiles? I can't imagine...

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    1. Yes, there are crocodiles out there. The ocean here is like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It is so hot, and the water looks so beautiful, but it holds crocodiles, sharks and stingers, which each pose a genuine threat.

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  12. I think this looks fabulous on you! Ditch the underwear ;-). The colour and style looks amazing!

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    1. Yes, looking at the photos I can see I should have ditched the underwear...this didn't occur to me because I don't normally wear fitted clothing! I'll remember this next time.

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  13. You look gorgeous!! If you have a pear figure, I can't tell in this dress. I bet you had compliments all party long!

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  14. Love the dress, the style and colour really suit you!

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  15. Um... I LOVE this!! You've got a stunning figure and geez this dress plays it up beautifully. The colour is gorgeous, as is all the unexpected gathers at the back. Seriously stylish - I'm sure you metaphorically threw all the other muumuu and hawaaiian print wearing party goers into the pool ;)

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  16. Thanks you everybody for your kind words...I really appreciate them, because it is a fine line between a beautiful, coral coloured fitted dress and stuffed sausage in a shiny, salmon coloured, stretchy fabric!

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  17. Wow, this is just fabulous on you - the colour and the style - and the photos are stunning. I hope there were no crocs lurking in the dunes when you took your toilet break! Looks like it would have been a great party.

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  18. holy s#$% this looks amazing on you! I wouldn't have looked at that pattern twice, and on it's own, I usually wouldn't like the colour of the fabric either, but they are both just perfect on you! If you were self-conscious about the underwear situation, you could always wear a slip in future. I think it looks really amazing though

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  19. This is gorgeous and it seems coral is the perfect color for you!

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  20. Wow, this is your style...please believe everyone when we say you look marvelous. I think you look great in fitted clothing!

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  21. This dress looks great on you- I have seen this pattern and in the book and it looks better on you. You chose a great colour and you look like you feel good in it!
    www.silkwings.blogspot.com

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  22. You look so gorgeous in the dress! You must be a movie star, looking like that, right? ;-)

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  23. You must never wear anything else. A totally wowza new woman has been born. Dump the shorts, halter tops and shift. Make ten more and then devastate whole neighborhoods.
    XX

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  24. Coming in so late here, but I agree that you look amazing. It's good to step out of your comfort zone and try something new isn't it? I do think some different underwear is needed but apart from that your simple styling is fab.

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  25. Hi Katherine, your dress is so pretty! Hot mama! The color itself is just wonderful on you, so relaxed and yet elegant. Do more coral! You don't look stuffed sausage at all. No, this is uber flattering. I think dresses with all those lines and ruching really do wonders on a body. Happy birthday to your husband, too!

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  26. You look fabulous. And that is a great color on you too. I can't believe you sewed that dress, lining and all is such a short time.

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  27. I think you look great. Glad you went for it and changed up your style up a bit.

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  28. So pretty! And totally looks professionally made. A little bit different for you, but looks natural on. Love it!

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  29. This goes to show it is worth trying things outside of our normal style once in a while. I admit I might be a bit biased because I think Donna Karan patterns are the best, but I can definitely say this looks absolutely fantastic on you and the coral colour is lovely, looks like it works very well for a beach party!

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  30. I think this looks awesome on you - absolutely nothing to be self-conscious about! The colour really suits you, and the drapes and pleats are wonderful; I'm sure everyone who crossed paths with you thought both you and your dress looked awesome. Muscular thighs is no doubt a massive compliment from a young boy :) - I can just imagine my kids saying something like that too!

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  31. colour looks fabulous on you, how was the part;y?

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  32. Your dress looks fantastic. I must confess I read your review and could not wait to make the dress. However, I am totally stumped on Step 5. After you cut to the large dot I am not sure how/what you attach next. Can you help me? Thanks!

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  33. Hello Carolyn,
    Step 5 totally stumped me too. I'm not sure that I can be much help from a distance. I remember just guessing, basting and then seeing if it looked okay. I think I did this a few times. The diagram in step 9 shows how it should all end up. Good luck!

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