A beautiful dress designed by Ralph Rucci. Intriguing shaped tucks circle around the bodice, skirt and sleeves. Vogue calls this a "lined, A-line dress, fitted at bust, with all over shaped tucks, below elbow length kimono sleeves, gussets, side front slit and back zipper. Braided, self-fabric belt is attached along seam. Asymmetrical hand rolled hems". I see that it is now OOP after only 2 years. Too bad.
This comes in size AAX (4-10) and DD (12-18). I usually cut size 8 or 10 at the neckline, shoulders and sleeves, do a FBA and add extra for waist and hips. My measurements put me between 16 and 18 but I know that is way too big for me above the bust. This time, though, it looked tricky to do the usual FBA and even to add at the side seams because of the tucks, side panel and gussets. Just way too much fuss. The pattern front gives the actual garment measurements at the bust, waist and hips. I saw that the 16 would be a little bit bigger than I am so I cut that planning to do necessary shoulder alterations at the overarm seam. The necklines hardly varied from size to size so I didn't worry about that.
The instructions are very complete except for assumptions that a skilled sewer should be aware of, like trimming seams. Lots of couture techniques such as fusing interfacing over all seams, hand rolled hems, and lining. The side panel and gusset are the only really advanced parts and the instructions are very complete for that part of construction. I guess getting the tucks lined up across the seams and zipper is also a bit tricky. I found one small mistake at step 34 where they forget to mention stitching the facings after instructing you to pin them. They do show the seams stitched in the drawing so that is a no brainer.
I used a poly/rayon/lycra Ponte with a miniscule stripe from Joann's. The pattern calls for moderate stretch knits only such as wool jersey and matte jersey. I read that the original designer dress was made of interlock or double knit. I think that is a better choice than jersey because of all the seams. The stability of double knit made this a lot easier to get all those seams and tucks to be smooth.
I didn't want to use wool, although that would be beautiful, but I knew it would irritate my skin with such a high neckline. The pattern calls for lining (with stretch charmeuse or stretch Crepe de Chine) which would help with the skin sensitivity issue. However the neckline facing uses the fashion fabric. The lining is entirely optional as it is there only to hide all the interior construction. I left it off as I am very concerned about being too warm in this style.
I recurved the outer sleeve seam to make the shoulders narrower and I tapered the back zipper seam in an extra inch starting just below the neck down to below the waist. I shortened the dress 5 inches. Design changes: I left off the braided belt as I want to wear necklaces with this and felt it would be too busy with the belt. The seam under the belt was not sewn into a tuck so I went back and added that to the seam at the end when I decided not to use the belt. This necessitated undoing about 6 inches of the zipper application in the back so it would be better to decide to do this earlier in the game.
I notice in the photos that some of the pieces look darker in color as though I used the opposite side of the fabric or cut them facing a different direction. It puzzled me when I saw the photos. It is caused by the varied grain directions which reflect the light differently. I followed the grain lines carefully so that is just what happens. It isn't that noticeable in normal light.
The slit looks alarmingly high on the model in the photo on the pattern envelope. I stitched mine as indicated and you can see that, on a person of normal height, the slit is not that high on the thigh. My DH's initial reaction was that it looked to be a nun's gown. When he said that I decided to keep the slit.
As I didn't add the lining nor do the hand rolled hems nor make the braided belt this didn't take much longer than many dresses. Of course mine isn't quite couture but it is fine enough for me. Now to have some cool enough weather to wear it!