Vogue V9325 + McCalls M7279
converted to Vogue V8280 + McCalls M7279

Grey Italian stretch wool from Josephine’s Dry Goods, Portland, OR Original lining for V9325: sage green silk charmeuse from Thai Silks, Mountain View, CA. New lining for V8280: Grey stretch polyester charmeuse from EmmaOneSock

In sewing, as in life, not everything goes to plan. Sometimes, one just has to take an entirely new direction. Case in point, this dress.

A number of years ago, Sophie, then Countess of Wessex (now Duchess of Edinburgh) wore a red, bell sleeved dress with large decorative bows to a Christmas charity event. I loved the look.

To recreate it, I coupled the sleeve pattern from Vogue V9325 with my go-to darted sheath dress pattern, McCalls M7279. Unfortunately, I underlined the wool with silk organza, which was not a good choice. The organza fought constantly with this slightly stiff yet stretchy wool. Ultimately, I found that I hardly wore the dress. The bodice was not particularly comfortable, and the bowed sleeves were constantly falling into my way (or preventing me from wearing a coat.) It was a shame, as the fabric is quite lovely.

Although I had no extra material, I thought I might refashion the dress. After all, women from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder have been refashioning their dresses for centuries! I searched through my patterns for inspiration. I wanted something with a lower neckline. Not to mention: no bell sleeves! I settled on Vogue 8280, a dress with a very similar skirt and bodice, but a lower neckline and shoulder details. I tore the dress completely apart and removed all of the underlining. Then, I used my muslin from McCalls M7279 to alter Vogue V8280. I used fabric from the bows to create the sweetheart neckline. This time around, I transferred all my markings directly to the back of the wool – no underlining to hinder that nice stretch! – and basted the markings. The dress came together much better. The stretch lining pairs well with the stretch wool; the dress is very comfortable. The result was well worth the effort of remaking. I even had the project done in time to wear for Easter! 

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