The Donna Karan Dress
It was love at first sight when I spotted the white, Donna Karan dress on the cover of the Vogue Pattern Book. Purchase of Vogue 1083 was easy, the hard part was finding a white, stretch knit , opaque enough to hide undergarments.
I found just what I wanted at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, where the fabric was labeled cotton/lycra knit from Donna Karan. The source of the knit was confirmed while perusing through the designer section at Loehmann’s (where I spotted the Donna Karan dress itself, marked down from $3499 to $799). The fabric in the dress was identical to the fabric I just purchased!
After preshrinking the fabric in hot water and immediately drying it, I was well on my way to the dress of my dreams! However, my first concern began to surface, as soon as the pattern pieces were out of the envelope. Like most sewers, before I make my first cut into the fabric, I give my pattern a series of alterations. I soon discovered that the odd shape pieces of Vogue 1083 make any alterations a challenge if not impossible without making it up once to see where to alter.
Since I did make up the dress, I will tell you that the center back seem is the only edge capable of being altered. Forget narrow shoulders, rounded back, full hips. Your measurements better be pretty darn close to those listed on the pattern envelope or you are in real trouble.
Once cut out, the construction is a bit of a challenge. This is not a project for anyone who is not an experienced sewer! The pieces are odd shaped and the instructions for assembly are not the best. You will find that the garment you see in the mirror does not look like the photo on the pattern envelope, but with some fiddling, the dress can look similar. For starters, the slight off shoulder style can easily be full off shoulder, descending to the elbow, unless you take up the shoulder seams. The neckline hangs better if the shoulder seam is taken up a lot, so that the dress does not fall off shoulder at all.
The tucking and draping is pretty much nonexistent unless you create them yourself. Refer to the picture on the envelope for a hint of where to pin the tucks. Anchor your tucks from the WS of the fabric. You may also need to make a deep dart near the side seam under the front draping to keep your undergarments from showing at the armhole. After the zipper goes in, you are ready for your first test fit.
Keep in mind that unless you are pretty slim with no excess bulges, you better invest in a pair of SPANX to smooth out those bumps and lumps.
So is it worth it?
Last night I wore the dress to Bottega Restaurant in the Napa Valley. The dress is comfortable to wear, the front neckline and draping effect is beautiful. The back view is not too bad if you wear Spanx and walk fast.
Riding home in the car, my husband made the comment, “That is one sexy dress!” Ah, how deceiving looks can be. I certainly did not feel sexy as I tried to hide the leg of the Spanx as I got out of the car.
Would I make it again – maybe – in a dark color, lengthening a few inches so that I can forget about the Spanx as I got out of the car!