Pattern Review: Neue Mode 23128

Well this is going to be a whole lot of random. Random formal gown pattern review (confession: this dress is now officially two years old), random pattern company (I don't even think Neue Mode is making anything "neue" anymore), random story to go with the pattern choice, and all brought about by random warm weather in Chicago.

See, yesterday it was a magnificent 64 degrees here and so I was sporting my green polka dot trench. This got me thinking that I never did a review for another green garment: my emerald green gown from the Charity Auction Ball held during my first year of grad school. Given how much blog love I bestowed on last year's CAB frock I thought it only fair to finally discuss its predecessor. Let's get to it then.

I had it in my head that I wanted an emerald green dress. Back in '08 we were fresh off of the movie Atonement. Despite not seeing the movie (I read the book and wasn't enchanted enough to go to the big screen) Keira Knightly's green dress was all over the place.

We're both pale, brunette ladies with Irish/Scottish/English/Welsh/pale-people-country roots. This may have been bold but I thought, hey she looks good so maybe I should try it out? I adored the color and recognized the cut of the dress in some vintage Vogue patterns, V2241 and V2859. With a little manipulation these two could be married and Ms. Knightly's dress could be had.

Despite the pigmentation similarities, Ms. Knightly and I do not share the same sticks-for-legs and pancake-for-butt features. Dammit! These dresses are best in really slinky, fluid fabrics like charmeuse or something and at this point in history I hadn't been introduced to the wonder that is Spanx. So I knew right away I'd be forgoing the unforgiving charmeuse that her frock was made from. Secondly, as much as I adore the 30s and 40s I wasn't really looking to make something so "costumey." I nixed these patterns and started looking for a dress cut that I knew would work on me. However, see that skirt on the red dress? I loved the godets. Godets are like pleats and I also love me some pleats. Whatever pattern I settled on would have to give me that option.

Pattern Description:
"Neue Mode 23128, evening dress with thin straps." What you probably can't see from the envelope picture are the godets in the skirt. Score! This design feature took awhile to find, thus why I ended up with a pattern from a lesser known company.

Pattern Sizing:

Sorry. I honestly cannot remember how this pattern is sized or what size I ended up making. It's European sizing, that's for sure.

Fabric Used:

This dress is made from green and black bridal satins purchased at Joann Fabrics. The lining is your basic black polyester stuff. I chose satin because it hides a lot of sins - not in sewing construction but in body construction! Also, satin tends to press well and it was important that the godets on the dress be crisp. The pattern illustration makes the godets difficult to see when the dress hangs naturally and I wanted to be sure my dress did the same, as my godets were going to be black. If done well, the godets would "pop" into sight when walking or dancing.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Um, yes and no. From the waist down it was exactly like the pattern. The waist up, however, is another story.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Completely. And whodathunk that would be the case, given that most of the instructions are written in German? There is an English set to go along with the German, thankfully, but the diagrams were so well done I'm not sure you even need to read them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Fundamentally I was drawn to the a-line skirt and the princess seams. They are my bread and butter of formal gown construction and I know how to nip and tuck in order to get the best fit. The pattern has an empire waist seam that I eliminated because I wanted to put something around the natural waist. Two waist seams is too many in my book.

In this shot you can see the bodice seams are continuous from skirt to top. You can also see the small 7/8" black satin ribbon I adhered using "steam-a-seam" after the dress was assembled. This was way easier than trying to stitch it into place across 7 different dress panels. The waist band was finished off with a small rhinestone buckle to give the illusion of a belt.

But back to the other pattern feature that I particularly liked: godets! They truly made the dress and while I don't have an action shot or anything the shoe shot below gives a good indication of what the dress looked like when I walked/danced.

The pattern illustration does a fab job explaning how to put these babies in without making a mess. I ended up elongating the godet/gore for a little more drama but the construction was the same.

This was also my first time using a narrow-hem foot rather than hand stitching the hem. I'll say that about 50% of the hem looked professional and the other 50% gave away my novice status. Thankfully you could only see that on the underside of the dress! Had I followed the instructions there would have been a lot more hand sewing going on but I just didn't have the time.
Pattern Alterations/Changes:
The changes to the godets and the hem finishing were minor. The top of the dress was changed much more significantly. As mentioned, I eliminated the empire waist seam. I also added about 1.5" inches to the overall bodice length (damn torso) and completely departed from the pattern when it came to the straps. I have a love-hate relationship with straps. Love them because they're functional and you never get caught with your fingers in your arm pits hoisting up your dress just as someone snaps a picture. Hate them because they often look like an afterthought, or their proportions are off from the rest of the dress, or they're just boring. I was determined not to let any of that happen! So I revisited Ms. Knightly's gown and realized that the geometry of the dress is what originally drew me to it. All those angles and such were kind of refreshing. Building on that, I took two satin straps for each side of the dress, bound them at the shoulder, and ended up with triangle-like straps that mimicked the lines of the godets below.

Admittedly, this came about with a lot of trial and error rather than one perfect design vision, but whatevs. That's usually how things work in my world.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Conclusion?

No, I won't sew it again because I like to shake things up with each formal dress. Yes, I would recommend the pattern to others, as the instructions are clear and there was little need for alterations to get a flattering fit. And as for the conclusion, when a friend says, "That dress looks very Kate Spade," after you made it for $20, you know you've done well. :)

Parting comments:

1) I realize I have a drink in my hand in every picture save the group shot. I swear I'm not an alcoholic and neither are any of the other fine people shown.

2) Matt has an upcoming bachelor party and I have an upcoming bachelorette party. Parties like that mean wedding season, wedding season means dresses, dresses mean new fabric, and new fabric means new patterns to seek out! So in the hopper I have 1 short dress and 1 formal dress. Care to share your current favorite patterns to get the thought train rolling?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails