Or, in which I come to terms with the fact that I am not always the target audience.
I was born at the beginning of the 1990s, so I have pretty good memory of what the 90s looked like. I also was raised with cousins that are 7 and 10 years older than me, respectively, so I received 90s hand-me-downs until at least 2006.
One of the things that I remember most vividly from that period was my cousin’s infatuation with spaghetti straps. Tanks, mostly, but also the slip dresses. At least in my area of Pennsylvania, they stayed in fashion until I was in junior high. Unfortunately, the slip dress style of the 90s was not very forgiving of curves, and I remember being crushed that I was unable to find one that fit and looked good for my 7th grade formal dance. (In retrospect, the A-line number that I ended up with was quite classy, and grown-up me would wear it in a heartbeat. But you can’t tell anything to a 12-year-old.) So when I was thinking about possible makes for this challenge, I decided to see if a slip dress was a look that I could actually make work.
A slip dress variant was also the practical choice from the 90s. Due to my growing stash of both fabric and UFOs, I have had to make some rules for my sewing this year, one of which is “Don’t make or buy anything you can’t wear to work.” In solid black, this should be pretty versatile.
I’ve been eyeing Capital Chic’s Cosmopolitan for several months now, but have never bit on any of her designs because they don’t seem like they’re made with a curvy frame in mind. When I did my first muslin, this was exactly the conclusion I came to – and I started hacking up the pattern for a FBA, which then required more darts. When all was said and done, I liked the fit well enough, but with all the seams, it looked more like a corset top than a slip dress.
I didn’t get back to it until the next weekend, and that gave me time to take a step back. I decided to try the pattern as designed one more time, but to check the sizing. I find that the finished garment measurements are a better indicator of fit for me, but on Cosmopolitan the size and finished measurements are the same. When I actually measured the pattern (and accounted for seam allowance), though, I found that there was actually more ease than the instructions had led me to believe. With this new perspective, I cut a fresh bodice in a 16. I graded in to a 14 at the waist and out a little past 18 at the hips, then made another muslin. This one fit well enough, without all the darts, that I decided to go forward to my good fabric. However, I still did have to lower the neckline – no matter what I did, the neckline as designed lies funny on a full bust.
My fabric is rayon with 4-way stretch and turned out to be much more forgiving than the muslin. The finished dress still has pooling fabric at the waist – guess I should have graded in further. The way this pattern is constructed (sewing everything together but one side seam, adding trim, then sewing up the last side) makes sense for attaching a lace trim, but makes it more difficult (at least for me) to nip it in at the waist after the garment is done. I welcome suggestions here, if anyone has any!
Overall, I still think it’s a reasonable black dress and I had fun creating a very 90s look for the photos of it. In real life, I’m thinking I’ll pair it with a cream sweater and nude wedges for a work outfit. I haven’t gotten around to photographing that, though.
Aside from my fit issues, the pattern and instructions are easy to follow. I don’t think that my difficulties are the result of poor design, just that my initial suspicions were correct, that Capital Chic patterns are geared for a straighter figure. I actually found the sizing to be pretty similar to RTW fits, so if you buy this, plan for alterations similar to what you’d usually make there.
9/10 in general, 7/10 for me personally – but I’m not the target audience for Capital Chic.