Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Business Casual" In Progress--Pamella Roland V1265

I've been doing a lot of college interviews lately, and it has been posing challenges for my wardrobe. 

Most requests for an interview come with the dubious instruction to dress in "business casual". Well I don't really own a blazer or a pair of slacks, so I end up wearing a full pantsuit and heels, and then my interviewer looks at me like "This is your idea of CASUAL?!?!" and I make a bad joke about how I'm an attorney on my school's Mock Trial team and this is my Prosecution Suit.

So I decided that next up on my sewing queue had to be a garment that was sharp, business-themed, and stylish, but slightly less imposing than the suit I use when I'm (hypothetically) trying to send people to jail.

Pamella Roland to the rescue! Let's all agree that Pamella Roland has some amazing suitdress patterns!


Look at that action shot! V1232
And my muse...

I love this pattern! It's tailored, professional, and sophisticated, but it's also cute and even feminine. Where's the femininity, you ask? Wait a minute...

BOOM! RUFFLE! (Look at that sly smile, she knows she's wearing an awesome ruffle ;) )

I wanted my fabric to reflect the same business-with-a-twist aesthetic. After extensive searching I found a great fabric for a steal while fabric shopping in New York.

I bought this at Paron fabrics. I love the fact that it takes a typical, menswear-like pinstripe and puts a playful, feminine twist on it. Purple power pinstripe! 

At 60'', this fabric was $6/yard. I bought three yards for less than $20 and actually had a sizeable leftover piece. I'm not quite sure what fiber content the fabric is. I know it's not synthetic because my mom took the initiative to burn a scrap (should I be thankful? Alarmed?) and it smoked instead of melting. I'm thinking maybe a wool-rayon blend. Anyway, it's pretty thin and supple.

And just when you think it couldn't get any cooler...

How cool is this picture? I promise I didn't Photoshop it or anything--the flash on the camera just picked up the blue and red threads in the fabric.
MATCHING PURPLE LINING! This is an iridescent silk dupioni that I bought on sale at Joanns and use frequently for lining in nice garments, like my Ralph Rucci coat and my Rebecca Taylor blocked dress.

A note on how I prepared the fabric: 
The pattern calls for you to interface the whole dress except the ruffle. At first, I thought that was overkill, but after reexamining my fabric, I thought that it was pretty flimsy and might benefit from a second layer.

Also, I found an awesome review on this pattern from Andrea from Sew-to-Fit. She made a more eveningwear-ish version of this dress. Her ruffle in the back is very drapey and is longer than the rest of the hem, and is much too elegant for the dress I'm making. I wanted a ruffle with VOLUME!

So ended up applying fusible interfacing to the whole dress--front, back, facing, ruffle and all! The interfacing was pretty thick, the weight of a thin cotton fabric in itself. It certainly helped the weight of the fabric, but it made it a little bit puckery in places and VERY prone to wrinkling. Were I to do it again, I might use a thinner interfacing for most of the dress and just use the thick stuff on the ruffle.


  1. Let's attack the elephant in the room and observe that the neckline on this dress is INDECENTLY low and very far from professional. I'm not actually going to alter the pattern or anything, but I just want to say that I will be wearing a tank-top/insert under this haha :D
  2. That slit in the front is unnecessary and weirdly placed. I bet it's also a lot of work. I wouldn't know because I ditched it! 
  3. The pattern calls for the ruffle and its lining to be sewn together at the bottom. Instead, I kept them separate at the bottom because I sort of want the purple lining to peek through when I walk! I Hong-Kong seamed the center back ruffle seam on both the suiting and the lining to that it would still look neat. 

And finally, fitting. This needs its own section. 

So I made a size ten of this dress, which pretty much fit all my measurements. I tried on the dress and it looked like a sack. It was horrible and unflattering in every way. 

I ended up taking it in 3/4 inch on each side seam. 

Here's where I took in the side three times.
I also had excess fabric in the side-bust area, which I took in about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch. This is a common alteration for me because I have no chest :P 

I did a 1/2 inch swayback adjustment (that's the fancy term for when you take in the center-back seam to curve the back more, right?) which was really necessary because the ruffle in the back is so heavy that if the dress doesn't fit the contours of your back exactly it will pull down and you will look like you have a board-straight spine. 

After these changes, it fit like a glove. I then added the facing and lining on the inside and found it was too tight (NOOOO!!!) I am in the process of taking the dress back out another 1/4 inch in the center back and two side back seams. Hopefully after that it will, once again, fit like a glove and not a sausage casing. 

Bashing the pattern

Don't get me wrong, I love this pattern and this design, but there was something I had to make note of from a pattern-reviewing standpoint. 

I think this dress runs sort of loose--looser that it appears to be on the model on the pattern envelope. The pattern description does say that it is "loose-fitting", but based on the pattern pic I thought it was loose just in the skirt, but it looks like the same goes for the bust. 

For one, the amount that I had to take in a dress that supposedly fits my measurements was ridiculous. Secondly, look at this picture of the same Pamella Roland dress on the runway: 

WHAT is going on with those shoes?
Photo courtesy of Hack the Runway. In fact, they have runway photos of all the Pamella Roland patterns I mentioned above!
She's wearing a sash to keep the dress tight around her waist, and it looks baggy in the bust. My point: probably don't expect to cut out this pattern and have it fit nice and snugly. 

So that's where I am with my dress now people...I still have to finish the final fitting, and then there's a lot of handstitching to do as I sew in the lining. Here's a pic of the dress right now. 

It looks atrocious at the moment. It needs the heck ironed out of it. And also, sleeves...I'm just posting this picture to prove I'm actually putting a garment together, haha! 

I'll post again when I have the dress finished. Which hopefully shouldn't be too long, because I've got more interviews to go to! 


  1. Sounds like a lot of pain!! But I think it'll look fantastic in the end (love the fabric choices!), and you'll rock those interviews!!!

  2. I'm definitely feeling ready to wrap this one up! But it already looks great and I'll be so excited to wear it.

  3. I wouldn't have known that runway photo was the same dress as the pattern. Amazing what styling can do. Your version is looking good on the hanger! Lovely fabric choices.

    1. I know, the styling on the runway was much more casual than that on the pattern envelope. I wonder if that's intentional, and they're trying to appeal to a different audience in home sewers than off the runway. Thank you--I hope it looks even better when it's done!