Fitting Vogue 8769: The ‘O’ Dress

Here’s the muslin for my Vogue 8769 dress. I’ve nicknamed it the ‘O’ Dress after my friend who gave me the pattern. It could also mean ‘O’ for ‘Oh what a lovely dress!’

Although, you might not agree with ‘lovely’ at the muslin stage. Could it be any more conservative? Long sleeves, high neck and ankle-length skirt. In this shade of muslin-beige, it’s just about the most unflattering thing you’ve ever seen me in. (Although, that’s not the point of making a muslin.)

The reason for the muslin is to check two things:

1. Do I even like the style? Do I want to wear this dress when it’s all done?

2. If I like the style, what changes do I need to make for it to fit?

I have to say, the answer to question #1 is a definite yes! So that just leaves the issue of fit.

When I originally tried the muslin on Diana, it seemed too loose. My natural inclination was to take it in everywhere for a snug fit. I was worried that a long-sleeved vintage dress, with its high neck and modest cut, would look too dowdy if it wasn’t fitted.

But voila! I tried it on, and it fits beautifully. I’m loving shoulder princess seams, as they create a streamlined silhouette without being super-fitted.

I love how this feels on the body! It’s got ease, but it fits really well with flattering lines. I feel incredibly comfortable, but I can still move. I feel pretty! And warm. This will be a great winter dress when I want to look cute but feel warm.

There’s plenty of ease, in case I wanted to wear a slip underneath. Perhaps a flannel slip for winter, and a silky slip for spring and fall?

On Diana, the neckline looked puckery and strained at the front neckline, and I considered re-shaping the curve into a V-neck. I’m glad I didn’t cut into it right away, because on me it sits nicely.

So I suppose the lesson today is this: fitting on a dress form only works if she’s shaped exactly like you. Otherwise, it’s only a hint of how it might fit. Fitting is always best on a real live person!

But whoa, is it ever long! I know I’m on the short side, but still, this is nearly full-length on me! (I put heels on, too. It looked even longer in sock feet!)

Even though it’s simple to do, I’m going to share step-by-step photos on how to shorten the hem.

Here’s how to shorten the hemline, using your muslin as a guide:

First, figure out where your ideal hemline falls. This may take some trial and error, going back and forth from pinning to the mirror. There is no perfect spot, as everyone’s body is different!

For me I want this dress to hit right at the knee, where my leg narrows in at the kneecap. It’s a flattering length on curvier legs, and it’s where the dress falls on the cover illustration. (Those must be some very tall models!)

I’ve decided to shorten the dress by 10 inches. (Ten inches! Wow. I am short.) In the photo above, you can see my new finished length of Vogue 8769.

Let’s compare before and after, shall we?

While I’m all for the vintage look, and staying true to the original pattern, the long length overwhelms me! The shorter length is still vintage-y but much more wearable.

Time to make the adjustments to the pattern. First, I’ll shorten the muslin, just to make sure we like the length once all of the extra bulk has been removed.

Measure up from the edge of your dress hem 10 inches, and mark.

I went back to the original pattern pieces and figured out how much their hem allowance was – three inches.

So I’ve marked a line on the muslin, three inches underneath the desired hemline. You can make the hem allowance as long or as short as you want, depending on your hemming methods and the look you want. I want to stay true to the original pattern, so I’ve kept the 3 inch hem.

I marked three inches below my desired hemline. This will be my new cutting line.

That’s one way of marking your new hemline. You can either mark all around your desired hemline, and THEN add the hem allowance. Or, I’m going to measure up to the bottom of my cutting line, and use that measurement as a guide. In my case, it’s seven inches. (10 total – 3 hem allowance = 7 inches to reduce)

Here’s a handy trick to cutting faster – have I showed you this already? Once you’ve cut a few inches off, fold back the cut edge, lining it up along the hemline.Now this cut piece is serving as a big seven-inch ruler! I no longer need to measure, I can simply use the waste piece as a guide to trimming the rest of my hemline.

I’ve pressed up the hem allowance on the muslin, pinned it in place, and tried it on again.

Success! I love the way it looks now.

Now I have the urge to make a pretty ruffled petticoat to peek out of the hemline, and add some volume! (Clari made this suggestion on last week’s post, and I think it’s brilliant!) It’s my inner Scarlett O’Hara coming out to act coquettish and flirt. (Just with you, Mr Sewaholic!) Would horsehair braid work in this case, even though it’s not a circle skirt?

Now I’ll apply these changes to my traced pattern pieces. Any changes we make, we make to the traced pieces. This is great, as the original pattern pieces preserve the original fit and original length.

All I need to do today is shorten my original pattern pieces by seven inches. I’ll simply measure up from the bottom edge and mark seven inches.

Make several markings all along the edge, connect the dots, and cut!

Repeat with all of the skirt pattern pieces. I also make a note at the bottom of each piece saying ‘3 inch hem allowance’ so I know how much to hem the finished dress.

I never thought I’d say this about such a distinct pattern, but I might even make this more than once! Yes, I’m getting ahead of myself, considering I haven’t made it once yet… but I love the long sleeves and the shape of the skirt. I’m one of those people who doesn’t take her coat off all day if she’s cold, even at home! Some days I’ll come home and keep my coat on for most of the night. In wool, and with long sleeves, this dress is going to be cute AND warm – a definite winner for cooler weather!

Next up: cutting the fabric and underlining!

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30 Responses to Fitting Vogue 8769: The ‘O’ Dress

  1. Patty March 14, 2011 at 6:10 am #

    The dress is very flattering – the shorter length makes your waist so very narrow! And clever, putting on black tights – the better for seeing the legs in your post!! (or maybe you just had black tights on when you were taking pictures?

    Your method of shortening hems is so much better than mine of stick a pin in the front, hang from curtain rod and eyeball it….

  2. Lisette March 14, 2011 at 6:14 am #

    It is amazing how shortening a hem can instantly de-dowdify a dress! I should really start making muslins *sheepish look*

  3. puu March 14, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    horsehair braid is a great idea to give it some body without committing to a petticoat–i’ve used it on skirts that weren’t circles and had no issues that i noticed. in fact, i finish most of my skirts with horsehair braid when doing 50s patterns!

  4. Ms.Cleaver March 14, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Shortening the hem made all the difference – it looks like it’ll be super cute- can’t wait to see the finished product!!

  5. Trudy Callan March 14, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    This is such a cute style on you. Thank you so much for the hemming tip on using the cut material as a guide to cutting the remainder. This will save me so much time in the future.

  6. Karin March 14, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    What a promising muslin! The cut is very flattering, and I agree with you, the shorter length is more wearable and in proportion with your size.

  7. Mandy March 14, 2011 at 7:12 am #

    Tasia, I love that you could see the vision! I would have put on the muslin and thought “LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE!!!!” and then torn it off and thrown it across the room, to be followed by a consoling sit on the couch with my puppy and my newest Boden catalog. Whoops, sorry I’m back.

    The shorter hemline makes it look darling! You really inspire me to try out vintage styles, they look so ladylike and polished, even in the muslin stage.


  8. Jenn March 14, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    I shorten my dresses and skirts not from the bottom, but rather the middle of the skirt – especially in vintage dresses and skirts, as I like to keep the width of the skirt. That would be a great thing to show everyone also.

    (this works well in trousers too!)

  9. Eileen March 14, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    The lines of the bodice are really beautiful–the pattern drawing didn’t really do it justice. Seeing your photos of the bodice details on the muslin makes me really excited to see the final dress!

  10. Irene March 14, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    That dress will be fantastic once all is said and done. A warm dress is an absolute necessity for winter.

  11. Jenna March 14, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Love the shorter hemline!! I’m short too & I can easily be overwhelmed by long skirts. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  12. gina March 14, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    You know, I like both lengths, I think there is a time for both, Sometimes a longer length adds height and drama to a piece. It also looks unique because most dresses of “today” fall at the knee. Watching T.V. from that era, I loved programs like “I love Lucy”, I don’t ever recall thinking she looked dumpy, I always thought she was lovely and smart looking. I think this dress would be great in both lengths!

  13. The Cupcake Goddess March 14, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Oh I do love the way it looks on you! I think it will be a really gorgeous piece and you will definitely need more than one. The shorter hemline looks much better and appealing for a modern twist. But oh that criss cross action in the front is just to die for. Well that and the collar and the darting along the skirt. Just absolutely gorgeous!


  14. Amber March 14, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Have you thought about giving the dress half sleeves, having the sleeve hit just above the elbow? It’s my favorite sleeve length of all and would give the dress I think more wear time in more seasons. Just my opinion of course. it looks fabulous the way it is as well.

  15. Sewing Princess March 14, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Thanks for the tip on shortening the hem. I never thought of it. I like the way the dress fits you. Personally I prefer the shorter lenght. But it could also be due to the muslin fabric ;o)

  16. CGCouture March 14, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    I think I’m going to like this dress. So fun and quirky. :-)

  17. LindsayBobindsay March 14, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    You know I’m invested in reading this blog when I shout a silent “Hurraaaah!” when I read that you were going to shorten it. Seriously, so much cuter and more functional. Can’t wait to see it made up!

  18. Ashley March 14, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    The shorter version is so cute!! I love the whole dress :) I can’t wait to see the finished thing.
    Ashley x

  19. Hat March 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    In a material with drape and with less clumpy shoes and high denier hose instead of opaque, it would be much better than hemmed at the knee, IMO, but I think your personal style and self-image has to count. And since you are still young, yours seems to be more “girly” and sporty than elegant or sophisticated at the moment. On someone else I don’t think it would look dowdy if it were longer.

  20. Hat March 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Sorry, I don’t mean it looks dowdy on you either! At either length. I think it just depends how you style it and what fabric you make it in. It is a fabulous dress style.

  21. CuriousGem March 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Very cute. I’m with Amber, I think it would look great with 3/4 or bracelet length sleeves. And think how much fabric you’ll save by being short :-)

  22. Brumby March 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    I can see why you would want to make another! It is very flattering on you and your waist looks teeny tiny. I can imagine it with a short sleeve in a soft drape floral print for spring or summer, and think it would look quite different, most would not pick it as the same pattern! I love patterns like that, that can be transformed just by a change in fabric (like your Pendrell)

  23. gwen March 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    I think this dress is going to be absolutely adorable!

  24. A Sewn Wardrobe March 14, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    This is so elegant… even in its muslin form!

  25. Sue March 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Tasia, it’s going to look fantastic.

  26. Pink Hollybush Designs March 15, 2011 at 10:38 am #


    You not only took 10 inches off the hem, but 10 or more years off the dress! it is amazing how shortening the dress changes the whole look. It looks terrific on you even in muslin.


  27. The Sew Convert March 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    The short version is looking SO good! Can’t wait to see the actual dress!

  28. Jen March 16, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    I love the shortened dress! Though, yes, you HAVE taken 10″ off, it’s only due to your height. Looking at the illustration, it’s clearly not meant to be an ankle-length dress at all. Your adjustment is entirely within the spirit of the pattern and the designer!

    Thank you for all of the information, too, it’s going to be very helpful for my next few projects. I’m short too! I was laying out pattern pieces on new fabric (a vintage pattern), and thought the skirt looked terribly long. Sure enough, when I pinned the tissue to myself, it was down to my ankles, but the illustration shows it at knee length. I’ll be taking ten inches off of that for sure! Beautifully done, and thanks again for all the tips & especially the pictures here. It’s a “simple” thing to do, but it’s nice to have the voice of experience by my side. :)

  29. Gardenia Girl March 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    It looks terrific on you. I’m not that crazy about the pattern envelope drawing, but made up, it’s really special.

  30. Debi March 20, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Oh, I missed this post! LOVE the dress! It’s going to look so great in your teal fabric! I adore that neckline!