Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Portfolio Dress: Third Time's Not Really a Charm

Portfolio dress
My hard-won Portfolio. It's.......meh.

I had seen tons of adorable Porfolio dresses all over the sewing blogoshere from the last couple years, and I snagged the Lisette pattern at one of the $.99 sales a while back. I didn't seem too practical to make right now since it's not a knit and is high-necked so not at all nursing-friendly. But THEN, I saw in the Lisette forums where someone mentioned that it could easily be altered to make a nursing dress because of the front seams. Hmmm..........I saw what the poster was saying. It could be done. I would do it! I would have a cute new nursing dress--huzzah!

So, after reading every review and forum post on the dress, I came away still unsure what I should cut as far as sizing. I decided to trust the reviews and go down a size (or two--my bust size was actually a 16, not even contained on the regular pattern). So I traced out the 12 and cut it out of some hideous pink and metallic plaid I'd just snagged at the thrift store--much cheaper than muslin! True to all the reviews, the pattern went together really well, and I was in awe of the clever pockets, just like everyone else. I did alter the front to be nursing accessible once I had determined how it went together. But, it just didn't look right. It seemed to be pulling really bad across the bust (so making my nursing slits gape) and I had weird wrinkles going right over my rear. Hmm........I decided the fabric was a bad choice as it was some type of gauze with a lot more stretch to it than what I was planning to use (Aviary 2 quilting cotton).

So, I cut out another one from  Granny's fabric stash when I took the boys down to the fair. I cut and sewed it up in just a couple hours since I'd already done it once. I cut a 12 again, but used a small seam allowance, especially over the hip area, but I still ended up with lots of horizontal wrinkles and some pulling at the bust. At that point, my theory was that the dress was "catching" on my big butt and that's why it was wrinkling, so if I just made it big enough, it wouldn't "catch" and would lay properly.

portfolioprobs 013``

So, after getting my beautiful Aviary 2 fabric in the mail, I cut a 14 (and I actually cut it out of the original pattern--what confidence!). Sewed it together, and it looked like a sack AND while I didn't have wrinkles over my rump, I now I had a big lump of empty fabric ballooning out over it--equally unattractive, I assure you. At that point, I turned to the Internetz, where the ladies on Pattern Review helpfully diagnosed it as a problem of swayback. Who knew?  Actually it shouldn't really have been a surprise, since my swayback was believed to be part of why I was unable to deliver Will naturally. After reading about the fitting problems a swayback creates, I now know why every shirt I have wrinkles across there--I just thought that's the way things fit! The more you know....

portfolioprobs 014

Anyway, the alteration to fix this is pretty simple if you do this before you cut your peices out, but obviously I wasn't there, so they suggested pinching the excess out and making a horizontal dart with it. With pinning help from my mother, I got this done (ok, actually she pinched AND sewed it for me because I was not doing so hot with the tapering thing). So now I have a weird line across my back, but I think it's not super-noticeable, especially as I plan to wear a belt which will cover it up.

Porfolio--after having a horizontal dart placed across the back to adjust for swayback
See that line?

Portfolio dress--belted
Covered up

My other discovery from this project is that this is not a style that suits my figure, no matter how cute it looks on other people. It totally looks like a mumu/housedress from the front if it's not belted. Belted, I think it looks pretty cute, especially in my muslin version! I am actually impressed at how cute that one came out, given that the print is upside down and the contrast denim was from a cut-off jeans leg my mom had hoarded.

Portfolio dress--photobomb

Portfolio dress--side belted

Portfolio dress, 3rd and final attempt
Not too bad!

Portfolio, attempt 2. Belted to mask horizontal wrinkles from swayback
This is the muslin. Love my crazy faces in these remote-control pics.

Portfolio--belt covers the swayback wrinkles nicely.
Belt camouflage!

  Portfolio, attempt 2 (wearable muslin)
Poor Soren did not want to have a mommy photoshoot.

This pattern was really well put together. It's quite easy, and there are so many markings to line up that it would be hard to really screw this one up. I did not have trouble getting any of the 3 collars (in 3 very different fabrics) to fit (a complaint I read more than once), so I think people who had problems there either didn't stay-stitch their neck pieces as directed or cut something funny. I love, love the pockets on this thing. Now I just have to wait till Soren slows down on the nursing so I can wear it to work without worrying about pumping. Until that day comes, it's a church or brief-excursion only dress.

1 comment:

  1. Barbie O. in MontrealApril 4, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    Hope you don't mind me dropping in but I am on the hunt for a copy of the original Portfolio dress pattern (yes, it is back in a revised form but I look awful in v necks--perhaps because my shoulders are too narrow?) Anyway, as you may know, the pattern is now out-of-print and very scarce on the open market, so I am digging a little deeper and seeing if anyone would consider selling their used pattern? I am a size 14 so whichever grouping you have would work. Please email me and let me know if you would be interested in selling at, Crossing fingers,

    Cheers, Barbie O.