I think my dresses fall into
First, there are the easy-to-throw-on and easy-to-make knits. You know, like Vogue 1250 and McCalls 5974. I've made them both. Twice. That's a lot of dress for a little investment of sewing time.
Every pattern company makes these patterns. Knit dresses are great in warm weather. They can look dressed up with very little effort, they're reasonably cool in the heat, and with a jacket, completely comfortable in air-conditioned "comfort" (even when frigid, as is too-often the case).
Total success. Almost all of the time. However, I find that many knit fabrics just don't wear very well. These are one or two-season dresses. A case in point is one of my current favourites, Simplicity 2369. This one (Simplicity 3775) is totally past it (made in 2009). I wish I could more reliably choose good quality knits that will look great for longer - any suggestions for me?
Second, there are woven-fabric dresses that are, like their knit sisters, easy to throw on and to wear. Making them, however, can be a little more involved. Unless a dress is intended to be extremely casual, I like to line my dresses. Sometimes I underline them, and then it's a whole sewing production.
Some woven hits:
My latest Burda sleeveless dress. I love it. There's not much more than needs to be said. It was wearable in the summer and now that it's cooler outside, it looks great with my latest woolly jacket.
All my self-drafted sheath dresses. At right is a picture of the very first one I made, pre-blogging days in June, 2009. Linen. All these are underlined with silk organza and lined with Bemberg.
And then there are those which I reach for less often.
Even if I really like them, in theory.
Case in point: my linen trench-dress from the April, 2001 issue of Burda World of Fashion (as it then was). I made it in June, 2008. I love the colour, the style, the fit, its swishy full skirt (which is less full, if you can believe it, than Burda intended). It looks great on, if I say so myself.
But it's very heavy. And it's impossible to wear it with a jacket, or at least any jacket in my wardrobe. And, being linen (and not underlined), it wrinkles. I might have worn it a dozen times. In total.
It's still in my closet, because I really like it (in theory).
If you have suggestions to make it more wearable, I'd love to have them.
And then, there are the complete misses. Luckily, there are not that many. But have a look at this. I made Vogue 1352 (Emanuel Ungaro, 1990s) in July 2007. I used some really lovely and drapey rayon. I really liked the paisley print. In theory I liked the flowy skirt and the fit of the upper body, shoulders and sleeve of this pattern. (In truth, I might have fallen for the colour-blocking on the pattern envelope.) But my version looked like a house dress. I did reduce the shoulders, but it needed pretty serious shoulder pads to sit properly on my body. And I didn't fill it out. I never felt comfortable in this dress, and at some point I gave it away.
Now some of you may think that the common feature of the dresses I don't like to wear is the overall silhouette. Front-buttoning, short-sleeved, flowing, full and long skirt. But (she protested) I love this silhouette! I love front-buttoning dresses with short sleeves and flowing long skirts! At left is my version of another vintage dress pattern - Vogue 1245 (1970s Nina Ricci) which I wear quite a lot. It looks really good under this jacket. I made them both in August, 2006.
My conclusion? I should avoid dresses with a big "feature" in the bodice or sleeves that makes pairing the dress with a jacket awkward.
Do you have any other thoughts?