Friday, March 02, 2007

Vogue 8181 knit dress and sewing an underam gusset

March in Minnesota and its finally snowing. Lots and lots of snow. So much that many businesses closed early yesterday (alas, not mine). When we woke up this morning the snow was still coming down.
Outside front door 03 02 07

Doesn't it look peaceful? I love the look of freshly fallen snow early in the morning before the world wakes up.
Shed and snow 03 02 07

Fortunately, I already had today scheduled off from work as I'll be attending a women's retreat this weekend. That meant I didn't have to be up early fighting my way into work during rush hour on the slow and congested roads.

The heavy snow also meant the cancellation of many evening events last night, so I took advantage of the time at home to complete my knit dress from Vogue 8181.

Vogue 8181 dress
This is an easy knit dress to sew. If you don't need to do any major alterations to the pattern you can probably sew it in about two hours.

However, no pattern adjustments no longer happen in my world, so I began preparing the pattern by doing an FBA. This pattern has an empire waist with a sleeve that is all in one with the bodice. This bodice does not have an actual dart (the dart is rotated to the underbust gathers), but I knew I needed a increase the dart as well as lower the bodice.

I pulled out my copy of Real Fit for Real People to verify how to do an FBA on this style of bodice.

The first thing I did was cut the sleeve portion off of the bodice. I then drew in my lines for an FBA, increased as needed, filled in with tissue paper and taped it all back together. If you look closely there is a pink line at the bottom left, right underneath the underarm curve. This is where I added the initial dart. I closed it and rotated it so that the fullness would be added to the underbust gathers.
8181 <span class=

Next, I increased the length of the front bodice so that the seamline would fall underneath my bust, not over it, and raised the v-neckline slightly.

8181 <span class=

Once I had the pattern adjusted and the pieces cut out I began the sewing process.

One of the first steps in this dress is to sew the underarm gusset. If you haven't sewn one before, the instructions included with the pattern might leave you a bit frustrated. Here's how I sewed the gusset.
  • Accurately mark the gusset on the wrong side of the fabric. Next, sew along the gusset stitching lines to reinforce the area. This also provides a guideline to use when you sew in the gusset.
8181 mark gusset

  • Carefully slash the fabric between the stitching lines to the top marking. Do not slash beyond the stitching as this is the reinforcement for the gusset.

8181 cut gusset

  • After sewing the underarm seam and the side seam, pin the gusset piece to the underam edges matching the circles that you previously marked on the gusset piece and the dress piece. I don't pivot and turn as instructed in the pattern guideline. I sew each section of the gusset separately. The photo below shows the underarm gusset sewn in place, with the underarm seam at the top and the side seam at the bottom.

8181 gusset inside

  • The finished underarm gusset from the right side of the garment.

8181 <span class=

This was probably the most time consuming portion of the entire dress. On this particular dress I ended up with too much ease and ended up taking the dress in about an inch on each side seam. I'm not sure if it was the pattern (because I didn't flat measure before cutting it out and sewing it) or the alteration I made to the bust. However, after tweaking the fit, the dress was completed in under an hour.

The only embellishment I added was to the neckline. I sewed a narrow woven floral green and pink trim that matches the colors in the dress perfectly.

Now that the fit has been perfected I will be keeping my eye out for another piece of knit for my next version.

Pin It


  1. great dress and a really good review!Thanks:)

  2. Jeanette10:01 AM

    Thanks for your informative review. My DD has the same bust size. She is difficult to fit in RTW, 5'3" tall with very narrow shoulders, so this is helpful to see the style and how you accomodated the FBA. Thanks!

  3. Your dress looks great and thank you for the tutorial!

  4. I googled sewing and found you... great fabric choice! I wish I could sew. I was looking for sewing type people because I am running a vintage Pattern give-away on my blog. These were my grandma's and I've been holding on to them way too long. Would like them to go to a good home.
    Check out my blog for details.

  5. Great dress! I like the gusset. I have a knit top I want to make with gusset. This was helpful



Blog Widget by LinkWithin