Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cirque Dress Vogue 9112

This is my second make of this Marcy Tilton for Vogue Patterns design. I had two lengths of fabric i'd been waiting on sewing up, not having seen the perfect design. This linen digital print i'd been holding for two years. As soon as i saw the Cirque dress i hauled those lengths out as fast as i could!

I will blog about the first dress in future, i made it up with no alterations save adding three inches at the hemline (i'm 5'5 1/2" and active so i prefer a bit more coverage). However, while making up the first dress i became utterly enamored of the 'cirques' (the curved, gathered inset pieces along the hem). I also love the hem of my Hot Patterns Lantern Skirt, with it's upside down grin. Why not duplicate the big cirque on the opposite side of the dress, instead of the original droopy point (which is also fabulous), and curve the hem like the HP Lantern?

I had to see how this idea would turn out. First i sketched out my envisioned design. I used tracing paper, so i could lay my version over the original to discern the differences. Then, i traced out all the pattern pieces (from the instructions sheet) and worked thru which needed no alteration, which did, and sketch out the look of the alterations.

With a map in place, i set to drafting. Fortunately i was able to 'hinge' the alterations onto the original pattern pieces, which was less work and fewer pieces to go back in the envelope.

Front Hem
Back Hem
I had some concerns about how the hem would come out in the front. As you can see here, the back hem is symmetrical but the front came out a bit asymmetrical. I could have trimmed it to make it even, but i like the way that it echoes the uneven hem of the original. So it stayed.

I also wanted to emphasize the look of the piecing in this dress through contrasting light and dark. This required a bit of fiddling with the layout, fortunately i managed to pull it off. In the picture above you can see the shape of one cirque clearly - though usually my arms are in the way, didn't think of that beforehand!

I don't have a lot more to say about this dress, except this.I finished it last Saturday, today is Thursday, and i've already worn it three days. It also mixes quite well. The way the colors work with this little jacket of overdyed linen kind of shocked me, in a "happy shocky" way. It also looks very cool with your basic denim jean jacket.

This dress is a slam dunk if you are a fan of Marcy Tilton's V8876, with a few added bonuses (bonii?). With no closures, this dress is faster and easier to make. And it requires about a yard less fabric; combined with the lack of closure you can make it for less money as well.

I bought he fabric from Marcy Tilton's online shop, though as i bought it two years ago it is long gone. It is the same fabric used in one of the dresses on the envelope picture for V8876. I fell so hard for that fabric, but at around $50 a yard it was way out of my price range. 

Happily for me, Ms. Tilton had a little online contest which i won. The prize was a gift certificate to her fabric store - there was never any doubt about what i would buy with that prize!

In these closer photos you can see the way that the print falls apart as you approach the fabric, as well as some of the incredibly flattering and unusual colors: deep blackberry, burnt raspberry, paled-out frosted blueberry, toasted juice of lemon. Using fabrics like this one is a big reason why i love love love to sew - and why i love love love to wear what i sew.

This dress design, while it had its detractors in the beginning, is getting Big Love in the sewing community. Maresea of Biblioblog was first across the line with her soignee take (check out her perfect hair!) and Marcy showcased her neighbor Carol's bubbly LBD, elastic neckline version on her blog. Liana Hanson sketched out her plans prior to sewing up an on-trend color blocked version, and Terri makes beetles elegant in the way no one else can. Karen Kline's white eyelet version has me seriously eyeing eyelet fabrics for my own.  Edited to add: Dragonthreads made this flabbergastingly glorious Cirque dress of various asian fabrics. Draw-jopping! (hmm, think i'll leave that typo). Scroll down to the bottom of the post to view. And check out another take on how elegant and beautiful this dress makes up in a solid color at Thanks! I Made Them! Sew Can You (best sewing blog name ever).

Edited Once Again: Eagle-eyed reader Kate set me straight on a fact - glorious Bianca has the first make here at two days prior to Mary. (Who knew this post would turn into a 'breaking news - this just in' style story?) However the two of them are tied in my book for letting the classy and dare-I-say ladylike side of this design shine. Thank you Kate! Readers may want to take a look at a wardrobe of classic Tilton Sister dresses Kate made for her 2013 summer - from stash, yet! 

Yes, of course i want to make at least two more Cirque dresses. Pronto!  Don't let all the volume scare you off - choose a fabric with some drape (lightweight linen and cotton lawn or voile are both easy choices), fit through the bust and go for it! We'll all be so admiring as you exude cool chic whilst we wilt in the heat.


  1. What a fun post. Looks like this dress is getting some traction! What am I waiting for...the next Vogue sale?

    Such a charming rendition, Steph, there's nothing like incredible fabric, eh?

    Thanks so much for linking to so many of the designs, too. It helps.

  2. It's a wonderful dress (one I'll definitely be making when the weather warms up) and I really love it on you! Thanks for the links to others who have made it.

  3. Thank you Gayle! i have been admiring your recent vest, trying to find the best words and failing to notice the days scurrying by....that is one great piece. It just looks awesome, that arabesque of a hem, the sculptural pockets, that fabric with the dignity of plaid and the winsomeness of polkadots! And at the same time so eminently practical - pockets that work! Covering/warm length! Collar to keep out the wind (and frame your face fetchingly...).

    Just really a knockout. Yay!

    heehee, what are you waiting for? i did get my pattern on sale, the first one Vogue had! And it is so nice to have luxe fabric to work with.

    I am very glad you like the links. I get so inspired by all the different versions, you can learn so much about how best to approach a pattern for your own use, and most importantly eye candy. The blessings of the internet!

    Hi thornberry! thank you. I look forward to seeing your take on this, you make a mean dress, lady ;) It can be hard to wait the season, at the same time it is a great feeling to have some things already planned instead of feeling empty-handed.

    And i am glad you like the links as well! Fun to put them together, so many great dresses.

    Happy Day! steph

  4. I didn't think you could do it, but you have outdone yourself with the second version. I love the play of color wash across the dress and the additon of the cirque . The collar looks smaller on this one-did you change anything there? Your accessories are wonderful and everything is congruent. Love it! I have some African batik(dark greens and blues, deep water colors) set out for some Marrakesh pants but now perhaps I should try another version of this wonderful dress.

  5. Thanks for the mention of my dress in your blog. I actually had an idea how I wanted to color block the dress, but then I saw Dragonthread's version of how she set out her asian fabrics and changed mine to sort of look like hers as it gave a longer line to the garment and not as chopped up as I had originally planned. I absolutely love this dress. It's still a bit cold here in Anchorage, Alaska to wear it by itself so I wear it with leggings and a lite black tshirt.

  6. Very cute! But I think Bianca made it across the line first... (although who cares, eh?)

  7. Mary you are too kind. Thank you! The collar is the same, just weighed down by the necklace i'm wearing. That African batik sounds gorgeous and would make up beautifully in this dress. Now you've got me anticipating your next make!

    Hi Liana! Of course i want people to go look at your really beautiful dress! And smart of you to figure out how to wear it now, no waiting ;) I was in Anchorage decades ago and the wildflowers blew me away, i hope you are enjoying the spring up there.

    Hi Kate! I have edited the post, thank you for letting me know! i really enjoyed your Tilton Sisters dress wardrobe from 2013, and hope you are still wearing those dresses happily. All those dresses are a great marriage of pretty and practical, the best combo from where i sit.

    Happy Day All!

  8. This is a beautiful combination of fabric and pattern. I love the softness of the collar.

  9. Thank you 'KB'!! you are so busy sewing for you and your girls how on earth do you find time for blogs?!?!?! your daughters look in fine fettle and i am still drooling over that burda tunic-blouse.....have a fun weekend!

  10. My gosh! Just found your blog thru Marcy Tilton - and what an incredible dress to find you in! It's just as cool as can be-I can hardly wait 'til I have a moment to make it too! I love what you've done and especially the way you styled it. Beautiful use of the fabric and it looks so well on you too!

  11. Nice to meet you Ms. O'Brien! Thank you for such kind words about this dress. It is a lot of fun to make, challenging but not devilishly so. And perfect for hot summer days. Do you have a blog or place i can keep an eye on for when you get yours done?

    haha, i just saw your facebook page and you will not be surprised to know i'm wearing fluevogs here too. Have a great day!!! steph

  12. I love the thoughts that went into this dress and your pattern placement. You look fabulous in it, it's not something I would wear, but I love nd admire this style on others, especially on you.

  13. Manuela, you are the queen of dressmaking! What a thrill to get such nice comments from you, and sweet too as you appreciate all the ins and outs of making dresses like few others do.

    There are so many great styles out there that i don't wear for various reasons, and it is wonderful to see them done beautifully on other people. I love living 'the chic sheath life' vicariously through you! Have a great weekend, steph

  14. I have to admit that the pattern is awsome. I might venture into sewing again.I checked some of your previous posts and you have a great flair for picking interesting lines. Your shoes are fantastic,too. I appreciate your community of dress makers.

  15. Thank you for such detailed pattern making ideas.

  16. Love this dress. So cool! By the way did u make the jacket? If yes, what pattern is it, please? It goes so well with the dress.

  17. Welcome Winny! It's Kwik Sew 3764 - a very versatile and easy to make jacket. You're reminding me i should make another one, i could use it.

    Thank you for commenting and happy sewing! steph