Vogue 9021: A Little Confusing Dress in Progress

Vogue 9021
The dress in question.

I first noted Vogue 9021 when I was browsing for a cocktail dress with a twist. I looked up as many versions as I could find, to see if there was anything weird about the construction that I should know about. MimiG‘s version (in a knit) came up, as well as Adrienne‘s sophisticated number, Eryn‘s geometric dress (where she sewed up the armhole a bit), and Gabrielle‘s floral version (where she narrowed the dress a bit). I was warned about the armholes being so large that they would show some side bra.

I decided to go with one of the suggested fabrics, a polycotton broadcloth, for my first try. I chose a size 18, even though there would be 3 inches of ease at the bust, according to the tissue. I figured that part of the ease is for those fluttering sleeves, so I didn’t want to take away that feature.

The construction mostly makes sense, but the part about sewing the sleeve facing down tripped me up. The facing goes all the way down to the actual side of the bodice, and the way that the instructions ask you to sew it up makes for some awkward fabric bunching and a weirdly bulky join there. When I went to topstitch down the facing (’cause ain’t nobody got time for hand-sewing), it just made the situation more awkward. Here are some pictures.

awkward sleeve facing
See how awkward that join is? How do I make this less awkward???

The instructions say, “Turn facing to inside. Press. Sew outer edge in place.” The drawing of this step isn’t very clear about that join.

awkward sleeve join
Here is where the sleeve joins the side of the bodice. It’s pinched. Why?

I tried on the pieces of the dress–the bodice and the skirt–separately as they were finished, but with no zipper. It did not bode well for the finished dress. I clipped the zipper area closed with Wonder Clips when I tried on the skirt, and I had some tightness over my lower belly, with puffiness below it. Does that indicate that I need a full tummy adjustment? Also, the bodice was rather capacious. My bosom was like two apples lost in a giant grocery bag. I hate not finishing things before starting something new, though, so I just didn’t sew for almost a week out of frustration.

I still haven’t joined the bodice and skirt because I’m still frustrated about the sleeve finishing situation.

Vogue 9021 bodice
It looks so innocuous, but it fought with me every step of the way. No matter the stitch length or tension, the fabric puckered.
badly behaved facing
This fabric puckered if I even looked at it. I need to stop being so cheap with my fabric purchases. Pressing helped NOTHING.
Vogue 9021 skirt
Broadcloth: ehhhhhhh.

Do you have any suggestions about what to do about the armhole/facing/bodice side seam situation? Also, I’ve promised myself that I am going to schedule an sewing class to focus entirely on fitting. I just want cute clothes that fit my curvy body!


8 thoughts on “Vogue 9021: A Little Confusing Dress in Progress”

  1. You’re definitely asking the right questions. Broadcloth is a wonderful fabric to sew and shouldn’t have the puckers. There’s still something going on you need to identify. Sometimes you just need to hold the fabric taught in front and behind as you sew the fabric. Try a new needle. Try a single hole needle plate if you have one instead of the wide one. I’m going to look up that pattern and see what the area is that’s getting you frustrated. You’re doing great. Classes on fitting are always helpful.


    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I was thinking that broadcloth is so crisp and easy to handle, and I was puzzled as to why it was puckering like that. I tried lengthening the stitch, using different thread tensions, and smoothing the fabric with my fingertips before it went through the feed dogs. I should try holding it taut behind as well. I feel that it got more puckered when I steamed and pressed it. 😦


      1. It still sounds like your tension is too tight for some reason. Maybe re-thread the machine and take out your bobbin and put it back in again. You can check your tension balance quite easily with a different color in the bobbin and see if it’s correct.


  2. I can’t speak to the puckers, but as for the facings: did you consider just trashing them and using bias binding to finish the sleeves? On the one hand, there might be a reason for the facings. On the other, if the facings aren’t working for you at all, I don’t think there’s a problem with trashing them to try to make the dress salvageable.


  3. I agree with person above . Scrap the facing and switch to binding! Or finish the sleeve completely, then finish the facing so that you only have one seam left to attach them together, face to face. Press then sink stitch on any seams to hold the facing in place. And you’re right there’s nothing more frustrating than being beaten by a piece of sewing. Finish it when it’s stopped annoying you!:-)


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