THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

October 18, 2008

Vogue 1073: Parsing Out the Pintucks

Filed under: couture sewing,Couture Techniques,Designer,sewing — phyllisc @ 9:11 am

Vogue 1086 Pattern PiecesAs you can see from the pattern pieces; this is a pretty interesting design!  The instructions that come with this pattern basically stink like a monkey and I don’t believe for a minute they actually show how Rucci would make  a dress like this, although I do think he would make it entirely on a regular sewing machine as the instructions imply.  

The pintucks are marked on the pattern pieces, but there is nothing that specifically indicates how wide they are supposed to be.  However, the pattern itself does offer an intriguing clue; the darts are hidden in the seams of the pintucks. 

I measured the difference between the marked dart lines and a pintuck, and its 1/8 of an inch (3 MM).  So I’m convinced these pintucks are supposed to be 1/8 inch (3mm) tall.  Shannon Gifford has suggested on Stitcher’s Guild that  at a twin needle is not really the best choice because there is no twin needle wide enough  for these pintucks. 

I do think the widest Schmetz twin needle might produce something close to 1/8 of an inch but I won’t use a twin needle for other reasons: (1)  The front pattern piece is really large – it spans the entire width of the fabric in layout, selvage-to-selvage.  I believe that trying to maneuver a double needle through my wool jersey and around those curves is asking for trouble and (2) there is no way the darts could be hidden when the pintucks are stitched with a twin needle.  

I really had to rack my brain over this conundrum, and I think I’ve come up with WWRD. Here is my pintuck plan:

  • Cut the front in a single layer layout
  • Use a full size oak tag stencil of the front to mark the tucks
  • Lay the front out flat and hand baste the tucks from the right side
  • Machine stitch 1/8 inch pintucks with a walking foot
  • Remove the basting.
  • No backstiching the ends of the pintucks; I suspect Rucci does the same thing that Chanel does on their quilted jacket linings; the needle side thread tails are threaded onto a hand sewing needle, brought to the wrong side, and tied off with the bobbin thread.

Dress Front Pattern PieceTruthfully, I can’t think of any other way to do these pintucks without losing control.  Of course I’ll have to test this theory before I plunge into the real thing.  The second illustration shows the bodice piece; and this is oriented as in the finished garment.  On the top drawing you can see interfacing at the neckline and two sets of bust darts.  The darts are made first and then the pintucks are stitched, and the stitch line of the pintuck must precisely follow the stitch line of the stiched dart because in the finished garment the darts are invisible (just look closely at the pattrern envelope photo – there are no darts to be seen even though they do exist).  The angled straight edge is the center back seam. This pattern has an additional challenge – there is no provision for above waist adjustments, so that means for someone short-waisted  like me I’ll have to figure out how I can deal with this.  The trick will be to raise the waist with as little distortion to the pintucks as possible.

I think I’ll need to make a full size test garment straight from the pattern, unadjusted, and then work out my figure adjustments, and then transfer those changes onto a new pattern piece.  But this isn’t so bad because I’ll get to practice and perfect those pintucks!

I think I’ll also head over to Amazon to order “The Art of Weightlessness” – there might be some insights to be gleaned from the Rucci garments in that book.



  1. Phyllis, thanks for sharing the interesting looking pattern parts.
    Do not worry about altering the pattern parts for your short waisted bodice, since this is an A line dress you will be fine.
    If I would sew this dress I would use a twin needle to make the tucks and use rattail cord to fill the tucks so they would stand out. See for a detailed photo the previous post of this RR dress.

    I would thread trace the lines for the tucks and use a Schmetz twin needle which comes in different wide sizes like a 2,5 mm or a 3 mm wide.

    It is essential since you have to work with so a large piece that you could benefit with a flat surface around the machine bed, so the fabric would not fall down your sewing table.
    Another benefit for sewing such large pieces of fabric is use a U shaped sewing table where your machine is on the narrow table and the fabric can touch the large table at your left.

    Since you do not own an industrial sewing machine, which has the machine, built in the table you can make your own flat sewing machine by putting some thick large books around the sm bed like telephone books etc. to increase the table height to match the machine bed. I have used old Vogue and Butterick catalogues to mimic a flat sewing machine bed.

    BTW Threadsmagazine issue 78 has an interesting article about sewing pintucks not only the usual straight ones but also the contoured ones.

    Making some test samples is not a luxery but a needed essential to find out which tension, thread and needles will be the right one for this project.

    Comment by Els — October 18, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  2. I am thrilled to see, that you are making that wonderful dress! I hope you find the time to show your alterations, because I am also short waisted. I am sure, that would help me a lot! (And I need a size 20, which will be the other big challenge for me….)

    Comment by nowaks nähkästchen — October 18, 2008 @ 11:23 am

  3. Els beat me to what I was going to say. I agree completely that I would cord the pintucks with rattail. If you want to use my industrial, you’re welcome to come on over.


    Comment by Gorgeous Things — October 18, 2008 @ 11:24 am

  4. I’m excited to see how this pattern turns out. It really is beautiful.

    Comment by RachelMM — October 18, 2008 @ 1:40 pm

  5. Also–what size rattail cord would you use?

    Comment by RachelMM — October 18, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  6. Your review of this pattern is so interesting. I will make sure that I check back in as you progress with the pattern. I bought it thinking that these were just darts sewn to the outside of the garment and then stitched down – EASY RIGHT, no wrong. From your observation of the instructions I see that there is much more to it than that.

    Comment by Faye Lewis — October 18, 2008 @ 2:06 pm

  7. I took one look this pattern and decided I didn’t know how to alter it for my DD cup body. Looking forward to seeing how it comes out.

    Comment by Nancy K — October 18, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  8. I salute you!! Can’t wait to see what the dress looks like in a non-Princess-Leia styling! 😉

    Comment by Lisa Laree — October 18, 2008 @ 5:31 pm

  9. You need a pin-tuck foot. They come in different widths, also.

    Comment by Chris Allen — October 18, 2008 @ 11:23 pm

  10. oooh amazing that you’ll show us the progress and some insight. I’ll def. stay tuned since I have the book and I do love the RR style but I’m not advanced enough to take on such a project!

    Comment by tini — October 19, 2008 @ 7:40 am

  11. Oh wow I will follow this with great interest. Wouldnt it be great if you could call him up and have a chat!! I am sure that you will get it right in the end though .

    Comment by marianne — October 19, 2008 @ 9:25 pm

  12. I’ve just started working on this too. I am also slightly short-waisted, and a size larger around the hips than on top. I have pinned the pattern on my dress form, and think I can use the skirt portion as is, as it is basically a cone shape, and has some ease at the hips. Use the lining piece to check fit. For the top I will cut a size smaller around the neck and shoulders, morphing sizes at the underarm. This has the advantage of taking 1/2″ out of the length too. However, I am considering making a tunic-length muslin, as it is so difficult to do size adjustments.

    Comment by Cherry — October 20, 2008 @ 11:42 am

  13. Thanks so much, Phyllis and Els, for sharing your thoughts. Enjoy working things out; I know you’ll make a smashing dress for yourself! I look forward to reading whatever you share here.

    Comment by Miriam — October 21, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  14. OMG, you are my hero. I adore Ralph Rucci, and while I sew a little myself, I’d never in a million years feel able to take on this pattern. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

    Comment by Style Spy — November 8, 2008 @ 10:23 am

  15. Phyllis .- This is a very interesting clothing beginning with his patron. It also has the adornment of the pintuks that make it unique. I asked this pattern precisely because it was the curiosity of seeing as it was charted. Thank you for all these endorsements. hugs, Paco

    Comment by paco peralta — November 10, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  16. I’m so glad you will be tackling this. I foolishly bought this pattern, but have not looked at the so called instructions yet.
    Oh dear! Darts under the pintucks. And no adjustment for short waists.

    Yes please tell us how you managed.

    Comment by nommh — December 31, 2008 @ 6:30 am

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