Victory’s Nicola Dress: A Splash of Van Gogh

Howdy do! Oh boy, long story short this post certainly took awhile to get here. But, alas, it’s here! I’ll start by saying that I love this dress, but it’s been soured by a rather frustrating sewing process. Gotta have one of those every once in awhile to make sure you really love what you do, yes? Yes…


This is the Nicola Dress by Victory Patterns, my first pattern made from this indie company. I used rayon fabric that I had bought three years ago at Sew L.A. and the print is called “Van Gogh” (also used in the blue colorway for my 1920s kimono). This fabric was destined for a few other dress patterns before it finally made the cut with this one, no pun intended. 😀 The skirt is lined with Bemberg rayon and the dress closes with two buttons at the waist, one interior button and one exterior.

Size-wise, I cut a size 2 at the bust and hips and a size 4 at the waist. I almost thought I didn’t need to be so precise and could’ve gone with a straight size 2 since this is a wrap dress, but I’m glad I went with the usual measurements.



I really love the tulip skirt and sleeves! And I’m so glad I waited to use this Van Gogh print because I think it shows really well with the Nicola dress. It was made specifically for a work event in mind – a cocktail reception at an art gallery – and I believe this one fit the bill! Though some people weren’t sure what was so “Van Gogh” about this print. I defer to others on that one. 🙂

Revelations Aplenty
I fixed the revealing skirt issue I mentioned in my previous post by simply moving the buttons at the waist to make it more fitted. Apparently I didn’t do this the first time around! I looked again at the model on the Victory Patterns’ website and realized the fabric of my dress just wasn’t overlapping enough, hence the revealing-leg-as-I-stepped-forward issue. Phew! Glad to have that one fixed, let me tell ya.


On other blogs, I’ve seen some people ask how revealing the skirt is when sitting down, so I thought I would include a photo of me doing just that. Honestly? The skirt does want to fall to the sides up to what feels like a pretty revealing point! It’s not bad here (I think the tulip design makes it feel a bit more risqué), but I’m still not 100% comfortable. I basically have to push the skirt fabric towards the front before I sit, pile the fabric on my lap, and cross one foot over the other ever so ladylike. I’m not posing that way here, but I couldn’t time it all correctly with the self-timer, d’oh! I imagine the Bemberg lining is adding to the slippery factor. Seems like a lot of fuss, huh?

Adding snaps would help, but I had a few failed attempts at this and I was getting fed up and called it a day. I didn’t end up adding snaps to the bodice since I didn’t have a gaping issue, but they might help keep the neckline from shifting ever so slightly to reveal my underthings when I’m not monitoring. And, really, who needs that level of worrying when wearing a dress?? The other simple solution is to wear a camisole, which is likely what I’ll end up doing.

Some Changes to the Pattern / Missing Instructions?
I hesitate to be so frank, but I think the pattern instructions could have benefited from another round of proofreading. There were a number of typos and (I believe) some illustrations that weren’t colored correctly. I was surprised by this! I don’t think I’ve read other people having an issue with this regarding Victory Patterns so maybe it was just a fluke with this pattern? You can’t imagine how often I was convinced I wasn’t getting it; I still wonder if it’s me and not the pattern instructions! This pattern is labeled for beginners so I thought I would share my fixes below.

think augh!

“Think, think” how I can fix this vs. “Aaugh!” I can’t fix this! Pretty much sums up this project for me. 🙂

I didn’t see this in other reviews, but the armholes were much too small for the sleeves. There was a considerable amount of the sleeve that had no where to go – did I miss something? The pattern instructions didn’t call for it, but I added two rows of ease stitching at 3/8″ and 5/8″ so that I could ease the sleeves into the armholes. I did this after basting the front and back portions of the sleeves together. It worked! Again, I was surprised how off this was – my pattern pieces didn’t stretch and I double checked that I cut a size 2 sleeve for a size 2 bodice – so my only thought is the ease stitching step was left out of the instructions?

Speaking of the armholes, I would lower it in a second version. They’re a bit small, even for my chicken arms! In any case, the sleeves are fun to wear.


I mentioned earlier that some of the illustrations didn’t appear to be colored correctly. In the “Sleeve” section, the second illustration (PDF pattern) looks like the wrong sides of the sleeve and sleeve binding have been sewn together even though the instructions say to sew them right sides together (which is correct). As is, the illustration would cause you to have the wrong side of the sleeve binding on the right (outer) side of the sleeve – so you’d be walking around with the wrong side of the sleeve binding on the outside of your sleeve? Actually, the second and third illustrations down from that show this exactly, which doesn’t make sense! That’s not how the model is wearing it.

I’ve included two photos above of how I did it. The first photo shows the pressed sleeve binding just before I’m going to sew it 3/8″ from the edge. The instructions say to trim it to 1/4″ after that, but I trimmed it to 1/8″ since it was easier to turn to the inside this way. The second photo shows the finished dress with the sleeve binding on the inside – different from what the (incorrect) pattern illustration shows you. Yikes, I feel a bit severe here, but I’m just trying to save you a headache. 🙂


Another thing that I felt was missing from the instructions was how to finish the neckline facings once attached to the bodice. I’ve been taught to trim and grade the seam allowances and then understitch in order to keep the facings from flipping over so I went ahead and did this (see photo above). Basically, just follow the trimming and understitching instructions provided for the hem. You’ll want to press the seams towards the facing before understitching to also help get a nice crisp edge.

I also tacked the facings every so often. In another version I’d skip the facings and go with bias binding instead.

Oh, and this may be obvious, but when you create the thread loop for the inside button, cut four pieces of thread 10 inches long, not 10 feet as the pattern instructions say. That’s clearly a typo, but I just thought I’d mention it. 🙂

And In the End
Despite the issues, I do like this dress. It’ll be interesting to see how often I actually wear it. There seems to be a lot of fuss involved and that’s not very enticing. A shame, really. If patience prevails one day, adding snaps is the way to go, methinks.


Wow, such a complainer in this post. 🙂 Leaving on a happy note, this dress received a number of compliments at the work event I attended so that was nice! I’d love to make the wrap top version of this pattern – it’d be perfect to wear over my Parfait dress, for example.

I hope you’ve had a nice Memorial Day weekend here in the US! And, for everyone else, happy Monday! Thanks for reading along.


26 thoughts on “Victory’s Nicola Dress: A Splash of Van Gogh

  1. It looks wonderful – all your problem solving and spotting the gaps in the pattern instruction were worth the extra effort. And, I’m glad you posted all this information. It’s good for beginners, novices and those that depend on instructions to know that this pattern requires experience to get a completed dress.

  2. This dress looks incredible. I would never have guessed it caused so many headaches during construction, because you wear it so effortlessly and beautifully.

  3. Lovely dress! Thanks for taking the time to make note of the pattern issues. I have the printed version of Satsuki on the way. I might need your help! For a rough draft / muslin, I’m going to make a swimsuit cover up.
    Sorry I missed you at the Mood swimsuit class. Did you pick up any material? I have exactly one month before our family vacation to get a suit put together. So far I’ve printed a lot of pics to inspire me but now I need to made a decison and move forward!
    Hope you’re staying cool!

    • Hi Leu! Yes, I’m sorry I missed you too, though I did spot you. 🙂 I tried staying to the end of the class even though it went over, but I had to get going. Oh well. I didn’t pick up any swimsuit material (though I do have some navy lycra with white polka dots in my stash that I’d like to use). Are you going to try to use the Butterick pattern the instructor used? I’d like to go with something a bit more retro like the Burda Alison pattern, but it’s gotten such poor reviews!

      The Satsuki would make a great cover up. I’d be happy to help if you have questions! Yay summer sewing. 🙂 Hopefully we’ll have another meet-up this summer. In the meantime, stay cool too!

  4. Thanks for posting the review. I just bought this pattern on her sale last week, I’m waiting for it to arrive. Your dress looks lovely, perfect for a work function at an art gallery. Those are the perfect shoes too. I appreciate all the clarifications, it will save me from struggling when I get around to making it up.

    • You’re welcome! I used the PDF pattern so hopefully these issues were cleared up in the printed version. And thanks about the shoes – they are surprisingly comfy even for city walking so I also bought them in red. The brand is Miz Mooz, if you’re curious!

  5. Great job! It is so frustrating when you find a typo (or have to figure it out the hard way!) but excellent job with the dress! I love the sleeves and hem — just perfect for that fabric!

  6. I made this dress a few months ago and had the same problems with the sleeves so it’s nice to know it wasn’t just me!! I also had to ease them in which still wasn’t the easiest thing because there was so much extra fabric! Despite the problems, the design really is wonderful and fun!

    • Phew, glad I wasn’t the only one either! Actually, I had originally found your blog when I searched to see if others had an issue with the sleeves. I like your “fallen dinosaur” pose! 🙂

  7. Hi, I just started this pattern and have been referencing your website. Im having problems of my own and was wondering if you could help. I have put together the bodice but I am stuck at the section with the interfacing. I sewed the front facing and back facing parts together but have yet to attach this to my bodice around the neckline. I am having trouble envisioning how the 2 strap-like pieces will be incorporated into the bodice or final product. Do you have a picture of the finished neckline from the inside of the dress? Or do you have any suggestions? These directions aren’t the best. If not, no worries. Your dress looks great!

    • Hi Cassandra – I’m glad my review is helpful! I don’t have a photo of this, but I can try taking some. In the meantime, have you tried putting the “horseshoe shape” facing right sides together with the bodice, stitching them together, and turning the facing to the inside (so the facing and bodice are now wrong sides together)? I included a detail photo of this in my post showing how I also went the extra step and understitched the facing to help keep it from flapping out. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at this so I’ll check it out later and let you know.

  8. Thanks so much for your detailed review, I’m about to start the printed version & will keep an eye out as I progress. It’s such an awesome dress you’ve made, I hope you’ve found many more occasions to wear it!

  9. Just to say thank you very much for this blog post. I’m a beginner so the sleeves not fitting really puzzled me and so it was great to find your post and realize I’m not alone. I made the wrap top, but your dress makes me want to try that version now 🙂

    • Hi Suzie, I’m so glad you find this post useful! It can be frustrating to think you’re the only one having issues on a pattern. That’s what’s so great about this online sewing community helping each other out! 😀

Hey, thanks for commenting! I truly appreciate it and always try to respond back. :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s