Vogue 1417 trousers

I bought Vogue 1417 for the caped top I blogged about a few weeks ago, but there’s also a trouser pattern in the envelope. And being in need of more trousers I thought I’d give it a go.

This pattern is not my usual style. I normally wear skinny trousers and these are more than roomy. They also have an uncomfortable resemblance to tracksuit bottoms. However they have pockets and looked like a quick sew with little or no fitting required so worth a try.

Vogue 1417 view b line art

I made these up in a polyester double knit from Tissu Fabrics. The pattern is designed for ‘moderate stretch knits’. I think these would be great in a wool double knit if I could find such a thing – polyester isn’t the warmest thing to wear in the winter. I’m unconvinced by the pattern envelope suggestion of cotton knit. In my experience 100% cotton knit goes baggy as soon as you look at it. Maybe one with some lycra in would work.

The pattern runs enormously large. With a Vogue pattern I normally go down one size from what the size chart tells me to make. For this one I went down two sizes after checking the flat pattern measurements, and they still sit a little below where they should on the waist. Good length though. I added my usual two inches to the length. They look a bit long here because I’m wearing them over boots rather than heels, but they’ve come up similar in length to the ones in the pattern photo.

I think the most interesting feature of these is the very deep front pleats. All of that fancy back seaming might as well not be there if you make them in black. I can’t see it at all in the pictures, nor do I notice it when putting them on or washing them.

Vogue 1417 back view

I love the pockets. The pocket bag is made of lining fabric to reduce bulk. They are nice and deep, and constructed in a clever way that reinforces the opening edge and gives a very clean finish inside.

Vogue 1417 side view

These have been getting a lot of wear since I made them. They come out at least once a week because they’re comfortable and practical. However I still wonder if they’re too casual for work. (This is ‘too casual’ purely in my own eyes. There is no dress code whatsoever.) So this is a strange pattern that I’m wearing to death but I doubt I’ll make again. At least not unless I find some wool doubleknit.


A while ago I muttered something about some day reporting on the wearability of some of the more unusual designs I’ve made. And as we’ve been unable to photograph any new makes for the blog for a couple of weeks it seems like a good time for that post. I’m going to concentrate on trousers this time around and have picked out three patterns I’ve made in the last 12 months.

The clear winner in the wearability stakes is a surprise: my Burda wrap trousers. This is style 120-112-2013 made up in black satin-backed crepe. I made these in September and they come out at least once a week despite being slightly too large. I think the thing that works so well about these is that they’re unusual enough that they give the impression I’ve made an effort. In practice though they’re just as easy to wear as jeans.

Burda 120-11-2013 front

Second place goes to my neoprene Vogue 1378 skinny trousers. The big problem with these is that they lack pockets and so are not a lot of use for wearing to work. In addition the fit is not perfect: I could do with making the back rise higher. But recently these have starting getting a lot of wear because they are warm and almost entirely waterproof. I need to look out for more of the thin neoprene I made them out of! If I’d made these in a doubleknit I doubt they’d be such favourites.

Vogue 1378

The pair that have barely left the wardrobe are the Apple Peel leggings from Pattern Magic. They’re neither good trousers nor good leggings: too form-fitting to be worn alone, but they don’t work under skirts or dresses either. They also require frequent adjusting! They were a fun experiment but definitely not a wardrobe workhorse.

Apple Peel Leggings front view


Jade skirt front view

This is the Jade skirt from Paprika Patterns. I made it a couple of weeks ago but getting photos has been surprisingly difficult! But before I go on a disclosure: I was given the pattern for free to review, although I paid for my own printing and fabric. I agreed to review it because it’s something I’d definitely have made if it had turned up in Burda or Vogue…but somehow I can’t imagine Vogue producing this.

Jade is a PDF pattern. You get both large format and tiled versions in the package. I used the large format one as there’s a copy shop around the corner from my work, so I can’t say how easy it is to assemble. I have assembled precisely one (very simple) tiled PDF pattern and intend never to repeat the experience!

One interesting feature of this pattern that I wish every pattern house would copy: it has a version number. If an updated version should ever be released it will be possible to tell which one you currently have and if you should go and download an update.

There are two views to choose from: a mini and a longer length which has one extra pair of pleats. You can also optionally add an exposed zip. I am 5’10” and made the longer view without the zip. This is a good length on me; I certainly wouldn’t want it shorter. The pleats make the front pattern piece tricky to alter for length. There’s an explanation of how to lengthen it on the Paprika Patterns site, but I think the inclusion of the two views is a helpful feature that would allow most people to avoid doing that; you can easily fine-tune the length by altering the side seams to adjust exactly where the skirt sits on the waist.

I made no adjustments to the pattern pieces at all, just cut the closest size to my measurements. It’s a knit skirt with negative ease so needs no serious fitting. The instructions helpfully mention adjusting the side seams just before you attach the waistband, and I think I ended up taking them in at the top at that point.

Jade skirt side view

This is a quick make. I sewed it up in an evening and most of the time was spent on the pleats. The construction for the pleats involves first carefully pinning them all in place, and then sewing them down to an underlayer one by one. This often involved removing and replacing pins. It leads to a pleasingly solid front panel with the underlayer keeping the pleats nicely in place, but I found the pinning and unpinning a time-consuming process. If I make this again I shall try pinning and then sewing each pleat in turn as I’ve an idea I might find that easier than pinning the lot at once; also I’d probably drop fewer pins on the carpet. Another thing I’d do if tackling it that way is mark the pleat placement lines on the underlayer fabric. They’re not on the underlayer pattern piece as given, and I certainly managed without them, but I think having them might have made the folding go faster. However this was fun to make despite all that, and the instructions are very clear and detailed. There are also lots of useful extra hints on the website. I’d have had no problem tackling this as a beginner.

I used the same fabric for the shell and lining: a viscose-lycra jersey from Tissu Fabrics. This is medium weight and pretty stretchy. It needs to be: as you can see from the side view, this is a clingy design! The fabric doesn’t have as much recovery as would be ideal for this style and I found the waistband tended to grow during wear, so I’ve added elastic to mine to help with that. I’ve bought this fabric a couple of times now and been very happy with it, but I’ve had feedback from a reader that when she bought the same one she received something rather different from the fabric I’ve got. Mine has a big difference between wrong and right sides for example, and hers does not. So I guess that link may no longer be for the exact same fabric I’m showing here. Pity – it’s so hard to source fabric online at all, and knits are even more difficult.

Jade back view

Here’s a back view. My hem tends to rise up a tiny bit in the middle although it appears to have been sewn straight; I guess I probably should have made the next size up at the hips.

This is an unusual but easy to sew design with really great instructions and support; it’s reminiscent of some of the Pattern Magic styles but far more accessible. I wish it had been around when I was first starting out with knits.


This is the top from Vogue 1417. This style is all about the cape. There’s an interesting knit top pattern under there with an asymmetric hem and unusual seaming, but you’d never know!

Vogue 1417 front view

Here’s the line art. Unfortunately it doesn’t show the seaming. The side seams are on a diagonal so the back piece is much narrower at the bottom than the top. The picture gives an idea of the size of the cape though. The pattern piece is one of the biggest I’ve ever seen.

V1417-2

This was a lot of fun to sew. It’s not terribly difficult or time-consuming but there’s slightly more to it than making a t-shirt. I thought the pattern instructions were unusually good. I followed them almost exactly for once; the only change I made was to add a bit more interfacing around the zip which made it a lot easier to insert. I made this entirely on my regular sewing machine with a narrow zig-zag stitch despite having the overlocker ready to hand. You need a twin needle for the hems but that’s about it for special equipment.

I made it from a viscose-lycra knit from Tissu Fabrics. At the time of writing it’s still available here. This is a lovely fabric. It’s medium-weight and fairly stretchy. It presses very well which was a great help in hemming. The only downside is that there’s a definite wrong side to it which is slightly shinier than the right side.

Vogue 1417 right side

Although it was fun to sew it’s rather a nuisance to wear. The cape tends to get in the way and I find myself pushing it back all the time. That could probably have been predicted from the pattern photo, but I liked the design enough to give it a try. And I’m glad I did because without the cape I think this would make a great top. I’d probably go up a size if making the shell on its own. There are no finished pattern measurements on the tissue and I didn’t take any notes, but it’s very close-fitting.

Vogue 1417 left side

One more picture, because the back view is rather the point of this garment.

Vogue 1417 back view

Despite having complained about the impracticality of this design I’ve actually worn it a few times. It’s no good at all for work but nice for cooler weekends where the cape adds a bit of warmth. I don’t think it’s ever going to be a favourite garment, but I’ll definitely revisit the pattern in future.


Vogue 8866 grey top

I’m getting my money’s worth out of Vogue 8866. It’s a wardrobe pattern so you might expect to get multiple makes from it, but I’ve only used two of the five views so far. And those two are so similar they’re really the same pattern: a knit top which can be lengthened into a dress. The grey top below is the most recent incarnation. Previously I’ve done the dress in a sparkly doubleknit and the top in an unusual textured jersey.

This version is made in a scuba knit from Tissu Fabrics. The colour is evocatively described as platinum grey. Sadly they now seem to have sold out of the grey although there are other colours available. It’s fairly heavy weight with good recovery, but not ultra-stretchy. I definitely should have gone up a size on the top this time. You can see quite a bit of wrinkling below.

Vogue 8866 grey front view

The original pattern has got a keyhole opening at the back neckline and the collar closes with hooks and eyes. For this version I replaced all that with a zip in the centre back yoke and collar seam, which I made a complete pig’s ear of, managing to sew over the teeth in a couple of places. Amazingly it looks OK in the pictures but it only unzips about halfway! It was supposed to be an invisible zip but I ended up inserting it with top-stitching like a centred zip because I hadn’t thought the construction through properly in advance.

Vogue 8866 back view

The original pattern has a lot of top-stitching on the decorative curved seams. I didn’t bother with that on my previous makes, which were in very textured fabric, but on this one it was worth the effort because it shows up against the smoother surface. You can just about see it on the raglan seams in the picture below.

Vogue 8866 grey closeup

I wasn’t very pleased with this make when I finished it, what with the zip and sizing problems. However it’s grown on me. It’s been worn to work a couple of times which is always a good test, although one of my colleagues did compare it to a wetsuit. I guess I can’t complain too much if the fabric’s called scuba knit.


I’ve always loved colour blocking. And yet I haven’t made a great many colour blocked garments. It’s difficult to find suitable fabric combinations and even harder to place the colours in a pleasing way. I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately because the October issue of Burda provided an excellent example of the pitfalls. The two dresses below are from the same basic pattern, 101-10-2014. The red version is fantastic. The green and grey one doesn’t work at all. If I’d only seen the second version I’d have passed straight over the pattern.

Burda 101A-10-2014
Burda 101B-10-2014

So what is it that makes the difference? I think there are several things. The colours in the red version (which is made from a single piece of fabric with a colour gradient) work together much better than the grey and green. I agree with Jen (NY) that the colour contrast needs to be either very strong or very subtle in order to pull off colour blocking. Washed out grey and green is neither one nor the other. Another case in point: the mix of browns and textures in Vogue 1409 doesn’t work for me.

Vogue 1409 envelope photo

The second thing is the prints. Neither Burda dress is made up in flat colour fabric. The red one is matelassé, ie textured, and the grey and green fabrics are prints. The matelassé is OK because the same texture appears all over the dress, whereas the green and grey prints are in opposition to one another. Different colours and two different prints in one garment is too much fuss to be pleasing to my eye.

And finally the all-important colour placement. The change of colour halfway down the arms and body on the second dress breaks up the line in an unflattering way. I think it might have worked better with more contrasting colours – perhaps the change in colour at the waist would be good for breaking up a long torso – but the placement on the red dress is far more pleasing.

This isn’t simply theoretical. I have Vogue 1408 in my pattern queue, a style that seems made for some sort of colour or texture blocking.

Vogue 1408 envelope art

It’s hard to see on the pattern photos but I think the original is mostly black with two different greys used on the side panels and some of the skirt panels. I haven’t found any other pictures of the original dress online that made the colours any clearer. I like the layout on the original dress but I’ve also been playing about with other options in a graphics program. I started with different layouts of much the same low contrast black and grey as the original. I’m also considering using a shiny black fabric such as thin neoprene with a matte black one, so the grey in the pictures below could stand in for the shinier fabric. I’m definitely avoiding prints.

Vogue 1408 mostly black

Vogue 1408 mostly grey

I prefer the mostly black version, which probably not coincidentally is fairly close to the original; DKNY know what they’re doing!

I also tried out a version with several tones of the same colour graduating across the dress. I really like this one but it would be impossible to get the same fabric in four toning shades in practice.

Vogue 1408 in reds

I also had a go with strongly contrasting colours. I couldn’t make this work at all. The version below is the best I came up with and I don’t like it at all. I think strong contrasts probably work better with straight-edged panels rather than the very curvy ones in this style.

Vogue 1408 in teal/black/grey/white

So I think I’m probably going to go with the mostly black version, assuming I can find the right fabrics for it. Anyone else planning to make this up? Are you going for contrast or subtle?


Hooray, the winter Vogue patterns are out! Is it sad that I look forward to each new Vogue release?

I always go to the designer patterns first (does anyone not?). This time they are almost all occasion wear. If there’s any common theme beyond that it’s seam detail and cutouts.

Cutouts can easily be over the top but the 1423 and 1424 both look very wearable. The one below is 1423.

Vogue 1423 envelope art

Donna Karan does not disappoint with a wonderfully OTT metallic one-shoulder wrapped style, 1427. I have no need of this dress, nor ever will, but I’d love to try it on. One very minor quibble: there are no finished garment measurements on the envelope for this one. Vogue been great about putting these on the envelopes of late, and all the other patterns I checked have them.

Vogue 1427 envelope photo

The two designer patterns which aren’t evening wear are nonetheless very smart. There’s a sharp day dress from Anne Klein, 1420, with interesting lapels.

Vogue 1420 envelope art

And then there’s 9046, a lovely, feminine, style from Claire Shaeffer. It’s not me at all but I can admire those tucks from a distance!

Vogue 9046 envelope art

I didn’t find any must-buys in this section which is most unusual. It may be because I have absolutely no need for posh frocks any more, but that doesn’t normally stop me. And sadly there’s no Ralph Rucci pattern, but we did get two last time so I can’t grumble too much.

The Easy Options pattern, 9050, is a princess seam dress with pencil or flared skirt, and two-piece sleeves with two length options. It must be difficult to get a lot of interesting style detail in a pattern that has to be both easy to sew and provide many different options, but this one succeeds. The neckline shape and seam detail at the waist keep it from being dull and all the variations look very wearable.

Vogue 9050 envelope art

Very Easy Vogue seems to have a focus on daywear this time out. There are one or two styles with interesting details. 9049 has unusually shaped lapels, pockets, and fake pocket flaps. And 9048 is a simple dress lifted by the addition of a collar. There’s also a nice basic princess seam jacket, 9068. 9056 is the inevitable peplum top. The peplum trend seems to have been going on forever; I won’t miss it when it finally dies.

Vogue 9049 envelope photo

There are two vintage patterns: 9051 is a day dress that I think is from the 40s, and 9052 is a day dress and jacket combo that’s described as circa 1949. It makes a break from the occasionwear of the designer section, but I’m slightly disappointed that both styles seem to be from the same era. I say this every time, but I long for a day when the vintage patterns are from the 60s or 70s.

Vogue 9051 envelope art

The Marci Tilton patterns are appealing. 9070 is a raincoat with lots of interesting detail. The sample is made up in a shiny burnt orange fabric, which gives a very creative vibe, but if made in khaki or black this could also be a very utilitarian look.

Vogue 9070 envelope photo

There’s also 9060 which is an unusual skirt, and 9057 a simple top.

The rest of the collection is very small and mostly consists of casual tops. There are also three wardrobe patterns, 9067 which is very casual, and a slightly smarter one in 9066. 9066 is also the custom cup size pattern. The pick of this section for me is the third wardrobe pattern, 9064, a boxy top with unusual seamlines combined with very simple skirt and trousers.

Vogue 9064 envelope art

Overall impressions? I’d like there to be more daywear in the designer section and that could probably be balanced out with dressier styles elsewhere. It seems to be a smaller collection than last time which might also be why I found less to like. The photography continues to be spot-on with lots of clear views of each style. And I’m still grateful for the much wider range of finished garment measurements on the envelopes.

Fundamentally though this collection didn’t dazzle, unlike the autumn release. My overstuffed pattern box is grateful but I’m now looking forward to spring.



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