My 80s wardrobe plan has been on hold for a few months because all the pieces are unbearably hot to wear in summer, and we had a lot of summer this year. But now the weather has cooled down slightly so here is the second to last piece: a plain black polo neck top for wearing with both pairs of trousers. I used Burda 120 12/2020 but missed out the gathering. The arms ended up a reasonable length for me – I normally add 5cm to those. The body is a bit on the long side but good for tucking in. I normally add 5cm there too. The collar is very high indeed. I’m wearing it folded over in the photos.
I’m wearing it with the trousers from vintage Vogue 1476 here. It’s come out less boxy than I intended, so I’ve ended up with quite a contrast in proportion between the slim fitting top and the voluminous trousers. Still trying to decide if I like the effect or not. It’s certainly a Look. I probably should have gone up a size to get a more 80s effect.
The fabric is ‘posh ponte’ from Stone Fabrics. It’s mostly viscose with a bit of polyester and elastane; quite heavy and very elastic. It feels a bit like a scuba knit but without the shiny finish. They’ve sold out of the black by now, but there are some other colours available.
While this was intended to go with the trousers shown here it ought to work in plenty of other contexts too. But it’s not the baggy 80s polo neck I was looking for. Back to the pattern collection I think.
My last post was about a grey jumpsuit. So obviously the next thing I made was another grey jumpsuit. This one is Burda 130 09/2011, a drapey style with a crossover front. Burda’s version below looks quite fancy but mine turned out to be surprisingly practical. I wore it a lot just after having a baby, and it shrugged off all the food stains and was comfortable for sitting on the floor and provided deep pockets to stash all the things I didn’t have enough hands to hold, while still managing to look presentable.
My original version fell to bits some years ago, tencel twill not being the most hardwearing fabric. And having recently realised that the thing I wear the most these days is my black Closet Core Blanca jumpsuit, I decided to remake this pattern and compare. I had a length of suitable fabric in my stash from an abandoned project (Merchant and Mills‘ tencel twill in the colour ‘pluto’, sadly no longer available) and I’d kept the pattern tracing, so it was meant to be. I dived straight in and cut out the pattern I’d traced in 2014. I didn’t recall anything particularly difficult about sewing the first version, or any fit problems with the result.
Well this was the most annoying thing I’ve sewn in a while. The fabric was very unstable and I obviously wasn’t careful enough to true it when cutting out the bodice fronts, because the pleats have ended up in slightly the wrong place. They are meant to line up with the topstitching line holding the yoke facing in place, and they don’t. I’ve also got a bit of gapping just under the front yoke seam because the interfacing I added to the self facings was too heavy. The side zip went in perfectly…and then I realised I’d lined it up with the wrong notch and had to rip it out. The second insertion was not nearly as good. The shoulder pleats collide with the shoulder seam allowance in an annoying way. I struggled to turn under the edge of the back neck facing neatly so it’s all jaggy on the inside instead of being a smooth curve.
But this is not all; the fit’s not great either. This wasn’t supposed to be a Tall pattern, but I wonder if it was labelled incorrectly. The bodice is much too long – look at that pleat forming on the back in the photo below – and the crossover won’t stay put. I resorted to adding a small snap. But that’s nothing to the arms and legs. I carefully made the prescribed turnups on the legs, and then had to roll the legs up about 10cm to wear the thing, so I really needn’t have bothered. The arms are a similarly excessive length and so those are turned up up in the photos too. I noticed those in time and hemmed them with the hem allowance turned to the outside so it’s hidden when the sleeves are turned up. I notice I rolled up the arms and legs in my previous version…and the bodice on that just gaped wide open. I always wore a t shirt under it.
Interestingly now I look carefully at Burda’s model in the photo above she is showing a suspicious amount of forearm, so I think her sleeves are rolled up too. There’s a second version of the pattern shown in the magazine and there the sleeves are clearly extra long even though the model has lifted her shoulders.
It’s not the end of the world. I’ll certainly wear this, although always with a tank top underneath. And it does have good pockets. If I ever make this again I’d shorten arms, legs and bodice, and forget about turning the facing edges under. Overlocking’s good enough as an edge finish. I’d probably skip interfacing the self-facings, not that the pattern called for it in the first place. I’d keep the interfacing I added to the zip and pocket openings though.
So after all that, how does it compare to the Blanca? It’s fussier to wear, but the pockets are roomier and it’s a lot more comfortable on a hot day. With my usual brilliant timing I completed it just as the summer is ending, so I’ve got maybe three more weeks before I have to start layering something warm underneath it. I’ll report back.
Quite a lot has happened here since I last posted. I had Covid, fortunately a mild dose, I’ve been on holiday, and the normally cool and wet UK is having a record-breaking heatwave. While it’s been a couple of weeks since the peak it’s still very hot indeed where I live.
I finished my 80s wardrobe but wearing any of the pieces is unbearable, even just for photos. So they’re sitting in the wardrobe and I moved on to making a (checks notes) denim jumpsuit. Maybe not the ideal choice. But I’ve been doing a bit of wardrobe tracking and the garment I wear the most in normal times is my Closet Core Blanca flight suit. It’s comfortable, practical, and I think it reads as quite put together, at least when I put on lipstick. And it was great for wearing on holiday in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where it was a lot cooler than England.
Here’s the line drawing. As before I made view A, with the long sleeves and legs and the zip pockets. This time I went up a size from the recommended one as I used a less stretchy fabric than before and wanted a more casual fit. I always have to lengthen bodice, arms, and legs on patterns by 5cm, and for this version I added an extra 2cm to the legs and 1cm to the bodice on top of that.
The Blanca has some thoughtful features that help in getting the desired fit without necessarily making a toile or doing a lot of unpicking. I found the back was a bit baggy at the waist this time around, but the hips felt too tight due to the lack of stretch in my fabric. The side seams are sewn last and the back waistband is constructed in such a way that it’s easy to run elastic through it to pull it in. I unpicked the side seams, added the waistband elastic, and resewed taking a smaller seam allowance below the waist.
I added a patch on the arm. Why a TV test card? I like the colours with the grey denim, and the technical vibe of the design.
The extra 1cm in the bodice turned out not to be needed and isn’t easy to remove once the garment is in a state to be tried on, so I left it, but I’m glad I added to the legs.
The fabric is a denim from Fabric Godmother. I originally wanted a stretchy denim and sent off for a few samples from that category, of which this fabric was one. Compared to the other samples I got it barely stretches at all, and I notice it’s described as a cotton and spandex mix but no percentage for the spandex is given. I liked the colour and weight so much I bought it anyway. I also happened to have regular, overlocker, and top-stitching thread to match the grey, which was handy.
For comparison here’s my black version of this pattern, in much stretchier fabric and one size smaller.
Now I’m impatiently waiting for the temperature to go down so I can wear both of them some more. I’m not done with the pattern yet either…I have some more stretch denim lined up for it. Thanks to my husband for the photos.
I’m not sure how to describe these trousers. Cargo pants but make it fashion? I’ve certainly never worn anything quite like them before. They are from a vintage Vogue pattern, 1476 by Issey Miyake, dated about 1984. I originally bought the pattern for the coat, which I made earlier in the year, but the enormous pockets on the trousers appealed too. Sadly my copy was missing the page of the instructions which described how to construct the pockets, but a kind reader of the blog came to the rescue. Thanks again Charlotte.
The fabric is a washable stretch suiting from Stone Fabrics. It has a wonderful heavy drape to it. It holds a press – very necessary for making the pockets – but also tends to pick up a bit of shine if you’re sloppy with the iron. Ask me how I know.
I’m still not sure if I sewed the pleats the right way on the back. There was no arrow on the pattern piece and no picture of the back of the garment made up. The diagrams don’t include enough of the pattern piece edges to tell which way to fold. The technical drawing on the back of the packet is tiny and unhelpful too. The pleats I have ended up with mirror the ones on the front, but they seem very prominent. Maybe that’s the style? All those draglines come from the pleats and the tapering. Or maybe it was my grading; I had to grade this one up two sizes.
There’s another unusual aspect to these: the fly goes left over right rather than right over left as I’d expect for women’s trousers. I thought at first I’d sewed it backwards, but having checked the pattern and got a magnifying glass out to examine that microscopic technical drawing I am confident that they’re intended to be this way. Not that it matters, but I’m curious as to why.
The main feature beside the pockets is the crossover waistband, which has a large buttonhole on one side to allow the end of the underlap to come through to the front and be buckled in place to match the buckle on the overlap. It’s attractive but not totally practical as a closure. The waistband has to fit the body perfectly for it to sit right – those additional belt holes are strictly ornamental – and it’s a lot of faff to get on and off. I got to use my press machine to put the eyelets into the belt holes though, which is always fun.
On to the pockets. These are brilliant. I can fit more in them than in the handbag that I stopped carrying round about the start of covid. Whatever else you might say about 80s fashion, the pockets were superior.
Although these are a certain amount of faff to put on they are very comfortable to wear. The style is very different to what I’m used to though. It definitely exaggerates the waist to hip ratio, maybe a bit too much to be conventionally flattering. It might be better with a more boxy top, which happens to be what I’m making next.
This was the wrong time of year to make a thick flannel dress. It’s going to be a great option later in the year but right now the UK is having its annual two weeks of summer so I put it on just for these photos.
The pattern is vintage Vogue 1071 by Claude Montana, dating from 1982. I have found some pictures of the original from an auction site which show it made up in black wool knit with leather panels, but Vogue’s instructions also recommend wovens, including flannel, and the version on the pattern envelope looks to have suede panels.
I made mine up in black cotton flannel from Empress Mills. It is a lovely fabric to touch: really thick and fuzzy. In fact it was a little on the heavy side for this pattern. I also bought a length of black polyester suede to do the panels, but when the fabrics arrived I realised the texture of the flannel was so similar to suede that the panels would be effectively invisible, and didn’t bother adding them.
This is a nicely drafted pattern – everything goes together well – but it’s not what I think of as a typical Montana style, probably because it’s an early one. There are no shoulder pads and no shaping. The back is completely plain.
It does have one Montana feature: plenty of pockets. There are a pair of very roomy ones hidden in the side seams, which is where in practice I’ll put my stuff, and also two breast pockets. Those are fancy welt pockets with flaps and were a pain in the neck to construct because they’re so wide and deep their seam allowances encroach on the front placket. But if I ever need to carry more than the side seam pockets can accommodate I have room to do it.
I’ve found the older Vogues run much more true to size than the modern ones: ie I need to make the size the size chart says, instead of one or two down. However they’re also single size patterns, and my copy of this one is two sizes smaller than I am. I checked the finished pattern measurements for bust, waist, and hip, determined that there was so much design ease that I’d fit into the smaller size with room to spare, and made it up without adjustments other than for length. What I didn’t think to check was the cuff circumference, and they’re a little tight. Not unwearably so, but I definitely need to undo them to get my hands though.
Back to the 80s with another vintage Vogue pattern. These are the trousers from Vogue 1767 from 1986 by Claude Montana. They’re very much the tapered shape I remember being in style back then. Here’s the line art. I made view A, with the turnups, but the turnups don’t show in the photos.
I thought at first that the pattern had a lot of pleats at the waistband to produce the shape. In fact the body is gathered into the waist. I’m not totally sure about the effect of the gathering. They look like tracksuit bottoms to me, only because they’re made in a non stretch fabric they don’t have the same comfort factor. Mine aren’t even as gathered as they should be. Although based on the finished garment measurements, the pattern ought to have fitted me out of the packet (widthways anyway) it was tight on the waist when I first tried it on. I cut a longer waistband and reduced the gathering to fit it in order to give myself a bit of breathing room, otherwise these would not have been wearable.
Other than the turnups there’s almost no detail so they’re a very quick project. Just four pattern pieces: there isn’t even a fly guard. They also make use of Vilene waistband stiffener so there isn’t any interfacing to cut out. I remember my mum telling me how great pre-cut waistband stiffening is when I first started sewing, and she’s absolutely right. Putting the waistband on was a doddle and it’s probably the most even waistband I have ever made.
The pockets are bog standard inseam pockets, which I often find don’t work brilliantly on trousers because things fall out when I sit down. These ones are deep and the gathers give them plenty of expansion room, so they’re better than those in some trousers I’ve made with this pocket style (looking at you, various Burda designs). But I have lost my phone once already because it slipped out when I was slouching on the sofa. I should add a button and loop.
Apart from increasing the waist the only fitting adjustment I made was to add my usual 5cm to the length. I probably should have reduced that, they’re meant to be more cropped. I also made a small style adjustment, swapping the waistband button for a trouser hook. This style is meant to be sleek so I didn’t want one of my typically hairy buttonholes showing on the outside. I did put a button on the inside of the waistband for extra security.
I’m on the fence about the style. They certainly exaggerate a pear shape. I wouldn’t normally wear them with a close fitting top like I am in most of the photos; that’s just so you can see what I’m going on about with the waist. They look good with a big baggy shirt on top though, which is a very 80s look.
They are made in Empress Mills gaberchino which feels on the lightweight side for trousers to me, but on the other hand I didn’t want something heavy because of the gathers. The pattern envelope says to use ‘double knit, gabardine, or twill’. Because double knit is first in the list that likely means it’s what the designer original was made from, but if you’re using knit why bother with a fly? Just put elastic in the waistband.
And just for laughs here they are with the coat from the same pattern.
This top may look a little familiar. It’s Burda 112 11/2015 and I made an almost identical version in March 2021 as part of a wardrobe plan. It rapidly became one of my favourite garments because it’s warm and it goes with everything. Unfortunately the rather expensive wool-blend sweater knit fabric I used for it didn’t stand up to much wear. It pilled, and pilled, and pilled some more. It looked so disgraceful that I bought a sweater comb. Combing it removed an astonishing amount of black fluff – I’m talking a wastepaper basket full – but as soon as I wore it again the pilling returned. The fabric got thinner and thinner, and then a hole developed. Eventually it become too sad even for wearing around the house.
This version is made in boiled wool instead, and 100% wool at that. I know this fabric doesn’t pill because I’ve used it several times before, including for a grey version of this same pattern. It’s from Empress Mills and comes in a range of colours. The zip is harvested from the original top.
I made one change to the pattern this time which was to remove some excess fabric from the chest area. The previous version tended to form a fold just above the bust. I cut a diagonal slash in the pattern from centre front to the shoulder and folded a bit out, then straightened up the centre front line. It seems to have worked to get rid of the fold, but I’ll admit this version is a little harder to get into as a result. The boiled wool doesn’t have much stretch and it’s very close fitting.
Unlike most Burda patterns I make this one is not lengthened in the body or sleeves. The sleeves on the original are ridiculously long. Looking at this version I might even need to shorten them. The body is true to size, but I wanted a shorter version.
I’m very glad to have a new version of this one. And next week, back to the 1980s.
I’ve been banging on about this dress for weeks but this is the last post about it, I promise. It’s an old Vogue pattern from 1985, number 1652 by Claude Montana.
My version is made in black satin-backed crepe. Here’s a quick reminder of what it looks like.
It turned out to be one of the most difficult projects I’ve done in a while. The style looks simple – raglan sleeves, wrap front, hood, a few pleats. But the the pleats and the edge finishes are very fiddly and there are also some clever tucks at the neck that are sewn differently on each side of the dress. The instructions for those are technically correct. The facings on the inside of the dress have the ‘right side’ of the contrast fabric visible. And as it’s ‘contrast fabric’ not ‘lining fabric’, the pattern diagrams use the standard ‘right side of main fabric’ colour for all diagrams of the tucks whether they’re shown from the inside or the outside the dress, rendering the two sides completely indistinguishable. Like I said, it’s technically correct. And of course I sewed the right-hand side tucks inside out the first time because I interpreted the diagram wrong. As soon as I put the dress on it was clear they were wrong though, and it was easy to fix.
And now for some pictures of the details.
The pleats are made over the seams in the hood and sleeves and then held in place by stitching in the ditch. I didn’t think it through and didn’t finish my seam allowances before making the pleats, and afterwards it’s almost impossible to do. Doesn’t matter on the hood, because it is lined, but the sleeves aren’t. This picture also shows the top-stitching on the raglan sleeve seams, which seems to be there purely to hold the neck facing down. At least, it looks exactly like the sort of thing I often do to tame an unruly facing, only I stitch in the ditch to try to hide it rather than making it a feature. I’d always assumed this was a lazy shortcut that could be avoided if I pressed the facings a bit better, but here it is on a serious designer garment so I’m feeling pleasingly vindicated now.
The centre back and side seams are flat felled to give a nice clean interior finish. The hems are tiny, no fun at all to sew in bouncy polyester crepe. I presume this finish matches the one on the original garment, but I’ve reason to think that was made in wool doubleknit so a narrow hem wouldn’t be an easy option there either. Mysterious. If I ever make this again I might increase the hem allowance.
The sleeves are finished with real opening cuffs which is a nice touch. They’re very skinny though, or else I have big hands.
Another couple of unusual features below: the velcro closure on the front and the method of joining the facings to the body. The facings are stitched to the body wrong sides together, then the facing edges are are trimmed back close to the stitch line and the outer layer turned in to make a narrow hem over the top of the facing. This was a very slow, fiddly process involving lots of hand basting. It’s completely impossible to turn the hem in neatly where the edge has a concave curve, and the pattern provides a helpful extra piece to sew on along that section to form the hem instead. It’s just about visible in the picture. They call it a ‘gusset’, which I always thought of as something that goes into an armscye or crotch seam. Yes it’s wonky. This is the best I could do after much unpicking and retrying, and it’s not very visible when worn.
Sarah Webb (@sarahjw70 on Instagram) sensibly suggested attaching the facings the conventional way and then top-stitching instead. I wish I had followed her advice! The finish above makes for a flat and well-behaved edge with an attractive border of the outside fabric on the contrast side, but it took a whole evening and I think the normal way would be quite acceptable, especially if the inside isn’t a dramatically contrasting colour.
Here’s a couple of photos of the inside at the top. There’s a little button there for a thread loop on the top corner of the underneath of the wrap to hook onto, so there’s no danger of the wrap front revealing anything it shouldn’t at the top.
After a day of wear I got annoyed by the lapel of the outer front flapping about when the hood was down, so added a tiny hook and eye on the other side to hold that in place too. That front isn’t shifting anywhere now.
And here’s the inside of those amazing sleeves. Thick shoulder pads, and a bit of wadding tacked to my shamefully unfinished seams to help the sleeves keep their very curved shape.
And that’s it. I did wear it to work one day, and no one noticed! Not sure if that means it’s less out there than I thought or they were all being very polite. Anyway it’s wearable for days when all I’m doing is sitting at a desk. It needs a wide elastic belt to make it sit right with this slippery fabric – I tried with a webbing belt and it slid everywhere. And it’s very warm.
My next project is a very plain Burda sweater with only four pattern pieces that I’ve made before. It’ll be a nice change.
This dress is the least practical item in my 80s wardrobe plan but definitely the most 80s. It’s vintage Vogue 1652, a design by Claude Montana from 1985. Here’s the envelope art.
I have searched and searched but haven’t found any contemporary images of this style other than the Vogue Patterns envelope photo. My best guess is that it is from the Montana autumn/winter 1984/1985 collection because that one contained several dresses and coats with similar pleating details on the arms, and at least one wrap dress with a hood, but the exact style remains elusive. The Vogue pattern itself was published in 1985 so the date is plausible.
It’s very reminiscent of the hooded dresses Grace Jones wore in A View To A Kill, also from 1985, although of course hers were by Alaïa.
My dress is made in black satin-backed crepe from Croft Mill. At the time of writing it’s still available here. I used the satin side for the contrast facings. I got very lucky with this one because I didn’t order quite enough fabric to cut the facings wrong side up, but Croft Mill sent such a generous cut that it all worked out. I only have scraps left.
Here’s the back view. This really shows off those 80s shoulders. There are extra thick pads in there, and I added some wadding lower down to help the sleeve keep its shape. It’s not all padding though because they looked huge even before the pads went in. It’s the cut of the sleeve and shoulder that does it.
The hood is surprisingly flattering and stays put very well. But here is the dress with it down. The big lapel doesn’t sit so well in this position.
I added my usual 5cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and another 5cm to the skirt length, which it definitely needed to end in the same place as on the model. The hem allowance is 15mm so there’s no possibility of letting it down later if it’s too short.
This was a single size pattern so I also added a bit to the width below the waist. I normally trace a size larger on the hips in a multi size pattern so none of this was a surprise. I wasn’t quite sure if I should make the wrap front wider or not as I was adding to the hips. I did, and it seems to have worked OK. I can’t say it sits in place perfectly because it’s a narrow wrap skirt in a slippery fabric so of course it has its moments, but it’s not unwearable.
I am intending to make a belt to go with this from a Burda pattern, but in these photos I’m wearing a purchased one. It was a lucky find because it has a certain similarity to the one on the pattern envelope photo.
So the question is will I actually wear this? It’s a lot of look but it’s also a lot of fun, and unlike many fancy dresses I’ve made it’s comfortable. With a black slip underneath even the slightly fussy skirt isn’t a problem. The one thing it lacks is pockets. I’ve been wearing a pouch clipped onto my belt to deal with that. I’ll have to try it at work and see. I suspect it might also be wearable as a jacket over trousers.
I recently purged a few handmade items from my wardrobe. They all had blog posts when they were newly made, but it’s interesting to look back some time later and see how much I actually wore them.
The oldest garment is this dress with a tucked panel on the front, made in 2016. It’s Vogue 1390 with some adaptations. I added pockets, changed the width of the tucks, and completely altered the order of construction so I could sew it entirely on the machine. I was very proud of the result at the time.
I’ve worn it from time to time, but it’s close fitting around the bust and has no stretch so it’s not very suitable for my lifestyle. Worse, the style no longer appeals to me. Originally I was drawn to the hard edged geometric effect of the tucks in the pattern line drawing. However once made up they read more romantic and fussy to me. The dress itself is still in very good condition so I’m going to pass it on to a charity shop in the hope someone else will enjoy it more.
The next item isn’t being passed on because it is fit only for rags. These culottes are Burda 104C 02/2017 and they’re an absolute classic; every pair I’ve seen made up has looked good. I first saw these on Doctor T’s blog and immediately made my own version. This is not that pair – they bit the dust a while ago – but the first ones were so good I made another.
The style itself is very versatile. I wear them with boots in cold weather and trainers when it’s warm. The only downside is that the paper bag style waist can be a bit awkward with some tops. The pockets are the holy grail of pockets: enormous and secure. And they have a lovely internal detail on the fly guard, which buttons on the inside for extra security.
At the moment the culotte-shaped hole in my wardrobe is being adequately filled by a different pattern, Burda 112a 03/2012. The pockets on those are vastly inferior but I prefer the smooth waistband. But when that pair wears out, who knows. Some kind of hybrid of the two perhaps.
And speaking of 112a 03/2012 I lengthened the pattern to make these trousers last year, which I loved and have worn a lot. But they are now unwearable. They were made out of the leftovers of two different cuts of nominally the same fabric. They must have been from different bolts because there was always a very subtle colour difference between the front and back, and sadly it got worse with washing. The last time I got these out I put them on, looked in the mirror, and immediately took them off again. They might be saveable with dye but the thought of the mess and having to sacrifice a saucepan puts me right off trying. They’ve definitely had the much-bandied-about 30 wears in their fairly short life so I don’t feel too guilty about throwing them out. I do urgently need to replace them though.
And finally I am giving up on my Vogue 9299 blouse. This was made as part of a wardrobe plan but didn’t turn out at all as I’d hoped. My expression in the pictures says it all. The fit on the shoulders and chest is bad and I don’t love the style enough to make up for it. I got carried away by the big sleeve trend but these are really not me.
I hung onto this thinking I might find a way to style it that worked for me, but it hasn’t happened; I don’t think I have ever worn it. The charity shop can have it. Maybe there’s someone out there who can pull off those sleeves.
So that’s made a bit of space to house my current project, the 80s wardrobe. I’ve finished the Montana hooded dress so photos soon.