Thank you Vogue

A while ago I mentioned wanting to knock off a tartan Yohji Yamamoto dress I saw in Selfridges years ago. I finally bought some fabric for it in Glasgow.

But the trouble is that once I started trying to sketch it I found I couldn’t recall very much detail about the style. It definitely had a full skirt and an exposed metal zipper down the front, and I think it had a V-shaped neckline at the front and back. I’ve googled for it but not come up with any pictures I can identify as that particular dress. My mental image of it is starting to morph into the Vivienne Westwood Sunday dress so I may not even be remembering the shape of the skirt correctly, never mind the rest.

I’m therefore giving up on trying to reproduce the original and am just going for a full skirted, sleeveless, tartan dress with an exposed zip. I really like the draped neckline of the Sunday dress so I’m going to put the zip in the back rather than the front. And it looks as though I won’t have to attempt to draft anything, because Vogue have got two patterns that between them do what I want.

First is Vogue 8413 which I think has been around for a while. I never really noticed it before because the picture on the envelope didn’t appeal to me. It’s an Easy Options style for wovens which includes a bodice option with a cowl neck. Here’s the line art.

Then in the new winter Vogues there’s Vogue 8701, a wardrobe pattern which includes a dress, trousers, skirt, and jacket. The dress is almost exactly the silhouette I’m after although once again I don’t like the envelope picture. Amazing how different something can look in the line art.

I’m hoping I can find a way to combine the two styles successfully, although I really want the skirt and bodice back of 8701 with the front of 8413 which might be a challenge! The new Vogues aren’t out in the UK yet so I’ve got some time to think about it.

Jumpsuit fabric

Vogue 8667 is slowly progressing. But I thought I’d get a proper tailor’s ham for pressing the princess seams, as my usual method of rolling up a towel and using that isn’t very satisfactory. So I’ve been shopping and visited all the usual suspects. Rather to my surprise I haven’t yet found anywhere that stocks them. I’ve tried two different branches of John Lewis, Maculloch and Wallis, and even Liberty. Liberty suggested Morplan (not open weekends) and Maculloch and Wallis showed me an ad for one in Sew Direct magazine, but don’t stock them themselves.

I should probably just make one but I’m not totally sure what to stuff it with!

So after all that failure I went and had a look at some of the fabric shops, and found some very heavy knit fabric in black and a slightly off-white that will work for my 1970s jumpsuit pattern (alas it wasn’t available in chocolate, although I could have gone with orange!)

So that’s me committed to the jumpsuit now. Wish me luck.

Different sizes front and back

Vogue 8667 muslin side view

Vogue 8667 lining back view
This is the bodice lining of Vogue 8667 basted together. I made a muslin of this pattern last week but was had problems with the fit of the back.

This is my original muslin with the gapping at the back armhole and excess fabric folds on the back neckline.

Vogue 8667 muslin 1 side view

The main difference between the muslin and the lining fabric version is that I cut the lining fabric back out a size smaller than the front on the neckline, armscye, and princess seam lines. I used my usual size for the side seam lines. This has made a big improvement to the fit around the shoulders. I’ve heard of cutting out different sizes for your top and bottom halves and blending them, but never cutting different sizes for the front and the back.

So now I’m going to make the lining up properly before starting on the rest. Normally I do the fashion fabric first and by the time I get to the lining I am a bit bored, so I’m hoping that doing it this way round will make the process more interesting. And it enables me to put off tackling the rather intimidating 100% wool fashion fabric a bit longer. Incidentally, I measured it after my attempts at preshrinking and it hasn’t changed size at all, so I’m wondering exactly what will happen when I clean the dress. But that’s getting ahead of myself. I have to make the dress first!

Unworn special occasion wear

I’ve not made much progress on my current project this week so I’m going to muse randomly about old clothes instead. Be warned, navel-gazing ahead.

I’m going to some friends’ ten year anniversary party this weekend, which I’m really looking forward to, and I’m wearing my black and white vintage maxidress. Which I also sometimes wear for lounging around the house on weekends. The dress I bought for the last wedding I went to (gosh, before I started sewing) also gets worn for work with a t-shirt underneath and a cardigan on top. I don’t ever wear ‘special occasion’ clothes these days, just regular clothes with a bit of extra face paint and different shoes.

But I do have a box under the bed with some party dresses in it from when I was at university. I never wear them now but I can’t bear to throw them out. I keep thinking that if I do get rid of them I’ll regret it. It’s not that they haven’t been worn in the past, but these days I don’t have much need for a floor length slinky black jersey halterneck dress, or a silver jersey column dress. (There’s a bit of a jersey theme, now I come to think of it).

They’re sharing the box with other things I ought to get rid of but can’t: a couple of old dresses that I liked so much I wore them to rags, and keep thinking that one day I’ll make copies of, and some other clothes that are no longer my style but I keep just for nostalgia value.

Anyone else have boxes of clothes they don’t wear but can’t bear to throw out?

Watching fabric dry

I dashed to John Lewis after work today and they had the perfect red cupro lining to go with my red wool fabric from Glasgow. So in theory I’m all set for the next stage of the long drawn out Vogue 8667 project, which is to make the lining using my altered pattern pieces to check the fit.

But I need to shrink the lining and the fashion fabric first. I’m doing the bin-liner/garbage bag and wet sheet method described here for the wool, and I’m putting the lining through the washing machine. Unfortunately it’s started raining and the forecast isn’t good for the rest of the week, so there’s going to be a lot of wet fabric hanging over the bannisters drying very slowly over the next couple of days. I did remember to measure the wool before stuffing it into the bin-liner (62″) so this time I’ll be able to tell if it really shrinks very much.

I also bought new thread. Buying thread was one of the things that really puzzled me when I started sew. How much thread do you need to buy for a project? I seem to get through nearly 300m for a lined dress (three reels in the size I can normally get) but a skirt might take less than 100m. Obviously it’s going to vary a lot depending on how the seams are finished. I zigzag mine using my machine’s overcasting foot and that eats up thread. I usually buy an extra reel or two just to make sure I’ll have enough to finish the seams, and so I have accumulated a shoebox full of reels.

Many people seem to feel a bit guilty over their fabric stashes, but I find the thread stash is the one I want to reduce. I will probably use everything in the fabric stash up at some point, even if only for muslins, but when will I ever use up six reels of pale green thread (two each of three subtly different shades)? I don’t know how I even came to have six reels of pale green thread in the first place. But for whatever reason I didn’t have any red thread (day-glo orange and dark rust don’t count) so another few reels have had to be added to the collection.

So I have new red thread, red zip, red lining, Vilene bias tape…just waiting for my fabric to dry!

Fabric induced paralysis

Here’s my muslin of Vogue 8667. And this is the pattern envelope:

The muslin is made from cheap and cheerful glazed cotton I bought off the market as it’s practically impossible to get calico round here. The shiny effect is unintentional. I was intending to use the dull side of the fabric as the right side but I got it wrong on the first seam and figured as I might as well carry on. And hey, it’s a muslin. The shiny is only going to help with seeing wrinkles and fitting problems.

The front isn’t bad, I think. No pictures of it on me I’m afraid; I tried but the results were not pretty. Watermelon coloured fabric + purple walls + my dyed red hair was not a good combination, and that’s before you factor in my attempts to take pictures in the mirror.

The back has got a pretty big problem that you can see on the dressform:

See the gapping at the back armhole and the way the neckline stands away? The back is much too big in both width and length. I tried quite a few things.

  • Lifting the back at the outside edge of the shoulder seam. This helped but didn’t cure the gapping, and put the shoulder seam line in a very strange place.
  • Lifting the whole back evenly across the shoulder seam. Again didn’t quite cure the gapping and put the seam well behind my shoulder bones.
  • Lifting the front and the back at the shoulder seam. Not entirely sure now why I ever thought this would help. It didn’t.
  • Pinning out a tuck from the armhole to the neckline on both sides. This fixed the fit but completely messed up the back neckline.

Here’s the back with the tucks pinned out

I couldn’t work out what to do with the neckline. Eventually I took the pattern piece, folded the tuck into it, and laid it down on top of the original pattern tissue. The tuck reduces both width and length as it runs diagonally. And it turns out that the line for the smallest size on the tissue pretty much matches the size of the folded pattern piece but of course doesn’t have the neckline problem, so I traced that and fudged the other pattern pieces to match it. The piece I adjusted (the centre back) is the same width at the waist for every size so I didn’t have to worry about reducing the waist measurement, which made it all a lot easier.

I really, really ought to do another muslin now but I don’t have any fabric I want to sacrifice and I’m not sure I have the patience anyway. At the same time I daren’t cut my red wool out with my altered pattern pieces. in case I’ve made some stupid mistake. Tissue fitting is tricky when your pattern is cut out of greaseproof paper. I should really check out Swedish tracing paper. So I think I’m going to buy some lining fabric and make a muslin out of that. If it works it can be the lining for the actual dress and if it doesn’t at least I’ve not cut into the wool!

How fab is this?

Just a very quick post today as I’m writing this on a borrowed computer. I recently bought this amazing 70s pattern on impulse from ZipZapKap.

The more I look at this the more I want to make it, insane though it is. I think I’d stick with the colour scheme on the envelope but go for a chunkier zipper. I will spare you the other two views on the envelope. One of them has it made up in a large-scale orange floral which is a little too seventies even for me, and the other’s bright yellow.

I just wonder what type of fabric to make it out of. The envelope suggests a bewildering range of possibilities. As well as the things you’d expect like doubleknit, various other knits, and crepe, it suggests novelty pique (sounds scary), denim, and hopsacking. I thought hopsacking was something you made, well, sacks out of. Other slightly less unusual suggestions are wool flannel and linen.

My first thought is a very stable doubleknit but I’m worried it will grow. Still, as I have about four projects lined up that I already have fabric for there’s plenty of time to search for the perfect fabric for this one. Plus a big can of hairspray and some platform boots.