How to look like a hot air balloon

I have Vogue 1238 on my project queue. This is a dress that could definitely go very wrong with a bad choice of fabric. The suggested fabrics are ‘moderate stretch knits only’. Vogue’s version is made in tasteful shades of beige, one shiny, one dull.

The chances of my being able to find that sort of fabric at a reasonable price (for reasonable read ‘extremely cheap because this highly experimental dress needs the best part of 4 yards so forget making it out of silk jersey’) are slim to non-existent. Besides I think beige might make me look even more corpse-like than normal. Although at least there’s no danger of being mistaken for a weather balloon.

Here are some colour combinations I might be able to find in stretch fabrics.

None of them looks quite right to me. I can’t help wondering if this would work with a really lightweight woven cut on the bias as the contrast fabric. Maybe something black with a bit of sheen combined with matt black jersey.

Of course what this is really about is avoiding sewing the Burda dress with pleather bits that’s sitting on my sewing table. I’ll run out of excuses soon.

More space clothes

Thanks for all the lovely comments about the final version of Vogue 8633. I wore it to work this week and it’s definitely my favourite dress.

So here’s what’s next up on the project list:

I am in two minds about this dress. I love the picture. But I fear that what I love about the picture may be the fact that it seems to have been shot in the BBC gravel pit. For those who didn’t grow up in the UK in the 70s and 80s, the BBC made a lot of science fiction series on the cheap. They often used nearby clay pits or gravel pits for shooting scenes set on alien planets. The gravel pits turn up in so many stories that there is an urban legend that one day Doctor Who and his companions were fleeing from the Daleks in a gravel pit and bumped into Blake’s Seven running from the Federation.

Anyway, I have bought the fabric for the dress now so I’m going to have a go at it despite the doubts. I am certainly not using real leather in the side panels though. I lucked out and got a remnant of silvery grey pleather from the Cloth House on Berwick Street a couple of months ago. This pic is actually of the cutting scraps; it’s very hard to photograph.

I’ve heard pleather sticks to itself and is a pain in the neck to sew. This stuff doesn’t seem sticky though, so hopefully I’ll get away without having to get a teflon foot.

Little black dress

OK it’s a boring post title, but then this really is just a little black dress. I posted about it on Sunday but as I now have some decent pictures of it on a body, rather than a dressform, here it is again. It’s Vogue 8633 with a few tweaks. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out, although I’m not quite sure what’s going on with those creases in the skirt.

I love the collar on this style. The waist inset is also nice as it gives the dress a bit of shape. I would have added interfacing to it if this dress hadn’t been made out of a stretch fabric. I’m surprised the pattern doesn’t call for it. In fact the only place you do put interfacing is the collar facing.

I think the fit’s better on this version too, although there are still a few lines on the bodice. Of course it might just be that it looks better in darker fabric! I’ve stuck the first two versions below if anyone fancies comparing lines and creases.

I think I’m probably done with Vogue 8633 for the moment. On to the rest of the project queue, and figuring out how to make my shiny new overlocker do a rolled hem.


Whew. I finally finished the black version of Vogue 8633. Unfortunately my photographer is out on the town so I only have dressform pictures at the moment. The artificial light doesn’t really do justice to the fabric, which is a stretch twill with a wonderful sheen.

This dress was one of the things I wanted to make when I first bought a sewing machine. Not this exact pattern, but the style and fabric combination.

A long time ago, when I was first working, I bought a black dress from Oasis. It was slim and sleeveless with an invisible zip at the front and another one in the skirt vent. It was pretty expensive for me at the time but totally worth it because I wore it about once a week for years. It was the perfect combination of comfortable, smart, and little bit different. It was finally retired a few years ago, but I couldn’t bear to put it in the bin so it went into the box of retired clothes that lives under the bed.

When I started sewing I knew I wanted to make a dress like it, but it’s taken a long time to find suitable fabric. A knit wouldn’t have the right effect, but very stretchy wovens are hard to come by. The one I used turned up in Stone Fabrics‘ swatch club a few months ago. It’s perfect. I wish I’d bought more of it now!

Here is the Oasis dress for comparison.

Now I look at it again, it’s not really very like Vogue 8633. The Oasis dress has princess seams, cap sleeves, and is unlined. The Vogue has darts and no sleeves. But I have copied the zip in the skirt.

I’m so pleased to have my favourite dress back. Hopefully I’ll have some better pictures of it next time!

Managing the project queue

Ever buy fabric or a pattern for a project and then never use it because something else came along and distracted you? I’m not so bad with fabric, but I do have a box full of patterns that haven’t been made up yet. And unless I keep getting the things out of the box I forget what I’ve got planned. The ones below are just the current top six or seven. I mean ten.

I’ve tried a few things to keep track of projects in the past. Notebooks are OK but I like to be able to easily add photos and not have to carry something heavy around with me. A lot of people like Evernote, which is a powerful general notetaking service, but I don’t get on with any of the clients or even the web version for some reason. Pattern Review‘s pattern stash feature is just that – a pattern list – so isn’t quite enough.

Nattie recently pointed out My Sewing Circle to me and I think this might be the answer. It seems to be a version of Ravelry for sewists. It lets you catalogue your fabric, pattern, and project lists. The pattern database is distinctly spotty (at least compared to Pattern Review‘s comprehensive list), and I’m never going to get round to cataloguing fabric that doesn’t already have a pattern waiting for it, but I really like the project category. You can add patterns and fabrics to projects, make notes, and upload photos. So I’ve added my current project list to it and am hoping it will help avoid distraction. At least until the next Vogue Patterns collection comes out.

I can’t wait

Much food for thought about my fitting problems with Vogue 8633 – thanks everyone! The black version is underway and looking hopeful so far. And it’s distracting me from the fact that my new overlocker has not arrived.

I’ve been dithering over purchasing an overlocker for months. There are so many models on the market and I’ve never used one before so I’m not quite sure what I’m letting myself in for. I read lots of reviews on Pattern Review and was none the wiser as to which model to go for. Eventually I took myself down to my local sewing machine shop and asked for advice. I eventually decided on a Frister+Rossmann Knitlock 2/3/4 thread. It seems to have a good range of features and I’m promised it’s suitable for a beginner (and the shop throws in a couple of lessons which I think I am going to need!)

Unfortunately it was not in stock. It was supposed to come in on Wednesday but hasn’t, so fingers crossed for next week. Not that I have anything planned to sew with it yet…but I really want to have a go at threading it.

No more muslins

At what point do you give up on fit faffing and decide it’s good enough? Or conversely give up on a project altogether?

I’ve made two muslins of Vogue 8633 this week and I still can’t get it quite right, despite all the helpful suggestions! This is on top of the two actual dresses I’ve made from it previously, one of which also involved a muslin. But I love the style so much I don’t want to give up. How does Vogue get such a smooth line from the shoulder to the bust on the photo below? My body definitely does not have a straight line there. More of a concavity, in fact. And the alterations required to make the shoulders fit me at all are dramatic. The pattern pieces look nothing like the original.

But despite the less than perfect fit, the two dresses I’ve already made from this pattern are amongst my favourites. And I have some gorgeous black stretch twill to use, and I am completely sick of making muslins. So no more faffing, full steam ahead.