Slow burner? Vogue summer 2012 patterns

The sewing blogosphere and its feline helpers have already reviewed the new Vogue patterns, and in the main the reaction has been one of disappointment. And on first glance at the collection I had to agree. It didn’t even strike me as particularly fugly, just uninspiring. There is one honourable exception in 1305. I don’t think I’m very likely to make this, but it’s spectacular nonetheless.

Vogue 1305

After a few days I went back to it and had a closer look. Turns out there are a few things I like after all, they just aren’t the designer or vintage numbers.

Take 8808. The sample appears to have been made up out a pair of curtains, but imagine it in a solid colour. The long version would be both glamorous and comfortable. The knee length version would make a great day dress.

Vogue 8808

And then there’s 8814, another really verstaile, simple style – and heaven, it comes in custom cup sizes so no FBA.

Vogue 8814

I’m still going to wait until the sale though.


I’m never quite sure how often to change the needle on the overlocker. I change the sewing machine needle for most new projects, but I’ve been using the same overlocker needle for a while. The tension on the overlocker was being more than usually temperamental recently so I decided to treat it to a new needle. When I got the old needle out and had a good look at it I realised I should have done that a long time ago! In the picture below the needle from the overlocker is the one on the bottom and the top one is a brand-new universal size 90.

Damaged overlocker needle with new universal needle

No wonder things weren’t quite right. Here’s the universal needle next to a new stretch needle. That’s more like it.

After the change of needle and bit more fiddling with the tension the overlocker is working smoothly again. Phew.

New toys

Thank-you all so much for the suggestions about accessorising the peacock print dress. I’m going to have to do some shoe shopping, such hardship!

For a long time now I have been putting off having my long-suffering Elna sewing machine serviced. The only place it can be done locally only services machines on a few days a week and always has a waiting list, and I can’t bear to be without it for the week or two it will take to put it in the queue and get it done. But it really does have tension problems. And I recently got paid for some teaching I did last term. So I bought this.

Singer sewing machine

It is exactly what I wanted in a backup machine. It’s a lot more basic than my main machine – no stretch stitches or one-step buttonhole – but it’s fast and it has the one feature I find the Elna lacks, which is that the needle position can change to the right as well as the left. And the feet and bobbins seem to be compatible. I took the Elna’s feet into the shop to try them out on different machines just to make sure.

I’ve sewed a little with it so far, and apart from the fact that the presser foot lift’s in an unexpected place I’m getting on well with it. Now I just have to haul the Elna in to the shop – I’m glad it has a sturdy case!

The amazing technicolor dress

This dress is certainly not my usual style. I normally wear solid colours, lots of black, fitted garments. But I fell in love with the fabric, the fabric dictated the pattern (Burda 111-03-2010), and here it is.

I lined the dress with a very drapey, slippery knit mesh. The extra weight of the lining probably helps the low neckline stay put – which it does surprisingly well.

I don’t know what’s up with the hem in the shot below. I swear it’s not that uneven in real life.

I have a wedding to go to in June and I’d like to wear this; I’m really not sure what accessories to put with it though. Thoughts most welcome!

The eyes, the eyes: print placement

Remember this peacock feather print fabric? I’ve spent a lot of time staring at it over the last few days, trying to work out the best way to make a dress out of it. I swear I will be seeing peacock feather eyes in my sleep tonight.

I was originally attracted to the print by the very strong lines of mirror symmetry, which run along the crossgrain. The fabric selvedges are along the top and bottom of the picture below. I thought at first the print had repeats both vertically and horizonally. However if you look closely it turns out that the two rows of red medallion motifs in the picture are not identical, although you have to go a little way down from the motif to see the difference. Compare the six green eyes below each red circle. The ones from the top row are larger and spaced slightly differently to those in the middle row. So this is a frieze print rather than a wallpaper print.

(Image heavily manipulated in an attempt to get consistent contrast throughout)

The dress pattern I’m using is Burda 111-03-2010. I picked it because the front and back skirts and the bodice back are all cut on the fold, which interrupts the print as little as possible.

Burda 111-03-2010

But how to place the pattern on the fabric? I wasn’t sure where to put the bold motifs. I tried sketching the dress on my croquis in the GIMP and laying that over my photos of the fabric. Here are two versions, one with a red medallion at the waist and one with the pink feather motif centred on the skirt front. I prefer the version on the right with the brighter colours are in the centre; it seems to highlight the symmetry of the design.

Patterns overlaid onto technical drawing

Of course cutting it out was a bit more complicated because I had to think about pattern placement on the sleeves as well as the skirt. Here’s what I ended up with (colours slightly enhanced).

I put the red medallions on the sleeves at the front. I’m hoping they’ll give an effect a bit like butterfly wings.

Peacock dress cut fabric pieces - front

On the back I wanted the eye to be drawn to the top of the dress rather than my backside so I put the pink feathers on the bodice back and the red medallion just below the bodice seam; it should land on the small of the back.

Peacock dress cut fabric pieces - back

The pattern won’t match up at all along the seams but it’s a busy enough print that it won’t matter, I hope.

Silver trousers

The silver trousers are done. These are Burda 103B-07-2010 again. My previous attempt was made in black stretch denim. The silver fabric is also denim, but definitely non-stretch. I made the same size as I did the first pair because I really didn’t want them to be baggy, but basted them together to check the fit before sewing the seams. Despite the lack of stretch they’re still comfortable.

I lowered the waist on these by about an inch from the original style. They’re also a bit longer in the leg than the black pair. In fact they’re a bit too long – see all the creasing round my ankles – but I really prefer them that way.

I made these in a jeans style with double top-stitched inseams and yoke seams, but none of that has showed up in the pictures so you’ll have to take my word for it.

The fabric is more of a pewter colour than full on bacofoil silver. It looks a bit shinier in the sunlight, below. The silver is painted on to a black base fabric and in places the paint is not even. Luckily the only place where I’ve ended up with much of a mismatch is the top of one of the inseams so it can’t be seen.

And here’s the obligatory back view. The fit’s far from perfect, but if I’d found silver skinny jeans in the shops in anything approximating my size I’d have bought them, so I’m very happy with these. It’s really great being able to sew things!

Claire’s Walthamstow meetup

Hah, I wrote this on Saturday, having just got back from Claire’s Walthamstow fabric swap and shopping meetup. I was so tired I forgot to press publish. But it was so much fun!

I got some wonderful things in the swap. Thanks Karen, Jane, Rachel and Zoe!

Patterns from the swap

And some gorgeous fabric…

Orangey-red cotton for a shirt dress.

Orange cotton

Amazing acid green, black, and white chiffon print. This is probably going to be a Vogue 1240 for a wedding I’m going to this summer.

Green, black, and white chiffon

And this pink, green, and red peacock feather print which is going to be a maxi dress.

Peacock feather print

But best of all, lots of chatting about sewing and fabric with like-minded sewists. List below shamelessy cut-n-pasted from the wonderfully organised Claire. She had a clipboard. And pictures of everyone. And maps. And a tape measure. And cake. Two sorts of cake.

Thanks everyone for a great day. And especial thanks to Claire for organising it – you are a star!