Brainteaser: Vogue 1400

Making this dress was a learning experience. It looked straightforward on the pattern envelope: a cotton shirt dress with very little shaping, rated Easy. But look a little more closely. The chest pockets are not simple patch pockets; they have tiny little gussets. There’s a slightly fiddly shoulder cut-out feature, which you probably can’t see on the first couple of pictures. And to get the prescribed clean internal finish on the neckline facing involves turning under and stitching smoothly around some extremely curved edges. Getting a good outcome on this one doesn’t call for a lot of fitting expertise, but it requires great precision at all stages of cutting and sewing. I found it a moderately challenging project; more of an “Average” than an “Easy”.

Vogue 1400

Here’s the original envelope picture. I kind of wish I’d made mine in white too, although I know that in reality I wouldn’t wear it much if I had. A lot of the detail is lost in a darker fabric, particularly that beautifully shaped neckline facing. I top-stitched mine on the machine (the original is hand top-stitched with a running stitch) and it blends in a bit too much. I also considerably shortened the front and back slits to make my version bra-friendly. Sizing is consistent with other Vogue patterns: as usual I made one size down from the one the size chart suggested and added 5cm length.

Vogue 1400 envelope photo

The shoulders are surprising. The small cutout gives a very square shouldered effect, especially from the back, despite the actual shoulder seam being dropped. If I made this again I think I might pinch out a bit on the back shoulder to soften the line. On the other hand, it’s certainly a dramatic effect. And it’s a version of the current cold shoulder trend that I actually like, which is unusual.

Vogue 1400

Choosing interfacing for this was tricky. The shell fabric is a black cotton poplin shirting from Croft Mill. I interfaced with Vilene G700, a lightweight woven fusible, and I think even that is a touch too heavy. But on the other hand you need some structure around the cutouts and the splits. Self fabric interfacing might work well.

Getting a clean edge on the facing is a nightmare. I block fused it, which was probably my first mistake. The pattern has you turn and press a tiny little hem, trim it down even further, and then edgestitch it. I stitched a guideline along the foldline first which was a great help but it was still tricky to do on the interfaced fabric and I burnt my fingers a few times. I am wondering if the facing would be better made of two layers of shell fabric stitched together and then turned out. Or perhaps even the technique where you sew a layer of fusible interfacing to the facing with the non-glued side of the fusible to the right side of the fabric, turn out, and then fuse the two layers together.

The instructions for facing the cutout edge along the top of the sleeve were similarly fiddly, although there I’m not sure I can come up with any improvement other than binding the whole armscye seam, which is also a faff and means making bias binding from the shell fabric. However there was an awful lot of ‘sew a 1.5cm seam and now trim this edge down’ in the directions where it would have been simpler to just cut pieces out the right size to start with and instruct the maker to use a smaller seam allowance.

Vogue 1400

I sound pretty grumpy here but in fact this pattern was a good workout for the brain and I have worn the end result. It needs a wide contrasting belt to look good, which is faff, but I like all the pockets! I’m kind of tempted to try making it again just to try out my construction thoughts…if only I had the time.

29 thoughts on “Brainteaser: Vogue 1400

    1. Yes, it’s really non-obvious from the main photo on the envelope. It’s kind of difficult to photograph them without making a deliberate effort to, so I can see why it ended up that way.

  1. You always make up patterns I wouldn’t look twice at (I don’t know why that is either) but when I see them on you, I think, “WOW that is a really interesting pattern!” I love this dress – the neck facing, cut outs at the shoulder and those “bagged” pockets jettison this dress into runway realm 🙂 It’s gorgeous but I know what you mean that after spending all that time figuring out and doing those fiddly bits you want them to show a LOT 🙂 I’m hoping you do make another in a colour that showcases these design features and your ability to create them so perfectly.

  2. I like the subtle cold shoulder on this dress. It looks current but not too trendy. I also love your styling with the sash belt.

  3. I looked at that pattern and went on looking. But now that I see it on you, I really like it a lot. Your dress looks great!

  4. You did a stellar job and I think yours looks better than the white one. Love, love, love your shoes too.

  5. What a fabulous dress. Just a query- did you shorten the back opening? It looks longer on the pattern line drawing. ( We also faff about in Australia too)

  6. Usually I can’t see a pattern until you interpret it, but this one I loved (and it is easier to see the details on white than black), mainly because of the pockets. But then I thought – it’s not got enough waist shaping for me, and didn’t buy it. It looks great with the wide belt, but I am thinking – what about a shirt, or a tunic, over jeans?

  7. This looks great on you with the contrast belt. It’s not a style I can wear (short waisted), but it’s absolutely right on you. I’d probably go with this facing finish in a firm fabric “Or perhaps even the technique where you sew a layer of fusible interfacing to the facing with the non-glued side of the fusible to the right side of the fabric, turn out, and then fuse the two layers together.”.

  8. Really lovely make, Catherine! I admire your patience with the details. And love the way you have styled it with the belt and the sandals too!

  9. I saw this pattern but what put me off in the pattern was the see through white. I supposed I should have thought of using another colour? LOL. Yours is lovely. Very dramatic, I think. I have a favourite top pattern that has a pointy dart at the shoulders like yours, I always end up curving the dart at the end to make the shoulders more rounded. But then you would lose you designer style, I suppose?

  10. This is gorgeous. I always look at Guy Laroche patterns with secret envy/hate because they would look terrible on short-waisted me! I wasn’t crazy about this particular one because of the bodice pockets (not a good idea if one generally requires an FBA), but it looks amazing on you. I love the black version, and although the belt is a lot of work, it just makes the dress look ‘finished’, imho. I’m curious about the shoulders, and would love to see a close up!

  11. You really have a talent in seeing potential in patterns, and then making a version that looks far better than the original! (A part from the lost details like neckline facing as you mention.)

  12. I love that you have a very defined style, but always find a wide variety of patterns that work for you. This looks fabulous and I love all the little details even if they are a bit hard to see in black. It’s interesting you mentioned that fusible facing technique, I always forget about that one until it’s too late, but it is often a perfect solution.

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