Out with the old

I have lots of sewing plans for 2022 and very little wardrobe space. It’s time to purge some things I don’t wear any more. And as I still haven’t finished my Montana coat, here’s a blog post about the garments I’m getting rid of instead.

First up is my Vogue 8956 skirt. Sadly I don’t have a great photo of it because being made of black wool flannel it soaks up the light. This back view is about the best.

But to give a better idea of the shape, here’s the model photo. Very Vivienne Westwood.

Vogue 8956 envelope photo, somethingdelightful.com

I’m getting rid of it because it’s no longer fit to be seen. The fabric was beautiful but it wore badly; fuzzing and shrinking when washed. I also made a mistake in swapping the pattern’s suggested narrow hem for a deep faced hem with interfacing that was too heavy for the design. And I attached a lining to the hem. The shell and lining fabric shrank at different rates, the lining pulled on the hem, the hem facing descended, and the whole thing became very sad indeed. It sounds like a disaster, but before all this happened it was a dramatic yet very practical skirt that I wore a lot. It even got compliments at work.

One day I’ll make the pattern again, but this time I’ll keep the lining free from the shell and not interface the hem.

The second one is a pair of Oxford bags made in the same black wool flannel and the same shrinking happened. They are Burda 118 09/2015.

They were always a touch too short. I’d made the pattern once before and they’d turned out slightly long and a little big in the waist. So when I repeated it I took the waist in and shortened the leg, not taking into account that the smaller waist would make them sit higher. Again they had a lot of wear, and as I washed them they got shorter and shorter and more and more fuzzy. After a few years they looked disgraceful so I stopped reaching for them.

I guess the moral is don’t wash wool flannel. I still have the original, slightly too long, pair of these in my wardrobe. Wearing them with braces has cured the length issue. I may make the pattern again when that pair wears out.

The next one, by contrast, hardly got worn at all. This is Burda 110 08/2017 and when I’d just finished it I was really enthusiastic about it.

But once I started wearing it I realised that it wasn’t as comfortable as I’d thought. It’s made in a very stretchy, lightweight viscose jersey and the skirt has a ruched section. The bodice isn’t stable enough to support the weight of the skirt so it pulls down, and the ruching on the skirt sags at the front. Every time I saw it in the mirror I found myself adjusting the skirt. Perhaps the skirt needed to be tighter to hold the ruching- but then it would be hard to walk in. I think this would have worked better in a different fabric, but I’m not sure what. Maybe lycra jersey? And the bodice needs a second layer. This got very few wears and I don’t miss it now it’s gone. I am curious though: what sort of fabric makes these ruched designs work? I have a couple of old Donna Karan Vogue patterns in my collection with similar ruching, and I have read pattern reviews where people complained about the same sagging.

The last one is yet another Burda, 116 04/2014. It was the last project I completed before lockdown. It photographs well but has a fundamental design flaw.

If you look at the collar and placket there is a inward right angle corner where they join; the collar doesn’t extend across the top of that placket like you’d expect. This is a terribly weak point: you have two stable interfaced bands, the collar and the placket, meeting at right angles at an uninterfaced edge of the bodice. It frayed and tore.

So sadly that one has had to be retired after not a lot of use. It was also a little difficult to style. It isn’t warm enough on its own for most UK weather and it looks odd with a layer underneath the top. And for hot weather I have other summer dresses I prefer – this one is a bit too short for wearing with bare legs. I think the design might work better in black, with the collar fixed, but I didn’t love it enough that I want to make it again.

So that’s made a little space for some new things. I have some patterns lined up I’m really excited about.

19 thoughts on “Out with the old

    1. I have a wool cycle on my machine (cold and not much spin) which is OK for most of my wools, but it seems not this particular one. I don’t hand wash – life’s too short. I can really recommend the Vogue pattern; I think it’s very well drafted.

  1. Shame about the wool flannel. I always try to wash things myself…I try to avoid dry cleaners (I don’t have anything against them in their own right, but we don’t have one close by..then items start to pile up waiting to go them…)
    I was going to make myself a pair of loose fit trousers in wool flannel so I’m pleased I’ve read your post on it, and I’ll ditch that plan.
    I really like the white dress though (especially the shaped, faced hem) – I think it really suits you, but as you said, the UK is flipping chilly a lot of the time.
    Do you deconstruct and recycle old clothing or do you send them off to the charity shops?

    1. Yes, I’m not big on dry cleaning either. Far too much hassle! I usually give things to charity shops if they’re in a reasonable condition, but if they’ve worn out I bag them up for textile recycling next time we’re going to the tip, salvaging things like buttons. I’m not good at repurposing garments.

  2. Too bad the flannel shrank. Making pants is so much work. My washing machine isn’t fancy enough to have a wool cycle. The one time 100% wool woven pants were hand washed they shrank – it was beautiful wool, a Michael Kors pattern and my mom had made them for me.

  3. I think to solve the sagging ruching area I would try some sort of hidden stays, perhaps an underlayer with the top layer tacked to it .

    All the best from Denver, Colorado!


    1. Charity shop if they’re fit to wear, otherwise textile recycling. I do fear that the charity shop probably puts them straight into the recycling though, the lack of a size and care label probably means they are hard to sell

      1. I was looking in a charity shop yesterday and I saw a home-made top made with Liberty fabric (I recognised the fabric). It was quite well made with French seams (sorry, I always look inside clothes these days to see how they are made). I do think that the lack of size and care label doesn’t put off some charity shops when they can sell the item as “vintage” or “retro”. But perhaps this is something that only happens in cities because the staff know there are plenty of younger people happy to spend their time happily hunting for such gems.

  4. It reminds me of the old Issey Miyake patterns Vogue had decades back–I still have a jacket/coat/quirky angled something made from one somewhere and ought to fish it out from wherever it is. It always interests me to see what you make, since it generally strikes me as a sort of wardrobe Bowie and Tilda Swinton might fight over and then agree to share, both to great benefit!

  5. I love the skirt and may have to hunt down that pattern! You’re very disciplined with clearing out. I have lots planned but I can’t make the cut of what will have to go to make way for it all.

  6. It’s good to have a purge and sort out. I’m curious though…do you ever alter something when the fit is off? It’s something I do a lot for things I’ve made. It would be easy enough to take the waist in of your too-big trousers. It’s something I used to do a lot when I sewed for others too

  7. I am really good about purging things that no longer work except when I had a special connection to the fabric, then it breaks me! LOL!!!!

    Too bad on all of these. I could totally see that ruched dress needing some form of stability and support to work…I feel like Burda rarely hits the construction needed on ruched garments. :/

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