Getting in a flap: Vogue 1347 shirt

Back to sewing with a plan. This is the shirt from OOP Vogue 1347 made up in black linen. This is a Ralph Rucci design so it has tonnes of top-stitching and is beautifully finished on the inside. When I was getting ready to make it I threaded up the overlocker to finish the seams, and then realised I needn’t have bothered because there isn’t a single exposed seam allowance in this pattern. They’re all flat felled, bias bound, or hidden under folded and top-stitched bands. Needless to say it took a long time to make.

Here’s the technical drawing. The obviously interesting bit is of course the bands. But the sleeves are worth a look too; the top sleeve is cut in one with the front and back yoke. There’s a dart where a shoulder seam would normally be. The whole piece is on the bias so it curves nicely over the shoulder. This caused me a problem making my usual sleeve length additions: the lengthened bias piece only just squeezed into the width of my fabric. Incidentally I think there’s a problem with the body lengthen/shorten lines on the pattern: they were missing on one piece so things would have gone horribly wrong if they were followed blindly.

Vogue 1347 technical drawing, patternreview.com

I do like a pattern where the back view has some interest. Not 100% sure of the best way to wear those back bands though. The technical drawing shows them hanging loose but I’ve been wearing them knotted to hide the slight mismatch of levels where I sewed them down on each side. Oops.

The fabric is 100% linen. It was lovely to sew and press, but it had some little holes in it. I noticed one when cutting out and managed to cut around it, but to my horror I found two more in the shirt after I’d sewn most of it. I fixed them up by putting a small patch behind and doing triple zigzag over the top, and they’re practically invisible now. I’ve only seen with linen once before so not sure if this is common or if I just got unlucky?

I’m on the fence about the flappy bands. They look fantastic, but I find I need to be a bit careful not to sit on them as they crease horribly. The ones on the arms are not as annoying as I expected though. As they dangle from the elbow they mostly stay out of the way.

I’m wearing it with the trousers from the same pattern here. I haven’t been able to find any pictures of the exact original garment besides what is on the pattern envelope which is a shame – I like to see how the original was styled! The closest I found is this ensemble from Resort 2012 which looks like the same two patterns but made up in black satin rather than linen. More like very glamorous pjs than proper daywear.

Ralph Rucci Resort 2012 look 19, vogue.com

Although I haven’t worn it a lot yet I am liking this one. It looks really good with my black pleated culottes. Currently I’m putting a warm knit and several t shirts underneath but it should work worn on its own for a UK summer too. But this is definitely not a pattern to make more than once; it took about a month. Standards were definitely slipping by the end. I’ll enjoy wearing it but I need to make something a lot simpler next.

Thanks to my husband for pictures as ever!

The best laid plans go awry: Vogue 9299

This blouse is from Vogue 9299. It’s part of my wardrobe sewing plan but in this case the plan didn’t survive contact with the reality of fabric and the pattern. I wanted a slightly fancy black blouse to wear with my flared jeans and pleated culottes; not massively frilly but definitely feminine. The huge puffed sleeves and sash on view D seemed to fit the bill nicely. It’s the striped one the model is wearing on the pattern envelope.

Vogue 9299 envelope art, somethingdelightful.com

I was planning to make it in solid black and ordered 3m of wide cotton poplin. I’m now fairly sure I received the wrong fabric: it’s a lawn rather than a poplin and is much narrower than the one I was expecting. Unfortunately I didn’t spot it right away. Three metres of black shirting fabric arrived, I washed it, put it away, and only noticed the width when I pulled it out again to make up the blouse. It was far too late to do anything about it by then. I ended up shortening the pattern 20cm in order to fit it onto the fabric. The very lightweight lawn worked well for the sleeve gathering though, and I’m not convinced the longer length would have been easy to wear, so nothing was lost.

What didn’t work out is the fit. I am lucky enough to fit into Vogue’s standard sizing without needing a tonne of adjustments, but there’s no denying that the shoulders on this are far too narrow for me. Admittedly I adjusted the pattern to include a hidden button placket, but the collar still fits into the neckline so I am sure my adjustments aren’t the cause of the problem.

There is another annoyance with the pattern which is that there are no notches make sure you get the cuffs the right way around. Or if there are, I completely missed them. The slit in the sleeve which allows the cuff to open is just the open end of the underarm seam. I was honestly a bit puzzled as to which side the buttonhole went on and which the button. There were no RTW examples to be found in the house to check. I followed the very tiny technical drawings on the envelope to try to get things the right way round, but now I’m wearing the blouse I’m not even convinced the drawing way is the right way. No one’s going to notice if it is wrong, it’s just an annoyance.

Here is the back view. Apart from the shoulders there is plenty of room. I haven’t got a picture of it without the sash, but it’s voluminous.

I was hoping to be able to wear it tucked in as well as loose, but looking at the picture below I’m not entirely sure it works, at least not with my flared jeans.

When I finished this I was a bit disappointed with the results. I’ve worn it once since then, with wide legged trousers, and really enjoyed the big sleeves and the feeling of being slightly fancy. So I’m on the fence right now. Honest opinions welcome!

Still sewing with a plan

I’m making Vogue 9299, a blouse from their Easy Options range. This one really lives up to the name: two significantly different sleeve options, two collars, and two lengths; one with a straight hem and one with a curved one. There’s also a cuff variation on the puffy sleeve option.

Vogue 9299 envelope cover art, somethingdelightful.com

I’m making this as part of my attempt at sewing a wardrobe. It’s going to be in black cotton poplin so should go very well with the black pleated culottes and black jeans I’ve already made. It might also work with the silver drawstring waist trousers and the planned lantern trousers, but we’ll see.

I had to adjust the pattern quite a lot. I bought my fabric online a while ago, and the website said it was 150cm wide so I bought three metres to do the view with the long body, the shirt collar, and the puffy sleeves with cuffs. I checked the length when it arrived, but didn’t think to check the width. And when I came to use it, it turned out to be 115cm. No way was the view of the pattern I wanted fitting into that, especially as I always need to lengthen tops and sleeves. And I really wanted the curved hem version, but it was more the sash and the shape of the hem I liked than the extra long body length. I compromised by tracing that view with my usual 5cm extra length addition, which gets added between the bust and waist, and then taking 20cm length out below the waist. After that I was just able to squeeze all the pieces out of the cut I had. It helped that it was a generous three metres. I even had room to add a hidden button placket. And it’s satisfying to only have little scraps left over. I couldn’t even get a face mask out of what’s left.

Being lazy, I googled how to draft the hidden placket rather than trying to work it out for myself, and came across a tutorial from Threads. It has a nice little touch where you sew the under layers together by machine between the buttonholes. It doesn’t show on the outside but keeps everything sitting really flat. Definitely using that one again.

I’m getting on with sewing it together very slowly. I’m doing it in the evenings and really struggling to see what I’m doing on the black fabric. I need better light bulbs for the sewing room!

Flared jeans: Burda 118 04/2009

I picked this jeans pattern to make because I thought the shape was refreshingly different to anything I’ve worn in recent years. I remember having a pair of blue denim trousers from TopShop in the early 2000s with this style of leg. The pattern itself dates from 2009. I could have sworn bootcut jeans were over by then and we’d moved on to skinnies. Anyway it’s Burda 118 04/2009, which has great reviews online. The technical drawing is below but I think the real thing is much tighter on the thigh and lower on the waist than the diagram suggests.

Burda 118 04/2009 technical drawing, burdastyle.ru

I was aiming to reproduce some jeans I’d seen in a Dior ad, so I altered the shape and placement of the front patch pockets and added back ones to match. I found I didn’t need to add anything to the length of the pattern, which is very unusual for me. I added 2cm as insurance anyway and ended up removing it again by making slightly deeper turnips. I also went down a size because the fabric I used has a lot of stretch. It’s Empress Mills’ 7.5oz premium denim. It was a pleasure to work with despite the stretch. The colour is called black but it’s really more of a charcoal. I didn’t have any black top stitching thread and used a very dark grey I had lying around, which turned out to be a great match. And once again I’m baffled as to why top stitching thread is sold in such tiny reels. I always need two to do a pair of jeans.

They haven’t come out much like the inspiration garment; they would need much more ease and a higher waist for that. The style is also different from the bootcut jeans I remember wearing twenty years ago which had a very low rise. These are much easier to wear.

This is the third garment in my vague plan to sew some things that go together and although I’ve managed to stick to the list of planned garments, all I’ve made so far is trousers. So definitely a top next.

Thanks to my husband for the photos and the quarantine haircut. The UK is back in lockdown with only essential services open so it was clippers or nothing. It feels much better to have it short.

Unusual jeans pockets

I’m making flared 70s style jeans right now. The inspiration for these came from a weird coincidence. I bought the April 2009 issue of Burda off eBay to fill in a gap in my collection, and when it arrived style 118 caught my eye.

Technical drawing of Burda 118 04/2009 flared jeans with front patch pockets
Burda 118 04/2009 flared jeans with front patch pockets, burdastyle.ru

It has a definite resemblance to these Dior jeans which I’d just seen featured in a big glossy ad in a recent issue of Vogue. Something about these really attracted me, although I have to say I wouldn’t pair them with a matching denim sleeveless jacket.

Flared cotton jeans, Dior.com

Well I was looking for an interesting trouser pattern to go with a piece of black denim I have, and the Burda pattern has excellent reviews, so it had to be done. The pockets on the Dior jeans are much larger and lower than on the Burda style, but the basic lines are much the same. Both are high waisted with back darts instead of a yoke. The Burda has turn-ups and the Dior has an ordinary jeans hem. I think the Dior waistband is wider, and it has additional patch pockets on the back. It’s possibly also baggier in the thigh area.

Luckily the Dior site had some good photos of the style laid flat which give a good idea of the size, shape, and placement of the pockets. Here are the back ones.

Flared jeans, Dior.com

And here’s where I’ve got to so far.

That’s the really fiddly part done…just need to sew up the seams and put the waistband and belt loops on now. I’m probably keeping the turn-ups from the Burda style too. Maybe next week I’ll have something finished to show.

Burda 108 07/2018 pleated culottes

Here’s the first new item from my wardrobe sewing plan. These pleated culottes are intended to be a more wearable version of hakama (traditional Japanese pleated trousers) which is a look I’ve always liked.

Here’s the technical drawing. The pattern is 108 07/2018.

Technical drawing of pleated culottes Burda 108 07/2018
Burda 108 07/2018 pleated culottes technical drawing from burdastyle.ru

Burda’s version is made up in pale blue and styled with a matching letter jersey and striped sandals for a very prim and preppy look. However I’m aiming for something somewhat more samurai than Sandra Dean! Despite this I didn’t need to make changes to the pattern other than adding length: the 5cm that I always need to add to Burda trousers and then another 4cm on top. All the difference is in the fabric and styling.

Woman in pale blue pleated culottes and letter jersey
Burda 108 07/2018 model photo, burdastyle.ru

The fabric is a cotton drill from Empress Mills. This is quality stuff: really sturdy, blackest black, and stable. It’s such a pleasure to sew with well behaved cotton.

Cotton isn’t the ideal thing for pleats because they won’t stay pleated after washing. I’ve edge stitched mine to try to make them stay put. The process is a bit different from Burda’s method. I first basted the pleats down the whole length of the leg, pressed them very well, then pulled out the basting and edge stitched all the folds from the top edge to just above where the hem would turn up to (of which more in a moment). To keep the pleats stitched down over the hips I then top stitched them down over the previous edge stitching to the point where they’re supposed to release. My edge/ditch stitching foot worked overtime on this project. I spent a whole evening just on the main pleating, and most of another folding and stitching the pleats at the hem after doing the hemming. It would have been easier to make the hem before pleating, but that relies on knowing exactly how long you want it to be in advance.

They’ve come out well though and they make some great shapes when in motion.

The culottes fasten with an invisible zip at centre back. I thought I’d done a pretty good job putting it in at the time but there’s a bit of pulling in the photos – see the drag lines pointing to the bottom of the zip.

The back view on these is very plain. Real hakama would have additional overlapping pleats at the back, but I have an office job and I imagine back pleats would look less than great after being sat upon all day. Hakama also fasten with ties around the waist and have long triangular gaps at the side waist; they’re intended to be worn over a long top so the gaps don’t reveal anything. Burda’s version has a conventional side seam instead, which handily allows for inseam pockets. There’s also a self fabric belt, which cleverly hides any slight mismatching that may have happened when sewing the innermost pleats, which are supposed to meet each other exactly at the centre front seam. Again this isn’t right for real hakama, where the centre front pleats should overlap.

I initially only lengthened these by my usual 5cm, but when I tried them on I realised I wanted them longer. I managed to squeeze out some extra length by facing the hem instead of turning it up. In the highly unlikely event I make these again I’d add even more to the length.

I’m very pleased with how they’ve come out. I have nothing else like them in my wardrobe but they go with most of my existing tops and I like the unusual shape. The eagle-eyed may have noticed that I’m wearing trainers in some of these photos and ridiculous heels in others, and I think they work with both. The top is my Rick Owens knockoff from a couple of years ago. Time will tell how practical these really are; they’re comfortable to wear but the real test will be how much effort they are to wash and iron.

Thanks to my husband for immensely patient and creative photo taking as always!

Vogue 1376 vintage Montana dress modelled pictures

So here it is at last, my vintage 80s dress. It seems odd to think of 80s patterns as vintage, given I remember the decade quite well. But at the time I definitely didn’t appreciate fashion and had never heard of Claude Montana.

The pattern is Vogue 1376 from 1984. I’m almost certain the original designer dress is the one in this advert. I did consider constructing a blue cardboard triangle to put on my head but you’ll be pleased to hear sanity prevailed. My styling efforts are limited to 80s style stripy blusher.

This dress is all about the enormous shoulders. The bodice front and back are only joined together from the waist down in order to achieve that very triangular shape. Decency is maintained by side insets placed in the gap and topstitched in place. One of the insets is visible in this side view. What you can’t see here are the two shoulder pads each side required to support the shape.

Here’s a back view. I added quite a bit to the length. I always add 5cm to the bodice on Vogue but on this one I added another 3cm to the skirt. I’m very happy with where the hem has ended up. For once I’ve managed to hit the magic length which covers the knee but doesn’t make my legs look oddly proportioned. I’m wearing ridiculous heels here for photographic purposes but I think this would look OK with flats. I browsed through a lot of YouTube videos of Montana fashion shows while identifying this pattern, and was surprised by how low and practical many of the shoes were. Not how I remember 80s style. Is it just that heels got even higher later on? I remember fashion suddenly declaring that flats were OK after all at some time in the second half of the 90s, and how refreshing it was to be able to find shoes that were both attractive and practical.

There are a lot of details on the back: there’s a button closure, pleats, and a belt. On the original design the belt appears to be patent leather, but I stuck with self fabric and a lot of interfacing for mine. Incidentally the fabric is gaberchino from Empress Mills. I think this design needs something not too heavy, but with a bit of body to it.

The front has the amazing pocket flanges which echo the triangular shoulder shape and the overall outline. The whole thing is very thoughtfully designed.

Surprisingly it’s not all that close fitting, as you can see here. I made my usual size and I seem to have more ease than on the original. I don’t think I’d want it any tighter though.

I’m pleased with this, although who knows how much I’ll get to wear it in the near future. It was a lot of fun to make anyway.

Utterly impractical sewing

Remember this? It’s a old Vogue designer pattern I bought earlier in the year because it is everything I love about the 80s.

It hasn’t just been sitting in my pattern collection; I am actually making it up. It’s been quite a journey so far and it’s not done yet. But I have finally got it to the point where it looks like a dress, so I thought I’d post some progress pictures.

The pattern envelope does not lie. The shoulders are seriously wide. Consequently the waist looks tiny. It hasn’t got shoulder pads in yet either, so those shoulders are going to be even bigger when it’s done.

The hip pocket flaps form amazing sticky out fins when the dress is on a body or dress form. My other half said it reminded him of a 50s Cadillac. Underneath them are welt pockets.

The fabric is gaberchino. It needs to be something that is drapey enough for the pleats in the bodice back but has enough body to make the more structured details. I’ve used a lot of interfacing to beef it up in places.

Here’s a better view of the shoulder and neck. The pins are holding the armscye facing in place as I haven’t topstitched it yet.

And here is the back; there is a lot going on there. There are going to be buttons and button holes on the upper back bands and at the collar and the back half-belt. My dress form has a much shorter waist than I do so it won’t be quite so blousy on me.

I still need to add insets under the arms, do a ton of topstitching, put the shoulder pads in, and make all those buttonholes. Oh and hem it, too. There is loads of work in this and that’s without making any effort to make the insides look nice – the pattern doesn’t call for anything special there so it’s all overlocked seam allowances. It’s a wonderful pattern though; beautifully drafted and full of interesting details. It’s been a lot of fun to sew.

I’m coming to the conclusion that the end result is going to be less wearable than I’d originally thought, what with the high neck and the very narrow skirt. But it will be a spectacular dress for going out somewhere fancy in, if we ever get to do that again. And when I finish it I will do my best to get some good photos…I’d better look up some 80s makeup inspiration.

Vogue 1466 modelled photos

Vogue 1466 jacket in black boiled wool

Here’s another project I finished during lockdown and didn’t get modelled photographs of until now. This is the jacket from out-of-print Vogue 1466, a Donna Karan design. Boringly I made it in the same colour as the designer original, although I think the Donna Karan fabric is woven (wool melton) and mine is a stable knit (boiled wool). Here’s the pattern envelope photo.

Vogue 1466 envelope photo
Vogue 1466 envelope photo, McCalls

And my terrible photo of the line art from the back of the envelope, because by the time I went looking for that the pattern had long since vanished from the McCalls site.

Photo of Vogue 1466 line art from back of envelope
Vogue 1466 line art from back of envelope, McCalls, my photo

I made this as a warm layer for wearing at work, because the room I work in at home is much colder than the rest of the house.

The back is very plain indeed.

But there’s all sorts going on at the front between the asymmetric closure, the pockets, and the collar tab. The pockets should be double welts not single but I couldn’t make it work with my very thick fabric.

I had to add an extra snap to the front to get it to not gape at the waist if I don’t stand up perfectly straight. The model on the pattern envelope is wearing a belt so doesn’t have that problem and all the runway pictures I could find had belts too. I tried mine with a belt but prefer it like this because there is a ton of ease at the waist and it looks a bit bulky when pulled in.

I noticed Donna Karan did some variations on this style with various bits of embellishment on the sleeves which looked very nice, but definitely not everyday wear.

I doubt this is going to get worn much until the weather cools down but I think I’ll be very glad of it in the autumn. I keep reading about how we’re all dressing super casually now thanks to coronavirus but it doesn’t seem to be true for me. I like putting an outfit together even if no one is going to see it other than my husband and son. On which note, thanks again to my husband for taking the pictures and managing to capture detail in black boiled wool…not easy. Although the high quality pictures did make me realise just how tired the skirt I’m wearing here has become (also Vogue, 8956 but out of print so no link). I’ve carefully edited out the shots where the sad saggy hem is visible. Going to have to either fix that one or remake it this year.

Wearability: sleeveless black dresses

Time for another review of how some of my projects have worn over the years. This time I’m looking at three different black dresses, all sleeveless.

The oldest is Vogue 1410, a Lynn Mizono design. I made it in 2014 and it’s still going strong. It’s a very clever pattern. The insides are finished beautifully with French seams and the hem is adjustable to four different lengths by way of buttonholes and buttons on the inside of the side seams. I added side seam pockets to my version but otherwise made it up as the pattern instructed, scorching my fingers pressing the tiny hems around the neck and armscyes.

Here’s the second shortest length. This is flattering but I find it is a bit too short for comfort most days. The shortest one is much too short to be wearable and the second longest doesn’t look good on me.

When I made this I didn’t expect I’d ever wear it at the longest length, but to my surprise I find this is the best of all. It reveals the lantern shape of the skirt and feels modern and architectural. But best of all it is easy to throw on, requiring no great thought about choice of footwear or matching with other pieces.

The dress has an elastic cord which pulls it in under the bust. When my son was small he found it soothing to play with, so wearing the dress now reminds me of him as a baby.

The black fabric is a little faded after six years; otherwise it’s in good condition. I’ll definitely remake this one when it finally falls to pieces. But I’m going to finish the edges with bias tape next time to save my fingers.

Next up is an old favourite, Burda 117 02/2012. I’ve made this pattern many times, tweaking it in every iteration. This version is made from a dirt cheap mystery black scuba bought in the Birmingham Rag Market. It’s probably polyester with lycra.

It doesn’t show well in the photos but the pattern has lots of diagonal seamlines. This is a great pattern for colour blocking but I have preferred my solid versions. The scuba fabric is perfect for the style: thick enough to provide coverage but still with plenty of stretch. When I wear this I feel smart but still very comfortable. This version has become a staple for work days, especially in winter when I put a long sleeved black t-shirt and thick black tights under it.

I made the pattern again more recently in a grey ponte, slightly thinner than the scuba, and it’s not as good. The grey fabric is showing wear already. But the scuba is indestructible; a good thing because I think I’ll be wanting to wear the black dress for years to come.

The last dress of the three is the least successful. This is Vogue 1501, a Rachel Comey design. The pattern didn’t appeal to me on first release but then I read a few blogs where people raved about their versions. What sold me on it was the promise of an interesting shape that was still easy to wear. The bodice only attaches to the skirt at centre front and the rest floats free so it’s a summer-only dress.

I was very pleased with it when I finished it, but the weather turned just then and I didn’t get a chance to wear it until the following summer. And since then, for some reason, it has mostly stayed in the wardrobe. I think it’s a little too fussy for me. The bodice doesn’t stay in place particularly well, and the fabric is too warm to go with a sleeveless style. I normally like a garment with shoulder pads, but they don’t seem appropriate for the sort of hot sunny weather when I’d wear this.

I’m not sure what to do about this one. I probably should have made it out of linen and skipped the shoulder pads but it’s too late now. I can’t bring myself to part with it just yet so it will stay in the wardrobe a while longer while I try to come up with a way to wear it.