I need a lie down: Vogue 1548 finished

It’s finished. I sewed the last few buttons on today. The finished version of Vogue 1548 is both brilliant and weird, and I suspect it is one of the most complicated things I have ever made.

Modelled pictures will have to wait a bit but I do have flat and detail shots, and some construction notes.

Here’s the full length view. Those gathered bands at the cuffs and hem were surprisingly tricky. I did the cuffs the standard way: sewing two rows in each seam allowance with a long stitch length and low tension and then pulling up the threads. The end result wasn’t very even. For the hem band I tried zigzagging over a heavy thread (two rows again) and pulling that up. That was very slow and fiddly but slightly easier to control.

And here’s the back. The centre pleats don’t quite meet at the zip because I needed a little extra room there. But I’m pleased with how well the waist seam and the top of the zip are matched up.

Less pleased with the back neck facing which has an annoying mismatch where it’s sewn to the zip. I don’t do hand sewing if I can possibly avoid it, so I did the all-machine method for attaching the lining and facing to the zip and got a bit sloppy. It won’t show when the dress is being worn so I decided not to unpick it.

I bagged out the lining, again to avoid hand sewing.

The sleeve linings have little pleats at the cuff.

The really special feature of this dress is the plastron. It has a lot of precision top stitching and 12 precisely placed buttonholes. I didn’t try to use the original pattern markings to position any of that because I’d had to alter the pattern piece to add a lot of length and they all needed redrawing. I made up the basic plastron and then used a patchwork ruler and marked new guidelines directly onto the fabric with chalk. To stop the layers shifting under all the top stitching I put some fusible web inside the plastron before closing it up. That worked well although I suspect quilters may have better methods.

Here’s the dress without the plastron. The neckline is pretty but I doubt I’ll wear it like that because the buttons look a bit odd to my eye.

One last picture with a better view of the amazing sleeves. I can’t wait to wear it.

Asymmetric Vogue 8956 skirt

When I started sewing I was more than a little frustrated by the complete lack of beginner patterns for styles I wanted to sew. Vogue 8956 is a skirt pattern I would have loved to have seen back then. It’s unusual and stylish, and it’s dead simple to make. And for bonus marks you get three views and two skirt lengths. I made view B  which is the version in the envelope photo below: the longer length with one side drape.

Vogue 8956 envelope art

Here is a less arty but clearer shot of it on me which shows that it really is a wrap skirt. That wrap stays put beautifully by the way. This is a well drafted pattern.

Here is the back. The fabric is a black wool flannel from Croft Mill. I also made a pair of trousers from this. It has a little bit of lycra in it, not enough to make it stretchy. I hoped the lycra would repel creases but it doesn’t seem to. It had to be ironed immediately before taking these photos.

The original pattern isn’t lined. I suspect that is to keep it simple, but it does mean you can see the wrong side of the fabric on the asymmetric version where the hem dips down, including the inside of the side seam. Lining the skirt hides all that and in theory should be fairly simple to do. The easiest way would be to hem the lining and the skirt separately. I decided to go a bit further and completely seal up the insides by making a hem facing for the skirt and attaching my lining to that. The next picture just shows the lining (black acetate/viscose satin from The Lining Company) and the hem facing.

I definitely won’t use this lining method again for this particular pattern. The hem facing reduces the drape of the skirt and needs a lot of help to stay up: I ended up catch stitching it to the skirt by hand. It was also a pain in the neck to make all the extra pattern pieces. And in a fit of madness I interfaced the hem facing which was fiddly to do and reduced the drape even more. Next time I make this I’ll hem the skirt and the lining separately. It would be great with a swishy taffeta lining. Incidentally the original pattern calls for making a narrow hem on the skirt, which sounds tricky in wool. I’d be inclined to go for matching bias binding turned to the inside.

I added side seam pockets. The one on the non-drapey side of the skirt tends to show a bit. I forgot to understitch the pocket bag which does not help. But for once I got the placement just right: not too high, not too low. The back pocket bag is made from the flannel and the front from lining.

The sizing on this one runs slightly smaller than I am used to in Vogue but I still needed to make one size down from what the size chart suggested. If in doubt look at the finished garment measurements on the tissue as they are much more helpful than the size chart. It’s also a generous length. I did not add to the length at all and I would normally add 5cm. I wouldn’t want it longer than it is.

I am very happy with this project. Someone at work even said they liked it and it’s very unusual for my colleagues to notice clothes at all. Now I just need to find the right fabric for the next version.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black

Cosy drapery: wool jersey Drape Drape dress

This is a bit of everyday luxury: a fabric hogging pattern made in 100% wool double knit. I know I’m going to wear it a lot though. I’ve made the pattern before and it became one of my favourite dresses.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black front view

The pattern was originally style 6 from the Drape Drape 2 book. I’ve adapted it quite a bit to add sleeves and pockets. Lots of details on that at the post about my last version. For this iteration I only made minor changes. I moved the pockets up a couple more inches. I also added a centre back seam sewed wrong sides together on the overlocker to give the back a bit of interest. I tried to use the new seam to reduce the bagginess of the back but I didn’t go far enough because it’s still a bit loose.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black back view

One of the things I love about this is the pockets. They are very simple inseam ones but they make the dress so much more wearable. I used some mystery lightweight stretch interfacing on the opening edges to give them a bit of extra support. The front pocket lining is made from a scrap of heavy stretch satin woven I had left over from something or other. I think using wool for the lining would have been too bulky. Incidentally the wool fabric is from Croft Mill but they seem to have sold out. The satin almost certainly came from The Lining Company.

I sewed it with a size 100 ball point needle on the sewing machine as in places you are sewing through four or five thick layers and I didn’t think size 90 would cope. My overlocker was set up with size 90 stretch needles because I didn’t have any more size 100, but it struggled with anything more than two layers of the wool. It also completely refused to trim the edge on the the really thickly layered bits. I finally gave up on finishing the inside of the cowl nicely after breaking a needle on it. Maybe I need a new overlocker blade? But it might just be that I’m asking too much of the machine as it’s never been great at cutting very thick fabric.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black front view with pockets

I still find the construction of this pattern a bit of a mystery even though I’ve made it four times; I always have to look at the diagrams in the book to work out how to sew the cowl. The picture below shows a bit of the construction. The cowl has one edge free around the back of the neck and shoulders but that gets caught into the side seams further down. I should have pressed that side seam more, oops.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black side view

I’m very pleased with this. It’s really warm and easy to wear, but looks like I’ve made a bit of an effort. And speaking of (not) making an effort, I’ve stopped dyeing my hair. This is the first time my natural colour has ever appeared on the blog. Might keep it this way for a bit.

Grey skinny jeans – Burda 115-03-2014

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

I am in desperate need of practical clothes. By practical I mean warm, has pockets, and washable. So I made Burda’s classic five pocket jeans pattern again, in grey denim this time. I had a pair of grey skinny jeans ten plus years ago when Kate Moss made them achingly trendy, and I still have a soft spot for the style even though it probably now looks extremely dated.

The first picture (above) is how I’d normally wear them at this time of year, but below they are shown without the thick cardigan. The top they are shown with is Vogue 8866.

I adjusted the pattern a bit after my first attempt: took a bit off the leg length, did a full calf adjustment, took in the waist, and shortened the front crotch. Most of the adjustments worked well but I took way too much off the length. I’d forgotten what it is like to wear trousers that are too short. Annoying. I also messed up the fly and that zip tends to peek out a bit, but that was entirely a sewing error.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

Side view. I actually bothered to sew the ticket pocket on these, something I never use. Not sure it adds much but I did nice topstitching on it so that’s something. Talking of topstitching, I did fake flat fell seams on the inside legs with a double row of topstitching, and single topstitching on the centre back seam, the yoke, and the fly.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

Single topstitching on the back pockets, apart from the top edge. I never do designs on the back pockets. I can’t come up with anything I really like and I don’t mind them plain.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

I’ve still got lots of wrinkles on the back leg, although I think the front fit isn’t bad. The fabric has 2% Lycra (this one from Croft Mill) which helps.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

So altogether not the best pair of jeans I’ve made. I’ll wear them but I know I can do much better!

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Style Arc Genevieve finished

This was one of those projects that took forever at every step, not least getting the photos. But here it is and as far as I’m concerned the end result is worth the aggravation – and there certainly was a lot of that.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar down

The pattern is Style Arc’s Genevieve jacket and the fabric is an unusual grey stretch denim with a brushed back from Croft Mill, sadly no longer available. The jacket is unlined and fairly unstructured. The only interfacing used is in the zip area.

I wasn’t sure of the fit of Style Arc patterns – I’ve made a couple before but they were very unfitted designs – so I made a toile and based on that I did a rounded upper back adjustment. This adds length and width. The extra width is absorbed into shoulder darts at the shoulder seam, so the shoulder and back neck seam lengths don’t change.

You can see in the back view below that I slightly overdid the adjustment. However there is no pulling when I raise my arms and I’ll take a slightly baggy upper back over lack of arm mobility any day.

Style Arc Genevieve back view collar down

I ran into a few minor problems with the pattern instructions. Style Arc’s instructions are always minimal so I was relying on the technical drawing to some extent. However it’s slightly inconsistent: it shows the zip applied on top of the fabric on the left front, where the instructions seem to have you set it into the princess seam. And if you’ve put the zip into the seam then the top stitching on the left princess seam needs to go on the side furthest from the centre, unlike in the digram, and the top stitching on the right front dart ought to mirror it. I think the pattern is designed for the zip to be applied on top as that way the diagonal style lines would line up perfectly. I prefer my zip in the seam, so if I ever make this again I’ll have to adjust the left front to move the zip placement over slightly. As it is the diagonals are off by a little, but I don’t think it’s obvious.

And on the subject of the zip I found it on eBay and I think the puller adds the perfect finish. I’ve been debating whether to post a link to this particular eBay shop on the blog for a while. They have a really excellent range of metal zips and they post stuff faster than anyone else I’ve ever dealt with, but some of their stock is definitely not safe for work browsing. So here’s the link: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/armoryauctions/ ; click at your own risk.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

I thought about adding a lining to the pattern but chickened out; the front pattern pieces are enormous and asymmetric, and I found them very difficult to manipulate on my dining table. I still kind of wish I had though, because I ended up having to hand catch stitch the front facings down all the way around the jacket to make them stay put. It’s a sign of how much I like this jacket that I bothered to do that because we all know I’ll go a very long way to avoid hand sewing. Having done the facings I also catch stitched the hems as it wasn’t very much more work and I didn’t want to spoil the design lines with an extra row of top stitching.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

The best thing about this jacket is definitely the collar. There are supposed to be a couple of snaps to hold the ends in place but I think it looks best when allowed to do its own thing so I didn’t bother sewing them on. The collar naturally falls very well when turned down, but if you want the full dramatic Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 effect you can turn it up and hide behind it.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Here’s a slightly more wearable arrangement.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

I’ve worn this a lot, as you can probably tell from the creases. I’m very happy with it indeed; this is probably my favourite thing I’ve made this year. I doubt I’ll use the pattern again for a few years because who needs two of these on the go at once? But it’s definitely a keeper.

Burda skinny jeans 115-03-2014

People talk a lot about finding TNT (tried and tested) patterns; ones that fit beautifully and get made again and again. I don’t have any TNTs and most of the time I don’t want any. But every so often I think it would be nice to have a standard skinny jeans pattern that I could cut out and make without too much thought about fitting.

A few years ago Burda did a pattern for what they call ‘five pocket trousers’ which is exactly the sort of thing I’m after. It’s available here as a PDF, or style 115 from March 2014 if you have the magazines.

For my first attempt I used left over fake leather from a previous project. It’s a heavy scuba jersey with a plastic coating so fairly forgiving fit wise, but tricky to sew. I left off the back pockets, the ticket pocket, and the belt loops. The only thing I top stitched was the fly front. I didn’t dare try to make a buttonhole but used a trouser hook to close the waist. Here’s the result:

Burda 115-03-2014

I think they’re pretty good for a first try. The shiny fabric shows every single wrinkle so the photos are not flattering the fit.

I made my usual Burda adjustments (trace a size smaller for the waist and add 5cm to the leg length) and also changed the waistband from straight to curved to try to avoid gapping. That wasn’t enough to accommodate the big difference between my waist and hips, and next time I might take the waist in a bit more. I’d also prefer a wider waistband.

Burda 115-03-2014 jeans

I had to use a walking foot to top stitch the fly front, and also when stitching in the ditch to secure the waistband. The hems were hand sewn because I wanted a good finish and even with the walking foot the fabric dragged a little; you can’t pin this stuff without leaving permanent marks and you certainly can’t unpick so I didn’t want to risk machining the hems. I still haven’t got my hands on a Teflon foot but I hear they are a good solution.

Installing the zip without pins was also tricky; wonder tape helped a lot there.

Burda 115-03-2014 jeans

If I was making these in a stretch woven as intended I think I’d try making a full calf adjustment as they are noticeably tighter there.

The pockets have come out surprisingly well. The pocket lining is a scrap of heavy polyester stretch satin I had left over from another project. Normally I’d use cotton poplin for lining jeans pockets but I thought the stretch factor of the satin would be more compatible with the scuba.

Burda 115-03-2014

So overall a success. Haven’t quite dared wear them to work yet but they are good for weekends. I’m going to make the pattern in stretch denim next.

And I’ve still got some of the scuba left. What possessed me to buy four metres I don’t know. I don’t think it has enough body for a jacket, I don’t wear skirts much, and how many pairs of fake leather trousers does one person need? I’m currently debating whether to have a go at copying those Gareth Pugh styles with appliqued leather patches that look a bit like armour, but I suspect the appliqué would be immensely time consuming to sew, and one thing I certainly don’t have is a lot of sewing time. Maybe in a year or two…

Style Arc Genevieve coming up next!

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.