Easily pleased – the Spring Vogue release

The Spring Vogue Patterns release is out. It’s not made it to the UK at the time of writing but that’s never stopped me looking and making plans before.

Spring and Summer are normally my least favourite seasons for patterns. This collection would be no exception to the rule, were it not for the fact that Ralph Rucci is back with this design, 1381. I love this silhouette and the style has all the detail you expect; this time there’s quilting on the yokes, waist, and cuffs in addition to the regular cleverly hidden pockets and kimono/raglan sleeves.

Vogue 1381

The rest of the designer patterns have no must-sews for me. I was going to say that most of them are too dressy for my lifestyle, but if I really love a pattern then that doesn’t stop me. I’ve been struggling to describe what’s wrong with them and it’s basically that they lack excitement. Take this Donna Karan jacket and skirt, 1389. Lovely, but so very sensible and grown up. Where’s the drama?

Vogue 1389

Of course I’m being slightly unfair because there is one pattern with drama, but not in a good way. Much as I love the 80s, 1383 is too much. One for the inner teenager?

Vogue 1383

There are two Vintage Vogue releases. I’m guessing these are 40s or 50s styles, which are not eras I’m a fan of, so I’m never going to buy these for myself. But both have lovely details. Look at the pleats on 8973. Now if only Vogue would release some of their 70s archive!

Vogue 8973

Easy Options is disappointing this time round. Only one pattern, which is also the custom cup size pattern, and it’s for a style I feel I’ve seen many times before. The options are two skirt shapes and three sleeves.

Vogue 8972

Very Easy Vogue contributes eight patterns to the collection. I normally find something to like here. There’s a cute shirtdress, 8970, and a dramatic evening skirt, 8980. However the rest are almost all loungewear – good in its place but I can get that from every other issue of Burda. Is it just me or did there used to be a lot of Very Easy Vogue dress patterns? Where did those go?

Vogue 8970

As for the rest? The ‘regular Vogue’ patterns? Well they are few in number, but there are some good ones. 8979 is a very interesting tunic top. There are two patterns for men: 8988 is for a suit and 8987 for a waistcoat. And there’s a very practical messenger bag pattern, 8990.

Vogue 8979

I would say it’s the usual spring disappointment – but Ralph Rucci more than makes up for the rest so I’m happy with this one and can’t wait for the sale! What did you think?

The longest dress – Vogue 1239 again

Vogue 1239 is one of my favourite patterns. It’s a Chado Ralph Rucci wrap dress with many of his signature features: kimono sleeves, high collar, and endless top-stitching. Oh, the top-stitching. I first made this a couple of years ago and it took about a month. That was when I had more free time to sew and a working iron.

When Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time kindly invited me to do a post for her Desert Island Sewing series I picked Vogue 1239 as one of my eight patterns on the grounds that on a desert island I’d have time to sew it again. And then I thought, why not sew it again anyway? I wear my original one at least once a week so it’s worth the time.

Well, this took two whole months. OK so I stopped in the middle to sew my mother’s Christmas present and then my iron broke and I didn’t have time to go and buy a new one. But even so it was a slog. It took two evenings just to cut and mark the fabric and lining.

P1030178

The fabric is a navy blue cotton poplin. I think I bought it on Goldhawk Road at Rachel’s epic blogger meetup last April. It feels like it’s got a bit of poly in it which (heresy) I quite like because it keeps the creases away. The lining is a 100% polyester fabric called Eton taffeta which I got from John Lewis. It’s quite heavy for a lining which works well for this dress. I nearly didn’t buy it because it was suspiciously cheap and I’ve had bad experiences with cheap lining fabric. But it had a good hand so I took the risk. I will certainly buy it again as it sewed up very well.

The pattern doesn’t call for any interfacing despite the crisp final effect. The sharpness comes from all the top-stitching.

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This is a very practical dress despite its fancy origins. The style is great for cycling (with leggings underneath) and it has pockets. Pockets are good.

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There’s a lot of detail on the back view of this one. All those seams. All that top-stitching. Did I mention the top-stitching enough yet? I think I got through four or five bobbins.

P1030205

Even after I finished the dress it took forever to get photos of it because of New year celebrations and the bad weather. So this is technically the last project of 2013, not the first of 2014. I’m not going to do an end-of-year sewing round up because I’ve sewed so little in the last 12 months I think the numbers would depress me. So I’ll give you a silly photo instead. Happy new year!

P1030189

Much to like: Winter Vogues

I always look forward to the autumn and winter Vogue pattern releases. Sadly the autumn collection was underwhelming this year. The winter one came out in the US a couple of weeks ago and the good news is that it’s a definite step up.

The designer patterns are few but good. I’m disappointed there’s no Chado Ralph Rucci (again!) but what we do get is what Vogue designer patterns are all about: styles with unusual details or dramatic impact. My favourite is the Donna Karan pattern for leggings and a wrap top. I’m posting the technical drawing rather than the photograph because the whole point of this one is the seam detail in the leggings.

V1378

Another highlight is the spectacular evening gown from Badgley Mischka. If I had a glamorous evening event to go to, this pattern would definitely be on my shopping list. The pattern description also hints at some interesting techniques: ‘back pleated drape with weighted tab’. You don’t often get that sort of thing in Burda.

V1374

There’s also a selection of little dresses with interesting details: a cape overlay, a pleated bodice, contrast inserts and the like.

The most unusual designer pattern this time around is a top and skirt from Guy Laroche. I really like this one, and not just because it has pockets. I’m not sure how flattering it would be on a non-model but I bet it’s an interesting sew.

V1372

Very Easy Vogue has some hits. There’s a classic cape and a simple and pretty colour blocked dress – although given that this is the Winter collections, sleeves would have been nice. But I’m being a bit picky there because we also have 8495 (shown below) which not only has sleeves, but interesting ones.

V8945

Also in Very Easy Vogue there’s a simple overcoat with a slightly unusual draped detail at the back. But it’s not all good: there’s also this.

V8961

The undisguised elasticated waist would be fine if the dress had been made up in a really casual fabric. But with the sequins it just looks odd. OK pattern but poor fabric choice perhaps.

Speaking of belts, there’s something odd going on with the waist on the custom cup size pattern. This is a closefitting dress with a lot of seam detail at the waist. The model’s wearing a purchased belt in the full length pictures, but in the belt-free closeup you can see the intersecting seamlines haven’t matched up on the dress. It could be a sewing failure rather than the fault of the pattern, but I’d certainly look out for some reviews before buying this one.

The rest of the Very Easy patterns are knit tops, mostly with mullet hems. Nothing in there you couldn’t find elsewhere. The hoodie top is the best of them. It seems to have more waist shaping than is typical – at least in the model shots – and you could easily remove the mullet.

The Easy Options patterns are good as always. We get two dresses: a French darted style with a waist seam and a princess seamed style without a waist seam. As usual they come with a selection of neckline and skirt shape variations. Rather than just the obvious ‘pencil skirt version’, ‘A-line skirt version’ variations there’s a peplum option on the first and a mermaid skirt on the second.

The third Easy Options is a skirt, and probably my favourite style out of the whole collection:

V8956

This is so Vivienne Westwood. There’s also a pencil skirt variation in there, and one with the drape on both sides. Even better, it’s rated Easy. I’d have loved for this to have been available when I first began sewing; so many of the more unsuual styles were beyond my reach at the start.

The regular Vogue patterns are a mixed bag. There’s a lot of eveningwear but also some more casual styles. I’ll just pick out two: 8955 because I love the drama of palazzo pants:
V8955

And 8946 because it’s oddly like a maternity style, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. There aren’t a lot of maternity patterns out there, and although this isn’t intended to be one, it looks as if it could accommodate a small bump.

V8946

But the most important question is: will I actually buy any of these? And the answer is that I won’t be rushing to get them the day they come out in the UK, but a few are going on my Christmas list. And that’s a definite improvement.

What do you think? Love this release or bored by it?

Good in parts? Autumn Vogues

First of all, thanks for all the insightful comments on my sack-like dress. I’ve worn it out of the house a couple more times since the photos were taken, and I’ve decided to keep it as it is rather than trying to make it match the original or even give up and recycle the fabric. Although now I’ve seen MaciNic, Lisa, and The Perfect Nose‘s versions I’m tempted to try the pattern again in a more suitable fabric one day.

Oh and for those who asked about my shoes, they are Melissa; that particular style’s been discontinued but there’s still plenty of plastic goodness on their UK site at http://www.nonnon.co.uk/. Not that I just had a quick browse while checking the URL or anything.

But on to what is normally my favourite pattern collection of the year; the autumn Vogue release. They are only on the US site at the time of writing. And while it’s an improvement over the 2013 spring and summer releases, I’m still a little underwhelmed.

First things first: one thing I really approve of in this collection is the photography. No wacky poses this time round (remember Spring and Autumn 2012?). This time every style is simply photographed front, back, and both sides, and often there’s also a closeup of an interesting detail. There are more photos overall than I remember in previous collections, and in many cases at least one of the pattern variations has been photographed too.

The designer patterns just aren’t grabbing me this time around. The two Donna Karan designs are the best of the bunch: Vogue 1361 is an interesting day dress and 1365 a useful coat. But the more I look at the dress, the more I think I’d be tugging at it all day long to make it lie correctly.

Vogue 1361 pattern photo

1362 isn’t for me but it’s what Vogue designer patterns are all about: a strikingly unusual style that I wouldn’t want to try to draft myself.

Vogue 1362 pattern photo

The others are all things I think I could easily find versions of in Burda. Take 1363 for example. Possibly I’m missing something here? Nothing wrong with it, but if I’m going to be paying Vogue designer prices (eye-watering in the UK and they’re never less than half price even in sales) I want a pattern with wow factor or some unusual detail, and this isn’t it.

Vogue 1367 pattern photo

The non-designer patterns have much more interest. I’m not a jacket wearer myself, but there is a trio of jacket patterns with clean, unfussy lines that are tempting me: 8932, 8931 and 8937 (below).

Vogue 8932 pattern photo

And three very different coats: the asymmetric 8933, cosy and easy 8930, and interestingly egg-shaped 8934 (below).

Vogue 8934 pattern photo

Very Easy Vogue has some great simple patterns with a twist. 8926 is a stylish casual jacket (if you click through be sure to look at the tech drawing and not just the photos) and 8925 is a simple princess seamed top that could be used in lots of ways. Although I can’t decide if 8919 (below) has been murdered by horrible fabric choice or whether the seam lines are just in a bad place.

Vogue 8919 pattern photo

The Custom Fit pattern 8936 is for a peplum top with skirt and trousers. I am not a fan of the peplum, and the fake leather Vogue chose to make this up in isn’t helping, but I think the proportions on this one are fundamentally really good. I’d like to see it in a different fabric.

Vogue 8936

There are three Easy Options patterns: 8927, a set of blouses, 8928, a set of skirts which while an interesting basic pattern don’t offer a lot of variation, and 8936, a colour-block dress that’s probably my favourite item in the whole collection.

Vogue 8923 pattern picture

It’s also good to see another pattern for men: 8940 is a man’s coat and trousers.

So on the whole there’s a quite lot to like this time around, but the collection as a whole doesn’t rise to the heights I expect of Vogue. Things are definitely improving though; I’m looking forward to the Winter release!

What did you think? Am I missing something about the designer pattern? Would you wear the red Donna Karan? And can that peplum be saved?

Alexander McQueen jacket

A while ago I made a a very simple kimono style jacket. At about the same time I came across this far from simple free download Alexander McQueen pattern which is also for a kimono jacket. I said I’d give it a try and here are the results.

Back view first, as that’s where all the elaborate pleating is.
Westwood style stripey dress

The front’s a lot simpler by comparison although I still spent some time figuring out how to fold the pleats at the bust dart.

Westwood style stripey dress

I made this out of black cotton poplin from Minerva Crafts. It’s 115cm wide and I used about 4m. I didn’t make much effort to lay the pattern pieces out efficiently so that’s an upper limit. Cutting it out was tricky as the body pattern pieces are huge and require a lot of marking. I did what felt like hundreds of tailor tacks to mark the pleats on the first body piece. I couldn’t face doing the same on the mirror image piece so I drew over the tacks on the first piece in chalk, dropped it on its unmarked twin and pressed down. Enough chalk transferred to the second piece to show the markings, although they needed going over again with the chalk wheel.

You can just about see where I lengthened the pattern by my usual 5cm. That was probably a little too much. The pattern is one size only, I’d say about a Big Four size 10. By the way, it doesn’t say this anywhere on the pattern but the seam allowances seem to be 1cm.

Cutting McQueen jacket

The original pattern had no instructions. However it must have been been updated since it first came out because inside the zip file you download are a set of contributed instructions which were absolutely invaluable. I’m not sure I understood them all because I ran into some problems, but I’d have really struggled to put this together without them. The issue I had was that in a couple of places I ended up with pleats sewn completely shut. When I compared with the original garment this clearly wasn’t right; the point of this style is the volume and folds you get by leaving the pleats open other than at the top and bottom. Anyway I ended up ripping a few stages out to allow the pleats to billow out. I also added a few bits of stitching that weren’t mentioned, mostly to hold the pleats in place at the hem. Here’s a closeup of what I ended up with.

Westwood style stripey dress

The pattern doesn’t mention anything about interfacing. I interfaced the collar and back hem facing which I think was the right decision. The hem really benefits from a bit of firmness. There’s also no mention of lining. I presume the original design was lined; I’ve certainly seen a very similar Alexander McQueen jacket on Net-a-Porter with lining. However there was no way I was going to try to draft a lining for this little experiment, so I’ve just overlocked the visible seam allowances.

So what’s it like to wear? It certainly catches the eye, but it’s quite comfortable. I appreciate the fact that you don’t need to wear anything else fancy with it. I made these black trousers in part to go with it, but my black skinny jeans would have been fine. Obviously these shoes are just for posing purposes!

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I doubt I’ll ever make this again. But it was a fascinating project and the end result’s surprisingly good considering how little I understood how the pleating works. I have actually worn it out of the house; that’s definitely a success.

In search of long sleeves

The weather in the UK is atrociously cold at the moment and I am rapidly running out of warm clothes. Admittedly cold by UK standards isn’t all that cold, but it’s a problem when you’re not prepared for negative temperatures in the daytime.

When I bought clothes rather than making them I used to get annoyed by the fact that so few garments come with long sleeves and pockets. Making things with sleeves was one of the things I wanted to do. Fast forward a few years, and while my home-made wardrobe has plenty of pockets the long sleeves are few and far between. The two wool jersey dresses below are in heavy rotation right now.
Blue and orange doubleknit dress

Burda 122-09-2010

I don’t know quite what the problem is with sleeves. Certainly they’re a pain in the neck to insert in woven fabrics, but sleeves in a knit aren’t difficult. Even easier if you don’t set them in but sew them in flat.

Is it just that there aren’t all that many patterns for long-sleeved knit dresses around? Neither of the ones above really count. The blue and orange dress pattern was originally for wovens and the navy blue dress pattern didn’t have sleeves at all; in fact I think I might have used the sleeve pieces from the blue and orange pattern.

Right now I’m looking for wool jersey to remake the dress from Vogue 8866, which is a great pattern but my current version’s made of polyester so not warm. Anyone got any other favourite patterns for warm winter dresses they can recommend?

On changing my mind

The coat project rumbles on. But something far more exciting happened that I want to tell you about first: I was interviewed by Joanne of Stitch and Witter! She’s been doing a series of interviews with sewing bloggers about their personal style. I’ve been realy enjoying reading it, and I’m so flattered to be picked. I love reading about how other people dress themselves – or maybe I should say I’m incurably nosy. My interview’s at http://stitchandwitter.com/2012/11/22/my-handmade-style-catherine-daze/. You can read Joanne’s whole series here.

So on to the coat. I had a major change of mind about it; specifically the fabric I’m using.

Here’s the technical drawing. The original was made up in plain white wool which looked fantastic. I liked the very stark, plain effect with just the seamlines for interest so I knew I’d want to use a solid-coloured smooth-faced fabric. Sticking with white would clearly have been insane because it doesn’t suit me and it would need dry-cleaning every five minutes. Besides, I have never seen pure white wool coating on sale anywhere.

Burda 104-12-2011 technical drawing

The green fabric came in a pack of samples from Stone Fabrics and I fell in love with the colour. Here it is with the pink lining I got to go with it.

Coat fabric with lining

But I’ve been having major doubts about this project and I think I’ve finally worked out why. I think all I am going to see on the finished coat is the green. The style isn’t bold enough to stand up to the fabric. I think the fabric would work as something short and dramatic like Colette Patterns’ Lady Grey though. That’s a pattern that’s been lurking on my to-sew list for some time.

So I’m making the Burda coat up in this fabric instead. It’s a stone coloured woven wool coating with a very slight nap. From the right side you can’t see the weave at all. I included my hand and the paper pattern in the picture to give a better idea of the colour.

Stone coloured wool coating

Once I decided to switch fabric and use the green for Lady Grey I started feeling a whole lot better about the original project. So I am going to end up sewing two coats this winter after all!

OMG new Vogues

My pattern stash is larger than my fabric stash. I have piles of patterns I haven’t made yet. There are only so many hours for sewing in the week, so the last thing I need is even more patterns. Therefore I promised myself I’d approach the winter Vogue patterns with common sense and restraint.

Yeah right.

I think I’ve narrowed it down to six or seven.

One thing that struck me about this collection was how wearable a lot of it is. I expect the winter release to be full of beautiful party dresses. I don’t have the lifestyle for that kind of garment. But this is full of things I could see myself wearing to work with tights and boots. Take V1328 for example. It’s glamorous but not over the top. Although I think that beautiful purple fabric they used for the sample may be part of the attraction.

Vogue 1328 envelope photo

V8866 is a wardrobe pattern with a great little knit dress included. The photo isn’t very appealing but the line art shows lovely colour blocking possibilities. More long sleeves. And I like the centre front seam; it’s a bit different. Could see myself wearing the top and skirt combo as well. The jacket and trousers, not so me.

Vogue 8866 line art

V8848 is another interesting work dress. More colour blocking potential here; look at all those seamlines. The back view is even better than the front which makes a refreshing change.

Vogue 8848 envelope photo

I’m not normally a huge Kay Unger fan but V1329 is definitely coming to live with me. I think it’s the combination of the asymmetric panel and the graphic contrast.

Vogue 1329 envelope art

But it wouldn’t be Vogue without a bit of fantasy. Here’s V8846. I really like the back view. It reminds me of Lauriana’s Watteau pleat dress, or those Vivienne Westwood sacque back dresses. Unfortunately this pattern’s another one where the photo is a bit disappointing when compared to the line art. The sample is made in a large scale digital print which doubles in an unfortunate way on the back of the dress.

Vogue 8846 line art
Vogue 8846 back view

And finally we have two things I doubt I’ll ever make but am strangely drawn to nonetheless. Both jackets.

V1332 looks cool and futuristic to me. With just a hint of ninja turtle.

Vogue 1332 line art

And V1335 is surely what every well-dressed astronaut will be wearing this winter.

Vogue 1335 envelope art

It’s not all great, of course. 8853 might be saved by a different fabric, but this version is not appealing.

Vogue 8853 envelope photo

And I’m normally a great believer in looking past the photo and making a decision based on the line art, but V8855‘s photo cannot be ignored. What is up with those pockets? Take them off and it would be a cute blouse if you’re the sort of person who can get away with bows and sweetness (ie not me).

Vogue 8855 envelope photo

But on balance I think this is the best Vogue collection for a long while. My overstuffed pattern box is groaning at the thought.

What did you think?

Vogue 1250: Better late than never

Almost every sewing blogger in the world has already made Vogue 1250. Some have made it as many as five times. It has two great properties: it’s easy and it looks good! I have read through all 91 reviews of it on Pattern Review so I reckon I know what I’m talking about there. I’ve owned the pattern since it first came out and more than once gone shopping for fabric for it. But I never found the right fabric and so it languished in the to-sew pile.

Vogue 1250 pattern photo
But recently I had a metre and a half of a stunning printed jersey left over from another dress. Just the right fabric in the right length, but not enough to be able to afford any mistakes at all. I consulted the internets to find out what adjustments people have found it useful to make – did I mention there are 91 reviews of it out there?

Special thanks to The Sewing Lawyer and Roses Are Red for useful tips on lengthening the cowl and doing an easy FBA. Both definitely required in my case.

However when I first tried the dress on, I wasn’t keen on it. Something about the skirt. It hung completely straight from the hips and hit me just above the knee, which wasn’t very flattering on me – my hips are my widest point by a very long way. I pegged the skirt by taking the CB seam in a couple of inches at the hem and tapering back to the original seamline about half way to the waist seam. I also shortened the dress by two inches at the hem.

Here’s the final result.

Vogue 1250

Back view below. The back isn’t really wrinkly, it’s just where I’ve put my hand on my waist and pulled the fabric.

Vogue 1250

So will I make it this again? Definitely, when the right fabric comes along. It’s comfortable and stylish. And I’m really glad I traced the pattern so I’ve still got the original without my usual extra length added – this could be at least one Christmas present sorted out.

The sewist’s decision making process – a lament

I’m making Burda 120-12-2012 in a glorious turquoise knit fabric.

But it’s slightly transparent so I need to draft a lining. This is breaking my brain. I need a distraction. A really simple project.

I have a copy of Vogue 1250 somewhere. I am the only sewing blogger in the world who has not yet made Vogue 1250. Also I have the perfect fabric in stash: the remains of the eye-popping jersey I used for the psychedelic dress.

Vogue 1250 and fabric

Not sure how much fabric it needs. Go to the primary to-sew queue (the pile of patterns wedged into the bookcase) to get the yardage. Start leafing through the queue. Forgot I had that nice 70s maxi pattern, Simplicity 6344. That would look good in black linen with a white collar. But Vogue 1250 is absent.

Turn out box which contains secondary to-sew queue of patterns and favourite pieces of fabric. Damn, Vogue 1287 is also a perfect work dress. But I don’t have any suitable fabric for it. Resist urge to look for fabric online. No Vogue 1250.

Turn out box which contains old patterns and tertiary to-sew queue. Curse self for not filing patterns in any sort of order. No Vogue 1250.

Turn out box containing fabric stash. Maybe it’s gone in there by mistake. Hey, some Liberty Tana lawn left over from the Death Star dress. Quite a bit of it. Enough for a shirt dress? Unfold to measure. Can’t find measuring tape. Sewing room floor now entirely invisible under patterns and fabric (it’s a very small room). Also, have no shirt dress patterns. Resist urge to look for shirtdress patterns online. No Vogue 1250.

Go through to-sew queue again, just in case. Nope. Sort fabric into leftovers and large pieces. Find red swirl print cotton lurking at the bottom of the fabric box. Must find a use for that, but there’s only enough for a sleeveless sundress. Pity we don’t seem to be having a summer this year.

Resist urge to go online and buy second copy of Vogue 1250.

Clear up sewing room. Carefully file primary, secondary, and tertiary to-sew queues.

Look down back of bookcase. You know where this is heading, don’t you.

Go to bed feeling pleased.

Next morning, see Burda 116-08-2011 on Allison’s blog. Like Vogue 1250 but with pockets!

Put Burda 116-08-2011 at head of sewing queue.