My 80s wardrobe plan has been on hold for a few months because all the pieces are unbearably hot to wear in summer, and we had a lot of summer this year. But now the weather has cooled down slightly so here is the second to last piece: a plain black polo neck top for wearing with both pairs of trousers. I used Burda 120 12/2020 but missed out the gathering. The arms ended up a reasonable length for me – I normally add 5cm to those. The body is a bit on the long side but good for tucking in. I normally add 5cm there too. The collar is very high indeed. I’m wearing it folded over in the photos.
I’m wearing it with the trousers from vintage Vogue 1476 here. It’s come out less boxy than I intended, so I’ve ended up with quite a contrast in proportion between the slim fitting top and the voluminous trousers. Still trying to decide if I like the effect or not. It’s certainly a Look. I probably should have gone up a size to get a more 80s effect.
The fabric is ‘posh ponte’ from Stone Fabrics. It’s mostly viscose with a bit of polyester and elastane; quite heavy and very elastic. It feels a bit like a scuba knit but without the shiny finish. They’ve sold out of the black by now, but there are some other colours available.
While this was intended to go with the trousers shown here it ought to work in plenty of other contexts too. But it’s not the baggy 80s polo neck I was looking for. Back to the pattern collection I think.
I’m not sure how to describe these trousers. Cargo pants but make it fashion? I’ve certainly never worn anything quite like them before. They are from a vintage Vogue pattern, 1476 by Issey Miyake, dated about 1984. I originally bought the pattern for the coat, which I made earlier in the year, but the enormous pockets on the trousers appealed too. Sadly my copy was missing the page of the instructions which described how to construct the pockets, but a kind reader of the blog came to the rescue. Thanks again Charlotte.
The fabric is a washable stretch suiting from Stone Fabrics. It has a wonderful heavy drape to it. It holds a press – very necessary for making the pockets – but also tends to pick up a bit of shine if you’re sloppy with the iron. Ask me how I know.
I’m still not sure if I sewed the pleats the right way on the back. There was no arrow on the pattern piece and no picture of the back of the garment made up. The diagrams don’t include enough of the pattern piece edges to tell which way to fold. The technical drawing on the back of the packet is tiny and unhelpful too. The pleats I have ended up with mirror the ones on the front, but they seem very prominent. Maybe that’s the style? All those draglines come from the pleats and the tapering. Or maybe it was my grading; I had to grade this one up two sizes.
There’s another unusual aspect to these: the fly goes left over right rather than right over left as I’d expect for women’s trousers. I thought at first I’d sewed it backwards, but having checked the pattern and got a magnifying glass out to examine that microscopic technical drawing I am confident that they’re intended to be this way. Not that it matters, but I’m curious as to why.
The main feature beside the pockets is the crossover waistband, which has a large buttonhole on one side to allow the end of the underlap to come through to the front and be buckled in place to match the buckle on the overlap. It’s attractive but not totally practical as a closure. The waistband has to fit the body perfectly for it to sit right – those additional belt holes are strictly ornamental – and it’s a lot of faff to get on and off. I got to use my press machine to put the eyelets into the belt holes though, which is always fun.
On to the pockets. These are brilliant. I can fit more in them than in the handbag that I stopped carrying round about the start of covid. Whatever else you might say about 80s fashion, the pockets were superior.
Although these are a certain amount of faff to put on they are very comfortable to wear. The style is very different to what I’m used to though. It definitely exaggerates the waist to hip ratio, maybe a bit too much to be conventionally flattering. It might be better with a more boxy top, which happens to be what I’m making next.
This was the wrong time of year to make a thick flannel dress. It’s going to be a great option later in the year but right now the UK is having its annual two weeks of summer so I put it on just for these photos.
The pattern is vintage Vogue 1071 by Claude Montana, dating from 1982. I have found some pictures of the original from an auction site which show it made up in black wool knit with leather panels, but Vogue’s instructions also recommend wovens, including flannel, and the version on the pattern envelope looks to have suede panels.
I made mine up in black cotton flannel from Empress Mills. It is a lovely fabric to touch: really thick and fuzzy. In fact it was a little on the heavy side for this pattern. I also bought a length of black polyester suede to do the panels, but when the fabrics arrived I realised the texture of the flannel was so similar to suede that the panels would be effectively invisible, and didn’t bother adding them.
This is a nicely drafted pattern – everything goes together well – but it’s not what I think of as a typical Montana style, probably because it’s an early one. There are no shoulder pads and no shaping. The back is completely plain.
It does have one Montana feature: plenty of pockets. There are a pair of very roomy ones hidden in the side seams, which is where in practice I’ll put my stuff, and also two breast pockets. Those are fancy welt pockets with flaps and were a pain in the neck to construct because they’re so wide and deep their seam allowances encroach on the front placket. But if I ever need to carry more than the side seam pockets can accommodate I have room to do it.
I’ve found the older Vogues run much more true to size than the modern ones: ie I need to make the size the size chart says, instead of one or two down. However they’re also single size patterns, and my copy of this one is two sizes smaller than I am. I checked the finished pattern measurements for bust, waist, and hip, determined that there was so much design ease that I’d fit into the smaller size with room to spare, and made it up without adjustments other than for length. What I didn’t think to check was the cuff circumference, and they’re a little tight. Not unwearably so, but I definitely need to undo them to get my hands though.
Back to the 80s with another vintage Vogue pattern. These are the trousers from Vogue 1767 from 1986 by Claude Montana. They’re very much the tapered shape I remember being in style back then. Here’s the line art. I made view A, with the turnups, but the turnups don’t show in the photos.
I thought at first that the pattern had a lot of pleats at the waistband to produce the shape. In fact the body is gathered into the waist. I’m not totally sure about the effect of the gathering. They look like tracksuit bottoms to me, only because they’re made in a non stretch fabric they don’t have the same comfort factor. Mine aren’t even as gathered as they should be. Although based on the finished garment measurements, the pattern ought to have fitted me out of the packet (widthways anyway) it was tight on the waist when I first tried it on. I cut a longer waistband and reduced the gathering to fit it in order to give myself a bit of breathing room, otherwise these would not have been wearable.
Other than the turnups there’s almost no detail so they’re a very quick project. Just four pattern pieces: there isn’t even a fly guard. They also make use of Vilene waistband stiffener so there isn’t any interfacing to cut out. I remember my mum telling me how great pre-cut waistband stiffening is when I first started sewing, and she’s absolutely right. Putting the waistband on was a doddle and it’s probably the most even waistband I have ever made.
The pockets are bog standard inseam pockets, which I often find don’t work brilliantly on trousers because things fall out when I sit down. These ones are deep and the gathers give them plenty of expansion room, so they’re better than those in some trousers I’ve made with this pocket style (looking at you, various Burda designs). But I have lost my phone once already because it slipped out when I was slouching on the sofa. I should add a button and loop.
Apart from increasing the waist the only fitting adjustment I made was to add my usual 5cm to the length. I probably should have reduced that, they’re meant to be more cropped. I also made a small style adjustment, swapping the waistband button for a trouser hook. This style is meant to be sleek so I didn’t want one of my typically hairy buttonholes showing on the outside. I did put a button on the inside of the waistband for extra security.
I’m on the fence about the style. They certainly exaggerate a pear shape. I wouldn’t normally wear them with a close fitting top like I am in most of the photos; that’s just so you can see what I’m going on about with the waist. They look good with a big baggy shirt on top though, which is a very 80s look.
They are made in Empress Mills gaberchino which feels on the lightweight side for trousers to me, but on the other hand I didn’t want something heavy because of the gathers. The pattern envelope says to use ‘double knit, gabardine, or twill’. Because double knit is first in the list that likely means it’s what the designer original was made from, but if you’re using knit why bother with a fly? Just put elastic in the waistband.
And just for laughs here they are with the coat from the same pattern.
I’ve been banging on about this dress for weeks but this is the last post about it, I promise. It’s an old Vogue pattern from 1985, number 1652 by Claude Montana.
My version is made in black satin-backed crepe. Here’s a quick reminder of what it looks like.
It turned out to be one of the most difficult projects I’ve done in a while. The style looks simple – raglan sleeves, wrap front, hood, a few pleats. But the the pleats and the edge finishes are very fiddly and there are also some clever tucks at the neck that are sewn differently on each side of the dress. The instructions for those are technically correct. The facings on the inside of the dress have the ‘right side’ of the contrast fabric visible. And as it’s ‘contrast fabric’ not ‘lining fabric’, the pattern diagrams use the standard ‘right side of main fabric’ colour for all diagrams of the tucks whether they’re shown from the inside or the outside the dress, rendering the two sides completely indistinguishable. Like I said, it’s technically correct. And of course I sewed the right-hand side tucks inside out the first time because I interpreted the diagram wrong. As soon as I put the dress on it was clear they were wrong though, and it was easy to fix.
And now for some pictures of the details.
The pleats are made over the seams in the hood and sleeves and then held in place by stitching in the ditch. I didn’t think it through and didn’t finish my seam allowances before making the pleats, and afterwards it’s almost impossible to do. Doesn’t matter on the hood, because it is lined, but the sleeves aren’t. This picture also shows the top-stitching on the raglan sleeve seams, which seems to be there purely to hold the neck facing down. At least, it looks exactly like the sort of thing I often do to tame an unruly facing, only I stitch in the ditch to try to hide it rather than making it a feature. I’d always assumed this was a lazy shortcut that could be avoided if I pressed the facings a bit better, but here it is on a serious designer garment so I’m feeling pleasingly vindicated now.
The centre back and side seams are flat felled to give a nice clean interior finish. The hems are tiny, no fun at all to sew in bouncy polyester crepe. I presume this finish matches the one on the original garment, but I’ve reason to think that was made in wool doubleknit so a narrow hem wouldn’t be an easy option there either. Mysterious. If I ever make this again I might increase the hem allowance.
The sleeves are finished with real opening cuffs which is a nice touch. They’re very skinny though, or else I have big hands.
Another couple of unusual features below: the velcro closure on the front and the method of joining the facings to the body. The facings are stitched to the body wrong sides together, then the facing edges are are trimmed back close to the stitch line and the outer layer turned in to make a narrow hem over the top of the facing. This was a very slow, fiddly process involving lots of hand basting. It’s completely impossible to turn the hem in neatly where the edge has a concave curve, and the pattern provides a helpful extra piece to sew on along that section to form the hem instead. It’s just about visible in the picture. They call it a ‘gusset’, which I always thought of as something that goes into an armscye or crotch seam. Yes it’s wonky. This is the best I could do after much unpicking and retrying, and it’s not very visible when worn.
Sarah Webb (@sarahjw70 on Instagram) sensibly suggested attaching the facings the conventional way and then top-stitching instead. I wish I had followed her advice! The finish above makes for a flat and well-behaved edge with an attractive border of the outside fabric on the contrast side, but it took a whole evening and I think the normal way would be quite acceptable, especially if the inside isn’t a dramatically contrasting colour.
Here’s a couple of photos of the inside at the top. There’s a little button there for a thread loop on the top corner of the underneath of the wrap to hook onto, so there’s no danger of the wrap front revealing anything it shouldn’t at the top.
After a day of wear I got annoyed by the lapel of the outer front flapping about when the hood was down, so added a tiny hook and eye on the other side to hold that in place too. That front isn’t shifting anywhere now.
And here’s the inside of those amazing sleeves. Thick shoulder pads, and a bit of wadding tacked to my shamefully unfinished seams to help the sleeves keep their very curved shape.
And that’s it. I did wear it to work one day, and no one noticed! Not sure if that means it’s less out there than I thought or they were all being very polite. Anyway it’s wearable for days when all I’m doing is sitting at a desk. It needs a wide elastic belt to make it sit right with this slippery fabric – I tried with a webbing belt and it slid everywhere. And it’s very warm.
My next project is a very plain Burda sweater with only four pattern pieces that I’ve made before. It’ll be a nice change.
This dress is the least practical item in my 80s wardrobe plan but definitely the most 80s. It’s vintage Vogue 1652, a design by Claude Montana from 1985. Here’s the envelope art.
I have searched and searched but haven’t found any contemporary images of this style other than the Vogue Patterns envelope photo. My best guess is that it is from the Montana autumn/winter 1984/1985 collection because that one contained several dresses and coats with similar pleating details on the arms, and at least one wrap dress with a hood, but the exact style remains elusive. The Vogue pattern itself was published in 1985 so the date is plausible.
It’s very reminiscent of the hooded dresses Grace Jones wore in A View To A Kill, also from 1985, although of course hers were by Alaïa.
My dress is made in black satin-backed crepe from Croft Mill. At the time of writing it’s still available here. I used the satin side for the contrast facings. I got very lucky with this one because I didn’t order quite enough fabric to cut the facings wrong side up, but Croft Mill sent such a generous cut that it all worked out. I only have scraps left.
Here’s the back view. This really shows off those 80s shoulders. There are extra thick pads in there, and I added some wadding lower down to help the sleeve keep its shape. It’s not all padding though because they looked huge even before the pads went in. It’s the cut of the sleeve and shoulder that does it.
The hood is surprisingly flattering and stays put very well. But here is the dress with it down. The big lapel doesn’t sit so well in this position.
I added my usual 5cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and another 5cm to the skirt length, which it definitely needed to end in the same place as on the model. The hem allowance is 15mm so there’s no possibility of letting it down later if it’s too short.
This was a single size pattern so I also added a bit to the width below the waist. I normally trace a size larger on the hips in a multi size pattern so none of this was a surprise. I wasn’t quite sure if I should make the wrap front wider or not as I was adding to the hips. I did, and it seems to have worked OK. I can’t say it sits in place perfectly because it’s a narrow wrap skirt in a slippery fabric so of course it has its moments, but it’s not unwearable.
I am intending to make a belt to go with this from a Burda pattern, but in these photos I’m wearing a purchased one. It was a lucky find because it has a certain similarity to the one on the pattern envelope photo.
So the question is will I actually wear this? It’s a lot of look but it’s also a lot of fun, and unlike many fancy dresses I’ve made it’s comfortable. With a black slip underneath even the slightly fussy skirt isn’t a problem. The one thing it lacks is pockets. I’ve been wearing a pouch clipped onto my belt to deal with that. I’ll have to try it at work and see. I suspect it might also be wearable as a jacket over trousers.
I’ve been busy for the last few weeks on this vintage Vogue pattern by Claude Montana, 1652 from 1985. I haven’t been able to find a photo of this one other than the pattern envelope, but it’s gloriously 80s.
The pattern envelope picture doesn’t show the back but those pleats in the sleeves are repeated on the hood.
I had a lot of trouble deciding on fabric for this. Depending on fabric it could vary between very dressy and very casual. I have a persistent mental image of this made up in grey sweatshirting with a brightly coloured lining, but I fear that would look too much like a dressing gown to be wearable out of the house; I don’t want to be thrown out of the supermarket for being improperly dressed. Aiming to avoid that effect I went for the polar opposite with satin backed crepe.
The dress is double layered in the hood and the deep front facings which turn out to form a lapel on the right front, and can be made in a contrast fabric. My plan was to use the satin side of the fabric as the contrast.
Cutting this out was a challenge. The pattern pieces are huge and asymmetric; it has to be cut on a single layer. In addition I hadn’t thought very carefully about my decision to use the wrong side of the fabric for the facings, and bought the amount of fabric required for the version of the dress without contrast facings. When I came to lay out the pattern pieces I realised that I needed extra length to cut the facings wrong side up. The fact that I’d also lengthened the dress by 10cm made it worse. Luckily Croft Mill had sent an exceptionally generous cut of fabric – there was something like an extra half metre – and I just managed it.
Here’s a closeup of those sleeve pleats. The sleeves on this dress are distinctly odd and I haven’t yet decided if it’s intentional design or just slightly annoying to wear. Maybe both? I measured the sleeve and decided they would probably come up long, but lengthened them anyway because self doubt, which is why my trousers have very deep hems.
I’m glad I added the length because even with the extra the sleeves seem to settle with the cuffs higher than I’d expect. Looking at the pattern photo I am still not sure what the intended length is. The model in the photo has her sleeves pushed up to accommodate her long gloves, and the one in the sketch has one arm partly behind her back and the other one so foreshortened by the angle that I can’t tell where the sleeve ends.
Here’s the back of the hood. This pattern is very difficult to get a sense of on a dress form. It needs a head and arms to sit right.
But as yet the facings and closures aren’t attached so this is the best I can do. There’s a lot still to do, including making a narrow hem all the way around the front edges in fabric that doesn’t press nicely. I may be some time on this one.
In the unlikely event I ever need to dress up as Henry 8th I’m all set. This is my coat made from an 1980s Issey Miyake pattern, worn over a dress made from another 1980s pattern, but the whole effect is strangely Tudor. I think it’s the big shoulders and the colour. The dress has 80s shoulder pads which are contributing.
This is the pattern envelope, vintage Vogue 1476 from 1984. Mine is made up in purple wool mouflon from Croft Mill. It’s lovely fabric: light but very warm and has a slightly fuzzy right side. At the time of writing it’s still available here. It’s got a certain similarity to fleece. I think you could make a cracking version of this coat pattern out of fleece, and as a bonus it could be machine washed. I’d avoid heavy coating fabrics. The pattern envelope says ‘wool knits, lightweight tweed, and double knit’ which isn’t super specific: wool knit can mean lightweight jersey or heavy boiled wool amongst others. I would not want to make this out of either of those. Tweed would work, ponte would work, and I’ve seen a great linen version.
The coat is very oversized. I added 5cm at the hem because I’m tall, but I think I needn’t have. I didn’t bother lengthening the sleeves at all – or rather was far too lazy to trace the enormous pattern pieces to make the necessary adjustment – and they’re fine. Normally I add 5cm to sleeves too.
It’s good for twirling. But mainly I find I have worn this around the house when it’s a bit chilly; it’s great for snuggling up in. I’ve fallen asleep under it more than once.
When I was looking for fabric for this project I didn’t initially consider purple. It’s not one of my usual colours (admittedly, until a few months ago my usual colours were confined to black, white, grey, and silver). I’m glad I ended up with this though. It goes particularly well with the yellow dress here but also works with grey, white, and silver clothes. It’s a bit on the sombre side over an all black outfit unless combined with some brighter accents.
While I’m tempted to make other versions I think realistically I only need one of these. It takes up a lot of space in the wardrobe. I think it could be a good one to make as a present though, as there’s next to no fitting involved. And if you’re making it out of fleece then almost any colour the recipient might want is going to be available.
It has one downside which is that the roomy pockets are difficult to locate in all the folds of fabric, leading to much inelegant rummaging. And I wish I’d added a loop for hanging it. I always regret it when I leave that out of outerwear. But overall it’s a success.
Here’s my finished Vogue 1476 coat. It’s an Issey Miyake design from 1984. This one is a real classic – I think it was in the Vogue patterns catalogue for over 20 years. I don’t know exactly when it went out of print but it was before I started buying Vogue patterns so I had to buy my copy second hand.
Like a lot of the Issey Miyake patterns Vogue produced the pattern cutting on this one is unconventional. Any unlined coat is topologically equivalent to a sheet with two holes in it to put your arms through. I once made a McCalls waterfall cardigan pattern that was literally a flat rectangle of fabric with two armholes cut out and sleeves attached to them. The Vogue is obviously much more sophisticated than that; there’s some shaping and the sleeves are an impressive batwing shape rather than tubes; but there’s a resemblance.
You start off with a big rectangle of fabric with an irregular chunk cut out. The first seam transforms that into a loop. Here’s the big piece folded in two along the edge at the bottom of the picture: those short horizontal edges towards the top left are the ones that get sewn together to make the loop.
Then you hem the whole thing all the way around the outside, mitring the corners. There’s nine metres of hem so it takes a while. Vogue suggests neatly turning 6mm of the raw inside edge of the hem under and then topstitching it down with two rows from the right side. I wasn’t confident of doing that neatly in bouncy wool coating so I left the inside edge flat and trimmed it close to the topstitching afterwards. The fabric doesn’t fray and I think it looks all right. Whatever hem finish is used needs to look neat because it shows when the coat is worn.
Next the two yoke/sleeve pieces are joined together, and then the long edges of the joined yoke/sleeve piece are sewn along the inner edges of the main loop and topstitched three times. There’s a certain amount of pivoting around the angles in the edges; you can see one of the angles in the picture below.
If you’ve done it right there are two small sections of the main loop edge left unsewn which form holes for your wrists to go through, one at the end of each sleeve, and you attach facings to finish those. Simple!
Of course it’s not so simple in practice: the sheer size of the pattern pieces makes sewing it a challenge. I spent a lot of time stopping and adjusting the huge pile of fabric so it fed smoothly. My machine doesn’t have a ‘stop with needle down’ function and it’s the first time I’ve ever really wanted it.
It’s vital to mark and match the notches and circles on the seams between the main pattern piece and the sleeve/yoke pieces so they end up correctly aligned. I couldn’t go by past experience to put this one together because the pattern pieces are such unusual shapes and they’re so big it’s difficult to see what’s going on anyway. The pattern illustrations are accurate but it’s hard to relate those neat drawings to the huge pile of crumpled fabric in front of you.
There’s a lot of topstitching involved. I had to wind three bobbins. I tried to keep it straight and consistently spaced by using my ditch stitching foot, which has a central blade which follows the line you’re targeting, and adjusting the needle position to one side to get evenly spaced rows. It worked pretty well but I failed to think about the order I stitched the rows in before starting, and more than once ended up having to sew with the bulk of the fabric to the right of the needle because my machine’s needle position will only adjust to left of centre.
I wish I’d done the centre back seam differently. I left the edges raw, topstitched down the seam allowances, but didn’t trim them back. The wrong side of this seam shows when the edge of the coat is folded back in wear, so it looks a bit untidy with that loose edge. I might have to go back with some sharp scissors and trim it. In a lighter fabric I’d flat fell the centre back seam. I’ve seen a great summer version of this pattern done in linen.
This is really more of a cardigan than a coat. It’s wonderfully warm and cosy but doesn’t have any closures. I think I’ll be wearing it around the house a lot though. Hopefully I’ll get some modelled pictures at some point.
Here’s the biggest pattern piece I’ve ever worked with. You see it folded in two along the bottom edge here; it’s over three metres long.
It’s the main pattern piece for this Issey Miyake coat from Vogue Patterns. I had to cut it out on the floor because of the sheer size of it.
The very first step is to topstitch patch pockets onto that enormous body piece, a process that involves stuffing all the fabric through the harp of the machine as you manoeuvre round all four sides – the opening is a gap in the side of the pocket rather than the top. Luckily I’m using a lightweight coating, but it was still a bit of a struggle to get it done.
They don’t look too bad from this distance despite all the pulling and pushing involved.
But oh dear when you look closely it’s a bit of a mess with the stitching wandering here and there. It doesn’t help that it’s dark purple fabric and navy thread so even with my LED light it was hard to see what I was doing.
I am not unpicking it now; I don’t expect a second attempt will be any better. I suspect I’ll forget all about it once the coat is finished and no one who doesn’t sew will notice the pockets when there’s all the drama of that draped front to look at. So onwards and hopefully upwards because next I need to topstitch around the outer edges of that piece.