Shades of red

I seem to have been sewing Vogue 8667 forever. I had a day off work this week and thought I’d finish it easily then. Two days and one evening of sewing later, here it is.


I really like the collar. It’s an Easy Options pattern so there are instructions for a collarless version as well as the one I made, but I think the collar is what makes it special. The other options in the pattern are cap sleeves and a straight skirt. I will probably make the straight skirt version because although I’ve got a pile of other sheath dress patterns I’ve got the bodice fit right on this one.


I love the colour the pictures came out. I didn’t touch them up at all. The red wool fabric really works against the brick wall background. And I’m relieved my new hair colour doesn’t clash with the dress!


Different sizes front and back

Vogue 8667 muslin side view

Vogue 8667 lining back view
This is the bodice lining of Vogue 8667 basted together. I made a muslin of this pattern last week but was had problems with the fit of the back.

This is my original muslin with the gapping at the back armhole and excess fabric folds on the back neckline.

Vogue 8667 muslin 1 side view

The main difference between the muslin and the lining fabric version is that I cut the lining fabric back out a size smaller than the front on the neckline, armscye, and princess seam lines. I used my usual size for the side seam lines. This has made a big improvement to the fit around the shoulders. I’ve heard of cutting out different sizes for your top and bottom halves and blending them, but never cutting different sizes for the front and the back.

So now I’m going to make the lining up properly before starting on the rest. Normally I do the fashion fabric first and by the time I get to the lining I am a bit bored, so I’m hoping that doing it this way round will make the process more interesting. And it enables me to put off tackling the rather intimidating 100% wool fashion fabric a bit longer. Incidentally, I measured it after my attempts at preshrinking and it hasn’t changed size at all, so I’m wondering exactly what will happen when I clean the dress. But that’s getting ahead of myself. I have to make the dress first!

Watching fabric dry

I dashed to John Lewis after work today and they had the perfect red cupro lining to go with my red wool fabric from Glasgow. So in theory I’m all set for the next stage of the long drawn out Vogue 8667 project, which is to make the lining using my altered pattern pieces to check the fit.

But I need to shrink the lining and the fashion fabric first. I’m doing the bin-liner/garbage bag and wet sheet method described here for the wool, and I’m putting the lining through the washing machine. Unfortunately it’s started raining and the forecast isn’t good for the rest of the week, so there’s going to be a lot of wet fabric hanging over the bannisters drying very slowly over the next couple of days. I did remember to measure the wool before stuffing it into the bin-liner (62″) so this time I’ll be able to tell if it really shrinks very much.

I also bought new thread. Buying thread was one of the things that really puzzled me when I started sew. How much thread do you need to buy for a project? I seem to get through nearly 300m for a lined dress (three reels in the size I can normally get) but a skirt might take less than 100m. Obviously it’s going to vary a lot depending on how the seams are finished. I zigzag mine using my machine’s overcasting foot and that eats up thread. I usually buy an extra reel or two just to make sure I’ll have enough to finish the seams, and so I have accumulated a shoebox full of reels.

Many people seem to feel a bit guilty over their fabric stashes, but I find the thread stash is the one I want to reduce. I will probably use everything in the fabric stash up at some point, even if only for muslins, but when will I ever use up six reels of pale green thread (two each of three subtly different shades)? I don’t know how I even came to have six reels of pale green thread in the first place. But for whatever reason I didn’t have any red thread (day-glo orange and dark rust don’t count) so another few reels have had to be added to the collection.

So I have new red thread, red zip, red lining, Vilene bias tape…just waiting for my fabric to dry!

Fabric induced paralysis

Here’s my muslin of Vogue 8667. And this is the pattern envelope:

The muslin is made from cheap and cheerful glazed cotton I bought off the market as it’s practically impossible to get calico round here. The shiny effect is unintentional. I was intending to use the dull side of the fabric as the right side but I got it wrong on the first seam and figured as I might as well carry on. And hey, it’s a muslin. The shiny is only going to help with seeing wrinkles and fitting problems.

The front isn’t bad, I think. No pictures of it on me I’m afraid; I tried but the results were not pretty. Watermelon coloured fabric + purple walls + my dyed red hair was not a good combination, and that’s before you factor in my attempts to take pictures in the mirror.

The back has got a pretty big problem that you can see on the dressform:

See the gapping at the back armhole and the way the neckline stands away? The back is much too big in both width and length. I tried quite a few things.

  • Lifting the back at the outside edge of the shoulder seam. This helped but didn’t cure the gapping, and put the shoulder seam line in a very strange place.
  • Lifting the whole back evenly across the shoulder seam. Again didn’t quite cure the gapping and put the seam well behind my shoulder bones.
  • Lifting the front and the back at the shoulder seam. Not entirely sure now why I ever thought this would help. It didn’t.
  • Pinning out a tuck from the armhole to the neckline on both sides. This fixed the fit but completely messed up the back neckline.

Here’s the back with the tucks pinned out

I couldn’t work out what to do with the neckline. Eventually I took the pattern piece, folded the tuck into it, and laid it down on top of the original pattern tissue. The tuck reduces both width and length as it runs diagonally. And it turns out that the line for the smallest size on the tissue pretty much matches the size of the folded pattern piece but of course doesn’t have the neckline problem, so I traced that and fudged the other pattern pieces to match it. The piece I adjusted (the centre back) is the same width at the waist for every size so I didn’t have to worry about reducing the waist measurement, which made it all a lot easier.

I really, really ought to do another muslin now but I don’t have any fabric I want to sacrifice and I’m not sure I have the patience anyway. At the same time I daren’t cut my red wool out with my altered pattern pieces. in case I’ve made some stupid mistake. Tissue fitting is tricky when your pattern is cut out of greaseproof paper. I should really check out Swedish tracing paper. So I think I’m going to buy some lining fabric and make a muslin out of that. If it works it can be the lining for the actual dress and if it doesn’t at least I’ve not cut into the wool!

On ease and sizing

I’m currently making a muslin of Vogue 8667 view A.

When I started sewing in 2008 I picked pattern sizes based on the usual advice. I took all my measurements carefully, wrote them down, and compared with the size charts to choose what pattern size to make. Everything came out much too big. I eventually worked out that cutting size 10 on the chest and waist and 12 on the hips with Vogue patterns is a good starting point for me, despite what the tape measure says.

Here’s a bit of the Vogue size chart (in inches):

Sizes 8 10 12 14
Bust 31.5 32.5 34.0 36.0
Waist 24.0 25.0 26.5 28.0
Hip 33.5 34.5 36.0 38.0

I gradually came to think that my waist measurement must really be 25 inches because size 10 fitted me. The piece of paper I wrote my real measurements down on got pushed to the bottom of the sewing basket and forgotten.

Then I started making patterns from Burda Magazine rather than envelope patterns, basing the sizing on what I thought my measurements were from the Vogue size chart. Those all came out a little too small and had to be let out. I even had to start doing full bust adjustments.

Recently I measured myself again in order to get accurate numbers to draft a skirt pattern, and was amazed to discover that my measurements are considerably larger than a Vogue 10. I always thought I wasn’t one of those people who’s in denial about their real size and shape. And yet despite this discovery the too small Vogue size 10 still fits comfortably.

So when I started my current project I checked the ‘finished garment measurements’ on the pattern. These are for the views with the A-line skirt.

Sizes 8 10 12 14
Bust 34.5 35.5 37.0 39.0
Waist 26.5 27.5 29.0 31.0
Hip 37.0 38.0 39.5 41.5

So that’s three inches of ease at the bust, two and half at the waist, and three and a half at the hips. That would explain a lot when the difference between sizes is only one and half or two inches. The larger hip measurement can be explained by the skirt being A-line rather than fitted, but I found the sheer amount of ease on the bust and waist measurements surprising. Burda magazine patterns, on the other hand, are often described as having relatively little ease. That started me wondering what the standard amount is.

On checking various reference books I found very little agreement. I have a copy of The Dressmaker’s Dictionary by Ann Ladbury from 1982, which suggests three-quarters of an inch to one and a quarter inches at the waist, and one and five-eigths to four inches at the bust.

Vogue Sewing gives a chart by type of fit (from close-fitting to ‘very loose-fitting’) and type of garment, but only one ease number for each combination. The ease given for a fitted dress is three to four inches which is very slightly more than the Vogue pattern I’m talking about has. The envelope describes the bodice as ‘fitted’, for what it’s worth.

The Perfect Fit is pretty vague on the subject but suggests the minimum is one inch at the waist and two at the bust and most patterns will have more.

None of my other books mention specific amounts to use.

Another puzzling thing is that the books don’t change the amount of ease for different pattern sizes. I’m no expert but I think you’d want the ease to be a little greater in larger sizes and less for smaller ones. Over a small range of sizes it probably doesn’t make much difference to keep it constant, but as most Vogue patterns come into two different size ranges I wonder if the ease allowance is the same for both versions?

As there doesn’t appear to be a simple rule that is going to work for every case I’m just going to have to work out what I personally feel comfortable with and use that in future. It would be interesting and useful if patterns had the ease numbers on the envelope. I’m going to start working them out before making adjustments from now on.

Oh and I ended up cutting a 10 on the bust and waist and a 12 on the hips for my muslin of Vogue 8667. But now I know why.