Vogue 1482

Vogue 1482 front view

This is the best hot weather dress I have ever made. It’s Vogue 1482, a Rachel Comey design. The UK is going through an unpleasantly sticky heatwave at the moment and this dress has been a lifesaver. It’s so light and airy it feels like not wearing anything at all.

Here’s the line art.

Vogue 1482 line art

It’s basically a great big sack which means no real fitting is required. I added my usual two inches to the length, but at the hem rather than above the waist as I normally would because the long diagonal seam makes it tricky to add length anywhere else. I also added my usual two inches to the sleeve length by adding an inch to both parts of the sleeve. And finally I made the recommended size instead of going down one size as I usually would with a Vogue pattern. When you’ve got this much design ease in a style a little more won’t hurt, and it’s insurance for when my bump gets larger.

Vogue 1482 side view

The fabric is a very lightweight viscose from MacCulloch and Wallis, which at the time of writing is still available here. I suspect this may be the type of fabric known as challis. It was hard to cut out because it shifted a lot, but easy to sew and press. It moves and drapes beautifully. The pattern calls for French seams throughout and for once I actually bothered to make them.¬† Mainly that was so I didn’t have to buy new thread for seam finishing, so I can’t claim this is sewing to any higher standard than usual for me. I don’t have any thread at all that matches the pink fabric, never mind the number of spools I’d need in order to thread the overlocker as well as the main sewing machine.¬† So the dress was sewn using only the sewing machine with a random spool of purple polyester thread I had lying around. The purple blends surprisingly well, even where there is top-stitching.

Vogue 1482 back view

The centre back opening isn’t needed as the neckline’s more than wide enough to go over the head, but I like the effect. I think many people would want to make the opening shorter though. It only just clears the bra band on me and I have a long back. It’s closed with a little loop made from the fashion fabric and a self-covered button. The instructions for creating the loop didn’t work very well for me; I followed the measurements¬† on the pattern carefully and it came out too chunky. I replaced it with a much skinnier version. Otherwise I followed the pattern exactly and everything worked out.

Vogue 1482 back view closeup

The pocket is great. Very large and in just the right place. I thought it would be odd to have only one pocket but it seems to work. And it’s beautifully finished with more French seams. I wonder if left-handed people might want to flip the front pattern pieces so the pocket is on the right though?

Vogue 1482 front view with pocket

And finally for laughs here’s the full flying squirrel effect. Vogue 1482 back view extended

There is definitely going to be at least one more of these. I can see it being nice in a drapey jersey fabric, or a crepe de chine – basically anything lightweight and drapey.

Art teacher meet urban warrior: Vogue 1410

Vogue 1410

This is Vogue 1410, a Lynn Mizono pattern described by McCalls themselves as Art-Teacher Chic. I normally aim more for futuristic than artistic, but the adjustable length and drawstring detail in this one really appealed to me so I bought it in the last pattern sale.

Here’s the original for comparison. The only pictures I’ve been able to find of it online are the Vogue envelope art – anyone seen it elsewhere?

Vogue 1410 envelope pictures

I didn’t want to look too much like I knit my own yoghurt (rampant hypocrisy from someone who makes their own clothes I know), so I made this up in black and am wearing it with a pair of wet-look leggings from Topshop which hopefully don’t look too ridiculous.

The suggested fabrics list on the pattern envelope covers quite a range: Stretch Poplin, Seersucker, Silk Dupioni, Lt.Wt. Wool Crepe. That seems to run the gamut from very stiff (dupioni) to very drapey indeed (crepe). I wanted the skirt to have an exaggerated shape so I went for a cotton poplin from Tissu Fabrics. It has 4% lycra which I thought might help with the inevitable creasing you get with cotton but it didn’t. All these pictures were taken after wearing the dress all day so creases abound.

Vogue 1410 back view

The neckline on this dress is really wide. I don’t normally have to adjust that for Vogue patterns, but I wish I had brought it in a little on this one. You can see it gapping in the side view below. I notice that in one of the envelope pictures the shoulder of the dress is falling down the model’s arm, so I presume it’s meant to be like that. The neckline and armscyes are finished with a narrow hem. Another time I would probably change this to binding because I always find binding has the effect of drawing an edge in, whereas narrow hems tend to stretch it out even more.

Having said that I’m pretty pleased with the way the narrow hems came out this time. I’ve never had a lot of success with those in the past. I used the method where you sew a line of stitching close to the edge, crease and press along that line, and then turn the edge up once more over that, press, and stitch. The pattern suggested something slightly different but I find this one works best for me.

Vogue 1410 side view

The dress length is adjustable. There are buttonholes in the seam allowances at the end of the side seams, and three pairs of buttons sewn into the side seams on the inside of the dress so you can loop the hem up to different heights. Above I’m wearing the dress with the hem buttoned to the middle pair of buttons. The shortest length is too short on me, and the second longest one isn’t particularly flattering so no pictures of those. But here it is unbuttoned completely. I doubt I’ll wear it like this much, but it makes an interesting shape.

Vogue 1410 full length

The back shaping is unusual. You sew a pair of very square pleats on the outside of the dress front and back. The front ones get pulled in by the drawstring, but the back ones stick out like fins. A few people who have made this have stitched the back pleats down to the dress, which looks nice, but I’ve left mine sticking out. I interfaced both the front and back pleats to make them good and sharp.

Vogue 1410 full length back view

I added side seam pockets. They ended up a bit low because I didn’t want to interfere with the button placement; they’re where that big shadow is in the picture below. The dress is french seamed throughout so I had to find out how to do french seamed pockets. This tutorial from Deborah Moebes was very helpful.

This is a seriously quick sew. Even with the french seams and adding pockets I managed to make this in a day.

Vogue 1410 full length side view

So, the final question: is it art teacher or urban warrior? Or a bit of both?

Vogue 1410

Writing Process Blog Tour

This is a slightly different type of post to normal. Molly from Toferet’s Empty Bobbin tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Tour that’s doing the rounds. I’ve really enjoyed reading other people’s answers to this one. You can see Molly’s post here. And check out the rest of her blog; she has a good line in thoughtful criticism of the sewing world.

What am I working on now?

Right now I’m working on a top from Vogue 8866 – a practical knit top with long sleeves and a high neck.

Vogue 8866 line art

And I’m also trying to organise my thoughts on colour-blocking into a blog post. The October 2014 issue of Burda has the same pattern made up twice in different colour blocked schemes. One looks great and the other very much does not. I’d like to understand what made the difference because I have a DKNY colour block pattern in my sewing queue.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I’m aiming for a modernist and slightly androgynous style. I am attracted to experimental patterns, such as my Burda wrap trousers and Drape Drape sack dress.

Drape Drape 2 No 7

I own this Ninja turtle coat pattern and dream of making it up!

Vogue 1332 envelope photo

Why do I write what I do?

At the moment, three reasons.

It started as a way of giving something back. When I started sewing garments I learnt how to do it from a combination of Wendy Mullin’s book Sew U and looking things up on the Internet. The first blog I found was A Dress A Day. From there I discovered Pattern Review and from that the wider sewing blog community. I get so much out of reading other people’s blogs that I wanted to return the favour. You don’t need to be a sewing expert to write a useful review of a pattern you’ve made up.

I then started to find that the blog acted as a useful record of my sewing projects. I often go back to my old posts to remind myself how I did something.

Finally, writing a blog post almost inevitably means taking photos (or rather, getting my very patient husband to take photos). There’s nothing like seeing photos of an outfit to show what does and doesn’t work. So in a roundabout way blogging helps me get dressed swiftly in the mornings.

How does my writing process work?

I find it’s easier to compose a post by putting the pictures in first and then writing text around them than by starting with the words, so I generally don’t start writing until I’ve finished a garment and got photographs of it being worn. I normally only take process photos when I’m using a technique that’s new to me or doing something different to what the pattern recommends, hence the general lack of process posts.

I aim to post once a week, but that’s achieved by not posting more than once a week even if I could, rather than by having a fixed schedule for writing posts.

So that’s it from me. I’d like to nominate SewingElle from He Cooks…She Sews! next. She has a great sharp and modern style.

Top five sewing fails and reflections of 2012

Can you have a ‘top five fails’? Or is it a ‘bottom five fails’? Anyway, here they are!

Top 5 of 2012

First up, the Death Star shirt dress. I have two reasons for this being a failure, and one is not the fault of the dress. Every time I have worn it I had a lousy day at work, and that’s become associated with the dress. That can’t be helped.

The second one’s less fixable. I used to get serious RSI. I have it under control now and very rarely get problems, but some peculiar things set it off: including pressure on my elbows from the narrow sleeves in this dress! Who would have thought it? I love the fabric but my hands have to come first.

Second failure: my first pair of shorts. There’s actually nothing wrong with these, but the zip broke and I never fixed them because the velvet shorts made from the same pattern completely displaced them in my affections. They have been lurking in my fabric box ever since. Sorry, shorts.

In third place we have the first Vogue 1250. I liked this dress right after I made it but changed my mind after wearing it to work. It’s too slinky. It lacks pockets. The style is not quite me, which is odd when you consider how similar it is to my beloved top make of 2012, Burda 116-08-2011. This dress works for everyone else in the world. Why doesn’t it work for me? I still like this photo, just not the actual dress.

And then we have two failures for the price of one: a Vogue 1250 and a Burda 117-02-2012. I mostly blame this on the fabric choice; they were both made from a red and white striped jersey that was a bit too thin and clingy. There is no photographic evidence of the striped Vogue, for which we should all be grateful. But here’s the Burda. Baaaad stripe placement on the bodice doesn’t help.

Burda 117-02-2012 stripes front view

And having seared your eyeballs with that, here are my top five sewing lessons of 2012 to (hopefully) take the taste away.

  • Fabric choice totally matters. If I’m not 100% certain about the fabric I shouldn’t sew the garment. My two biggest failures were all about the fabric, and so were quite a few of the successes.
  • If a pattern works, sew it more than once. This was the year of repeat makes: I think eleven out of 24 were repeats. It’s so nice to be able to sew something quickly without fussing about the fit!
  • You can sew buttons on by machine and they stay put. Revelation. Never again will I fear the shirt dress.
  • Clear elastic is a godsend for knits. It alone saved the neckline on my turquoise dress from stretching to my navel.
  • Change the needles on the overlocker already. Enough said.

Sewing with the plague

I haven’t actually got the plague, but I do have a cold that will not go away. The worst thing about it is that I’ve definitely not been up to sewing. When you find you’re ripping out as much as you’re stitching it’s definitely time to walk away from the machine. So the silver trousers are only coming on very slowly. I’ve basted them together, adjusted the fit, and now I’m constructing for real. What with all the top-stitching involved I’ve not got very far. The front is about done but the back half is yet to be ready to attach. I made a male style fly this time. The one on the other pair of trousers I made feels wrong because they’re the opposite way round to my jeans.

Silver trousers in progress

I am optimistic for these. The fit’s still not quite right but I liked them when I tried the basted version on.

Shorts have to be easier than trousers, right?

I’ve been sewing for a few years now, but I have never once made trousers (70s jumpsuits don’t count). I have enough trouble fitting things that have to go over the boobage, never mind the complexities of the (ahem) crotch curve and backside. But my last pair of RTW jeans have just developed a hole and somehow I can’t bring myself to go and buy a new pair in the shops. One thing I love about sewing is never having to try things on in shop changing rooms in lousy light when wearing the wrong underpinnings. I did get as far as venturing into Topshop recently to examine the jeans but chickened out of actually trying anything on, so it’s going to have to be home-made for me.

Now obviously diving in at the deep end of trouser-making with jeans would be insane. Although I did recently buy Vogue 8774, and Vogue’s instructions are pretty good. But then will the Vogue crotch curve be the best for my shape, or should I try Burda’s which I am assured is very different indeed? Just to be on the safe side, I went through my Burdas and traced off a couple of suitable looking styles.

Vogue 8774 jeans

I even had my eye on the perfect fabric: some gorgeous dark blue stretch denim in John Lewis. But sanity has prevailed (helped by the fact that John Lewis sold out of the denim) and I’ve decided to start with shorts rather than trousers. I’m hoping they’ll involve similar fitting issues but will involve sacrificing a lot less fabric if it doesn’t work out! And Burda has plenty of nice shorts patterns to pick from.

Any advice from those who’ve made trousers, shorts, or jeans? Am I barking up the wrong tree completely here?

Passing on the Liebster blog award

Last week Magpie Makes kindly nominated this blog for the Liebster Blog Award. Thank-you so much!

Liebster Blog Award

The way this blog award works is that you nominate five other blogs you enjoy with less than 200 followers and link to them. This was really difficult to do as there are so many I wanted to nominate. I’ve managed to choose the five sewing-related blogs below. I know not everyone does the blog award/meme thing, but I always really enjoy these blogs – I hope you have a look and like them too.

And the other thing I want to say is thank-you all so much for the lovely comments about my Burda dress with the exposed zip. I am definitely going to have to get the mirrorshades.