80s sewing plan

I’m so close to finishing my 80s coat. I literally just have to sew the lining to the hems and topstitch the edges and then it’s done. But that isn’t happening until next week. And I’ll need something 80s to wear it with, so in the meantime here is my 80s wardrobe sewing plan. It’s basically ‘make these four vintage Vogue patterns and a few supporting pieces’ so I can’t claim any credit for putting outfits together cleverly here.

There are two coats, two pairs of trousers, and two dresses. I’m going to make a boxy black polo neck jumper to pair with both sets of trousers, and a belt for one of the dresses. I’ll also need a pair of leggings or thick tights to go under the dresses and some stompy footwear, but I already have those.

The first pattern is 1767 by Claude Montana from 1986. I’m making the coat and the trousers with the turnups.

The coat as previously mentioned is almost done. It’s made in fairly heavy chartreuse green felted wool with bright pink lining. That’s a lot of colour, especially for someone whose entire wardrobe was black, white, and grey until three months ago.

These sort of coat styles were shown on the catwalk paired with black polo necks and trousers. So the trousers from the pattern are going to be black cotton twill. They’re typical 80s style with a lot of volume at the top which is gathered into the waistband. I think I’ll change the gathers to pleats.

Next is 1476 by Issey Miyake from 1984. Special thanks to Charlotte for helping me out with the missing instruction pages from my copy! The pattern has a shirt, trousers, and a coat but I’m just making the coat and trousers from this one, and I intend to wear the coat as an indoor garment – it’ll keep me warm while working from home in the loft.

The coat is going to be dark bluey purple; I have already got a length of a lightweight brushed wool coating for it. Black for the trousers again, but these are more drapey than the Montana trousers so I’m looking for a wool twill for those. And the polo neck will go nicely with the other two. I’m not a big shirt wearer; I get cold too easily.

Then there is 1071, another Claude Montana, from 1982.

The oversized dress is shown in a pale neutral colour on the pattern (cream? beige? greige?) but after much internet searching I found a photo of the original design made up in black, which I think is a lot more practical. I want a flannel for the base fabric. Haven’t decided whether to do the suede accents yet, but if I do it’ll be polyester fake suede so it can go in the washing machine.

The last dress is 1652, Montana again, from 1985. Very Grace Jones. Don’t think I’ll be doing the opera gloves thing, although apparently they are fashionable right now. They do look stylish on the Vogue model.

The original of this dress was almost certainly made of wool double knit although I haven’t found a reference picture. That’s difficult to source around here and I’d normally substitute a mostly polyester ponte knit, but I think most pontes will be too heavy for this style. The dress has a lot of pleats on the hood and sleeves and is two thicknesses at the front. I’m going for a satin backed crepe so I can use the shiny side as the contrast. Hopefully it won’t be too slithery. This dress also needs a belt, and as luck would have it I have an 1985 issue of Burda with a very 80s belt pattern.

I think I’d make the belt out of two layers and turn it out rather than binding the edges as Burda have done, but the shape is perfect. It also amuses me that the Burda dress the belt goes with has a certain resemblance to the oversized Montana dress.

I don’t have a contemporary pattern for the polo neck jumper but there are a couple in my Burda collection that will do. I’m mainly looking at 120 from 11/2020, minus the gathers.

Burda 120 12/2020 line art, Burdastyle.ru

That’s eight pieces, but two of them are coats. This is going to take a while! I’m hoping it won’t come out too costumey for daily wear. The hooded dress is very of its time, but it’s also fabulous, and I think the rest are fairly wearable. And if 90s style is really back in the mainstream as I keep reading, this is all probably going to look quite sensible and practical by comparison: thick layers of warm fabric and lots of pockets.

Out with the old

I have lots of sewing plans for 2022 and very little wardrobe space. It’s time to purge some things I don’t wear any more. And as I still haven’t finished my Montana coat, here’s a blog post about the garments I’m getting rid of instead.

First up is my Vogue 8956 skirt. Sadly I don’t have a great photo of it because being made of black wool flannel it soaks up the light. This back view is about the best.

But to give a better idea of the shape, here’s the model photo. Very Vivienne Westwood.

Vogue 8956 envelope photo, somethingdelightful.com

I’m getting rid of it because it’s no longer fit to be seen. The fabric was beautiful but it wore badly; fuzzing and shrinking when washed. I also made a mistake in swapping the pattern’s suggested narrow hem for a deep faced hem with interfacing that was too heavy for the design. And I attached a lining to the hem. The shell and lining fabric shrank at different rates, the lining pulled on the hem, the hem facing descended, and the whole thing became very sad indeed. It sounds like a disaster, but before all this happened it was a dramatic yet very practical skirt that I wore a lot. It even got compliments at work.

One day I’ll make the pattern again, but this time I’ll keep the lining free from the shell and not interface the hem.

The second one is a pair of Oxford bags made in the same black wool flannel and the same shrinking happened. They are Burda 118 09/2015.

They were always a touch too short. I’d made the pattern once before and they’d turned out slightly long and a little big in the waist. So when I repeated it I took the waist in and shortened the leg, not taking into account that the smaller waist would make them sit higher. Again they had a lot of wear, and as I washed them they got shorter and shorter and more and more fuzzy. After a few years they looked disgraceful so I stopped reaching for them.

I guess the moral is don’t wash wool flannel. I still have the original, slightly too long, pair of these in my wardrobe. Wearing them with braces has cured the length issue. I may make the pattern again when that pair wears out.

The next one, by contrast, hardly got worn at all. This is Burda 110 08/2017 and when I’d just finished it I was really enthusiastic about it.

But once I started wearing it I realised that it wasn’t as comfortable as I’d thought. It’s made in a very stretchy, lightweight viscose jersey and the skirt has a ruched section. The bodice isn’t stable enough to support the weight of the skirt so it pulls down, and the ruching on the skirt sags at the front. Every time I saw it in the mirror I found myself adjusting the skirt. Perhaps the skirt needed to be tighter to hold the ruching- but then it would be hard to walk in. I think this would have worked better in a different fabric, but I’m not sure what. Maybe lycra jersey? And the bodice needs a second layer. This got very few wears and I don’t miss it now it’s gone. I am curious though: what sort of fabric makes these ruched designs work? I have a couple of old Donna Karan Vogue patterns in my collection with similar ruching, and I have read pattern reviews where people complained about the same sagging.

The last one is yet another Burda, 116 04/2014. It was the last project I completed before lockdown. It photographs well but has a fundamental design flaw.

If you look at the collar and placket there is a inward right angle corner where they join; the collar doesn’t extend across the top of that placket like you’d expect. This is a terribly weak point: you have two stable interfaced bands, the collar and the placket, meeting at right angles at an uninterfaced edge of the bodice. It frayed and tore.

So sadly that one has had to be retired after not a lot of use. It was also a little difficult to style. It isn’t warm enough on its own for most UK weather and it looks odd with a layer underneath the top. And for hot weather I have other summer dresses I prefer – this one is a bit too short for wearing with bare legs. I think the design might work better in black, with the collar fixed, but I didn’t love it enough that I want to make it again.

So that’s made a little space for some new things. I have some patterns lined up I’m really excited about.

Slow progress

I’m still working on my 80s coat, which is from this Vogue pattern.

The original is only half lined so I decided to line the whole thing, and picked a very contrasting lining: a bright pink satin when the shell fabric is green (I had it in stash; in fact it was originally bought to use with the green coating fabric on a long abandoned project). But then I realised I’d need some more sober lining fabric for things like lining the patch pockets and the inside of the concealed button placket. And the green is proving impossible to match especially as in person fabric shopping isn’t happening at the moment. I have ended up with grey lining, again from the stash.

The first sewing job should have been the bound buttonholes. I’d never done these before and wondered how well they’d go in such a thick fabric. I was particularly concerned about what fabric to use for backing the hole as I don’t have anything that’s a good colour match to the shell fabric. After making some samples I found a bright green quilting cotton was the best because it pressed well enough that none of it was visible from the front, so the poor colour match didn’t matter.

I’ve finished the buttonholes and the front welt pocket, and finally started sewing the shell together. Feels like there’s a long way to go at the moment. My pile of fabric pieces still looks enormous. But I put what I’ve got on the dress form yesterday and the shape is amazing; it’s basically triangular. I may need even bigger shoulder pads than I thought.

A slight miscalculation

I’m making an 80s jacket right now which requires serious shoulder pads. The pattern says to use one inch pads, or make your own with Vogue 8817. One inch thick pads are not something that’s readily available on eBay these days (or maybe I’m just not looking in the right place). In the past I made do with using two pairs of purchased pads for a similar project, but the shape wasn’t quite right. And then a copy of Vogue 8817 came up on eBay and I decided to have a crack at making my own.

The pattern calls for cotton batting to make the one inch jacket pads. I’m not a quilter and don’t have cotton batting on hand, but I do have the remains of the polyester batting I used for my quilted coat a couple of years ago so I pulled that out.

The way it works is you cut out a set of templates of gradually decreasing size from the pattern, then cut out several copies of each in batting, and layer them up.

There are five sizes of template.

The pattern doesn’t say in so many words how many of each size to cut out, but the cutting layout shows no less than five copies of the smallest one, four copies of the second and third smallest, two of the next, and one of the biggest. And that’s laid on a double layer of batting, so you’re cutting ten of the smallest piece, five for each shoulder. My batting seemed pretty lofty so I started off with just two each side of each of the smaller layers. Here it is stacked up.

That’s three inches high.

I reduced the layers to one of each size.

Two inches. These are meant to be one inch pads. Now obviously the pad will squash a bit when the jacket is hanging off it. I estimated the degree of squash by the highly scientific method of pulling out the pile of cut fabric pieces for another project and sitting them on top of my stack of batting shapes. That reduced the height to about one inch, but I’m not hugely convinced this is going to be accurate. Maybe I’d better get hold of actual cotton batting.

Review of 2021

I’m shamelessly using the old Sewing Top Fives series from Gillian and the Sewcialists as the template for this post. There isn’t an official Sewing Top Five blog series this year but I’ve always enjoyed doing it in previous years so here is my version for 2021. Since I started writing this post Gillian’s posted their own top five so it’s not quite dead. Gillian if you’re reading this many thanks for the inspiration.

The usual top five categories are highlights, misses, non-sewing highlights, reflections, and goals.

My highlights will be over quickly because this year my favourite pieces work together as two complete outfits so only two pictures to show. First up, a dress, jacket, and t shirt (not seen in the picture).

The dress is vintage Vogue 1308 by Claude Montana. The jacket is Burda 105 2/2021. Underneath the dress is a v necked Burda top made up in wool jersey. The top now really belongs to the dress as I never wear it with anything else; I need the extra warmth from putting a layer under the yellow knit fabric. The jacket is also essential because it provides pockets.

The other outfit is simpler: a jumpsuit and another wool jersey top (again not seen). With a pair of thick tights underneath this is the perfect thing to wear for work.

The jumpsuit is the Closet Core Blanca and the top is a simple t shirt based on Winifred Aldrich’s drafting instructions and made up in wool jersey. The Blanca is such a favourite I keep thinking about making another. This one is made from Empress Mills 7.5oz stretch denim which comes in a wide range of colours; maybe a blue or green next time?

On to the misses. Luckily I don’t have a lot of these this year. The first one is very recent; Vogue 1558. I have only worn this for blog photos.

This wasn’t an ideal style choice for me and then I doubled down on it by picking unsuitable fabric which stretched more than I wanted. I’m glad I finally used the pattern, which I’ve had since it was released, but I think this version is going to be relegated to the dressing up box. Lots of people made helpful suggestions for saving it, but right now I’m just not loving the white enough to rework it.

The Vogue 1378 pleather leggings have had a couple of wears but aren’t a favourite. Odd because I have worn previous iterations of this pattern to pieces but this pair is too shiny. I’m hanging on to them though because a very warm and almost waterproof pair of slim trousers can be a useful thing to have in winter, and they don’t take up much space.

And finally the Burda 111 6/2021 twisty cardigan which I immediately cut into a non twisty tie front cardigan. I’ve worn it a couple of times but it needs warm weather and a day when I don’t mind dealing with the fussy ties. I doubt I’ll still have it this time next year.

Non-sewing highlights is the one I skip because this blog is strictly for dressmaking. But I can come up with some sewing-adjacent highlights: finally finding a use for the green wool coating that’s been in my stash since 2012; having an LED light strip for my main sewing machine – I really can’t recommend that enough; introducing a bit of colour into my grey and black wardrobe; getting a heavy duty snap press; discovering Claude Montana’s 80s patterns for Vogue which led me down a rabbit hole of fashion history.

On to reflections.

Advance planning my sewing in ‘wardrobes’ still works well for me; I thought I’d get tired of all the restrictions but in fact it’s been great to make things that are planned to go together. I sewed my way through an entire second wardrobe plan this year and many of the pieces became favourites.

I was unusually productive this year – 25 pieces in all, not all of them blogged – because I used a lot of fairly quick patterns, repeated a few, and didn’t make a coat. I doubt this particular trend will continue though. I like making new-to-me patterns and I really enjoy a complex project. And I’ve just started a lined coat which will require home made shoulder pads, so look for my next finished project round about the end of February.

My pattern stashing habits changed. I’ve always been a pattern collector, primarily Vogue and Burda magazines, but this year I didn’t buy a single Vogue pattern. I suspect the problem with Vogue is that they’ve almost completely stopped doing designer collaborations. What I loved was finding images of the original designer’s styling of the garment, which usually turn out a lot more appealing to me than the toned down version shown on the pattern envelope. I’m obviously still not good enough at seeing the potential of a garment from the envelope photo. I do have my eye on their recent men’s coat pattern for my husband but it’s yet to reach the UK distributor.

Burda abruptly stopped working for me round about the August issue, after a couple of years of being absolutely on fire. It was so sudden I wonder if they’ve had a change of designer. My subscription runs until the summer so I’m still getting the magazine and hoping this is a temporary thing.

I discovered a few great sewing blogs this year. But I’ve been pretty bad about commenting on Blogger blogs because every browser I can install on my phone simply fails to display Blogger’s captcha popups, and I cannot find a way around it; it’s so frustrating, especially as the sewing blog world is still shrinking rapidly. So thank you so much to everyone who blogs their sewing! I’ve been trying to use Instagram a bit more as it seems that’s where a lot of sewing bloggers have migrated to, but an Instagram post isn’t the same as a long form blog post.

And finally goals. I have a lot of those. I want to make up the 80s Vogue patterns I’ve collected; in particular 1476 from 1984 and 1071 from 1983.

Vintage Vogue 1476 envelope art, Pinterest
Vintage Vogue 1071 envelope art

I intend to carry on expanding my colour horizons by making some blue pieces which will hopefully work together. In fact I’ve already turned a length of stashed royal blue satin into a pair of fancy joggers and now I need to make a top that goes with them.

I want to keep the number of items in my fabric stash spreadsheet at or below the current total of 40. Having 40 lengths of fabric make it sound like I have a huge stash, but the majority are leftovers of less than a metre or lengths of lining fabric; there are only five or six pieces left that would make a complete adult garment. I need to find things to do with all those big scraps though, or rehome them.

And finally I want to carry on blogging regularly and discover new sewing blogs. Suggestions very welcome!

Happy new year all.

Planning the next project: 80s jacket

I’ve had a piece of chartreuse green wool coating in my stash for years. I originally bought it to make a Burda coat and then rapidly changed my mind about the colour. The Burda got made up in a more neutral colour and the green coating sat waiting for the right pattern to come along.

Green coating from Stone Fabrics

Years and a house move later I still haven’t found anything to do with it. Occasionally I pull it out, look through my entire pattern stash, and then put it back again. There is only three metres of it which isn’t enough for the sort of big dramatic coat or cape I’m drawn to, and it’s too heavy for any other sort of clothing. I even considered selling it.

Lately I’ve been getting into vintage Vogue designs from the 1980s, especially those by Claude Montana. I’ve picked up a few patterns off eBay, including this one from 1986. It only needs three metres.

Vogue 1767 envelope

And I also have the Vogue pattern that the jacket pattern recommends to use for those enormous shoulder pads.

I haven’t been able to find an image of the original garment other than the one on the Vogue envelope, but here’s one with a very similar feel. This sort of coat often seems to come in very bright colours and be styled over black garments.

Bill King for American Vogue 1984, clothes by Claude Montana, periodicult.tumblr.com

And here are a couple of links to rather blurry YouTube videos of Montana shows with very similar coats in the most amazing colours.

Claude Montana 1985/1986

Claude Montana Fall 1986

The chartreuse green should fit right in amongst that lot. And even better, I have most of the other things I need for making the coat in my stash.

There are a few unknowns: the coat requires a bound buttonhole which is a new technique to me, and I still haven’t quite got my head around the construction of the concealed button band which closes it down the front. And the pattern calls for finishing all the internal seams with home made bias binding because the jacket is only half lined. No way I am doing that, so I need to line the whole thing which means working out how to make it go around the back vent.

I think this one will keep me busy for a while.

Hindsight is 20/20: Vogue 1558

If I ever need a quick fancy dress costume I think I’m sorted; I’ll just wear this dress, borrow a toy lightsaber from my son, and say I’m Princess Leia.

This is the original pattern: Vogue 1558. It’s a Rachel Comey design from maybe 2018. Surprisingly it seems to be out of print already. I think I bought it when it was first released, but never got around to making it up because it’s difficult to find the right fabric for. It needs a lightweight but relatively stable knit. Anything too heavyweight would make the pleats at the waist very bulky, but the wide skirt needs a lot of support so too much stretch is to be avoided.

The original Rachel Comey dress is made from silk jersey, which was never going to be an option. I decided on ‘silk touch’ poly lycra from Tissu Fabrics. It’s stretchier than I’d like, but I attempted to compensate by not lengthening the bodice pieces by as much as I normally would. It’s also inexpensive so I bought some extra to make underlayers for opacity: a basic crew necked t shirt and an underskirt. I had a clever idea I wanted to try out with the underskirt: I put side seam pockets into it and left slits in the dress side seam to make them accessible. That way the dress has the benefit of pockets without all the pulling you normally get from pockets in a lightweight knit.

Unfortunately I underestimated the stretch and everything ended up much too long. I needn’t have lengthened the bodice at all. The pocket idea worked, but as I can only just reach the bottom of them they are not exactly practical.

I did manage a good invisible zip insertion, which in this difficult fabric is a minor miracle. Yes the pleats aren’t quite symmetrical.

It’s not just the stretch though. The whole style is wrong for me. This dress is soft and pretty whereas I feel more comfortable in something sharper edged. I thought the strong vertical lines of the pleats and the high neckline would make it work for me, but the midi length and bishop sleeves are what is coming through. I could chop off some length – it’s not currently hemmed – but I’m not sure that would save it and anyway it’s winter here right now. So I think I’m chalking this one up to experience and moving swiftly on.

Layers wardrobe post mortem

The final nine pieces

I spent quite a few months earlier this year working on a set of pieces that were intended to all work together to give me layering options. It’s been a while since I finished the last one so it’s time to see how well it worked: have I actually worn them, and if I did was it in the way I planned?

Five of the pieces are firm favourites: the jumpsuit, the two wool jersey tops, the long jacket and the straight legged trousers. The jumpsuit and trousers get worn with the crew necked wool t shirt regularly, as planned. In fact the jumpsuit is such a favourite I keep thinking of making another.

Jumpsuit – the v neck top might be underneath but I suspect not

The jacket and v necked top come out regularly to be worn with my 80s button back dress. The 80s dress was not part of the wardrobe plan but I’m still using these pieces as layers so that counts. The jacket also gets thrown over lots of other outfits to provide pockets or a bit of extra insulation. Here it is with the printed dress from the wardrobe plan.

Jacket worn with printed dress

The trousers are not holding up well to wear: I made them from the remains of two different cuts of the same fabric and sadly there’s a very slight colour difference between front and back which is getting worse with washing. They have already been demoted to the category of things I wear for hardware work but I’m still glad to have them. I love the shape so I should make the pattern again some time in a better choice of fabric.

Trousers and crew necked top

But let’s talk about the failures because that’s always more interesting.

The printed dress has only been worn a few times but I’m not sure I’d class it as a complete failure. It’s too fussy for a regular day but it’s nice for special occasions and always gets compliments. I don’t think I’ll be making the pattern again though.

Printed dress

The pleather leggings ought to have worked. I had made the pattern twice before and wore the results a lot, and I’m always in need of warm layers for my legs. The problem is they just aren’t flattering; they’re too shiny and that brings the eye straight to the calves, my least favourite part of my legs. I also can’t find the right shoes to go with them: long boots make the calf problem worse – see below – and they look odd with trainers.

Jacket worn with pleather leggings

The cargo dress on is an interesting case. It looks best when worn alone, which you’ll have to take my word for as I have no pictures, but I’m less keen on it with layers underneath. Consequently it hasn’t left the wardrobe since the end of September. I’m hanging onto it in the hope of wearing it in the summer.

Cargo dress with a black cotton t shirt and the pleather leggings

Finally there’s the twisted loop cardigan, which I found annoying and immediately chopped up into a tie front cardigan. The trouble with this one is the fabric. A cardigan needs to be made from something warm, and lightweight bamboo jersey is not something I reach for on a cold day.

Bamboo cardigan worn with the trousers and crew necked top

It’s proved very useful to actively plan to make garments that can be layered, but they didn’t all work out. I should definitely stop trying to make cardigans work for me. And I should make more wool jersey t shirts; they are one of my least favourite things to sew but they always get worn and worn. If they could be bought at a reasonable price I’d buy them instead.

Thanks to my husband as always for photos.

Back to the 80s: Vintage Vogue 1308 Claude Montana dress

One thing that always strikes me when I look at fashion images from the early 80s is how warm those power dressing ladies must have been. They’re invariably wrapped in several layers, often of heavy wool, and with gloves and hats on top. Perfect for a UK winter.

This dress is very much part of that sort of look. It’s from a vintage Vogue Claude Montana pattern, number 1308. My copy came off eBay. This one comes up fairly often and inexpensively second hand so I imagine it sold well when it was in print. There’s no date on it, but comparing with the numbers and dates of Vogue patterns recorded in COPA suggests it is from 1983. I haven’t been able to find an image of the exact garment on the catwalk, unfortunately, although YouTube videos of Montana collections from 1983 have some similar styles.

The pattern has three pieces: the dress, a jacket, and a stole (the latter winning the award for the most unnecessary pattern piece ever – a giant rectangle with no markings that must have taken up an entire sheet of pattern tissue). The dress has huge 80s shoulder pads and some shaped topstitching detail around the neck and shoulders which is echoed in the jacket. But the main feature is the opening bands down the back and arms.

You’re supposed to use snaps as the band closures, which matches what I’ve seen in a lot of contemporary fashion images, but Vogue suggests buttons as an alternative and I agree – I’d be terrified of the snaps coming undone down the back. I was surprised that 1.5cm buttons were suggested which seem rather on the small side for the width of the band. Presumably that matches the size of the snaps on the original garment. My buttons are 2cm which I think looks better.

I had a hard time deciding on fabric for this. The envelope says ‘wool jersey, wool double knit, challis, lightweight crepe and raw silk’ but it’s not stated which of the pieces each fabric suggestion is for. Clearly the fabric for the dress needs to be heavy enough to support the closures so I went with the double knit option, although mine is a poly-viscose-elastane mix from Minerva rather than wool. It comes in a huge range of colours. This one is ‘ochre’ and I’m really enjoying having a change from neutrals.

This was a fairly easy sew although I didn’t follow the instructions exactly. They would have you turn under a tiny (6mm) hem on all the facings and then topstitch exactly along that line to secure the facing. This was not at all easy in a thick and bouncy ponte knit, so after the first few attempts I gave up and left the remaining facing edges flat and unfinished before topstitching. In a fraying fabric I’d have overlocked them, or I suppose they could be bound for a really fancy finish.

Those big shoulders aren’t just shoulder pads alone. There’s an extra crescent shaped stiffening layer inside the dress at the shoulder edge to help produce that very wide and rounded shape. This sort of detail is one of the things I love about Vogue patterns. Sadly I wasn’t able to track down a copy of the recommended vintage pattern for making authentic 80s shoulder pads, so I had to buy my pads from eBay and they aren’t quite the right shape or size.

I had a hard time getting the top of the back button band to sit nicely when worn. It looked fine on my dress form, but on me the outer corner of the top band kept curling outwards. The closures aren’t needed for function so I tacked it down.

I’ve only made the dress from the pattern, but my Burda 105 2/2021 jacket is a similar style to the Montana jacket and looks good with my dress. It also provides much needed pockets to the outfit.

I’ve been surprised how much I’ve worn this dress considering it was a bit of a stunt project. It’s so roomy I can get a jumper under it which has been great for keeping warm. Forget the nineties revival, I’m sticking with the eighties.

Thanks to my husband for taking the photos.

Experiments with colour: Vogue 1567 top

I’ve been wanting to add a bit of colour to my mostly black and grey wardrobe. Admittedly blue and black stripes is starting off very cautiously, but I wanted to make something I’d be sure to wear. Too many brightly coloured clothes have ended up festering in my wardrobe because I always reach for the grey things.

This is the top from Vogue 1567, which sadly is out of print. It’s very simple: the sleeves are cut in one with the bodice so there are only three pattern pieces. However it’s thoughtfully designed. There is a hidden stabiliser that keeps the front slash neckline from drooping. The pattern calls for hand stitching a piece of tape on to the wrong side, but being lazy I fused a strip of interfacing on instead and it worked fine. I also reinforced the hems with stretch interfacing which makes a twin needle hem produce a better result on my machine.

Vogue 1567 line art, somethingdelightful.com

The back neckline is a slight v neck. I was tempted to put the stripes on a slant to line up with it but with two metres of fabric I didn’t have enough fabric to do it. In fact I barely squeezed the pattern on to the fabric on the straight. This design is a fabric hog. But I’m very pleased with the stripe matching I ended up with at centre back.

The fabric itself is a lightweight sweater knit from eBay. I searched high and low for blue and black striped knit and this one is all I came up with, but it’s exactly what I envisioned even down to the width of the stripes. There was also a red and black version which was quite tempting but for one thing I’d look like Dennis the Menace, and for another red is one of the many colours that I like the idea of but never wear in practice.

Blue and black stripes was definitely the right option because I’ve worn this quite a lot already. In fact if the weather hadn’t suddenly gone cold I’d probably be wearing it right now.

Thanks to my husband for taking the pictures.