Vogue 1376 vintage Montana dress modelled pictures

So here it is at last, my vintage 80s dress. It seems odd to think of 80s patterns as vintage, given I remember the decade quite well. But at the time I definitely didn’t appreciate fashion and had never heard of Claude Montana.

The pattern is Vogue 1376 from 1984. I’m almost certain the original designer dress is the one in this advert. I did consider constructing a blue cardboard triangle to put on my head but you’ll be pleased to hear sanity prevailed. My styling efforts are limited to 80s style stripy blusher.

This dress is all about the enormous shoulders. The bodice front and back are only joined together from the waist down in order to achieve that very triangular shape. Decency is maintained by side insets placed in the gap and topstitched in place. One of the insets is visible in this side view. What you can’t see here are the two shoulder pads each side required to support the shape.

Here’s a back view. I added quite a bit to the length. I always add 5cm to the bodice on Vogue but on this one I added another 3cm to the skirt. I’m very happy with where the hem has ended up. For once I’ve managed to hit the magic length which covers the knee but doesn’t make my legs look oddly proportioned. I’m wearing ridiculous heels here for photographic purposes but I think this would look OK with flats. I browsed through a lot of YouTube videos of Montana fashion shows while identifying this pattern, and was surprised by how low and practical many of the shoes were. Not how I remember 80s style. Is it just that heels got even higher later on? I remember fashion suddenly declaring that flats were OK after all at some time in the second half of the 90s, and how refreshing it was to be able to find shoes that were both attractive and practical.

There are a lot of details on the back: there’s a button closure, pleats, and a belt. On the original design the belt appears to be patent leather, but I stuck with self fabric and a lot of interfacing for mine. Incidentally the fabric is gaberchino from Empress Mills. I think this design needs something not too heavy, but with a bit of body to it.

The front has the amazing pocket flanges which echo the triangular shoulder shape and the overall outline. The whole thing is very thoughtfully designed.

Surprisingly it’s not all that close fitting, as you can see here. I made my usual size and I seem to have more ease than on the original. I don’t think I’d want it any tighter though.

I’m pleased with this, although who knows how much I’ll get to wear it in the near future. It was a lot of fun to make anyway.

Utterly impractical sewing

Remember this? It’s a old Vogue designer pattern I bought earlier in the year because it is everything I love about the 80s.

It hasn’t just been sitting in my pattern collection; I am actually making it up. It’s been quite a journey so far and it’s not done yet. But I have finally got it to the point where it looks like a dress, so I thought I’d post some progress pictures.

The pattern envelope does not lie. The shoulders are seriously wide. Consequently the waist looks tiny. It hasn’t got shoulder pads in yet either, so those shoulders are going to be even bigger when it’s done.

The hip pocket flaps form amazing sticky out fins when the dress is on a body or dress form. My other half said it reminded him of a 50s Cadillac. Underneath them are welt pockets.

The fabric is gaberchino. It needs to be something that is drapey enough for the pleats in the bodice back but has enough body to make the more structured details. I’ve used a lot of interfacing to beef it up in places.

Here’s a better view of the shoulder and neck. The pins are holding the armscye facing in place as I haven’t topstitched it yet.

And here is the back; there is a lot going on there. There are going to be buttons and button holes on the upper back bands and at the collar and the back half-belt. My dress form has a much shorter waist than I do so it won’t be quite so blousy on me.

I still need to add insets under the arms, do a ton of topstitching, put the shoulder pads in, and make all those buttonholes. Oh and hem it, too. There is loads of work in this and that’s without making any effort to make the insides look nice – the pattern doesn’t call for anything special there so it’s all overlocked seam allowances. It’s a wonderful pattern though; beautifully drafted and full of interesting details. It’s been a lot of fun to sew.

I’m coming to the conclusion that the end result is going to be less wearable than I’d originally thought, what with the high neck and the very narrow skirt. But it will be a spectacular dress for going out somewhere fancy in, if we ever get to do that again. And when I finish it I will do my best to get some good photos…I’d better look up some 80s makeup inspiration.

Ultimate 80s

Last week took a rather unexpected turn and I ended up first in A and E and then having surgery. I’m home now and feel a lot better – thank you NHS! And I bought a sewing pattern to cheer myself up so I thought I’d share it because this has got to be the ultimate 80s power dress. It’s Vogue 1376, I think from 1984. The design is by Claude Montana.

Vogue 1376 envelope photo

I’m pretty sure it’s the dress from this magazine ad.

Ad from Vogue (image from Pinterest)

I even found a YouTube video of the Montana 1984 spring/summer show with several models all wearing the same dress.

Here are the line drawings.

Vogue 1376 view A line drawing
Vogue 1376 view B line drawing

I love the pockets. They’re quite fancy welt pockets made using a clever technique that was new to me. The pocket bag is sewn on to the pocket opening, turned through, and then folded up and back to form the welt. There is no separate welt piece so it’s much less faff. And then that triangular flap gets sewn on top, hiding the beautiful welt. Or the not so beautiful welt if it goes wrong.

The pattern doesn’t have a photo of the dress back which is a shame as there’s a lot of interesting detail there. The video shows that the back belt is made of a different fabric which looks like leather. I think I’d stick to self fabric though.

The shoulder pads are immense. The pattern says 2.5cm thick. I think it would take two sets of modern ones to get that height. It amused me to see that at the time Vogue offered a shoulder pad pattern which the envelope suggests as an alternative to buying pre-made pads.

Although it’s obviously very much of its time I think there is a wearable dress in here. Just need to find the right fabric.

Burda 128 10/2010

Burda 128 10/2010 modelled pictures

Burda 128 10/2010 black sateen

Here is my latest attempt at a practical winter dress, Burda 128 10/2010. I’m not saying it’s a bad pattern: it’s certainly not bland or boring. But it’s not the easiest thing to wear.

I almost never make toiles and there are a few fit issues. I could have done with a bit more room at the hips and there’s something a bit off with the hem at the back – but I’m going to have to lengthen it anyway so that can be fixed at that point.

Burda 128 10/2010

Side view, although it’s very difficult to see any detail. The bust point is a bit high for me. Burda doesn’t mark that on magazine patterns.

I wore it to work today (with very thick tights!) and it was ok, but definitely only suitable for a day spent mostly behind a desk.

I might tackle lengthening it this weekend. And then after that I have several much more colourful projects (for other people) lined up!

Thanks to my husband for the photos.

Style Arc Hedy dress

Stylearc Hedy dress front

Remember the 80s? Big baggy tunic tops worn over leggings, a triangular silhouette, lots of lycra. This is the Style Arc Hedy dress, and it would fit right in there. For me it was love at first sight.

Absolutely the best thing about this dress is that it has pockets cleverly integrated into the design. They’re standard inseam pockets but the way they are placed in the curved front seams means they hang very well and don’t mess up the lines of the dress.

Stylearc Hedy dress front

I made this in a shiny grey mystery knit bought on Goldhawk Road last year. I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s a fairly stable doubleknit construction but the hand is very drapey and slippery, and it’s shinier than most of the “scuba” knits I’ve seen. There was a lot of the stuff around at the time; I saw it in several different shops and lots of colours were available. It washes well and needs no ironing at all. It’s completely artificial fibre but I guess in the right light it could double for silk jersey. Come to think of it, this pattern would be amazing made up in silk jersey. Love those seamlines.

Stylearc Hedy dress back

Here’s a better look at the underlying shape. The dress comes in two lengths and this is the shorter, “knee-length”, version. I deliberately didn’t make any pattern adjustments so it is not a surprise that it came out pretty short – I normally add between two and four inches length to most dress patterns. I like the proportion as it is though. I think the pattern runs true to size although with so much ease it’s hard to tell. Anyway I made the size closest to my measurements rather than going down one as I do with Big Four.

Stylearc Hedy dress front wide

It’s a fairly easy sew. You don’t need an overlocker. I used mine for the side seams and to finish some edges because it’s fast, but the rest of the dress was constructed on my regular machine. I sewed the hems with a regular zigzag stitch because I was too lazy to fight with my twin needle and I wanted to wear the dress quickly.

The pattern instructions are Burda-style minimal, although unlike with Burda there are diagrams provided for the trickier bits, such as folding the neckline pleat. I like that the instructions include interfacing everywhere it’s needed. I’m very impressed with the overall quality of the pattern. Everything matched up beautifully and the industrial-standard seam allowances used made sewing it easy and accurate.

It has already passed the wearability test. I made it just before Christmas and it’s been worn about twice a week ever since. There may be another one of these soon if I find the right fabric.

Stylearc Hedy front

Space opera

Here’s the first fruit of the overlocker. It’s model 128 from the October 2010 Burda.

Burda 128 10/2010

And here’s Burda’s version. I notice that the image file from the BurdaStyle website is named something along the lines of ‘Burda Star Wars’ so the science fiction effect is obviously intentional! Personally I think it’s more 1980s cyberpunk than Star Wars. I’m having a hard time thinking of anyone in Star Wars with a short skirt. Princess Leia’s gold bikini does not count.

The original version is made out of real leather and stretch gabardine, but mine’s pleather and a stable viscose jersey, which seemed to work pretty well. I ended up leaving out the centre back zip from the original and I can still just about get it on as the fabrics have quite a bit of stretch. I prefer the look of it without the zip. I’ve just realised I skipped the shoulder pads too. Clearly they aren’t all that vital.

I had lots of problems with the fit. I didn’t make a muslin and ended up having to unpick stitching on the pleather. Luckily I was taking in rather than letting out so the original stitching holes are hidden. The back still isn’t quite right but I think it’s as good as I can get without taking the whole dress to pieces and starting over.

Burda 128 10/2010

I’m not entirely sure if this dress is going to get worn or not. It’s certainly not casual, and a bit over-the-top for work. Maybe in winter with opaque tights and boots? And accessorized with a blaster.

Burda 128 10/2010

80s flashback

I finished the tartan dress. The background to this is that few years ago (long before I started sewing) I saw a Yohji Yamamoto dress in Selfridges that I really liked but couldn’t possibly afford. I can barely remember a lot of the details now, but this is my take on the features that did stick with me: tartan, exposed zip, narrow waist, wide skirt, and drapey bits.

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I think there’s something quite 1980s about it. (For the avoidance of doubt I’m pleased with that! Hence the pirate boots in the pictures rather than heels.)

I was planning to wear it with a belt but having tried that I now think it’s better without. Here it is again with the belt for comparison.

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I’m really pleased with the exposed metal zip. I did wonder if the weight of the zip would make the skirt hang awkwardly, but in fact it doesn’t seem to make any difference. None of the back views we photographed looked strange. I always find that any faults show up in photos even if they are totally invisible to me in the mirror, so I think the zip is a success.

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I ended up having to let the side seams out a little – I should have done a full bust adjustment but I thought I wouldn’t need it with the cowl neck. I don’t think it really shows though.

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I love the circle skirt but hemming it took a whole evening. I machined it (can you imagine hand hemming six metres? I can’t!) but even so the marking, pinning up, easing, basting, pressing, and finally stitching it took an age. I could have left it raw for a more punky look, but I like this dress too much to want to risk it fraying into nothing!

Many thanks to all who gave me such good advice and encouragement about this one – it turned out to be a much more difficult project than I expected, but I’m so pleased with the results!