May the Force be with you: Vogue 8512

Vogue 8512 side view
I’m getting the Star Wars thing out of the way in the title, because there’s no denying this dress is something a Jedi would wear. It’s not just my version though: look at the envelope art below. All the girl in brown needs is a lightsaber to hang off her utility belt. And I can see Princess Leia in the white outfit although obviously she’d have some amazingly elaborate hairdo to go with it.

Vogue 8512 envelope art

Anyway. This is Vogue 8512, a pattern from the Very Easy range that I was given for Christmas when I first started sewing. I don’t think it stayed in print very long; there are only two reviews on Pattern Review which implies it wasn’t particularly popular. It certainly is a simple pattern in its original form: kimono sleeves so nothing to set in, princess seams for easy fitting, and there are only four pattern pieces to worry about as the lining is cut from the same pieces as the dress. The pattern has a zip down the centre back but it’s not needed if you use a fabric with any stretch. I made it up in dark grey doubleknit when I first got it and skipped the lining, substituting a facing around the neck. I never managed to get the neck to stand up as well as the one in the envelope picture though. This was way before the blog but there are some murky photos of that version here and here.

Recently I was going through my stash trying to reduce it a little and found some mocha ponte double knit. I had a plan for it when I bought it, but life moves on and the dress I’d originally intended won’t work for me any more. So I went looking for an alternative pattern with long sleeves, pockets, and a skirt I can cycle in. Nothing completely fit the bill, but Vogue 8512 looked easy enough to alter. I traced it again and altered the pattern to have large pockets in the princess panel. I also extended the sleeves to full length. I then made separate pattern pieces for a lining with facings of the body fabric around the neck, rather than simply reusing the body pieces for the lining.

Vogue 8512 front view

I was also determined to make that boat neck look like the one on the envelope. I interfaced the neck area with some knit fusible, but that didn’t look like it would give enough shape so I also attached two layers of poly organza to the wrong side of the facings before sewing them to the dress. This was not a scientific process: I tore a couple of rectangular strips of approximately the depth of the facing and basted them along the neck seam, letting the bottom edge of the organza hang free. It seems to have worked: the collar stands up on its own. I honestly did not adjust it at all for the photos, and it was a windy day when we took them.

There’s a back zip in this version because despite using a stretch lining (The Lining Company’s stretch poly satin) I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get into it without. It turns out there was no need to bother. But it’s a good invisible zip insertion.

Vogue 8512 back view

The lining was bagged: I’m proud to say there isn’t a stitch of hand sewing in this dress. I didn’t make a perfect job of it; the lining tends to pull on the lower hem a little, hence some of the strange shapes in the pictures above. The sleeve hems don’t seem to have the same problem. But now I’ve figured out the process I’ll do a better job next time.

Although this is certainly a practical dress and I’m going to wear it, styling it is a challenge. It definitely needs a belt. The one above is the best out of the ones I already have, but I think it needs something slightly different so I’m looking for a new one. Right now I’m wavering between canvas webbing or full-on metallic. Suggestions welcome!

And now for something completely different: Drape Drape no. 17

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments about Vogue 1335. That project took months to complete. This next one, not so much.

Drape Drape No 17 front brown dk

This is pattern number 17 from the first Drape Drape book. I have the English edition which calls this one the Goddess Drape dress. It’s definitely got that Grecian drapery look about it. It’s an easy sew. Two main pattern pieces, front and back, and bindings for the armscyes. You finish the hems and the neckline, fold and tack all the tucks in the main pieces, and then after that it’s like making a large tank top. Once the pattern is traced the dress can be cut and made up in an afternoon.

Drape Drape No 17 back full length brown dk

My previous attempt at a Drape Drape pattern came out much larger and longer than I expected, so I went down a size for this one and didn’t add any length. I normally lengthen everything I make. I think the size and length turned out about right on this one. I made the medium size. I usually make a size 10 in Vogue, a 36 or 38 in Burda, and I’m five foot ten.

Drape Drape No 17 front full length brown dk

The recommended fabric for this style is ‘matt jersey (plain knit)’. My fabric is a viscose doubleknit from Minerva Crafts. It was described a a crepe jersey, and one side does have a slightly crinkled texture. However I’ve used the smoother side of the fabric as the right side here. It’s obviously a much heavier fabric than the pattern was originally designed for. I only used it because this version was intended to be a trial run to check the sizing. However I think it works, probably because it is unusually drapey for a doubleknit.

I couldn’t do the recommended finish on the armscyes because my fabric was too thick. Instead I sewed a binding strip right sides together with the armscye, turned it over the armscye seam allowance, and stitched it down by stitching in the ditch from the outside. This means the binding has a raw edge on the inside but the jersey does not fray so it doesn’t matter. This finish also makes the armscyes slightly smaller. With the finish in the book you’d lose the seam allowance at the armscye. The armscyes are generous even with the seam allowances intact so again it’s not a problem.

Drape drape no 17 armscye finish

One minor irritation with this dress is that the hem edge tends to flip outwards. The hem allowance is only one centimetre (3/8th inch) and it’s finished by overlocking the raw edge and then turning and stitching it down with a straight stitch. I think the fabric stretched out when I stitched it. The straight stitch also means the hem is not very elastic and so I popped a few stitches on it the first time I wore the dress. Another time I’d twin-needle the hem.

I’ve been amazed how much I’ve worn this. The weather helps – the UK is having one of its rare summer heatwaves – but I think it would work with a long sleeved t-shirt and opaque tights in the autumn too. Highly recommended.

Drape Drape No 17 side view brown dk