This was the wrong time of year to make a thick flannel dress. It’s going to be a great option later in the year but right now the UK is having its annual two weeks of summer so I put it on just for these photos.
The pattern is vintage Vogue 1071 by Claude Montana, dating from 1982. I have found some pictures of the original from an auction site which show it made up in black wool knit with leather panels, but Vogue’s instructions also recommend wovens, including flannel, and the version on the pattern envelope looks to have suede panels.
I made mine up in black cotton flannel from Empress Mills. It is a lovely fabric to touch: really thick and fuzzy. In fact it was a little on the heavy side for this pattern. I also bought a length of black polyester suede to do the panels, but when the fabrics arrived I realised the texture of the flannel was so similar to suede that the panels would be effectively invisible, and didn’t bother adding them.
This is a nicely drafted pattern – everything goes together well – but it’s not what I think of as a typical Montana style, probably because it’s an early one. There are no shoulder pads and no shaping. The back is completely plain.
It does have one Montana feature: plenty of pockets. There are a pair of very roomy ones hidden in the side seams, which is where in practice I’ll put my stuff, and also two breast pockets. Those are fancy welt pockets with flaps and were a pain in the neck to construct because they’re so wide and deep their seam allowances encroach on the front placket. But if I ever need to carry more than the side seam pockets can accommodate I have room to do it.
I’ve found the older Vogues run much more true to size than the modern ones: ie I need to make the size the size chart says, instead of one or two down. However they’re also single size patterns, and my copy of this one is two sizes smaller than I am. I checked the finished pattern measurements for bust, waist, and hip, determined that there was so much design ease that I’d fit into the smaller size with room to spare, and made it up without adjustments other than for length. What I didn’t think to check was the cuff circumference, and they’re a little tight. Not unwearably so, but I definitely need to undo them to get my hands though.
I’ve been banging on about this dress for weeks but this is the last post about it, I promise. It’s an old Vogue pattern from 1985, number 1652 by Claude Montana.
My version is made in black satin-backed crepe. Here’s a quick reminder of what it looks like.
It turned out to be one of the most difficult projects I’ve done in a while. The style looks simple – raglan sleeves, wrap front, hood, a few pleats. But the the pleats and the edge finishes are very fiddly and there are also some clever tucks at the neck that are sewn differently on each side of the dress. The instructions for those are technically correct. The facings on the inside of the dress have the ‘right side’ of the contrast fabric visible. And as it’s ‘contrast fabric’ not ‘lining fabric’, the pattern diagrams use the standard ‘right side of main fabric’ colour for all diagrams of the tucks whether they’re shown from the inside or the outside the dress, rendering the two sides completely indistinguishable. Like I said, it’s technically correct. And of course I sewed the right-hand side tucks inside out the first time because I interpreted the diagram wrong. As soon as I put the dress on it was clear they were wrong though, and it was easy to fix.
And now for some pictures of the details.
The pleats are made over the seams in the hood and sleeves and then held in place by stitching in the ditch. I didn’t think it through and didn’t finish my seam allowances before making the pleats, and afterwards it’s almost impossible to do. Doesn’t matter on the hood, because it is lined, but the sleeves aren’t. This picture also shows the top-stitching on the raglan sleeve seams, which seems to be there purely to hold the neck facing down. At least, it looks exactly like the sort of thing I often do to tame an unruly facing, only I stitch in the ditch to try to hide it rather than making it a feature. I’d always assumed this was a lazy shortcut that could be avoided if I pressed the facings a bit better, but here it is on a serious designer garment so I’m feeling pleasingly vindicated now.
The centre back and side seams are flat felled to give a nice clean interior finish. The hems are tiny, no fun at all to sew in bouncy polyester crepe. I presume this finish matches the one on the original garment, but I’ve reason to think that was made in wool doubleknit so a narrow hem wouldn’t be an easy option there either. Mysterious. If I ever make this again I might increase the hem allowance.
The sleeves are finished with real opening cuffs which is a nice touch. They’re very skinny though, or else I have big hands.
Another couple of unusual features below: the velcro closure on the front and the method of joining the facings to the body. The facings are stitched to the body wrong sides together, then the facing edges are are trimmed back close to the stitch line and the outer layer turned in to make a narrow hem over the top of the facing. This was a very slow, fiddly process involving lots of hand basting. It’s completely impossible to turn the hem in neatly where the edge has a concave curve, and the pattern provides a helpful extra piece to sew on along that section to form the hem instead. It’s just about visible in the picture. They call it a ‘gusset’, which I always thought of as something that goes into an armscye or crotch seam. Yes it’s wonky. This is the best I could do after much unpicking and retrying, and it’s not very visible when worn.
Sarah Webb (@sarahjw70 on Instagram) sensibly suggested attaching the facings the conventional way and then top-stitching instead. I wish I had followed her advice! The finish above makes for a flat and well-behaved edge with an attractive border of the outside fabric on the contrast side, but it took a whole evening and I think the normal way would be quite acceptable, especially if the inside isn’t a dramatically contrasting colour.
Here’s a couple of photos of the inside at the top. There’s a little button there for a thread loop on the top corner of the underneath of the wrap to hook onto, so there’s no danger of the wrap front revealing anything it shouldn’t at the top.
After a day of wear I got annoyed by the lapel of the outer front flapping about when the hood was down, so added a tiny hook and eye on the other side to hold that in place too. That front isn’t shifting anywhere now.
And here’s the inside of those amazing sleeves. Thick shoulder pads, and a bit of wadding tacked to my shamefully unfinished seams to help the sleeves keep their very curved shape.
And that’s it. I did wear it to work one day, and no one noticed! Not sure if that means it’s less out there than I thought or they were all being very polite. Anyway it’s wearable for days when all I’m doing is sitting at a desk. It needs a wide elastic belt to make it sit right with this slippery fabric – I tried with a webbing belt and it slid everywhere. And it’s very warm.
My next project is a very plain Burda sweater with only four pattern pieces that I’ve made before. It’ll be a nice change.
This dress is the least practical item in my 80s wardrobe plan but definitely the most 80s. It’s vintage Vogue 1652, a design by Claude Montana from 1985. Here’s the envelope art.
I have searched and searched but haven’t found any contemporary images of this style other than the Vogue Patterns envelope photo. My best guess is that it is from the Montana autumn/winter 1984/1985 collection because that one contained several dresses and coats with similar pleating details on the arms, and at least one wrap dress with a hood, but the exact style remains elusive. The Vogue pattern itself was published in 1985 so the date is plausible.
It’s very reminiscent of the hooded dresses Grace Jones wore in A View To A Kill, also from 1985, although of course hers were by Alaïa.
My dress is made in black satin-backed crepe from Croft Mill. At the time of writing it’s still available here. I used the satin side for the contrast facings. I got very lucky with this one because I didn’t order quite enough fabric to cut the facings wrong side up, but Croft Mill sent such a generous cut that it all worked out. I only have scraps left.
Here’s the back view. This really shows off those 80s shoulders. There are extra thick pads in there, and I added some wadding lower down to help the sleeve keep its shape. It’s not all padding though because they looked huge even before the pads went in. It’s the cut of the sleeve and shoulder that does it.
The hood is surprisingly flattering and stays put very well. But here is the dress with it down. The big lapel doesn’t sit so well in this position.
I added my usual 5cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and another 5cm to the skirt length, which it definitely needed to end in the same place as on the model. The hem allowance is 15mm so there’s no possibility of letting it down later if it’s too short.
This was a single size pattern so I also added a bit to the width below the waist. I normally trace a size larger on the hips in a multi size pattern so none of this was a surprise. I wasn’t quite sure if I should make the wrap front wider or not as I was adding to the hips. I did, and it seems to have worked OK. I can’t say it sits in place perfectly because it’s a narrow wrap skirt in a slippery fabric so of course it has its moments, but it’s not unwearable.
I am intending to make a belt to go with this from a Burda pattern, but in these photos I’m wearing a purchased one. It was a lucky find because it has a certain similarity to the one on the pattern envelope photo.
So the question is will I actually wear this? It’s a lot of look but it’s also a lot of fun, and unlike many fancy dresses I’ve made it’s comfortable. With a black slip underneath even the slightly fussy skirt isn’t a problem. The one thing it lacks is pockets. I’ve been wearing a pouch clipped onto my belt to deal with that. I’ll have to try it at work and see. I suspect it might also be wearable as a jacket over trousers.
I’ve been busy for the last few weeks on this vintage Vogue pattern by Claude Montana, 1652 from 1985. I haven’t been able to find a photo of this one other than the pattern envelope, but it’s gloriously 80s.
The pattern envelope picture doesn’t show the back but those pleats in the sleeves are repeated on the hood.
I had a lot of trouble deciding on fabric for this. Depending on fabric it could vary between very dressy and very casual. I have a persistent mental image of this made up in grey sweatshirting with a brightly coloured lining, but I fear that would look too much like a dressing gown to be wearable out of the house; I don’t want to be thrown out of the supermarket for being improperly dressed. Aiming to avoid that effect I went for the polar opposite with satin backed crepe.
The dress is double layered in the hood and the deep front facings which turn out to form a lapel on the right front, and can be made in a contrast fabric. My plan was to use the satin side of the fabric as the contrast.
Cutting this out was a challenge. The pattern pieces are huge and asymmetric; it has to be cut on a single layer. In addition I hadn’t thought very carefully about my decision to use the wrong side of the fabric for the facings, and bought the amount of fabric required for the version of the dress without contrast facings. When I came to lay out the pattern pieces I realised that I needed extra length to cut the facings wrong side up. The fact that I’d also lengthened the dress by 10cm made it worse. Luckily Croft Mill had sent an exceptionally generous cut of fabric – there was something like an extra half metre – and I just managed it.
Here’s a closeup of those sleeve pleats. The sleeves on this dress are distinctly odd and I haven’t yet decided if it’s intentional design or just slightly annoying to wear. Maybe both? I measured the sleeve and decided they would probably come up long, but lengthened them anyway because self doubt, which is why my trousers have very deep hems.
I’m glad I added the length because even with the extra the sleeves seem to settle with the cuffs higher than I’d expect. Looking at the pattern photo I am still not sure what the intended length is. The model in the photo has her sleeves pushed up to accommodate her long gloves, and the one in the sketch has one arm partly behind her back and the other one so foreshortened by the angle that I can’t tell where the sleeve ends.
Here’s the back of the hood. This pattern is very difficult to get a sense of on a dress form. It needs a head and arms to sit right.
But as yet the facings and closures aren’t attached so this is the best I can do. There’s a lot still to do, including making a narrow hem all the way around the front edges in fabric that doesn’t press nicely. I may be some time on this one.
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.
Finally some modelled photos of Burda 110 05/2008, part of my current wardrobe sewing plan. The weather’s turned cooler so while I’d originally intended to wear it on its own, I’ve had to put the pleather leggings from the same plan and a t shirt underneath. And as we went to a park on the other side of town to take the photos there are creases and the pockets are laden down with hand sanitizer and the like. So this is definitely a realistic set of photos!
Here’s the line art. Note the distance between the bottom of the pockets and the hem; this is meant to be a very short dress.
And compare with my version, which has come out a lot longer. I think the explanation might be that hem allowance was already included on the pattern pieces and then I added it again. Normally you have to add both seam and hem allowance to Burda magazine patterns, but sometimes when there is a feature at the hem like the drawstring casing here, or a turn up, the hem allowance (but not the seam allowance) is already included. I have checked the instructions and it doesn’t say it’s included, but every other version I’ve seen of this one is a lot shorter than mine. I’m not sure the longer length of mine is the best proportion on me, but it does make it wearable with bare legs.
For once Burda have come up with a pattern with an interesting side and back view. Those cargo pockets can hold a lot of stuff. I was a bit worried I’d made permanent shiny iron marks on the pocket corners while trying to press them but the fabric recovered very well after a steam. It’s Merchant and Mills 8oz sanded twill in Aubin grey. It’s a beautiful fabric: it has a very soft hand but is also sturdy. I’d definitely use it again. Burda’s fabric recommendation for this one is poplin which seems a bit on the lightweight side to me.
The belt loops held on with snaps look good but the back ones do occasionally unsnap themselves when getting out of a car.
I’m pleased with the collar and front zip. It was a lot of effort. Overall I’m not sure the style works for me though; the whole thing seems like it needs to be a bit crisper. Maybe I should have used poplin!
Thanks to my husband for patiently taking the photos as always.
I’ve finally finished Burda 110 5/2008, a biker style mini dress with lots of fiddly details and hardware.
Burda’s famously terse instructions all worked out in the end and I’m pleased with the result, but there’s one feature I don’t understand. Here are the lower pockets, which are bellows style, so there’s a pleat strip between the front of the pocket and the dress body to allow expansion room. (Burda calls them poacher’s pockets but I don’t think I’ll be fitting any stolen rabbits into these.)
They have rivets on the bottom corners. Rivets are normally placed to reinforce areas of stress, but I’m not sure I’ve got these right. Burda’s instructions say to ‘keep the pleat piece free’ while attaching, and in the technical drawing they definitely don’t look like they are meant to go through the body of the dress.
So I’ve just put mine through the pocket front where they achieve nothing but decoration. I couldn’t even catch the seam allowances down with the rivet on most of them because I added the rivets after sewing the pockets to the dress. Had I realised earlier that they don’t go through the dress front or near the attachment seam I could have done them before, which would have been much easier.
So does anyone know how these are meant to work? I’m perfectly happy with the finished dress, and the pockets are never going to be asked to hold anything heavier than a phone, but I’m curious.
This dress is a bit of a departure from usual for me. I don’t often wear colour, never mind prints. I’d originally been planning to make Burda 101 2/2021 in a very luxurious grey Tencel twill as part of my wardrobe sewing plan, but then I read some slightly worrying reviews of the pattern. Here’s the line art: what it doesn’t show is that you’re meant to cut the bodice on the bias, which combined with the weight of the long skirt means the bodice tends to grow.
I didn’t want to risk my expensive fabric on a possibly dud pattern. I also couldn’t see any good reason for the bodice to be on the bias in the first place. The original Burda version is made in a horizontal stripe which produces a nice effect with the bias grain, but in a plain I thought it would work perfectly well cut straight. Time for an experiment.
Enter this mystery print fabric which has been in my stash for years. I got it on Goldhawk Road in London. It’s a lightweight twill and at the time I thought it was polyester based on the price. I did a burn test when I pulled it out for this project, and was amazed to find it’s most likely silk – certainly not polyester anyway. But I have never found a project for it and it seemed like a good choice for this one because there aren’t many seamlines to break up the print.
So I traced the pattern off and rotated the grain line on the bodice pieces. I also eliminated the centre back seam which isn’t needed if you’re cutting on the straight grain, and would interrupt the print. I completely missed that the front facing is meant to be cut on the fold and added a seam allowance to that. I made my usual fitting adjustment of lengthening the bodice. That was slightly tricky to do at the front because of the shape of the pattern pieces with the cut-on sleeves and the ties meant I couldn’t cut straight across and spread. I had to cut a step shape in the pattern piece instead, so the length got added below the cut-on sleeve at the outside edge and above the ties at centre front. And I added side seam pockets which are sewn into the waist seam at the top in an attempt to avoid sagging.
Cutting out was an ordeal. I did it single layer because of the print, which meant working on the floor. I should have stabilised the fabric with starch or gelatine because it wriggled about all over the place. Some of the cut pieces bore very little resemblance to the original pattern. And I completely messed up matching the print at the skirt side seams. I didn’t even try at the waist because the ties hide it there. But amazingly when I sewed it up it all fitted together. The print lines were useful for making sure things were on grain at the hem and waist seam.
I was really careful not to stretch out the neckline edges, but I still had to rip and resew the centre front intersection a couple of times to make it sit right. The bodice looks best slightly bloused over the ties, but the slippery fabric means it tends to slip down. I should have put some elastic in the waist seam but I didn’t have any handy.
I promise the hem isn’t as wonky as it looks, the bodice has just slipped down on one side. The sleeve bands tend to move about too: in most of the photos the right one has sneakily unfolded itself.
I do like the big block of print that ended up sitting on the upper back. The bow on the other hand just vanishes into the print.
I added a tie on the inside so I can attach the point of the v neck to my bra and avoid flashing people when I bend over. It’s a bias tube made from a scrap and caught in the stitching that attaches the facing to the centre front seam. You can also see my lazy overlocked seam finishes here. I’m forever seeing people on the Internet assert that overlocking is a sign of poor quality, but I’ve never had an overlock finished seam fray and fall apart in the wash yet.
So what’s the verdict? I like this dress and have worn it out of the house, but I won’t be making a version in the Tencel. Not because this is a terrible pattern, just a little fussy to wear. It needs plenty of ironing and the skirt isn’t a great length on me. Best kept for garden parties and summer weddings. Thanks as always to my husband for the photos.
I’m making the pattern below, a 2008 Burda, so it’s a pretty old one. I remember reading lots of online complaining about Burda’s instructions when I first discovered sewing blogs, but once I got good enough at sewing to tackle Burda magazine patterns at all, which would have been a year or two later, I found the instructions were minimal but usually adequate.
And then I got my hands on some older Burda issues, back from when it was called Burda World of Fashion, and discovered what people had been complaining about. The older Burda patterns are much easier to trace than the modern ones because the same number of patterns are spread out over twice the number of sheets of paper, but the instructions are definitely worse; I think this particular set even has a minor mistake in that they tell you to attach part of the front band twice, in two different parts of the instructions. And while the current Burda instructions are terse but include every step (apart from finishing seam allowances) the old ones occasionally skip over things.
The pattern above has a lot of fiddly little details: wide belt carriers, shoulder tabs, pocket flaps, and some sort of decorative loop at the back neckline. I picked it in part because of this. Burda made their version in poplin which isn’t the sturdiest fabric for that sort of thing so interfacing is definitely required. And the instructions for interfacing are limited to some shading on the cutting layout to show where to stick the stuff:
And that’s your lot; there is nothing in the text to remind you to actually apply it. Modern Burda always has a brief line at the start of the pattern instructions which mentions it.
Now if I was making this in poplin I think I’d be happy following the interfacing placement in the original diagram, but I’ve perhaps foolishly decided on something much heavier: an 8oz cotton twill. So do I follow the diagram or cut down on the interfacing? I definitely want it on the collar and zip bands, but I wonder if sticking it on the pocket flaps and tabs is just going to make them difficult to turn out and top stitch. Wish me luck.
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.