More old clothes: wearability report

I recently purged a few handmade items from my wardrobe. They all had blog posts when they were newly made, but it’s interesting to look back some time later and see how much I actually wore them.

The oldest garment is this dress with a tucked panel on the front, made in 2016. It’s Vogue 1390 with some adaptations. I added pockets, changed the width of the tucks, and completely altered the order of construction so I could sew it entirely on the machine. I was very proud of the result at the time.

I’ve worn it from time to time, but it’s close fitting around the bust and has no stretch so it’s not very suitable for my lifestyle. Worse, the style no longer appeals to me. Originally I was drawn to the hard edged geometric effect of the tucks in the pattern line drawing. However once made up they read more romantic and fussy to me. The dress itself is still in very good condition so I’m going to pass it on to a charity shop in the hope someone else will enjoy it more.

The next item isn’t being passed on because it is fit only for rags. These culottes are Burda 104C 02/2017 and they’re an absolute classic; every pair I’ve seen made up has looked good. I first saw these on Doctor T’s blog and immediately made my own version. This is not that pair – they bit the dust a while ago – but the first ones were so good I made another.

The style itself is very versatile. I wear them with boots in cold weather and trainers when it’s warm. The only downside is that the paper bag style waist can be a bit awkward with some tops. The pockets are the holy grail of pockets: enormous and secure. And they have a lovely internal detail on the fly guard, which buttons on the inside for extra security.

At the moment the culotte-shaped hole in my wardrobe is being adequately filled by a different pattern, Burda 112a 03/2012. The pockets on those are vastly inferior but I prefer the smooth waistband. But when that pair wears out, who knows. Some kind of hybrid of the two perhaps.

And speaking of 112a 03/2012 I lengthened the pattern to make these trousers last year, which I loved and have worn a lot. But they are now unwearable. They were made out of the leftovers of two different cuts of nominally the same fabric. They must have been from different bolts because there was always a very subtle colour difference between the front and back, and sadly it got worse with washing. The last time I got these out I put them on, looked in the mirror, and immediately took them off again. They might be saveable with dye but the thought of the mess and having to sacrifice a saucepan puts me right off trying. They’ve definitely had the much-bandied-about 30 wears in their fairly short life so I don’t feel too guilty about throwing them out. I do urgently need to replace them though.

And finally I am giving up on my Vogue 9299 blouse. This was made as part of a wardrobe plan but didn’t turn out at all as I’d hoped. My expression in the pictures says it all. The fit on the shoulders and chest is bad and I don’t love the style enough to make up for it. I got carried away by the big sleeve trend but these are really not me.

I hung onto this thinking I might find a way to style it that worked for me, but it hasn’t happened; I don’t think I have ever worn it. The charity shop can have it. Maybe there’s someone out there who can pull off those sleeves.

So that’s made a bit of space to house my current project, the 80s wardrobe. I’ve finished the Montana hooded dress so photos soon.

Too much blue? Burda 106 04/2017

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the top in these pictures, which was made purely to go with these very shiny joggers that I made last year. They need a boxy top to offset the expanse of shiny fabric around the hips. So I made the new top and then still wasn’t sure the combination was wearable.

We took these pictures a few weeks ago and since then I have worn this outfit for real on a couple of days, and even ventured out of the house in it. So having given the joggers a bit of wear it’s time to post about them properly. They’re from a Burda pattern, 106 04/2017, and a length of satin given to me by a friend of my mum’s (thanks again Sue!)

Line art for Burda 106 04/2017, a pair of jogging trousers with zip pockets, elastic waist and ankle cuffs, and a drawstring
Burda 106 04/2017 line art, burdastyle.de

I’m not totally sure where the waist on these is meant to sit. They look quite low on the model photo but the elastic makes them naturally creep up a bit. The pockets are a good size and I like the security of the zips. The zips would be easy enough to skip if you didn’t want scratchy teeth getting in the way of your hands though.

I wish I’d made the legs longer. The annoying thing was that I had enough fabric to do it but didn’t realise until it was far too late. I usually lengthen trousers by 5cm and I don’t remember doing anything different from normal with this pattern when I traced it, so I think these must have been really short to start with.

They’re comfortable to wear but reactions tend to be along the lines of ‘they’re very …blue’. They are starting to grow on me though, and I’m excited to try them out with a grey t shirt when the weather is warm enough. So, honest opinions?

Slogging away

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.

Tudor cosplay (Vintage Vogue 1476 coat modelled)

In the unlikely event I ever need to dress up as Henry 8th I’m all set. This is my coat made from an 1980s Issey Miyake pattern, worn over a dress made from another 1980s pattern, but the whole effect is strangely Tudor. I think it’s the big shoulders and the colour. The dress has 80s shoulder pads which are contributing.

This is the pattern envelope, vintage Vogue 1476 from 1984. Mine is made up in purple wool mouflon from Croft Mill. It’s lovely fabric: light but very warm and has a slightly fuzzy right side. At the time of writing it’s still available here. It’s got a certain similarity to fleece. I think you could make a cracking version of this coat pattern out of fleece, and as a bonus it could be machine washed. I’d avoid heavy coating fabrics. The pattern envelope says ‘wool knits, lightweight tweed, and double knit’ which isn’t super specific: wool knit can mean lightweight jersey or heavy boiled wool amongst others. I would not want to make this out of either of those. Tweed would work, ponte would work, and I’ve seen a great linen version.

The coat is very oversized. I added 5cm at the hem because I’m tall, but I think I needn’t have. I didn’t bother lengthening the sleeves at all – or rather was far too lazy to trace the enormous pattern pieces to make the necessary adjustment – and they’re fine. Normally I add 5cm to sleeves too.

It’s good for twirling. But mainly I find I have worn this around the house when it’s a bit chilly; it’s great for snuggling up in. I’ve fallen asleep under it more than once.

When I was looking for fabric for this project I didn’t initially consider purple. It’s not one of my usual colours (admittedly, until a few months ago my usual colours were confined to black, white, grey, and silver). I’m glad I ended up with this though. It goes particularly well with the yellow dress here but also works with grey, white, and silver clothes. It’s a bit on the sombre side over an all black outfit unless combined with some brighter accents.

While I’m tempted to make other versions I think realistically I only need one of these. It takes up a lot of space in the wardrobe. I think it could be a good one to make as a present though, as there’s next to no fitting involved. And if you’re making it out of fleece then almost any colour the recipient might want is going to be available.

It has one downside which is that the roomy pockets are difficult to locate in all the folds of fabric, leading to much inelegant rummaging. And I wish I’d added a loop for hanging it. I always regret it when I leave that out of outerwear. But overall it’s a success.

Thanks to my husband for taking the pictures.

Burda 115 08/2021

I made this top specifically to go with the blue satin joggers that are just seen in the pictures. I’m still not sure the combination works, but I’ve found plenty of other things to wear the top with so it deserves a blog post of its own.

The pattern is Burda 115 08/2021, which is intended to be made up in jersey. However I was looking for something a bit warmer and figured it might work in boiled wool as it’s fairly boxy, and the draped neckline should give enough space to get it on without needing the fabric to stretch much. I used Empress Mills boiled wool in royal blue, which right now is still available here.

Burda 115 08/2021 line art, burdastyle.com

As you can see, I succeeded in getting it over my head. It’s a little bit a of squeeze and I have a small head for my size so I only just got away with using the boiled wool. The fabric makes the collar really stand up; it’s like wearing a thick woollen scarf. I don’t normally mind a high neckline but I’m always conscious of the collar on this top.

There are some oddities about this pattern. I make a lot of Burda magazine patterns and normally find them reliable and consistently sized. I didn’t bother checking this one carefully before cutting it out, but there’s something off with the sleeves. First they are unusually short – I had to take a tiny hem – and second the shoulder doesn’t sit nicely. It’s sort of visible in the back view below: the shoulders are quite pointy. I initially blamed it on the boiled wool, but I’ve previously used this boiled wool for another boxy cropped jumper and I don’t have the same problem with that one – it’s another Burda too.

It’s better with arms by sides. Part of the problem definitely comes from the collar construction, which leads to an extra layer of fabric at the left armscye, which is the more pointy of the two. So maybe it would be OK in jersey.

I shortened the body quite a bit because I wanted this to be cropped. I also took it in at the sides from the waist to the hips to get that square shape. Now I come to look at the line drawing again the original wasn’t at all the shape I wanted; I should have taken the collar and grafted it on to the pattern I used for my previous boiled wool jumper.

Anyway, wonky shoulders aside I have found this a surprisingly wearable top. It goes well with my collection of grey and silver bottoms and it’s super warm. The colour is cheerful too.

Thanks to my husband for the pictures.

An elaborate blanket: constructing Vogue 1476

A dressform wearing a purple draped coat stands in front of bookcases. The coat is vintage Vogue 1476 by Issey Miyake.

Here’s my finished Vogue 1476 coat. It’s an Issey Miyake design from 1984. This one is a real classic – I think it was in the Vogue patterns catalogue for over 20 years. I don’t know exactly when it went out of print but it was before I started buying Vogue patterns so I had to buy my copy second hand.

Vintage Vogue 1476 envelope art

Like a lot of the Issey Miyake patterns Vogue produced the pattern cutting on this one is unconventional. Any unlined coat is topologically equivalent to a sheet with two holes in it to put your arms through. I once made a McCalls waterfall cardigan pattern that was literally a flat rectangle of fabric with two armholes cut out and sleeves attached to them. The Vogue is obviously much more sophisticated than that; there’s some shaping and the sleeves are an impressive batwing shape rather than tubes; but there’s a resemblance.

You start off with a big rectangle of fabric with an irregular chunk cut out. The first seam transforms that into a loop. Here’s the big piece folded in two along the edge at the bottom of the picture: those short horizontal edges towards the top left are the ones that get sewn together to make the loop.

Then you hem the whole thing all the way around the outside, mitring the corners. There’s nine metres of hem so it takes a while. Vogue suggests neatly turning 6mm of the raw inside edge of the hem under and then topstitching it down with two rows from the right side. I wasn’t confident of doing that neatly in bouncy wool coating so I left the inside edge flat and trimmed it close to the topstitching afterwards. The fabric doesn’t fray and I think it looks all right. Whatever hem finish is used needs to look neat because it shows when the coat is worn.

Next the two yoke/sleeve pieces are joined together, and then the long edges of the joined yoke/sleeve piece are sewn along the inner edges of the main loop and topstitched three times. There’s a certain amount of pivoting around the angles in the edges; you can see one of the angles in the picture below.

If you’ve done it right there are two small sections of the main loop edge left unsewn which form holes for your wrists to go through, one at the end of each sleeve, and you attach facings to finish those. Simple!

Of course it’s not so simple in practice: the sheer size of the pattern pieces makes sewing it a challenge. I spent a lot of time stopping and adjusting the huge pile of fabric so it fed smoothly. My machine doesn’t have a ‘stop with needle down’ function and it’s the first time I’ve ever really wanted it.

It’s vital to mark and match the notches and circles on the seams between the main pattern piece and the sleeve/yoke pieces so they end up correctly aligned. I couldn’t go by past experience to put this one together because the pattern pieces are such unusual shapes and they’re so big it’s difficult to see what’s going on anyway. The pattern illustrations are accurate but it’s hard to relate those neat drawings to the huge pile of crumpled fabric in front of you.

There’s a lot of topstitching involved. I had to wind three bobbins. I tried to keep it straight and consistently spaced by using my ditch stitching foot, which has a central blade which follows the line you’re targeting, and adjusting the needle position to one side to get evenly spaced rows. It worked pretty well but I failed to think about the order I stitched the rows in before starting, and more than once ended up having to sew with the bulk of the fabric to the right of the needle because my machine’s needle position will only adjust to left of centre.

I wish I’d done the centre back seam differently. I left the edges raw, topstitched down the seam allowances, but didn’t trim them back. The wrong side of this seam shows when the edge of the coat is folded back in wear, so it looks a bit untidy with that loose edge. I might have to go back with some sharp scissors and trim it. In a lighter fabric I’d flat fell the centre back seam. I’ve seen a great summer version of this pattern done in linen.

This is really more of a cardigan than a coat. It’s wonderfully warm and cosy but doesn’t have any closures. I think I’ll be wearing it around the house a lot though. Hopefully I’ll get some modelled pictures at some point.

Who needs perfection anyway

Here’s the biggest pattern piece I’ve ever worked with. You see it folded in two along the bottom edge here; it’s over three metres long.

It’s the main pattern piece for this Issey Miyake coat from Vogue Patterns. I had to cut it out on the floor because of the sheer size of it.

Vintage Vogue 1476 envelope art

The very first step is to topstitch patch pockets onto that enormous body piece, a process that involves stuffing all the fabric through the harp of the machine as you manoeuvre round all four sides – the opening is a gap in the side of the pocket rather than the top. Luckily I’m using a lightweight coating, but it was still a bit of a struggle to get it done.

They don’t look too bad from this distance despite all the pulling and pushing involved.

But oh dear when you look closely it’s a bit of a mess with the stitching wandering here and there. It doesn’t help that it’s dark purple fabric and navy thread so even with my LED light it was hard to see what I was doing.

I am not unpicking it now; I don’t expect a second attempt will be any better. I suspect I’ll forget all about it once the coat is finished and no one who doesn’t sew will notice the pockets when there’s all the drama of that draped front to look at. So onwards and hopefully upwards because next I need to topstitch around the outer edges of that piece.

The 80s called, they want their coat back: Vogue 1767

So here it is, my coat from a 1986 Claude Montana pattern, worn in 2022. Just for fun I’ve amped up the 80s styling with the scarlet lipstick and sunglasses. I haven’t been able to find any other images of the exact original design beside the pattern envelope photo below; however there are lots of similar brightly coloured Montana coat designs from 1985 and 1986 which are usually photographed styled in a similar way.

A sewing pattern envelope with a lot of wear. Thr cover art has a photo of a woman wearing a yellow coat and black trousers with turnups,and a sketch of a woman wearing the same style of coat in grey and black trousers without turnups.
Vintage Vogue 1767 pattern envelope (originally issued 1986)

I was trying to reproduce the pattern envelope pose here but now I look at it again it’s not quite right. It does show off the strong triangular shape of the coat though. I think this one was from the peak shoulder pad era.

A woman wearing a short oversized green coat, black dress and sunglasses, leaning forward. The coat has a single button visible and large patch pockets.

Disappointingly it’s less warm than I’d hoped. These pictures look like we took them on a warm day but it was bitterly cold despite the sun and I was freezing. The good news is it’s such an oversized style that I could easily fit a couple of sweaters underneath it. My pattern was a size larger than I’d normally make but I didn’t bother trying to grade it down as I didn’t think it would make much difference to the end result. The only pattern adjustments I made were to add my usual extra length to the body and sleeves and to extend the back half-lining into a full lining.

Back view of a woman wearing a oversized short green coat and black dress. The coat has vent and top stitched seams.

The lining is surprisingly discreet considering it’s bright pink. The facings of the coat are very deep so there isn’t a lot of it. I’m glad I went for the contrasting lining; I normally prefer to match the lining but I suspect I wouldn’t have found a similar green and the two colours do look good together.

A woman wearing a short green coat over a black dress. The coat is opened to reveal a bright pink lining

This shot just shows the edges of the fly that hides all the buttons except the top one.

Like the other Montana patterns I’ve made there’s an element, in this case diagonal lines, that occurs throughout the garment. The front closure, the bound buttonholes, all the pockets, the angle of the neckline are all slightly on the diagonal. It’s very harmonious.

What I didn’t like about the pattern was the order of construction suggested. For example, sewing the front facings on around the front edges all the way to the side seams, and then asking to attach the patch pockets to the front without sewing them through the facing layer. It makes much more sense to sew the pockets on before applying the facing. This is a much easier way to get the pockets on because the coat front naturally lies flat at that point. If the facing was already attached it would have to be turned to the outside to avoid sewing through it, and then you’d be trying to put the presser foot in between the facing and the coat front; the facing would get in the way and pull up on the front.

That wasn’t the only construction issue; I also had to rip out the under sleeve seam in order to topstitch the upper sleeve seam. In that case I can see that the cuff construction is easier with both seams sewn and the hem facing already turned in, but it’s not impossible to do it my way, whereas topstitching the upper sleeve with the whole thing already sewn into a tube definitely wasn’t happening.

I didn’t think I’d want to wear this open but it actually looks OK in this picture. I’ll have to experiment when the weather warms up (so June then…)

This was a bit of a stunt project; I loved the pattern but I likely wouldn’t have got round to making it if I’d had to buy new fabric. As it happened I had the green wool and the lining in stash, and no other plans for either of them. However it’s surprisingly wearable. It needs the right outfit underneath, so it won’t completely displace my beloved silver quilted coat, and it’s probably best for spring and autumn rather than the depths of a UK winter. I’m glad I made it. I’ll report back on how it wore later on the year.

Thanks to my husband for taking the pictures as always.

Burda 106 4/2017

I’m taking a break from blogging the 80s sewing to record a project from last year. These joggers were made in the autumn when I suddenly found myself craving more colourful clothes. I had a length of royal blue satin in my stash given away by a friend of my mum’s that I’d never found a use for. A search of my Burda archive for patterns for satin turned up 106 4/2017 which seemed right up my street.

Burda 106 4/2017 line art of a pair of jogging bottoms with elastic ankle cuffs and waist and a drawstring
Burda 106 4/2017 line art, burdastyle.ru

The colour of this fabric is amazingly saturated. The photos look as if they’re enhanced, but it really is that vivid in real life. There was no hope of getting zips with a tape that even vaguely matched, but navy blue looks fine. And I got lucky with some royal blue cord for the drawstring. Both came from the City Cycle Centre in Ely, which despite the name is an old fashioned department store with an excellent haberdashery.

The eyelets are gunmetal grey ones from my stash.

What I did have trouble with was elastic; the Burda pattern is drafted for widths of elastic that I couldn’t source, so my elastic channels at the waist and ankles have a bit more space than Burda intended. But I was very glad of that when inserting the elastic; it was a difficult job even with the extra room and I think it isn’t obvious that it’s too narrow.

I finished these a couple of months ago, so why haven’t I blogged them until now? Well the sad thing is that I haven’t worn them because I don’t have a single top that works with them. I made a blue wool jersey t shirt especially for them but the proportions are all wrong – it’s slim fitting and these need something substantial on the top half to balance them out, otherwise all you see is an expanse of shiny blue hips. I’m starting to fear these might be too much for me. Footwear is an issue too – they look best with light coloured shoes which aren’t practical in the wet and muddy environment around here.

I have a blue wool jumper on the sewing table right now which I hope will save them. And if that doesn’t work then I’ll keep them until the summer and see if I like them better when I can wear different shoes and tops.

It’s FINISHED

At long last, here is my 80s coat. The dress form doesn’t really do it justice – she’s developed a slight lean and she doesn’t have enough shoulder to make the sleeves hang well.

Here’s the pattern envelope for comparison. It’s Vogue 1767 from 1986, by Claude Montana. I haven’t found any other pictures of the exact original garment, but there are plenty of 80s images that are close. Montana did lots of wide brightly coloured coats with huge shoulders, often worn over an all black outfit.

One of the great things about the Vogue Montana patterns I have is that the back views have plenty of detail. This one has lots of topstitching and a little back vent which is surely purely decorative. And the sleeves have cuffs that actually unbutton; again I can’t see that getting any use but it adds some interest.

The front closure has one feature button with a bound button hole and then the rest of the buttons are hidden under a fly, which was fun to construct. I went with plain black buttons as I think the fabric colour makes a strong enough statement on its own.

I couldn’t get lining to match the shell fabric so used grey for the fly lining in order that it wouldn’t be obvious if it peeked out. I used a green quilting cotton for turning the bound buttonholes and the welt pocket but that wasn’t a good enough colour match for the fly.

The buttons are backed with smaller ones on the inside. I need to brush that blue chalk off the buttonholes! The fabric generally resisted marking: chalk vanished after only a day or two and my air erasable pen didn’t last an hour, but the buttonholes seem to have held onto the chalk. I can report it shrugs off blood though: I accidentally stuck a seam ripper into my finger and bled all over one of the sleeves and it pretty much wiped straight off.

The patch pockets are huge. Annoyingly they’re attached over the side seams so have to be added quite late on.

And slightly to my surprise the pockets are lined to the edge. I expected them to have a self-facing, but even if the pattern had had one I wouldn’t have had enough fabric to cut it. Getting this design out of the three metres I had was a real struggle. I had to cut the sleeves slightly off grain and there was no chance of doing a ‘with nap’ layout.

No such problem with the main lining fabric: I still have quite a lot of this bright pink satin left over. I always intended it for this green wool but originally had a very different pattern planned which would have needed a lot more of the satin.

The lining is sewn in by hand along the hems because there’s not a lot of it, what with those deep front facings, and I forgot to leave a gap in one of the sleeves for turning. And I regretted it; I’m so much slower doing it that way. I managed to break a hand sewing needle in the process too, something I don’t think I’ve ever done before. Back to the machine next time.

Here’s my coat chain. Another surprising thing about this pattern is that there’s no neck facing, so I hope it holds up. The neck seam is a bit lumpy on the inside despite lots of trimming and pressing because the satin has so much less body than the wool. No one’s going to see it though.

Hopefully I’ll get some photos of it on me soon. Right now I’m really pleased with it but have only tried it on inside the house. I’ll report back on how it really wears in due course.