Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Style Arc Genevieve fnished

This was one of those projects that took forever at every step, not least getting the photos. But here it is and as far as I’m concerned the end result is worth the aggravation – and there certainly was a lot of that.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar down

The pattern is Style Arc’s Genevieve jacket and the fabric is an unusual grey stretch denim with a brushed back from Croft Mill, sadly no longer available. The jacket is unlined and fairly unstructured. The only interfacing used is in the zip area.

I wasn’t sure of the fit of Style Arc patterns – I’ve made a couple before but they were very unfitted designs – so I made a toile and based on that I did a rounded upper back adjustment. This adds length and width. The extra width is absorbed into shoulder darts at the shoulder seam, so the shoulder and back neck seam lengths don’t change.

You can see in the back view below that I slightly overdid the adjustment. However there is no pulling when I raise my arms and I’ll take a slightly baggy upper back over lack of arm mobility any day.

Style Arc Genevieve back view collar down

I ran into a few minor problems with the pattern instructions. Style Arc’s instructions are always minimal so I was relying on the technical drawing to some extent. However it’s slightly inconsistent: it shows the zip applied on top of the fabric on the left front, where the instructions seem to have you set it into the princess seam. And if you’ve put the zip into the seam then the top stitching on the left princess seam needs to go on the side furthest from the centre, unlike in the digram, and the top stitching on the right front dart ought to mirror it. I think the pattern is designed for the zip to be applied on top as that way the diagonal style lines would line up perfectly. I prefer my zip in the seam, so if I ever make this again I’ll have to adjust the left front to move the zip placement over slightly. As it is the diagonals are off by a little, but I don’t think it’s obvious.

And on the subject of the zip I found it on eBay and I think the puller adds the perfect finish. I’ve been debating whether to post a link to this particular eBay shop on the blog for a while. They have a really excellent range of metal zips and they post stuff faster than anyone else I’ve ever dealt with, but some of their stock is definitely not safe for work browsing. So here’s the link: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/armoryauctions/ ; click at your own risk.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

I thought about adding a lining to the pattern but chickened out; the front pattern pieces are enormous and asymmetric, and I found them very difficult to manipulate on my dining table. I still kind of wish I had though, because I ended up having to hand catch stitch the front facings down all the way around the jacket to make them stay put. It’s a sign of how much I like this jacket that I bothered to do that because we all know I’ll go a very long way to avoid hand sewing. Having done the facings I also catch stitched the hems as it wasn’t very much more work and I didn’t want to spoil the design lines with an extra row of top stitching.

Style Arc Genevieve side view collar down

The best thing about this jacket is definitely the collar. There are supposed to be a couple of snaps to hold the ends in place but I think it looks best when allowed to do its own thing so I didn’t bother sewing them on. The collar naturally falls very well when turned down, but if you want the full dramatic Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 effect you can turn it up and hide behind it.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Here’s a slightly more wearable arrangement.

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

I’ve worn this a lot, as you can probably tell from the creases. I’m very happy with it indeed; this is probably my favourite thing I’ve made this year. I doubt I’ll use the pattern again for a few years because who needs two of these on the go at once? But it’s definitely a keeper.

More colour matching

IMG_1968

The last grey fabric I tried to sew with proved impossible to colour match, so I wasn’t hopeful about finding top-stitching thread to go with my current project. The fabric’s a grey denim and I wanted top-stitching thread in the same shade for a subtle effect. I haven’t been able to make it to a physical sewing shop for a while so I crossed my fingers and ordered Gutermann Sew All and Top Stitch in shade 036 online; a colour variously described as “light black”, “dark grey”, “grey”, and “charcoal” by different vendors. And lo and behold it’s almost a perfect match. Funny how these things happen.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Oxford bags: Burda 118-09-2015

I really ought to have pressed these trousers before we took pictures of them. But I’m calling it realism because when we took the pictures they’d been worn a few days in a row, so please just ignore the creases. They are Burda 118-09-2015 made up in a browny-greyish wool suiting from Croft Mill. Right now the fabric is still available here, but even if it’s not by the time you read this Croft Mill’s site is well worth a browse for the delightfully fanciful fabric descriptions.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

This pattern was the one chosen for the Burda “sewing course” feature in the September 2015 issue: ie there are detailed instructions and diagrams for it in the sewing supplement part of the magazine, rather than the usual accurate-but-minimal  directions. However if you’ve sewn fly front trousers before they’re not needed; there is nothing unusual here at all. The order of construction is classic menswear style: the back crotch and centre back waistband seams are sewn up last to allow tweaking the fit. I departed from the suggested order of construction slightly. I find it easier to sew the front crotch and fly before the side seams and inside leg seams, whereas Burda does it the other way around. But I did leave the back crotch to last and that was a good thing because I found I needed to take it in a bit.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

The pattern is for Tall sizes and for once I didn’t add any length. As you can see, they are if anything a little on the long side despite that. I am standing on quite a steep uphill slope here though, which makes them look longer. I made my usual Burda size. I did have a bit of a panic half way through making them as I hadn’t noticed that the side seams are drafted a long way forward of the normal position, and so the front pieces seemed far too small once I’d folded the pleats in. It all worked out in the end though and I think the pattern is fairly true to size; my waist and hips are different sizes in Burda which is why I had to take them in a bit at the waist.

There are single welt pockets on the back. I made a couple of small pattern alterations to try to get a good finish on those: I made the back pocket welt piece wider and I extended the back pocket bag piece upwards so I could catch it in the waistband seam to try to prevent the pockets from gapping. They’ve come out nicely but spending time on the many, many steps involved seems a bit pointless as I never use back pockets on trousers. There are very roomy hip pockets on these anyway – I can fit a paperback book into them – so there’s absolutely no need to use the back ones.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Here’s a shot showing the waistband. It’s very plain. There are no belt loops and it is closed with a trouser hook. I should have taken the centre back in a little more than I did as they are supposed to sit at the natural waistline. Maybe I need to get a pair of braces! I finished the inside waistband with black satin bias binding. Burda just says to ‘neaten’ it. Simply overlocking the edge seemed a bit slapdash for such a lovely fabric so for once I made a bit of an effort with the insides of a garment.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

The wide legs are wonderfully swishy: action shot below. They’re also a fabric hog. The pattern took 2.5m of wide fabric what with the deep pleats at the front and the turnups, but I don’t regret it as I have already worn them a lot. They’re warm and very comfortable, and surprisingly practical for chasing around after small children.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Although they are an exaggerated style they seem fairly versatile. I generally wear them with a slouchy jumper but they also look good with a close fitting top that is tucked in, and I think a cropped boxy top would look good too. I think I’m going to be wearing these a lot as the summer ends here and the weather cools down.

Burda 118-09-2015 grey wide legged trousers

Birthday dress: Vogue 1305

Vogue 1305 front

This is Vogue 1305, a dress that at first sight might seem hopelessly impractical. It’s floor length, with only one sleeve and an open back. But it’s made for knit fabric and with a little bit of tweaking I think there’s an interesting but wearable summer dress to be found here. Here’s the envelope photo (no link to Vogue because the pattern’s no longer on their site):
I checked out a few reviews before making this and I’m very glad I did! Thanks to Erica BunkerHelen Sadler, and The Mahogany Stylist for very useful information about this pattern.

It’s clear that it runs amazingly long. I normally add four inches to Vogue patterns and I didn’t add a thing to this; it’s still slightly too long for me. Other than in length it is unusually small. I normally make a 10 in Vogue; this is a straight 14 and it’s just right.


The shell fabric is a lovely viscose jersey from Croft Mill which was a birthday present. The lining is a black polyester mesh from Tissu Fabrics; no link because it was an end of roll. Matching coloured lining fabric would have been slightly better than black  because the dress is lined to the edge, but grey mesh wasn’t available.
So on to some details. The left side has a walking split. As drafted it’s very short which makes this practically a hobble skirt. I lengthened mine to just above the knee so I can walk comfortably.
There’s a tiny bit of lining peeking out at the left armscye despite understitching. I should have interfaced the seamline there and also around the neck.
I added pockets by creating a horizontal seam across the front and putting inseam pockets in there.

Vogue 1305 side

Here’s the right side with all that wonderful draping. Several reviewers mentioned that their drapes flattened out and they had to sew pleats into the side seam to get the correct effect. Mine fall the correct way naturally. I suspect the difference might be that I didn’t skip adding the lining, which gives the shell a bit of extra support because the lining and shell seam allowances get sewn together down the right side seam. I also fused a strip of interfacing down the centre front and centre back seam allowances to help support the weight of the drapes.

Vogue 1305 right side

The original style has a centre back opening that goes down to the hips. I shortened mine to just above bra band level.

The dress isn’t very forgiving when seen from the back. It really clings at the hips; I’m very glad I made my true size which has a small amount of positive ease there.  Even with that wiggle room it pays to choose undies carefully. I’ll admit it took a lot of trying to get a photo of the back I was happy to put on the Internet. Not that this will stop me wearing it.

Vogue 1305 back

The pattern claims that you can wear the dress in a second way by putting your head through the sleeve seam opening. In fact if you look up photos of the designer original (I’ve collected a few on my Pinterest board for the pattern here) it’s worn that way in some shots. And it’s true that you can wear it like that, but only if you don’t mind the world seeing an inappropriate amount of chest though the original head opening. It’s OK if I stand extremely still but I will not be wearing it in real life like I am in the picture below.

Vogue 1305 alternative neckline

The pattern itself was a lot of fun to sew. The lining is inserted by bagging out so there is no hand sewing in this dress other than attaching the button. I constructed it all on a regular sewing machine – I threaded up the overlocker but never felt the need to use it. The instructions were fairly easy to follow but it helped that I’d made this sort of thing before.
This definitely isn’t a good ‘first knit’ project because the pattern pieces are huge. They were pretty difficult to cut out because I only had space to do one at a time. It really was a case of cutting piece each in turn while praying Vogue’s layout was correct and I wouldn’t run out of fabric on the last piece. Adding the pocket seam made the cutting out easier by reducing the size of the front pieces. It did all work out in the end but it was much the hardest part of making the dress.

One problem I noticed about the pattern: there are incorrect bodice lengthen/shorten lines on some of the pieces in my copy. And most people will want to shorten this dress.

So what’s the verdict? I love how it looks. It’s not quite as easy to wear as I’d hoped; a few inches off the length would help. I certainly couldn’t wear this to work. I can see myself making a shorter version at some point though.

Vogue 1305 pockets

Third time’s the charm: Drape Drape 2 no 6 Pattern drape dress

Drape drape 2 no 6

The Drape Drape pattern books are very hit or miss for me. The things I’ve made from them either get worn to death or else never leave the wardrobe. This dress is an adaptation of style number 6 from Drape Drape 2. It’s my third try at this particular pattern and I think this one is going in the firm favourites category. The first two versions, eh, not so much.

The sample in the book is sleeveless, very short, and made in a striped knit. My first version followed it exactly, even down to the striped fabric, and can be seen here. I like the photos we took of it but I never wore it. Too short and too fussy.

Version 2 came about last year when I was very pregnant and trying to make clothes suitable for after the birth. The deep cowl neckline looked perfect for breastfeeding; all I needed to do was lengthen the skirt and add sleeves and pockets. The pockets were easy to do: put a horizontal seam across the skirt front and stick inseam pockets in there.  The sleeves were a bit harder because the original has very cut in armscyes and the shoulder seam is set backwards, so they required some adjusting. I dug out my copy of McCalls 2401, a simple closefitting dress with long sleeves, laid it over the Drape Drape pattern, and traced off a combination which had the McCalls armscye and shoulder seam but everything else from Drape Drape.

I sewed version 2 up in a peacock blue polyester doubleknit I’d had lying around in the stash for years. It took an amazing three metres of wide fabric what with the sleeves and the cowl.

The end result wasn’t good. I’d somehow managed to put the pocket seam far too low in the skirt and make the skirt too long as well. I’d also forgotten that the McCall’s pattern was originally designed for woven fabrics, so the shoulders and sleeve came out huge when made in a knit. I was short on time, so I made it wearable by inserting a casing and elastic at the original hip level and using that to hitch the skirt up so the pockets were at a reasonable height. It got me through the first few months but I wasn’t happy with it (and no photos, sorry!)

Convinced there was a great dress in there somewhere I had another go. This time I used Winifred Aldrich’s closefitting knit block for the shoulders, armscyes and sleeves. I moved the pockets up and shortened the skirt. Another length of polyester doubleknit came out of deep stash; a dark grey found on Derby market many years ago. And this time it came out as I’d imagined it.

Drape drape 2 no 6

The only thing I’m not so keen on is the back view, which is very plain.

Drape drape 2 no 6
But the cowl hangs nicely in this knit and it’s very warm to wear.

Drape drape 2 no 6

Can’t see me making another one of these. It’s a fabric hog and also very distinctive; who needs two? But I love the one I’ve got.
Drape drape 2 no 6

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Leftovers: Vogue 1247 skirt

Vogue 1247

I always seem to overestimate how much fabric I need for any project and end up with a piece left over that’s too big to throw away but too small to do a lot with. The skirt from Vogue 1247 (sadly now out of print)  is a great use for such leftovers. I got this one out of a 70cm length of 150cm wide grey denim left over from my Burda 115 12/2009 trousers. Come to think of it, exactly the same thing happened with the leftovers from my previous version of those trousers. The denim was from Truro Fabrics but is now sold out.

Here’s the line art. I have never made the top, but the pattern is worth tracking down for the skirt alone. It is a simple style but beautifully implemented. Most importantly, it has pockets! And they are not an afterthought but an integral part of the design. Incidentally I’ve just noticed that the line art of the back view has a mistake. The zip doesn’t actually run to the top of the waistband. Instead the waistband has an underlap and closes with a hook and bar. The zip stops just below it as you’d expect.

Vogue 1247 line art

The original skirt pattern is seriously short. My version is lengthened by something like six inches. Admittedly I’m pretty tall but I don’t normally have to add length below the waist on any Vogue pattern. The original also has next-to-no ease. If you’re making this, check the finished garment measurements before picking a size; I found I needed to go one bigger than I usually do.

The original skirt has seams finished with bias binding throughout. It’s a beautiful effect but very time consuming to do. It’s much quicker to line the skirt than bind all the seams and in fact I prefer it lined. The first time I made this pattern I did the bound seams but that version of the skirt sticks to my tights and rides up. The lined versions don’t. This one’s lined with a large scrap of black satin lining I had left over from another project. I think it might be The Lining Company’s acetate/viscose satin.

I also used the lining fabric for the front pocket bags. The back pocket bags were cut out of the denim. The original pattern has the back pocket bag pieces cut in one with the skirt yoke but I cut them separately to save fabric. I also interfaced the front yoke just above the pockets to try to avoid any sagging and it seems to have worked.

Vogue 1247

I added some yellow topstitching to this version of the skirt. It’s just about visible in the photos. The grey denim needs the extra interest. I topstitched the yoke seam on the panels before inserting the zip or sewing the side seams so I had to be very careful about matching the topstitching lines up afterwards. Later I realized that I could have done it the other way around, sewing one continuous line of topstitching around the yoke starting and finishing at the centre back zip after I’d put the skirt together completely. This would probably have been easier to do. The eye is drawn to the topstitching and not the seamlines so it also would have disguised any failure to match the seamlines precisely at the side seams and centre back.

Vogue 1247

I expect I’ll make another version of this pattern any time I have a suitable leftover piece of fabric. The pockets are nicely roomy, it’s comfortable to wear, and if you skip the seam binding it’s a pretty fast sew.

Vogue 1247

Notes:

 

  • Vilene H250 interfacing on waistband, zip seam allowances, and front yoke above pockets. It was probably too heavy for the zip allowances.
  • YKK invisible zip, somewhat longer than the original pattern called for
  • Size 90 denim needle for main seams
  • Size 100 denim needle and Gutermann 968 denim gold top-stitch thread for top-stitching
  • Single row of topstitching on yoke seam and hem. Double row on side seams. None on waistband because it’s such a high waisted style it’s not visible

 

Vogue 1378 leggings in grey scuba

Vogue 1378 grey scuba side view

There are a lot of garments in this picture – that’s winter for you – but the one this post is about is the grey scuba knit leggings. I cut these out in October and have been sewing them up a tiny bit at a time when the baby is safely asleep. You might think that this is a very long time to take over making a pair of leggings even given that constraint, but in my defence these are not ordinary leggings. There’s a lot of decorative lapped seaming and topstitching which makes them quite a big project. They’re based on the trousers from the discontinued Vogue 1378 Donna Karan pattern. Line art below:

Vogue 1378 line art

You can’t really see it in the line art but the pattern has a vertical opening at the bottom of the leg where those four parallel rows of topstitching are. I’ve always thought that looks a bit odd so I eliminated it. The previous time I made this pattern I did it by overlapping the two pattern pieces for the lower leg and cutting them as one, but I didn’t like the end result because the topstitching fades into the background without a seamline next to it. For this version I cut the two separate pieces but sewed the opening shut by doing the topstitching through both the layers. That way the seam and topstitching matches the other decorative lapped seams in the garment.

Vogue 1378 grey scuba closeup

These are my usual size in Vogue, which is one size down from what the measurement chart would suggest I make. I normally find that works out fairly well. These have zero ease at the hip on me. I had to add some extra width below the knee to make them go over my large calves. I wish I’d taken them in at the ankle because I intended these as leggings not trousers, hence the skirt over the top. The other adjustment I made was to raise the waist. As drafted these came up much lower on me than the intended one inch below the natural waist.

My fabric is a scuba knit from Tissu Fabrics (long since sold out or I’d link it; they have other colours of scuba available though). It was easy to sew but tricky to trim evenly for the lapped seams. You can probably see the edges look a bit ragged in the picture below. It’s also a little too stretchy for the design; I’ve popped a bit of the topstitching since making these. My previous pair in neoprene worked a lot better because it’s that little bit more stable. The neoprene is also thick enough that I can wear that pair without a skirt over the top; the new pair are far too clingy for that.

Vogue 1378 grey scuba back view

So, probably not my most perfect or flattering make but they are warm and washable so I’ve worn them quite a lot since finishing them. You can’t say fairer than that.

Vogue 1378 grey scuba

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