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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Should have known better: Burda 127-10-2014

Burda 127-10-2014 front view

Here’s a make that didn’t work out, Burda 127-10-2014. The annoying thing is that most of the problems were entirely predictable, had I thought about the pattern more carefully in advance. But I was carried away by the cute raglan seaming, the exposed zip, the pockets, and the roomy silhouette. Here’s the line art. Have a good look, maybe you’ll see what I missed.

Burda 127-10-2014 line art

It’s basically rectangular, and the bagginess only goes so far in accomodating my current shape, but that’s not the issue. The pockets are nice and big which is a point in its favour. I somehow managed to cut the sleeve bands horribly off-grain which is why they’re twisting, and they were a pain to insert because the polyester crepe I used does not tolerate even the smallest size mismatch. But none of that is the fault of the pattern.

Burda 127-10-2014 pockets

The problem is the shoulder line. Look what happens when I move my arms. The shoulder line creases and the whole dress moves up. The shoulder line is so dropped and curved that there’s no way you can lift your arms and hence the sleeves without lifting the rest of dress. And the shape of the shoulder is quite clear on the line art so this shouldn’t have been a surprise; I just didn’t spot it in advance.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Some of the pulling is clearly being made worse by the distorting effect of my bump. Look at that drag line.

Burda 127-10-2014 pulling

Just for completeness, here’s the back complete with exposed zip. The back is so plain it really needs that zip detail. I’m slightly surprised Burda didn’t repeat the raglan seaming on the back to add a bit of interest.

Burda 127-10-2014 back view

I often have trouble getting the right zip for  a project but for once for once I got lucky. I found this one on eBay. The tape colour is almost an exact match for the fabric and the puller is a bit different: a short chain with a ball on the end rather than the usual zip puller. The back of the dress is so plain it needs all the help it can get. I didn’t do the greatest job inserting the zip but it looks OK from a distance. The neck binding isn’t great either because the fabric I used was a bit too heavy for the pattern and so the binding pattern piece didn’t have enough turn-of-cloth allowance.

Burda 127-10-2014 zip

I am going to put this dress away until after the baby and see if it’s any more comfortable when the bump isn’t taking up all the extra space in it.

Burda 127-10-2014 side view

Toni dress closeup

Stylearc Toni dress

Toni dress closeup

I’ve been wanting to make the Stylearc Toni dress ever since I saw it on Kristin’s blog. It’s a style I’d wear at any time, but it’s particularly good right now as I’m pregnant and rapidly running out of clothes that fit. The Toni isn’t a maternity style but it has plenty of room for a bump. It also has pockets, shoulder coverage, a nice high collar, and sews up quickly: all good points.

Stylearc Toni dress

The length is unusual. From the pattern illustration it looks like it’s meant to hit at the bottom of the calf. I normally have to add a lot of length to most patterns but my flat pattern measuring suggested this one would stop just below the knee on me so I didn’t bother. I must have gone wrong because it’s come out at midcalf, which is the length I try to avoid above all others. If I make this again I’ll shorten it. I wouldn’t want to make it any longer unless I made it up in a stretch fabric, as the hem width is very narrow indeed and I’d struggle to walk in it comfortably.

Stylearc Toni long view

I made this up in a very silky lightweight woven fabric that came from the Misan Textiles sale room. I’m not 100% sure what the composition is but it’s definitely man made. I picked it because it’s very drapey and has a certain resemblance to the silk the pattern recommends, but it’s also tricky to press, has a slight tendency to cling, and frays at the slightest provocation. And yes, it’s monochrome again. But at least it’s not black.

Stylearc patterns use much smaller seam allowances than most home sewing patterns: 1cm on the main seams and 6mm around necklines and anywhere with tight curves. I was worried that the seam allowance at the collar would fray away entirely before I finished sewing it but it worked out in the end. And the small seam allowances make it much easier to sew accurately, and accuracy is essential for the tricky stage of setting in the collar and sewing the front seam.

Other than getting the collar sewn in symmetrically this is a very easy make. I couldn’t figure out one of the steps, which seemed to be about understitching the outside edge of the collar which sounded like a very odd thing to do. The actual words were ‘sew a flat stitch’ so perhaps it was topstitching that was meant instead, although I can’t see any topstitching on the technical drawing. The step was optional and skipping it doesn’t seem to have caused problems. I added topstitching to the armscyes, which are finished by neatening the seam allowance and turning it back. Topstitching isn’t mentioned in the instructions but I don’t see how else the seam allowances could be expected to stay put unless you hemmed them by hand, which as far as I’m concerned is not an option.

The back of this dress is extremely plain. There’s a centre back seam but it’s entirely straight so you could just cut the back on the fold. Another time I might do that. I suppose removing the seam makes the back even plainer but I had a hard time making that long straight seam look acceptable in my tricky fabric.

Stylearc Toni back view

The side drapes are fun. Mine stick out quite a bit more than the technical drawing suggests they would. The pattern suggests optionally sewing a small weight in on each side to make them stay put. I overlocked a scrap of fabric around a couple of pennies for each side and sewed that to the seam allowances but it doesn’t seem to have made much difference as the drapes still tend to pop out when I sit down. I like the pointy effect though.

Stylearc Toni side view

Here’s the obligatory ‘look, I have pockets’ shot. I am trying very hard to avoid making things without them these days.

Stylearc Toni front view

I had some serious doubts about this dress while I was sewing it. I fell out of love with the fabric very quickly, and when I put the dress on my dressform halfway through construction it looked more like a very unflattering choir robe than a dress.And then I sewed the side seams and that transformed it completely. I wore it for pictures (where it caused hilarity amongst local dog walkers), and kept it on afterwards, then the next day I found I wanted to wear it again which is unusual for me. I’m not sure if I’ll make another of these; it’s a fabric hog and most of the fabrics that would be suitable are expensive; but the one I’ve got is definitely a success. The pattern was beautifully drafted and Stylearc have a lot of unusual and attractive designs. I think I’ll be making more of their patterns in the future.

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Worth it in the end: Burda 106-04-2014

Burda 106-04-2014 side view

Burda is sometimes unfairly accused of churning out endless boring patterns based on rectangles. There are certainly plenty of boxy tops and dresses in the magazine (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but also no shortage of more complex designs like this style, 106-04-2014. This is a wonderfully practical summer dress: it is very roomy, has pockets, and protects my shoulders and neck from the sun. I was very boring and made it up in practically the same colour and type of fabric as Burda’s sample: a greyish brown silk. Mine’s from the sale room at Misan Textiles.

Here’s the line art.

Burda 106-04-2014 line art
I was very glad this was the illustrated ‘sewing course’ pattern for the month with detailed instructions; the x-wrap detail isn’t technically very difficult to sew once you have worked out what’s going on, but the pictures were a great help in determining which edges to sew to which. Burda’s usual terse instructions probably wouldn’t have been enough.

I made a couple of very minor changes, which were to top-stitch the hem and to top-stitch down the back neck facing to stop it flipping up. I didn’t do a brilliant job on either but I can live with it.

Burda 106-04-2014 back view

I love that the dress has pockets although I did have a bit of trouble with them. The side seams of the front are cut slightly on the bias and they stretched out very slightly despite my applying strips of interfacing to the seam allowances. The pattern also has a zip in the left side seam. Successfully combining a zip with an inseam pocket, wriggly fabric, and a bias edge took a couple of tries and a bit of hand sewing to get a good insertion. And then after all the faff getting the zip in I found I can get in and out of the dress without it, even though the fabric has no stretch at all.

I swear that weird wrinkle below the pocket isn’t normally there. In fact this side of the dress is the one without the zip and hence has the better pocket insertion.

Burda 106-04-2014 side view
When this issue of Burda first came out I remember reading a review where someone (sorry, can’t remember who!) expressed the opinion that the hem on this dress was never going to hang well. It’s a bit odd. It looks fairly straight when I’m walking.

Burda 106-04-2014

But not so much when standing still. I considered interfacing the hem to try to reduce the wavy effect but after making samples I found I preferred the softer hem.

Anyway despite all the quibbling I really do like this dress. It’s a slightly unusual style but easy to wear. The silk feels very luxurious and was worth all the sewing problems. I have just cut out a second one, in a rather more experimental and even more temperamental fabric. Wish me luck.

Burda 106-04-2014

The wetsuit look: Vogue 8866 in scuba knit

Vogue 8866 grey top

I’m getting my money’s worth out of Vogue 8866. It’s a wardrobe pattern so you might expect to get multiple makes from it, but I’ve only used two of the five views so far. And those two are so similar they’re really the same pattern: a knit top which can be lengthened into a dress. The grey top below is the most recent incarnation. Previously I’ve done the dress in a sparkly doubleknit and the top in an unusual textured jersey.

This version is made in a scuba knit from Tissu Fabrics. The colour is evocatively described as platinum grey. Sadly they now seem to have sold out of the grey although there are other colours available. It’s fairly heavy weight with good recovery, but not ultra-stretchy. I definitely should have gone up a size on the top this time. You can see quite a bit of wrinkling below.

Vogue 8866 grey front view

The original pattern has got a keyhole opening at the back neckline and the collar closes with hooks and eyes. For this version I replaced all that with a zip in the centre back yoke and collar seam, which I made a complete pig’s ear of, managing to sew over the teeth in a couple of places. Amazingly it looks OK in the pictures but it only unzips about halfway! It was supposed to be an invisible zip but I ended up inserting it with top-stitching like a centred zip because I hadn’t thought the construction through properly in advance.

Vogue 8866 back view

The original pattern has a lot of top-stitching on the decorative curved seams. I didn’t bother with that on my previous makes, which were in very textured fabric, but on this one it was worth the effort because it shows up against the smoother surface. You can just about see it on the raglan seams in the picture below.

Vogue 8866 grey closeup

I wasn’t very pleased with this make when I finished it, what with the zip and sizing problems. However it’s grown on me. It’s been worn to work a couple of times which is always a good test, although one of my colleagues did compare it to a wetsuit. I guess I can’t complain too much if the fabric’s called scuba knit.