Worth a second look: Spring 2015 Vogues

The Spring Vogues are out! Pause for hyperventilation.

In all honesty I wasn’t expecting to love this release. Spring pattern releases are almost always disappointing for me because so few of the designs are practical for the weather around here – spring in the UK requires long sleeves and lots of layers. And with this particular collection there was no immediate wow factor either. Normally there are a few knockout designer patterns that leap off the (web) page at me but not this time. This release requires a close look, but it’s worth taking the time to do so.

The designer section is normally full of spectacular dresses. And it still supplies a few: look at the amazing seam detail on the bodice of the Kay Unger design, V1432.

Vogue 1432

I’m not entirely sure why Vogue picked both V1434 (Isaac Mizrahi) and V1433 (Tracey Reese) for this release, as they are suspiciously similar princess seamed poufy skirted party dresses – surely one would have done and for my money it would have been V1433, which comes with a petticoat. But there’s also the much more grownup V1431 (Tom and Linda Platt), a long-sleeved pencil dress with a bodice overlay detail I’ve not seen elsewhere.

But this time around we’ve also got plenty of wearable but interesting separates. The Ralph Rucci pattern, V1437, is a case in point: jacket, skirt, and blouse with lots of detail.

Vogue 1437

And look at the back of the blouse in V1440, the Donna Karan pattern. This one also has an interesting jacket and it’s not alone; this is the best release for jackets I can remember.

Vogue 1440

There are two Marci Tilton Vogue Designer Originals this time around. V9089 is a romantic blouse, and V9081 is a colour-blocked dress and cardigan. Something about 9081 doesn’t really work for me – perhaps it’s the colours because I like the shape.

Vogue 9081

There are two Sandra Betzina patterns. V1442 is a knockout. It reminds me of something from Japanese pattern books or Burda when it goes wacky and nonetheless makes it work.

Vogue 1442

The other one, V1433, is also appealing – at least if you look past the sample fabrics to the line drawing. To me this design is crying out to be made in solids not prints.

Two vintage Vogues as usual – V9083 and V9082. No date that I can see, but they look like fifties designs to me – or thereabouts anyway. I presume this must be what sells best, but I’m afraid I’m thoroughly bored with these and long for something from the late sixties or the seventies.

Vogue 9083

There are two custom cup size patterns: V9078 is an Easy Options dress and V9092 is a Very Easy Vogue top, trousers, and dress.

9078 is a rare miss for Easy Options in that it doesn’t have many options. The two skirt variations are very similar indeed, and the other options are the usual short sleeve/long sleeve/sleeveless choice.

9092 is much more appealing, although it gets points taken off for having fake pockets. I vaguely recall a YSL look from a few years ago with a tunic top and slim trousers made up in a charcoal grey wool and although some of the details are different I think this would be a great starting point for knocking that off.

Vogue 9092

Very Easy Vogue is back on form. I love these culottes/palazzo pants (V9091). The designs in this section are all interesting, although I’m not sure how flattering the jumpsuit variation of V9075 will be in practice. That one hasn’t been photographed whereas the dress variation has, which may tell us something. (Edited to add: jne4sl and Isaspacey have pointed out I’m wrong, it is in fact the jumpsuit variation in the photos. I confess I didn’t look at the back view where it’s a lot more obvious!)

Vogue 9091

On the subject of photography it’s excellent, as it has been for the last few releases. More views of the garments than ever and plenty of detail shots. It really helps.

And as for the rest? There are some real gems this time around. V9077 is a very interesting shirt dress with enough variations that it really ought to have been the Easy Options pattern. I’m definitely buying this one; I love the bands.

Vogue 9077

I’m torn on V9097. I love the idea but I’m not sure how well it will work in practice and there’s no photo of it. The fabric suggestions given (Silk Crepe, Silk-like Broadcloth, Heavy Georgette, Lightweight Linen) don’t seem to lend themselves to making that top corner at the left neckline nice and crisp.

Vogue 9079

But the real standout is V9096, this amazing jacket. Do click through and have a look at the other views too because if the version below is too fussy there are not one but two simpler variations on the same idea. I like the middle one myself.

Vogue 9096

Overall I’m loving this release. There’s lot of patterns here that I could wear in real life, but with the sort of detail that inspires me to actually go out and sew. I’m already thinking about fabrics for some of them and they haven’t even hit the UK yet.

Searching for styling pictures

I’m a big fan of Vogue patterns but I find I often have to look past the envelope art to the technical drawing to spot the best ones. The problem is that styling and photography is so subjective! Vogue give us several good clear shots of each pattern they photograph these days but I’m always interested in more views. And of course for the designer patterns there are often runway shots of the same garment to be found on the Internet.

So I started putting together a collection of Vogue pattern photos with other photos of the same garments for my own reference. (See I’m not just idly browsing style.com, I’m doing research.) If anyone’s interested there are links to the designers I’ve done a pattern image hunt for here. It’s all on Pinterest at the moment because that was the quickest way to set it up. Hopefully I’ll add more as I find them.

Winter Vogue patterns review

Hooray, the winter Vogue patterns are out! Is it sad that I look forward to each new Vogue release?

I always go to the designer patterns first (does anyone not?). This time they are almost all occasion wear. If there’s any common theme beyond that it’s seam detail and cutouts.

Cutouts can easily be over the top but the 1423 and 1424 both look very wearable. The one below is 1423.

Vogue 1423 envelope art

Donna Karan does not disappoint with a wonderfully OTT metallic one-shoulder wrapped style, 1427. I have no need of this dress, nor ever will, but I’d love to try it on. One very minor quibble: there are no finished garment measurements on the envelope for this one. Vogue been great about putting these on the envelopes of late, and all the other patterns I checked have them.

Vogue 1427 envelope photo

The two designer patterns which aren’t evening wear are nonetheless very smart. There’s a sharp day dress from Anne Klein, 1420, with interesting lapels.

Vogue 1420 envelope art

And then there’s 9046, a lovely, feminine, style from Claire Shaeffer. It’s not me at all but I can admire those tucks from a distance!

Vogue 9046 envelope art

I didn’t find any must-buys in this section which is most unusual. It may be because I have absolutely no need for posh frocks any more, but that doesn’t normally stop me. And sadly there’s no Ralph Rucci pattern, but we did get two last time so I can’t grumble too much.

The Easy Options pattern, 9050, is a princess seam dress with pencil or flared skirt, and two-piece sleeves with two length options. It must be difficult to get a lot of interesting style detail in a pattern that has to be both easy to sew and provide many different options, but this one succeeds. The neckline shape and seam detail at the waist keep it from being dull and all the variations look very wearable.

Vogue 9050 envelope art

Very Easy Vogue seems to have a focus on daywear this time out. There are one or two styles with interesting details. 9049 has unusually shaped lapels, pockets, and fake pocket flaps. And 9048 is a simple dress lifted by the addition of a collar. There’s also a nice basic princess seam jacket, 9068. 9056 is the inevitable peplum top. The peplum trend seems to have been going on forever; I won’t miss it when it finally dies.

Vogue 9049 envelope photo

There are two vintage patterns: 9051 is a day dress that I think is from the 40s, and 9052 is a day dress and jacket combo that’s described as circa 1949. It makes a break from the occasionwear of the designer section, but I’m slightly disappointed that both styles seem to be from the same era. I say this every time, but I long for a day when the vintage patterns are from the 60s or 70s.

Vogue 9051 envelope art

The Marci Tilton patterns are appealing. 9070 is a raincoat with lots of interesting detail. The sample is made up in a shiny burnt orange fabric, which gives a very creative vibe, but if made in khaki or black this could also be a very utilitarian look.

Vogue 9070 envelope photo

There’s also 9060 which is an unusual skirt, and 9057 a simple top.

The rest of the collection is very small and mostly consists of casual tops. There are also three wardrobe patterns, 9067 which is very casual, and a slightly smarter one in 9066. 9066 is also the custom cup size pattern. The pick of this section for me is the third wardrobe pattern, 9064, a boxy top with unusual seamlines combined with very simple skirt and trousers.

Vogue 9064 envelope art

Overall impressions? I’d like there to be more daywear in the designer section and that could probably be balanced out with dressier styles elsewhere. It seems to be a smaller collection than last time which might also be why I found less to like. The photography continues to be spot-on with lots of clear views of each style. And I’m still grateful for the much wider range of finished garment measurements on the envelopes.

Fundamentally though this collection didn’t dazzle, unlike the autumn release. My overstuffed pattern box is grateful but I’m now looking forward to spring.


After making four knit dresses in a row I finally feel like tackling a woven project. I am also still in need of interesting clothes that I can cycle in. I’ve been gradually improving my cycle friendly wardrobe over the last year, but I find myself wearing my Burda jeans a minimum of once a week. And then I need tops to go with them. Putting on a dress involves so much less thought than finding separates that go together.

Clearly the answer has to be a jumpsuit. All the convenience of trousers with the simplicity of a dress. Surely that makes up for the aggravation of having to take it off when going to the toilet.

So I went looking for patterns. This is the one that first caught my eye, from Burda April 2014.

burda 107-04-2014 tech drawing

I like the fact that it’s fairly smart, but that notched collar looks complicated. I’ve never made one, and tackling it for the first time with only Burda instructions for help probably isn’t going to produce a polished result.

Then there’s this one from Ralph Pink.

Ralph Pink jumpsuit tech drawing

I’ve seen a great version of this from Kazz the Spazz (sadly no longer blogging). I really like the style (click on the link, Kazz looks amazing in hers) but I’ll admit that the fact it’s a PDF pattern puts me off. I don’t mind tracing at all but I hate assembling A4 sheets.

I’m also not convinced I could do a good enough job with the fly on this one. The instructions say something brief at the end along the lines of ‘attach buttons and work buttonholes in your fly to match’. I’m not sure it works to wait until the very end to make buttonholes in a fly; wouldn’t you want to do it before the whole thing was assembled? Kazz left her buttons off altogether but I’d be worried about the whole thing falling open if I did that! I think this might be a pattern to leave until I’ve got some more experience.

Burda have produced many jumpsuit patterns over the last few years.

burda-103-10-2010 tech drawing

This is Burda 103-10-2010. It looked considerably less boxy in the model photo where it was made up in grey silk and worn with a belt. I think I’d take off the breast pockets. Who needs pockets right over their boobs?

burda-119-05-2010 tech drawing

And this is 119-05-2010. I like the elasticated ankles. This was styled as a safari look in the magazine. I think this one needs the pocket flaps to make the style work, but I’m not keen on sewing fiddly details that are not functional. Yes, I’m very lazy.

And finally the one I’m actually planning to make, Burda 130-09-2011.

burda-130-09-2011 tech drawing

I like the casual drapiness of this style and the turnups at the wrists and ankles. There are no really fussy details. It’s not very fitted, which is probably a good thing as I’ve changed shape a bit and will be trying a new size in Burda in future. The plan is to make it up in a brown cupro fabric I have that looks like washed silk. Fingers crossed!

Much to like: Winter Vogues

I always look forward to the autumn and winter Vogue pattern releases. Sadly the autumn collection was underwhelming this year. The winter one came out in the US a couple of weeks ago and the good news is that it’s a definite step up.

The designer patterns are few but good. I’m disappointed there’s no Chado Ralph Rucci (again!) but what we do get is what Vogue designer patterns are all about: styles with unusual details or dramatic impact. My favourite is the Donna Karan pattern for leggings and a wrap top. I’m posting the technical drawing rather than the photograph because the whole point of this one is the seam detail in the leggings.


Another highlight is the spectacular evening gown from Badgley Mischka. If I had a glamorous evening event to go to, this pattern would definitely be on my shopping list. The pattern description also hints at some interesting techniques: ‘back pleated drape with weighted tab’. You don’t often get that sort of thing in Burda.


There’s also a selection of little dresses with interesting details: a cape overlay, a pleated bodice, contrast inserts and the like.

The most unusual designer pattern this time around is a top and skirt from Guy Laroche. I really like this one, and not just because it has pockets. I’m not sure how flattering it would be on a non-model but I bet it’s an interesting sew.


Very Easy Vogue has some hits. There’s a classic cape and a simple and pretty colour blocked dress – although given that this is the Winter collections, sleeves would have been nice. But I’m being a bit picky there because we also have 8495 (shown below) which not only has sleeves, but interesting ones.


Also in Very Easy Vogue there’s a simple overcoat with a slightly unusual draped detail at the back. But it’s not all good: there’s also this.


The undisguised elasticated waist would be fine if the dress had been made up in a really casual fabric. But with the sequins it just looks odd. OK pattern but poor fabric choice perhaps.

Speaking of belts, there’s something odd going on with the waist on the custom cup size pattern. This is a closefitting dress with a lot of seam detail at the waist. The model’s wearing a purchased belt in the full length pictures, but in the belt-free closeup you can see the intersecting seamlines haven’t matched up on the dress. It could be a sewing failure rather than the fault of the pattern, but I’d certainly look out for some reviews before buying this one.

The rest of the Very Easy patterns are knit tops, mostly with mullet hems. Nothing in there you couldn’t find elsewhere. The hoodie top is the best of them. It seems to have more waist shaping than is typical – at least in the model shots – and you could easily remove the mullet.

The Easy Options patterns are good as always. We get two dresses: a French darted style with a waist seam and a princess seamed style without a waist seam. As usual they come with a selection of neckline and skirt shape variations. Rather than just the obvious ‘pencil skirt version’, ‘A-line skirt version’ variations there’s a peplum option on the first and a mermaid skirt on the second.

The third Easy Options is a skirt, and probably my favourite style out of the whole collection:


This is so Vivienne Westwood. There’s also a pencil skirt variation in there, and one with the drape on both sides. Even better, it’s rated Easy. I’d have loved for this to have been available when I first began sewing; so many of the more unsuual styles were beyond my reach at the start.

The regular Vogue patterns are a mixed bag. There’s a lot of eveningwear but also some more casual styles. I’ll just pick out two: 8955 because I love the drama of palazzo pants:

And 8946 because it’s oddly like a maternity style, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. There aren’t a lot of maternity patterns out there, and although this isn’t intended to be one, it looks as if it could accommodate a small bump.


But the most important question is: will I actually buy any of these? And the answer is that I won’t be rushing to get them the day they come out in the UK, but a few are going on my Christmas list. And that’s a definite improvement.

What do you think? Love this release or bored by it?

Good in parts? Autumn Vogues

First of all, thanks for all the insightful comments on my sack-like dress. I’ve worn it out of the house a couple more times since the photos were taken, and I’ve decided to keep it as it is rather than trying to make it match the original or even give up and recycle the fabric. Although now I’ve seen MaciNic, Lisa, and The Perfect Nose‘s versions I’m tempted to try the pattern again in a more suitable fabric one day.

Oh and for those who asked about my shoes, they are Melissa; that particular style’s been discontinued but there’s still plenty of plastic goodness on their UK site at http://www.nonnon.co.uk/. Not that I just had a quick browse while checking the URL or anything.

But on to what is normally my favourite pattern collection of the year; the autumn Vogue release. They are only on the US site at the time of writing. And while it’s an improvement over the 2013 spring and summer releases, I’m still a little underwhelmed.

First things first: one thing I really approve of in this collection is the photography. No wacky poses this time round (remember Spring and Autumn 2012?). This time every style is simply photographed front, back, and both sides, and often there’s also a closeup of an interesting detail. There are more photos overall than I remember in previous collections, and in many cases at least one of the pattern variations has been photographed too.

The designer patterns just aren’t grabbing me this time around. The two Donna Karan designs are the best of the bunch: Vogue 1361 is an interesting day dress and 1365 a useful coat. But the more I look at the dress, the more I think I’d be tugging at it all day long to make it lie correctly.

Vogue 1361 pattern photo

1362 isn’t for me but it’s what Vogue designer patterns are all about: a strikingly unusual style that I wouldn’t want to try to draft myself.

Vogue 1362 pattern photo

The others are all things I think I could easily find versions of in Burda. Take 1363 for example. Possibly I’m missing something here? Nothing wrong with it, but if I’m going to be paying Vogue designer prices (eye-watering in the UK and they’re never less than half price even in sales) I want a pattern with wow factor or some unusual detail, and this isn’t it.

Vogue 1367 pattern photo

The non-designer patterns have much more interest. I’m not a jacket wearer myself, but there is a trio of jacket patterns with clean, unfussy lines that are tempting me: 8932, 8931 and 8937 (below).

Vogue 8932 pattern photo

And three very different coats: the asymmetric 8933, cosy and easy 8930, and interestingly egg-shaped 8934 (below).

Vogue 8934 pattern photo

Very Easy Vogue has some great simple patterns with a twist. 8926 is a stylish casual jacket (if you click through be sure to look at the tech drawing and not just the photos) and 8925 is a simple princess seamed top that could be used in lots of ways. Although I can’t decide if 8919 (below) has been murdered by horrible fabric choice or whether the seam lines are just in a bad place.

Vogue 8919 pattern photo

The Custom Fit pattern 8936 is for a peplum top with skirt and trousers. I am not a fan of the peplum, and the fake leather Vogue chose to make this up in isn’t helping, but I think the proportions on this one are fundamentally really good. I’d like to see it in a different fabric.

Vogue 8936

There are three Easy Options patterns: 8927, a set of blouses, 8928, a set of skirts which while an interesting basic pattern don’t offer a lot of variation, and 8936, a colour-block dress that’s probably my favourite item in the whole collection.

Vogue 8923 pattern picture

It’s also good to see another pattern for men: 8940 is a man’s coat and trousers.

So on the whole there’s a quite lot to like this time around, but the collection as a whole doesn’t rise to the heights I expect of Vogue. Things are definitely improving though; I’m looking forward to the Winter release!

What did you think? Am I missing something about the designer pattern? Would you wear the red Donna Karan? And can that peplum be saved?

Birmingham blogger meetup

Saturday was such a great day. Marie and Kat organised a sewing blogger meetup in Birmingham. Check out Marie’s blog post for pictures. We shopped, ate noodles, swapped a ton pf patterns and fabric, and then shopped some more. But absolutely the best bit was talking to like-minded sewists all day about fabric, sewing, and patterns.

So what did we buy? Quite a few of us bought some of this sparkly heavyweight knit from the Rag Market. When I saw Kat’s I had to get some of my own. I’m seeing this as a cowl-necked, long-sleeved knit dress worn with a big belt.

Sparkly heavy knit

This one came from the Rag Market too. It’s a really bright blue with a hint of purple. My camera insists on rendering it as a sort of sky blue. I tried reading the camera manual, but no amount of fiddling with white balance and lighting was effective so what you see here is courtesy of the GIMP. The fabric itself is a lightweight, silky texture and very narrow.

Strange blue fabric

I think it would work well as something like one of these two patterns. The 80s one is one of the ones I got from Katie in the swap! And coincidentally it has a layout and yardage for 90cm fabric. Were fabrics narrower in the 80s or something?

Possible patterns for strange blue fabric

I got bright pink lining for my chartreuse coat. Claire and Alice spotted it in the Fancy Silk Store. Here are the two fabrics together. Yummy.

Coat fabric with lining

I also found the fabric for my sister’s birthday dress which was lucky because her specifications were somewhat exacting. I’m not posting a picture of it just yet because she ought to see it first, but suffice to say I’m certainly looking forward to sewing with it. (And if she doesn’t like it after all I have an alternative plan for it…is that bad?)

Thanks again Marie and Kat and everyone else who came along!