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.

Vogue hits it out of the park

I said I’d blog about fasteners for the white jacket next, but Vogue have released such a great autumn pattern collection that I want to talk about that instead!

I always start with the designer patterns, because that’s what Vogue is all about. And this time there are not one but two Ralph Rucci patterns. V1404 is a sweet dress (perhaps too sweet for me, but very Rucci) and V1419 an awesome unlined coat. I’d make it in a fairly light fabric and wear it as a winter dress. I was curious about the original styling and looked these up on Ralph Rucci’s collections on The coat is look 1 from the 2013 pre-fall collection and the dress is actually from spring 2013. I wonder if that one was originally intended for the previous Vogue release, where we didn’t get a Rucci at all?

Vogue 1419 pattern photo

There are three patterns with wonderful seaming from Donna Karan and DKNY: V1407, V1408 and V1409. I’m not so keen on Vogue’s fabric choices for these (to be fair to Vogue, V1409 at least is simply imitating the original look), but they would look fabulous made up in contrasting colours of the scuba knit that’s everywhere at the moment. The original V1408 is made up in different shades of blue – at least I think so, it’s hidden under a jacket in the fashion show. I couldn’t find the original V1407 at all.

Vogue Donna Karan seam detail designs

The fourth Donna Karan design, V1417 is a dramatic but very wearable asymmetric top and trousers combo. I’m not totally sold on the use of knit fabric for the trousers though. You’d need something with a good deal of lycra to avoid bagging.

Vogue 1417 pattern photo

And it doesn’t end there. Look at this wonderful dress from Mizono, V1410. It has an elastic drawstring allowing the length to be adjusted. Perfect for cycling. This is the sort of interesting detail that is the reason I use so many Vogue patterns.

Vogue 1410 envelope pictures

And talking of interesting details, check out V9035, the Marci Tilton pattern. The pockets are something you won’t see anywhere else.

Vogue 9035 envelope pocket detail

I could go on much longer, but the last one I want to highlight is V1405. At first it looks like a simple batwing knit dress. But read the description: draped midriff with stays and (p)urchased elastic, slides and rings for shoulder straps on bodice lining. There’s some internal structure there that would make it an interesting sew.

So that’s the designer section. What about the rest?

Easy Options has a blouse with cuff and placket variations and a princess seam dress with sleeve, collar, and skirt varations this time around. While I seem to have seen similar things to both before, they’re both nice styles and both rated Easy. I’d certainly have gone for the dress if I didn’t already have a few patterns like it.

Very Easy Vogue has some gems. There are stylish tops, jackets, and dresses. Some have subtle details that raise them above the ordinary, such as the unusual slightly set back shoulder seams on V9028, the side seams on V9026, and the curved shoulder yokes on V9019. Although I have to say my favourites are the simple but effective V9038 cape and the batwing dress V9021.

Vogue 9021 envelope art

The regular Vogue patterns seem a little too grown up for me this time around, although they continue a lot of the themes seen in the other sections. There’s an asymmetric dress V9024. V9031 is a skirt with seam detail reminiscent of the Donna Karan designs, but being a skirt rather than a dress it’s probably more wearable. And there are two very traditional patterns for little girls, V9042 and V9043 and an interesting man’s jacket in V9041.

The vintage patterns are conspicuous by their absence in this release which surprises me as 40s and 50s designs still seem to be everywhere in blogland. I’m not keen on wearing styles from those eras myself but there are plenty of people who are! I hope Vogue aren’t discontinuing this range for good. I’d love it if they re-released some of their sixties and seventies styles.

So in summary, Best Vogue Release Ever. And now I just have to wait until they come out in the UK!

Easily pleased – the Spring Vogue release

The Spring Vogue Patterns release is out. It’s not made it to the UK at the time of writing but that’s never stopped me looking and making plans before.

Spring and Summer are normally my least favourite seasons for patterns. This collection would be no exception to the rule, were it not for the fact that Ralph Rucci is back with this design, 1381. I love this silhouette and the style has all the detail you expect; this time there’s quilting on the yokes, waist, and cuffs in addition to the regular cleverly hidden pockets and kimono/raglan sleeves.

Vogue 1381

The rest of the designer patterns have no must-sews for me. I was going to say that most of them are too dressy for my lifestyle, but if I really love a pattern then that doesn’t stop me. I’ve been struggling to describe what’s wrong with them and it’s basically that they lack excitement. Take this Donna Karan jacket and skirt, 1389. Lovely, but so very sensible and grown up. Where’s the drama?

Vogue 1389

Of course I’m being slightly unfair because there is one pattern with drama, but not in a good way. Much as I love the 80s, 1383 is too much. One for the inner teenager?

Vogue 1383

There are two Vintage Vogue releases. I’m guessing these are 40s or 50s styles, which are not eras I’m a fan of, so I’m never going to buy these for myself. But both have lovely details. Look at the pleats on 8973. Now if only Vogue would release some of their 70s archive!

Vogue 8973

Easy Options is disappointing this time round. Only one pattern, which is also the custom cup size pattern, and it’s for a style I feel I’ve seen many times before. The options are two skirt shapes and three sleeves.

Vogue 8972

Very Easy Vogue contributes eight patterns to the collection. I normally find something to like here. There’s a cute shirtdress, 8970, and a dramatic evening skirt, 8980. However the rest are almost all loungewear – good in its place but I can get that from every other issue of Burda. Is it just me or did there used to be a lot of Very Easy Vogue dress patterns? Where did those go?

Vogue 8970

As for the rest? The ‘regular Vogue’ patterns? Well they are few in number, but there are some good ones. 8979 is a very interesting tunic top. There are two patterns for men: 8988 is for a suit and 8987 for a waistcoat. And there’s a very practical messenger bag pattern, 8990.

Vogue 8979

I would say it’s the usual spring disappointment – but Ralph Rucci more than makes up for the rest so I’m happy with this one and can’t wait for the sale! What did you think?

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?

Top fives of 2012

Gillian first posted the idea of doing sewing top fives of 2012 at the start of December. So I’m a bit late to the party but going to play along anyway because it’s a great idea and I’ve really enjoyed reading other people’s top fives.

Top 5 of 2012

I made 24 items in 2012. It’s 25 if I count the disastrous second version of Vogue 1250, but since that one didn’t even touch the floor between being taken off and hurled into the scraps bag I don’t think I ought to include it.

So here are my five favourite makes of 2012.

The psychedelic dress, Vogue 8489. I think I only wore this out of the house once, to my friends’ wedding, but it felt great. I love the fabric and the enormous swishy skirt.

Vogue 8489

My cheongsam dress, Burda 111-02-2012. It was a really fiddly make but it came out well. I’m looking forward to having some warmer weather so I can wear this again. It’s been lurking at the back of the wardrobe for far too long.

Burda 111 02/2012

Red version of Burda 117-02-2012. February 2012 was the best issue of Burda I’ve ever seen. I got five dresses out of it and four of them were this pattern: black, red, colour-blocked in teal/black/white/grey, and finally in red and white stripes. Three were successes and the striped one was a horrible disaster. The solid red one’s my favourite because it’s a good fabric and it’s probably the most nicely finished of the four.
Burda 117-02-2012

I was surprised to find I’d made two coats this year. I could have sworn I made the first one in 2011 but I’ve checked the dates and it really was January 2012. I’ve obviously worn it enough that it seems like longer! The pattern is Vogue 1276. I’m a sucker for any pattern with a bit of drama.

Vogue 1276

But my favourite item of the year is my navy blue Burda 116-08-2011. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a picture of the blue version of this dress here before. I made the pattern up three times; the other two are red and grey. The blue one is my favourite because it works whether I’ve had my hair dyed recently or not!

Burda 116 08/2011

Strangely these five include both my easiest (Burda 116-08-2011) and one of my hardest (Burda 111-02-2012) makes of the year. There are also two patterns from the same issue of Burda, the February 2012 one. I’ve sewed a lot more Burda this year than before.

Stay tuned for my misses of 2012, coming up soon!




Slow burner? Vogue summer 2012 patterns

The sewing blogosphere and its feline helpers have already reviewed the new Vogue patterns, and in the main the reaction has been one of disappointment. And on first glance at the collection I had to agree. It didn’t even strike me as particularly fugly, just uninspiring. There is one honourable exception in 1305. I don’t think I’m very likely to make this, but it’s spectacular nonetheless.

Vogue 1305

After a few days I went back to it and had a closer look. Turns out there are a few things I like after all, they just aren’t the designer or vintage numbers.

Take 8808. The sample appears to have been made up out a pair of curtains, but imagine it in a solid colour. The long version would be both glamorous and comfortable. The knee length version would make a great day dress.

Vogue 8808

And then there’s 8814, another really verstaile, simple style – and heaven, it comes in custom cup sizes so no FBA.

Vogue 8814

I’m still going to wait until the sale though.

The Dressmaker’s Dictionary

I’m slightly surprised to realise I’ve never yet blogged about one of my favourite sewing reference books, The Dressmaker’s Dictionary by Ann Ladbury. I was lucky enough to find it in a second-hand bookshop soon after I started sewing and picked it up in the hope of finding instructions on on zip insertion that made a bit more sense than the ones in my sewing manual.

There are no less than eighteen pages about zips, with some excellent advice on how to get good results. Some of it is a little dated. The instructions for invisible zips use a regular zip foot and give the impression that special feet for invisible zips are rare commodities only available with Pfaff machines. But most of it is still relevant and I regularly use her tips for getting a good zip insertion.

Having bought the book to learn about zips, I then discovered the section on fitting. This was a revelation. Up to this point my attempts at fitting had simply been to lengthen patterns at the adjustment lines. The Dressmaker’s Dictionary has pages of diagrams of wrinkles and how to tweak them away. I read that section through several times and learnt a lot.

My first two sewing books were ‘Yeah, I made it myself’ by Eithne Farry and ‘Sew U’ by Wendy Mullin. Both are written in a distinctly chatty, cosy style. By contrast, The Dressmaker’s Dictionary knows the One Right Way To Do Things and intends to reform any slapdash habits the reader may have. A clear personality comes through in the writing: confident, expert, and full of strong opinions. The author tells us firmly that boat necklines are ‘not particularly flattering’, facings should never, ever be interfaced, and understitching is counterproductive. I can’t say I agree with everything in the book (or perhaps my pressing skills are not yet up to making my facings stay put on their own) but she’s always entertaining to read. This is not a dry reference book. In fact it’s great fun to browse through, partly because of the writing style but also because it covers such a huge range of topics. I usually find something new to me when I pick it up.

Sadly it is no longer in print, but second-hand copies seem to be plentiful on UK Amazon. If you see a cheap one, grab it. I strongly recommend it.

P.S. just catching up with comments…thanks for the advice about white fabric! Molly asked what pattern I’m going to use. It’s Vogue 1239 which has become one of my favourite dresses ever. It’s a way down the project list but hopefully come the spring I’ll be tackling it in white.

The power of making – V&A exhibition review

Last weekend I went to the V&A’s Power Of Making exhibition with my husband and mother-in-law. I hadn’t really read the blurb and guessed it would be all about handcrafts. We’d originally been intending to go to the much larger Postmoderism exhibition but didn’t have enough time for it, whereas Power of Making was nicely sized to fit in between lunch and meeting up with more family afterwards.

I was wrong about the handcrafts. There were quite a few handmade items in the show, but there was also a large section about 3D printing, and many of the objects on display clearly involved some industrial processes. In fact I’m still not entirely sure what the unifying theme of the exhibition was meant to be as everything in the V&A is some kind of ‘artefact’. If you want nature untouched by human hands you go down the road to the Natural History and Geology Museums. I think the best description of it was one on the exhibition website: just ‘a cabinet of curiosities’.

So what curiosities were there? There were three or four unusual bicycles, including one made from steam-shaped mahogany, and one entirely encrusted in Swarovski crystals. One thing that really sticks in my mind, just for the ‘ewww’ factor, is a cake made in the shape of a baby. It’s beautifully done with sculpted marzipan painted very realistically. And it still grosses me out slightly every time I think about it. At the highly practical end of the scale there were lovingly made non-art items such as a drystone wall, a flute, a saddle, and a government red box. (Did you know red boxes have the locks on the bottom so that ministers can’t walk off with them unlocked? Clever.)

For sewists there were two particularly interesting exhibits. The first is a system for making spray-on clothes, and the second is a full length black leather evening dress covered in what must be tens of thousands of sharp pins. They were described as ‘dressmaker pins’ but they’re more the size of macramé pins. Not the sort of thing you could wear on the tube; in fact not the sort of thing you could wear at all, but utterly spectacular.

So it’s not the best exhibition at the V&A I have ever seen, but it’s so eclectic it has something for most people. There were lots of other weird and wonderful things I could mention, including a giant gorilla made from coat-hanger wire and an L-shaped briefcase. There were a lot of people there with their kids. I think it’s worth a look if you’re in the area. I’m still hoping to make it to Postmodernism at some point too.