I need a lie down: Vogue 1548 finished

It’s finished. I sewed the last few buttons on today. The finished version of Vogue 1548 is both brilliant and weird, and I suspect it is one of the most complicated things I have ever made.

Modelled pictures will have to wait a bit but I do have flat and detail shots, and some construction notes.

Here’s the full length view. Those gathered bands at the cuffs and hem were surprisingly tricky. I did the cuffs the standard way: sewing two rows in each seam allowance with a long stitch length and low tension and then pulling up the threads. The end result wasn’t very even. For the hem band I tried zigzagging over a heavy thread (two rows again) and pulling that up. That was very slow and fiddly but slightly easier to control.

And here’s the back. The centre pleats don’t quite meet at the zip because I needed a little extra room there. But I’m pleased with how well the waist seam and the top of the zip are matched up.

Less pleased with the back neck facing which has an annoying mismatch where it’s sewn to the zip. I don’t do hand sewing if I can possibly avoid it, so I did the all-machine method for attaching the lining and facing to the zip and got a bit sloppy. It won’t show when the dress is being worn so I decided not to unpick it.

I bagged out the lining, again to avoid hand sewing.

The sleeve linings have little pleats at the cuff.

The really special feature of this dress is the plastron. It has a lot of precision top stitching and 12 precisely placed buttonholes. I didn’t try to use the original pattern markings to position any of that because I’d had to alter the pattern piece to add a lot of length and they all needed redrawing. I made up the basic plastron and then used a patchwork ruler and marked new guidelines directly onto the fabric with chalk. To stop the layers shifting under all the top stitching I put some fusible web inside the plastron before closing it up. That worked well although I suspect quilters may have better methods.

Here’s the dress without the plastron. The neckline is pretty but I doubt I’ll wear it like that because the buttons look a bit odd to my eye.

One last picture with a better view of the amazing sleeves. I can’t wait to wear it.

Vogue 1548 sleeves

I’m currently working on Vogue 1548, a recent Guy Laroche design. It has everything I love in Vogue designer patterns: a really unusual style with loads of interesting detail. Quite how wearable the end result is remains to be seen…I have to finish it first and it’s very slow going. So far I have a bodice (without a lining or a zip) and two sleeves (not attached to bodice).

Vogue 1548 line art

And what sleeves they are. There’s a weird pointy bit near the elbow, two very curved insets (one inside the other) decorated with self-fabric binding, and gathered cuffs. I don’t usually bother with construction pictures but these sleeves deserve to be commemorated. Below is the small inset just having been sewn into the larger one. The pattern pieces are just behind them. They’re sewn wrong sides together and then the seam allowance is trimmed, encased in binding, and stitched down on the right side of the fabric.

Vogue 1548 inset seam

The binding is supposed to be self-fabric bias binding. Normally I’d just use ready-made rather than faffing about making my own, but for this pattern I think the binding needs to match the sleeve fabric perfectly or it’ll look odd. Vogue’s instructions blithely say to do this by constructing a long bias strip about 25mm wide and then pressing over 6mm on each edge, giving approximately 12mm finished width. No further details about how to achieve this impressive feat are given, but then it is a ‘plus difficile’ pattern so I guess you’re supposed to know what you’re doing. I don’t know about you but pressing under exactly 6mm by hand on a wriggly bias edge is completely beyond my sewing skills and any attempt would certainly lead to burnt fingers and much cursing. Good thing there are bias tape folding gadgets to be had. Slow but effective.

Making bias binding

Here’s a picture of the bound edges basted down before being sewn. That was another massively fiddly job. In the very unlikely event I make this pattern again I would just sew the insets right sides together and top-stitch them. And I haven’t even got to the cuffs yet.

Vogue 1548 sleeve binding basted

Asymmetric Vogue 8956 skirt

When I started sewing I was more than a little frustrated by the complete lack of beginner patterns for styles I wanted to sew. Vogue 8956 is a skirt pattern I would have loved to have seen back then. It’s unusual and stylish, and it’s dead simple to make. And for bonus marks you get three views and two skirt lengths. I made view B  which is the version in the envelope photo below: the longer length with one side drape.

Vogue 8956 envelope art

Here is a less arty but clearer shot of it on me which shows that it really is a wrap skirt. That wrap stays put beautifully by the way. This is a well drafted pattern.

Here is the back. The fabric is a black wool flannel from Croft Mill. I also made a pair of trousers from this. It has a little bit of lycra in it, not enough to make it stretchy. I hoped the lycra would repel creases but it doesn’t seem to. It had to be ironed immediately before taking these photos.

The original pattern isn’t lined. I suspect that is to keep it simple, but it does mean you can see the wrong side of the fabric on the asymmetric version where the hem dips down, including the inside of the side seam. Lining the skirt hides all that and in theory should be fairly simple to do. The easiest way would be to hem the lining and the skirt separately. I decided to go a bit further and completely seal up the insides by making a hem facing for the skirt and attaching my lining to that. The next picture just shows the lining (black acetate/viscose satin from The Lining Company) and the hem facing.

I definitely won’t use this lining method again for this particular pattern. The hem facing reduces the drape of the skirt and needs a lot of help to stay up: I ended up catch stitching it to the skirt by hand. It was also a pain in the neck to make all the extra pattern pieces. And in a fit of madness I interfaced the hem facing which was fiddly to do and reduced the drape even more. Next time I make this I’ll hem the skirt and the lining separately. It would be great with a swishy taffeta lining. Incidentally the original pattern calls for making a narrow hem on the skirt, which sounds tricky in wool. I’d be inclined to go for matching bias binding turned to the inside.

I added side seam pockets. The one on the non-drapey side of the skirt tends to show a bit. I forgot to understitch the pocket bag which does not help. But for once I got the placement just right: not too high, not too low. The back pocket bag is made from the flannel and the front from lining.

The sizing on this one runs slightly smaller than I am used to in Vogue but I still needed to make one size down from what the size chart suggested. If in doubt look at the finished garment measurements on the tissue as they are much more helpful than the size chart. It’s also a generous length. I did not add to the length at all and I would normally add 5cm. I wouldn’t want it longer than it is.

I am very happy with this project. Someone at work even said they liked it and it’s very unusual for my colleagues to notice clothes at all. Now I just need to find the right fabric for the next version.

Burda 115-09-2015

Black Burda 118-09-2015

I’ve made these trousers once before but you always tweak a pattern second time around don’t you? I always seem to anyway. They are Burda 118 09/2015, wide legged menswear style trousers with turnups.

Burda 115-09-2015

The first version was a little too big in the waist. Perhaps because they rode lower than intended they also seemed slightly too long. This is a Tall pattern to start with and I didn’t add any length. For this pair I took in the waist and left the length alone, and they’ve come up a fraction too short. It’s not enough to make me unstitch the turnups and let them down, but next time I’ll add a very little to the length, maybe 2cm. There probably will be a next time although not for a while.

Burda 115-09-2015

This view shows the pleats and the very forward position of the side seams. When I took the waist in I did it by removing width just from the back pieces. There’s no space to take it out of the front.

Burda 115-09-2015

The fabric is a really lovely black wool flannel from Croft Mill with a little bit of elastane in it. It isn’t enough to make it stretchy but I guess it helps reduce creasing. Sadly it’s now sold out. The pocket bags are a scrap of heavyweight black satin lining I had left over from another project, and I used Vilene G700 interfacing. The pattern calls for interfacing on the waistband, welt pockets, and fly shield. I also put it on the front pocket edges but I still managed to stretch them out a bit.

These are practical trousers. The pockets are huge and they’re very comfortable and warm. But I like to think they’re a bit stylish too. I’ve mainly been wearing them with this black wool jersey t-shirt but I think they’d go with a short boxy top as well.

Burda 115-09-2015

Drape drape 2 no 6 black

Cosy drapery: wool jersey Drape Drape dress

This is a bit of everyday luxury: a fabric hogging pattern made in 100% wool double knit. I know I’m going to wear it a lot though. I’ve made the pattern before and it became one of my favourite dresses.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black front view

The pattern was originally style 6 from the Drape Drape 2 book. I’ve adapted it quite a bit to add sleeves and pockets. Lots of details on that at the post about my last version. For this iteration I only made minor changes. I moved the pockets up a couple more inches. I also added a centre back seam sewed wrong sides together on the overlocker to give the back a bit of interest. I tried to use the new seam to reduce the bagginess of the back but I didn’t go far enough because it’s still a bit loose.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black back view

One of the things I love about this is the pockets. They are very simple inseam ones but they make the dress so much more wearable. I used some mystery lightweight stretch interfacing on the opening edges to give them a bit of extra support. The front pocket lining is made from a scrap of heavy stretch satin woven I had left over from something or other. I think using wool for the lining would have been too bulky. Incidentally the wool fabric is from Croft Mill but they seem to have sold out. The satin almost certainly came from The Lining Company.

I sewed it with a size 100 ball point needle on the sewing machine as in places you are sewing through four or five thick layers and I didn’t think size 90 would cope. My overlocker was set up with size 90 stretch needles because I didn’t have any more size 100, but it struggled with anything more than two layers of the wool. It also completely refused to trim the edge on the the really thickly layered bits. I finally gave up on finishing the inside of the cowl nicely after breaking a needle on it. Maybe I need a new overlocker blade? But it might just be that I’m asking too much of the machine as it’s never been great at cutting very thick fabric.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black front view with pockets

I still find the construction of this pattern a bit of a mystery even though I’ve made it four times; I always have to look at the diagrams in the book to work out how to sew the cowl. The picture below shows a bit of the construction. The cowl has one edge free around the back of the neck and shoulders but that gets caught into the side seams further down. I should have pressed that side seam more, oops.

Drape drape 2 no 6 black side view

I’m very pleased with this. It’s really warm and easy to wear, but looks like I’ve made a bit of an effort. And speaking of (not) making an effort, I’ve stopped dyeing my hair. This is the first time my natural colour has ever appeared on the blog. Might keep it this way for a bit.

Grey skinny jeans – Burda 115-03-2014

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

I am in desperate need of practical clothes. By practical I mean warm, has pockets, and washable. So I made Burda’s classic five pocket jeans pattern again, in grey denim this time. I had a pair of grey skinny jeans ten plus years ago when Kate Moss made them achingly trendy, and I still have a soft spot for the style even though it probably now looks extremely dated.

The first picture (above) is how I’d normally wear them at this time of year, but below they are shown without the thick cardigan. The top they are shown with is Vogue 8866.

I adjusted the pattern a bit after my first attempt: took a bit off the leg length, did a full calf adjustment, took in the waist, and shortened the front crotch. Most of the adjustments worked well but I took way too much off the length. I’d forgotten what it is like to wear trousers that are too short. Annoying. I also messed up the fly and that zip tends to peek out a bit, but that was entirely a sewing error.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

Side view. I actually bothered to sew the ticket pocket on these, something I never use. Not sure it adds much but I did nice topstitching on it so that’s something. Talking of topstitching, I did fake flat fell seams on the inside legs with a double row of topstitching, and single topstitching on the centre back seam, the yoke, and the fly.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

Single topstitching on the back pockets, apart from the top edge. I never do designs on the back pockets. I can’t come up with anything I really like and I don’t mind them plain.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

I’ve still got lots of wrinkles on the back leg, although I think the front fit isn’t bad. The fabric has 2% Lycra (this one from Croft Mill) which helps.

Burda 115-03-2014 grey

So altogether not the best pair of jeans I’ve made. I’ll wear them but I know I can do much better!

Style Arc Genevieve front view collar up

Style Arc Genevieve finished

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.