Remember the 80s? Big baggy tunic tops worn over leggings, a triangular silhouette, lots of lycra. This is the Style Arc Hedy dress, and it would fit right in there. For me it was love at first sight.
Absolutely the best thing about this dress is that it has pockets cleverly integrated into the design. They’re standard inseam pockets but the way they are placed in the curved front seams means they hang very well and don’t mess up the lines of the dress.
I made this in a shiny grey mystery knit bought on Goldhawk Road last year. I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s a fairly stable doubleknit construction but the hand is very drapey and slippery, and it’s shinier than most of the “scuba” knits I’ve seen. There was a lot of the stuff around at the time; I saw it in several different shops and lots of colours were available. It washes well and needs no ironing at all. It’s completely artificial fibre but I guess in the right light it could double for silk jersey. Come to think of it, this pattern would be amazing made up in silk jersey. Love those seamlines.
Here’s a better look at the underlying shape. The dress comes in two lengths and this is the shorter, “knee-length”, version. I deliberately didn’t make any pattern adjustments so it is not a surprise that it came out pretty short – I normally add between two and four inches length to most dress patterns. I like the proportion as it is though. I think the pattern runs true to size although with so much ease it’s hard to tell. Anyway I made the size closest to my measurements rather than going down one as I do with Big Four.
It’s a fairly easy sew. You don’t need an overlocker. I used mine for the side seams and to finish some edges because it’s fast, but the rest of the dress was constructed on my regular machine. I sewed the hems with a regular zigzag stitch because I was too lazy to fight with my twin needle and I wanted to wear the dress quickly.
The pattern instructions are Burda-style minimal, although unlike with Burda there are diagrams provided for the trickier bits, such as folding the neckline pleat. I like that the instructions include interfacing everywhere it’s needed. I’m very impressed with the overall quality of the pattern. Everything matched up beautifully and the industrial-standard seam allowances used made sewing it easy and accurate.
It has already passed the wearability test. I made it just before Christmas and it’s been worn about twice a week ever since. There may be another one of these soon if I find the right fabric.
I never intended this top and skirt to be worn as a set, but I think they work together and produce a sort of 60s effect – maybe a bit Courrèges? My first thought when I looked in the mirror was ‘oh dear this is Jackie Kennedy goes into space’. I therefore decided against wearing big sunglasses for the pictures.
They’re both made from mystery silver sweater knit which I bought on Goldhawk Road some time in 2014. The new garment in this post is the skirt. I had 4m of the fabric and I made two fairly fabric hungry tops out of it, but there was just enough left after that to make the very practical skirt from Vogue 1247.
The top in the pictures dates is based on Vogue 1335 and the details are here. The other top I made is Burda 109-10-2015.
This top is quite long, which makes the skirt pockets less useful than they might otherwise be when worn together.
The pockets on this implementation of the skirt can sag a bit when you put things in them. The pattern was not intended for knits. The pockets on my woven version behave much better than this. I probably should have done something to stabilize the top edge when I made the knit one.
Despite being made in a knit this skirt still needed a zip because it’s lined in a woven – a heavy black polyester satin lining fabric which was also left over from another project. The original design isn’t meant to be lined but it’s very easy to do: cut out the skirt fronts and backs again in lining (folding the pocket bag extensions out of the way) and sew them up with tucks instead of darts, leaving a gap in the top of the centre back seam for the zip opening. I then machined the lining opening edges to the zip opening edges on the skirt shell, and then basted the shell and lining together around the top before adding the waistband. This gives a nice neat finish without any hand sewing required around the zip. I did hand sew the shell hem though; the fabric is actually a very fine silver and black stripe and a machined hem would have looked a bit odd as it would have cut across the stripes.
Despite the woven lining the skirt is quite drapey and shapeless in the knit. Very different from the woven version! The top in the pictures has more body than the skirt because every piece on that is interfaced.
The only thing I interfaced on the skirt was the waistband. If I was doing this over again I’d definitely interface the whole skirt but it’s perfectly wearable as it is. I made it a month or two ago and it’s been in fairly regular rotation for work. I normally wear it with the black polo neck jumper in the picture above which is an old make loosely based on Burda 122-04-2011.
Thanks as ever to my husband for taking the pictures!
Burda’s having a good streak lately and the October 2015 issue was a case in point. It normally takes me months to get around to sewing up patterns that catch my eye, but Burda 109-10-2015 was traced, cut and completed within a few weeks of the issue arriving. This is a loose-fitting top pattern designed for heavy-weight knitted fabrics. It has a big collar and a shaped hem. Unusually for a knit pattern the body is cut on the bias, so it’s great for showing off fabrics with a stripe. My fabric is striped silver and black but the pitch is so fine it doesn’t show up in the photos.
This is a very quick pattern to sew. As it’s for knits you wouldn’t even need to bother finishing the seams if you didn’t want to, although I did for this one because the overlocker happened to be threaded in black. The only difficult part is inserting the zip. Not only are you inserting an invisible zip on a heavy and stretchy fabric, it’s positioned in a curved seam. Don’t skip the interfacing around the zip. Burda recommends Vilene bias tape; I went for strips of Vilene F220 because that was what was to hand but it was probably a little on the heavy side. You could omit the zip entirely of course, but with it in it’s possible to wear the collar in different ways. Here it is zipped up and folded over.
On whole I prefer the collar unzipped. The back hangs a bit strangely when the collar is zipped up and folded over, and my fabric’s a bit too floppy to look good with the collar zipped and unfolded. It’s not just the way I’m standing in the picture either; all of the pictures we took of the back had strange wrinkles with the collar folded over.
Unzipping it allows the back to hang much more naturally.
I found the sleeves on this one came out strangely short. They’re definitely bracelet length on me, whereas on Burda’s model photos they come well over the hands. On my version they align nicely with the shaped hem which Burda’s don’t either. I am pretty sure I forgot to add any extra length or hem allowances when I traced the sleeve piece and so the shortness is my fault not the pattern’s. Next time I’d definitely make the sleeves longer.
This top is proving a firm favourite. I think it’s a pattern that will only work with exactly the right fabric, so I doubt I’ll be making it again soon, but I’m enjoyig the one I’ve got.
- 1.8(ish) metres of mystery silver and black knit fabric
- Size 90 universal needle
- 9″ invisible zip. 8″ would have been better.
- Vilene F220 interfacing around the zip. No other interfacing used.
- Added 2″ to body, forgot to add any length or hem allowance to sleeves
Do you wash fabric as soon as you’ve bought it, or only when you’re about to use it? I’m firmly in the latter camp, which meant that my sewing plans were abruptly derailed when my washing machine broke down recently. However I did have the remains of a length of silver polycotton twill which I’d already washed and made three garments from. You’ve previously seen as trousers, a jacket, and a skirt. It’s from Truro Fabrics and at the time of writing is still available.
I’d bought Vogue 9112 in a recent pattern sale, intending to make it out of black cotton poplin at some point in the future. It’s a very asymmetric, trapeze-line design that looks as if it needs a crisp fabric. Here’s one of the envelope pictures.
Cutting this out was a big job. The design means that everything has to be cut single layer, and I was slightly short of fabric as I’d lengthened the pattern and I wanted to cut two of the collar and make it double layered. It took me a few goes to fit all the pieces in without messing up the grain. My fabric had a small discoloured patch which was impossible to cut around, but I managed to get it on the back and fairly close to a seamline. I can’t see it in any of the photos.
This pattern is very short out of the envelope and has no adjustment lines. It’s probably easiest to add length at the hem but I needed to add a lot and didn’t want to mess with the proportions so I slashed and spread in two places: just above the bust point and between the bust and waist. All the curved and slanted seams made that more difficult than it normally is and I messed up repositioning few of the notches. That made the dress a little harder to sew but I’m glad I added the length as the hem is mid-thigh at the shortest points even with the extra. (Actual measurements for anyone who’s making this: I added two inches and I’m 5’10”.)
One thing I love about this dress is that it has roomy pockets. You can just about see them in the picture below. This is also a good shot of the gathered panels. As usual my gathers are a mess if you look at them closely – I just can’t get fabric to gather evenly no matter what I do. I don’t think it matters here though.
I made the collar double-layer (cut two copies, make the collar pleats in both, sew them right sides together around the top edge and ends, turn out) and added sew-in interfacing to one collar piece to make absolutely sure it would stand up. Otherwise I sewed the dress up exactly as the pattern suggested: bias binding finish on the armholes and at the collar-neckline junction; top-stitching around the neckline; and narrow hem. The lack of closures mean it’s quite a quick sew despite all the curved seams.
This is a very comfortable dress to wear – unsurprising given how easy-fitting it is. It’s an interesting style and I think the pockets will mean it gets a lot of use. I’m definitely tempted to go back and make it again in the black cotton poplin I’d originally intended. Or maybe black taffeta? I think it would be good in any fabric with a little sheen to show off the seamlines and gathers.
I’ll admit I’m mildly obsessed with making shiny trousers. Up until now my experiments have all been skinny jeans made from Burda 103-07-2010. This however is Burda 115-12-2009, a pattern for wide legged trousers with interesting curved seams. Sadly I can’t find it in the Burda online pattern store or I’d link to it. The technical drawing will have to do.
What you can’t see on the drawing is that here are no side seams; the side front panel wraps round the back to the inside leg seam. I always think trousers look better with a bit of detail on the back. The curved yoke seam on these is much faster to sew than back pockets but has the same effect of breaking up the expanse of backside. And I never use back pockets anyway. Instead there are nifty little inseam pockets in the front yoke. They look lovely but they’re unfortunately a little on the small side. OK for keys and cards but I wouldn’t get my phone in them.
The trousers are made from yet more of the metallic stretch twill fabric I got from Truro Fabrics recently. Technically speaking it’s not a great choice for this style. The shine means that every single wrinkle is hugely visible. I swear they’re not too small – they feel fine on – but in these pictures they certainly look a bit clingy. I think the pattern was intended for a sturdier fabric. The pattern instructions simply say ‘trouser fabrics’ (thanks for that insight, Burda!) but the finished garments in the magazine are made from gaberdine and corduroy; ie heavier weight than my twill and lacking stretch. This all sounds negative, but in fact I like my version a lot. I was going for a practical style with a twist; a colleague described them as looking ‘industrial’ which on reflection I think is a success.
One thing I still haven’t got the hang of with Burda is how much length to add to their trousers. I know exactly how much length I need to add to bodices for Burda, and based on that plus the difference between my height and the height they design for I should be able work out exactly how much length to add to the legs. But it always comes out too much. I took an inch off these before hemming them and I’m wearing them with platform boots here. Still, better too long than the opposite. I know I should just add less to the length, regardless of calculations, but I’m always paranoid that the next pair are going to be the ones to come up disastrously short.
These seem to be passing the wearability test with flying colours. I’m keeping them for work because of the pockets – I still don’t have enough clothes with pockets – but I’d happily wear them at the weekend too. I might make this pattern again one day. There’s an alternative view with combat trouser details (side pockets with flaps, bellows pockets on the thighs, belt loops) which I’m quite tempted by, to the extent that I’ve traced off the extra pieces. Might have to go up a size though!
Thanks for all your suggestions about what to wear with my silver Guy Laroche jacket! I think a little black dress might be the way to go. By contrast the skirt half of the suit is ridiculously easy to wear. It goes really well with a black t-shirt and ankle boots. For once the pictures are of an outfit I wore all day. I’ll admit I usually get out the impractical shoes and put on some extra makeup for blog photos, but not these. Also, nothing has been pressed.
Here’s the envelope art. I don’t know how useful any notes on sizing will be as it’s long out of print, but this one comes up unusually small. I normally have to go down a size from the correct one for my measurements in Vogue to get a garment that looks and feels right. After measuring the (lack of) ease on 2607 I cut my true size and even then both the jacket and skirt came up very close fitting.
I added in-seam pockets as you can see below. The hem is also very visible in this picture. The original pattern has something like a 1.75″ hem allowance but as the skirt is very flared this makes it very difficult to get a smooth even hem. I reduced the hem allowance to an inch and overlocked the raw edge to draw it in as much as I could before top-stitching it. No way was I hand-sewing that much hem on such an unforgiving fabric. (The fabric is a silver metallic twill from Truro Fabrics; it’s very shiny and stitches do not exactly sink into it.)
The back view on this is unusual. The technical drawing doesn’t show it but the skirt hangs in a slightly strange way; the centre back seam sticks out at the hem. I presume it’s to do with the way the grain is arranged. I’m not sure if I like the effect or not, but I can’t see it when I’m wearing the skirt so I tend to forget about it. The only other thing to say about the back view is that I swapped the centred zip for a lapped one. I always use Kathleen Fasanella‘s lapped zip method. There’s a certain amount of faffing with the pattern required to alter the seam allowances for this process, but it’s worth it because the zip goes in neatly first time.
Unlike the jacket I have worn this a lot. By the time I got around to getting pictures it had already been washed at least once. Funny how these things work out.
I originally had great plans for posts about this jacket. I made a toile and did pattern adjustments. I used non-standard seam allowances and two different sorts of interfacing. There are sleeve heads and a very unusual fastening. But it’s how it came out that counts, so this is going to be about the end result and not the process.
It is from Vogue 2607, a Guy Laroche suit pattern that’s long out of print. I was attracted by the collar and the relatively simple style. I wasn’t convinced I’d be able to execute the double welt pockets flawlessly so I switched them to single welts, but otherwise didn’t change any design details.
The fabric is a silver metallic twill from Truro Fabrics. It has a slight stretch. At the time of writing it’s still available. I found it in the denim and chambray section but it’s lighter weight than what I think of as denim; it wouldn’t be good for jeans for example. The jacket is interfaced throughout the body as per the pattern instructions but you can see on the sleeves that the fabric has a bit of drape. The jacket is lined in a black poly stretch satin from The Lining Company.
The collar on this is enormous. I haven’t really worked out how to wear it. It can get in the way when worn up (see picture below!) but folding it down seems a bit of a shame. In fact it’s not just the collar: the whole jacket is very difficult to style. It’s come out rather more formal-looking than I intended. The black jeans and boots I’m wearing in these pictures are the best I’ve come up with so far but I wonder if this one isn’t best kept for weddings!
The pockets have come out a bit more clearly on the picture below. They are very shallow; about deep enough for a credit card or your keys but nothing more. I wish now that I’d made zipped pockets instead of the welt pockets as they’d make the style more casual.
So, honest options? Should it be reserved for weddings and christenings and if so what on earth do I wear with it, jeans probably not being appropriate? Or can this be made to work for every day?