Probable failure: Vogue 1268

Not every sewing project works out well. Here is a recent failure: Vogue 1268 in green fake suede fabric. You might be thinking it’s pretty strange to make a long-sleeved, lined, polyester dress in summer and you’d be right. Not all stash-busting is a good idea. And that was only the first mistake.

V1268 is a Guy Laroche designer pattern that came out a few years ago. The envelope photo is below. It’s got an unusually baggy top half, and all the reviews of the pattern that I’ve found mention that the bodice runs very long. After reading the reviews I checked the back length on the pattern tissue. It has a handy marking to show how much blousing there’s meant to be, and it’s a very generous amount. If you remove the blousing allowance then the back length matches the Vogue measurement chart, to which I’d normally add 5cm, but given the reviewers’ comments I left the bodice length alone and added about 5cm to the skirt length instead. I also added side seam pockets, hem facings, and tweaked the lining pattern so I could do a bagged lining with the skirt lining completely attached to the hem and front facings. The original dress has a raw hem on the shell fabric and the lining is hemmed separately and attached to the dress at the front facings and waist seam. 

Here’s the back view. I didn’t do a good job on pressing the hem but let’s ignore that for now. There’s a bit of pulling at the back hip which I notice is present on Vogue’s model too. The waist is close-fitting. I made my usual size (for Vogue this is one size down from what the size chart indicates) and while it’s not uncomfortable there isn’t a lot of expansion room at the waist. I probably should have traced a size bigger. This seems to be happening more and more with Vogue for me despite checking the finished garment measurements before cutting. But overall the back isn’t bad.

But now look at it from the side. The right bodice front is much too long and sags unattractively over the waist seam. There is no sign of this in the pattern photo, but the model’s shoulders are amazingly square. Could there be shoulder pads in there? I could swear the pattern doesn’t mention them. It might explain why the sleeves are a bit longer on me than the model too.

I thought about trying to take up the extra length at the waist seam but the slanting shape of the right skirt front means this involves losing width in the wrap, and I really don’t like wrap dresses with a skimpy overlap. I finished the dress in the hope that it would be wearable in the end despite the bodice, but I’m pretty dubious now I’ve tried it on.
On the good side: my bagged lining worked perfectly. Behold the entirely machine-finished hem/facing/lining junction! And just ignore the lack of pressing.

There are other good things about this make. The sleeves went in easily, which was good because the fake suede does not like to be eased, and they are comfortable to wear with a good range of motion. I like the cuffs too. In fact if I’d shortened the bodice front on the pattern in advance I think I’d be really pleased with the result. 

I’m going to hang onto the dress until the autumn as I don’t think I’ll know how truly wearable it is until cold weather comes along. My hopes are not high but perhaps the magic wardrobe will transform it in the next few months.

Vintage Butterick 3108

Butterick 3108 front view

Can there be a more 1970s fabric than orange polyester suede? I found some on a trip to Goldhawk Road a couple of years ago and something possessed me to buy a couple of metres. Whatever plans I had for it then didn’t come to fruition and it’s been sitting in my stash ever since. The day finally came when the stash overflowed and the suede had to be matched with a pattern or else given away. But what pattern to choose?

I was vaguely inspired by the lines of the Louis Vuitton Fall 2014 collection: dresses with big pointy collars, front zip closures, and a-line skirts. Look 23 from the collection is a good example of the sort of thing. Unsurprisingly the most suitable pattern I could find with those features was a vintage one: Butterick 3108.

Butterick 3108 envelope front

Pattern envelope pictures sometimes lie, but this one is a pretty accurate representation of the finished dress. The collar is just as large and pointy as I was hoping for. The skirt is nowhere near as short as the Louis Vuitton dresses, but as I’m hoping to wear this to cycle in that’s not a bad thing.

I added top-stitching on the princess seams for a bit of interest. I also made patch pockets. I’m not entirely happy with those. They have come out too close to the centre front despite my best efforts to choose a pleasing position.

Butterick 3108 front full length

Luckily I was able to get a copy of the pattern in my size so I didn’t have to make a lot of adjustments to the beyond adding length. The main change I made was to redraw the top of the sleeve pattern piece to remove all the sleeve cap ease. I didn’t fancy my chances of setting in the original sleeve without wrinkles as the suede has no elasticity at all. I’m pleased with the fit on the body, but the sleeves are very restrictive. Whatever I did to the sleeve caps obviously wasn’t quite right! And now I look at the pictures it could do with a touch more width at the back hip.

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I made a couple of other small changes to accommodate the unforgiving fabric. I pleated the sleeves into the cuffs instead of gathering them. And the hem is faced rather than turned up. The hem allowance on the original pattern is two inches and isn’t tapered at all so there would be a lot of extra length to ease in if you tried to turn it up. I doubt that would work well even in cotton or wool fabric, never mind unshrinkable polyester.

The zip is brown because the orange is impossible to match and brown continues the 70s theme. The neck and hem facings are finished with some brown satin bias binding I had left over from another project. Unfortunately I didn’t change thread from orange to brown when sewing the zip in and the orange stitching shows up a bit against the brown zip tape, but I did remember for the binding. Not that you can see the stitching in the pictures anyway so I doubt anyone will notice.

Butterick 3108 side view

I’ve made the fabric sound awful but it does have some good points: it’s easy to sew, it’s machine washable, and it’s very warm to wear. I’ll be glad of the insulation when autumn arrives.

New fabric horizons

Vogue 1317

This dress is made from the most amazing polyester suede fabric. It’s so strokable that every time I put the project down I found myself missing the texture. It comes from Minerva Crafts in a range of colours. It was easy to sew. I needed to use a leather needle but otherwise it was just like any heavy woven.

The pattern is Vogue 1317, a recent Chado Ralph Rucci design. Suede is one of the suggested fabrics on the envelope back otherwise I doubt I’d have thought of it. The other suggestion is lightweight doubleknit. Here’s Vogue’s version. I’m not sure which, if either, theirs is made from. Or what the photographer was thinking when asking for that pose from the model.

Vogue 1317 envelope art

What’s not entirely obvious from either photo is all the top-stitching on this style. There’s a lot: like many of the Chado Ralph Rucci styles almost every seam is edge-stitched and top-stitched. The line art gives some idea of what’s involved. It took me two weeks of serious sewing to complete it all.

Vogue 1317 technical drawing

This is the back gusset seam on my dress. I made an effort with the top-stitching here so it’s fairly even (for me). As the project wore on and on and some major fitting issues become apparent I got a lot more slapdash! Luckily it’s not obvious unless you get very close.

Vogue 1317 topstitching detail

Where this dress went wrong is the sizing. I’d read some reviews which said that it came up very small so I checked the finished garment measurements on the pattern carefully and based on those went up a size from my usual Vogue size. Even then I needed to let out almost the whole of the extra wide seam allowance at the centre back seam. You’re supposed to use that extra allowance to do a bias bound finish on the fabric edges without the zip tape getting in the way. As it is those edges are simply zigzagged and very untidy, but at least I can zip the dress up. Either the finished garment measurements are optimistic, I’ve got a lot bigger, or something I did in the processing of the seams has taken out some width.

This is about the best picture I’ve got of the back. It looks like I’ve lengthened the bodice a bit too much although I’m sure some of those wrinkles are just from the way I’m standing. I certainly overdid lengthening the sleeves.

Vogue 1317

It has tiny little pockets. They’re slightly bigger than this picture makes them appear but you couldn’t safely put a phone or a lot of keys in them. I don’t think they’re entirely useless though. It’s always good to have somewhere to stash a tissue or some screws you just took out of something and don’t want to lose.

Vogue 1317

Although this hasn’t been a completely successful project I can’t help thinking there’s a really great dress somewhere in this pattern. The shape is lovely and the suede fabric is wonderfully tactile. I’ve got some more polyester suede and I’m going to try again, with a bigger size this time. But first I’ll make something nice and easy, I need a break!

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