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.

Brainteaser: Vogue 1400

Making this dress was a learning experience. It looked straightforward on the pattern envelope: a cotton shirt dress with very little shaping, rated Easy. But look a little more closely. The chest pockets are not simple patch pockets; they have tiny little gussets. There’s a slightly fiddly shoulder cut-out feature, which you probably can’t see on the first couple of pictures. And to get the prescribed clean internal finish on the neckline facing involves turning under and stitching smoothly around some extremely curved edges. Getting a good outcome on this one doesn’t call for a lot of fitting expertise, but it requires great precision at all stages of cutting and sewing. I found it a moderately challenging project; more of an “Average” than an “Easy”.

Vogue 1400

Here’s the original envelope picture. I kind of wish I’d made mine in white too, although I know that in reality I wouldn’t wear it much if I had. A lot of the detail is lost in a darker fabric, particularly that beautifully shaped neckline facing. I top-stitched mine on the machine (the original is hand top-stitched with a running stitch) and it blends in a bit too much. I also considerably shortened the front and back slits to make my version bra-friendly. Sizing is consistent with other Vogue patterns: as usual I made one size down from the one the size chart suggested and added 5cm length.

Vogue 1400 envelope photo

The shoulders are surprising. The small cutout gives a very square shouldered effect, especially from the back, despite the actual shoulder seam being dropped. If I made this again I think I might pinch out a bit on the back shoulder to soften the line. On the other hand, it’s certainly a dramatic effect. And it’s a version of the current cold shoulder trend that I actually like, which is unusual.

Vogue 1400

Choosing interfacing for this was tricky. The shell fabric is a black cotton poplin shirting from Croft Mill. I interfaced with Vilene G700, a lightweight woven fusible, and I think even that is a touch too heavy. But on the other hand you need some structure around the cutouts and the splits. Self fabric interfacing might work well.

Getting a clean edge on the facing is a nightmare. I block fused it, which was probably my first mistake. The pattern has you turn and press a tiny little hem, trim it down even further, and then edgestitch it. I stitched a guideline along the foldline first which was a great help but it was still tricky to do on the interfaced fabric and I burnt my fingers a few times. I am wondering if the facing would be better made of two layers of shell fabric stitched together and then turned out. Or perhaps even the technique where you sew a layer of fusible interfacing to the facing with the non-glued side of the fusible to the right side of the fabric, turn out, and then fuse the two layers together.

The instructions for facing the cutout edge along the top of the sleeve were similarly fiddly, although there I’m not sure I can come up with any improvement other than binding the whole armscye seam, which is also a faff and means making bias binding from the shell fabric. However there was an awful lot of ‘sew a 1.5cm seam and now trim this edge down’ in the directions where it would have been simpler to just cut pieces out the right size to start with and instruct the maker to use a smaller seam allowance.

Vogue 1400

I sound pretty grumpy here but in fact this pattern was a good workout for the brain and I have worn the end result. It needs a wide contrasting belt to look good, which is faff, but I like all the pockets! I’m kind of tempted to try making it again just to try out my construction thoughts…if only I had the time.

Birthday dress: Vogue 1305

Vogue 1305 front

This is Vogue 1305, a dress that at first sight might seem hopelessly impractical. It’s floor length, with only one sleeve and an open back. But it’s made for knit fabric and with a little bit of tweaking I think there’s an interesting but wearable summer dress to be found here. Here’s the envelope photo (no link to Vogue because the pattern’s no longer on their site):
I checked out a few reviews before making this and I’m very glad I did! Thanks to Erica BunkerHelen Sadler, and The Mahogany Stylist for very useful information about this pattern.

It’s clear that it runs amazingly long. I normally add four inches to Vogue patterns and I didn’t add a thing to this; it’s still slightly too long for me. Other than in length it is unusually small. I normally make a 10 in Vogue; this is a straight 14 and it’s just right.


The shell fabric is a lovely viscose jersey from Croft Mill which was a birthday present. The lining is a black polyester mesh from Tissu Fabrics; no link because it was an end of roll. Matching coloured lining fabric would have been slightly better than black  because the dress is lined to the edge, but grey mesh wasn’t available.
So on to some details. The left side has a walking split. As drafted it’s very short which makes this practically a hobble skirt. I lengthened mine to just above the knee so I can walk comfortably.
There’s a tiny bit of lining peeking out at the left armscye despite understitching. I should have interfaced the seamline there and also around the neck.
I added pockets by creating a horizontal seam across the front and putting inseam pockets in there.

Vogue 1305 side

Here’s the right side with all that wonderful draping. Several reviewers mentioned that their drapes flattened out and they had to sew pleats into the side seam to get the correct effect. Mine fall the correct way naturally. I suspect the difference might be that I didn’t skip adding the lining, which gives the shell a bit of extra support because the lining and shell seam allowances get sewn together down the right side seam. I also fused a strip of interfacing down the centre front and centre back seam allowances to help support the weight of the drapes.

Vogue 1305 right side

The original style has a centre back opening that goes down to the hips. I shortened mine to just above bra band level.

The dress isn’t very forgiving when seen from the back. It really clings at the hips; I’m very glad I made my true size which has a small amount of positive ease there.  Even with that wiggle room it pays to choose undies carefully. I’ll admit it took a lot of trying to get a photo of the back I was happy to put on the Internet. Not that this will stop me wearing it.

Vogue 1305 back

The pattern claims that you can wear the dress in a second way by putting your head through the sleeve seam opening. In fact if you look up photos of the designer original (I’ve collected a few on my Pinterest board for the pattern here) it’s worn that way in some shots. And it’s true that you can wear it like that, but only if you don’t mind the world seeing an inappropriate amount of chest though the original head opening. It’s OK if I stand extremely still but I will not be wearing it in real life like I am in the picture below.

Vogue 1305 alternative neckline

The pattern itself was a lot of fun to sew. The lining is inserted by bagging out so there is no hand sewing in this dress other than attaching the button. I constructed it all on a regular sewing machine – I threaded up the overlocker but never felt the need to use it. The instructions were fairly easy to follow but it helped that I’d made this sort of thing before.
This definitely isn’t a good ‘first knit’ project because the pattern pieces are huge. They were pretty difficult to cut out because I only had space to do one at a time. It really was a case of cutting piece each in turn while praying Vogue’s layout was correct and I wouldn’t run out of fabric on the last piece. Adding the pocket seam made the cutting out easier by reducing the size of the front pieces. It did all work out in the end but it was much the hardest part of making the dress.

One problem I noticed about the pattern: there are incorrect bodice lengthen/shorten lines on some of the pieces in my copy. And most people will want to shorten this dress.

So what’s the verdict? I love how it looks. It’s not quite as easy to wear as I’d hoped; a few inches off the length would help. I certainly couldn’t wear this to work. I can see myself making a shorter version at some point though.

Vogue 1305 pockets

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.

Vogue 9064 front view

Hidden gem: Vogue 9064

Vogue 9064 is a pattern that’s been lurking in my stash for so long it went out of print before I sewed it up. That’s not quite as bad as it sounds as this one seems to have had an unusually short shelf life. It was released in winter 2014. I’m not sure exactly when it went out of print but we’re now in spring 2017 and it’s definitely no longer available. I guess it didn’t sell well because I can’t find any reviews of it online. Which surprises me, because I loved it as soon as I saw it. Here’s my favourite view from the envelope art. The top is the piece I was drawn to, but the skirt is included as well. There’s also a pair of simple elastic-waist trousers.

Vogue 9064 envelope art

I’ve been trying to sew from my stash lately so I didn’t have a lot of fabric choice for this project. The grey and black linen I used was left over from my Vogue 1390 dress. There wasn’t enough of either colour left to make the pattern up exactly like the envelope. I’ve made the sleeve bands much deeper and cut them from the contrast colour, and added a deep hem band to match. There’s no collar either.

Vogue 9064 front view

It looks like a very simple kimono sleeve top at first glance but it’s a little unusual. The sleeves are kimono sleeves (cut in one with the bodice) at the front but regular sleeves at the back. You have to set in half a sleeve on the back bodice, which gives you a t-shaped back to go with the t-shaped front, and then sew front and back together along the overarms and underarms. I don’t understand why it’s designed like this because it seems to give the worst of both worlds in some respects; the baggy fit of a kimono sleeve with the aggravation of having to set in a sleeve. Having said that it’s very comfortable to wear, and there wasn’t a lot of ease in the back sleeve seam so it was more straightforward to set in than I expected. Maybe someone who knows about pattern cutting can explain the choice?

I’m slightly surprised the front contrast panel doesn’t go around to the back. I’m not sure if I like that or not. I wasn’t bothered enough to alter it though.

Vogue 9064 side view

The linen frays like nothing on earth so I flat felled all the seams except the centre back. I’ve somehow avoided ever making flat fell seams in the past and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t difficult, even on the curved seams. I did the slightly easier version where you sew the fabric right sides together first so all you see on the outside is a top stitched seam. It also helps that linen presses well.

The centre back seam has a zip so I pressed that one open and overlocked the seam allowance edges. I could have bound the edges instead to get a really clean finish throughout, but didn’t think of it in time. The zip itself isn’t absolutely needed but it certainly makes life easier when getting dressed. I might skip it in a stretch fabric. It’s a centred zip because that’s all I had handy. Don’t look too hard at my topstitching.

Vogue 9064 back view

I made my usual Vogue size, which is one smaller than the pattern envelope suggests. I checked the ease before picking the size and it fits fine but I really wouldn’t want it any smaller than this. Doesn’t help that I didn’t lower the bust darts so they’re not in quite the right place.

Vogue 9064 full length

I’m pretty happy with the end result. I’d like to make it again in something warmer for winter: boiled wool maybe, or melton.

Construction notes

  • Black and grey linen from Truro fabrics
  • Size 90 universal needle and black thread
  • Vilene F220 interfacing on the neck facing and along the zip seam
  • Flat fell seams throughout except centre back
  • Next time bind the centre back seam and lower the bust darts

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