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

Save

Save

Leftovers: Vogue 1247 skirt

Vogue 1247

I always seem to overestimate how much fabric I need for any project and end up with a piece left over that’s too big to throw away but too small to do a lot with. The skirt from Vogue 1247 (sadly now out of print)  is a great use for such leftovers. I got this one out of a 70cm length of 150cm wide grey denim left over from my Burda 115 12/2009 trousers. Come to think of it, exactly the same thing happened with the leftovers from my previous version of those trousers. The denim was from Truro Fabrics but is now sold out.

Here’s the line art. I have never made the top, but the pattern is worth tracking down for the skirt alone. It is a simple style but beautifully implemented. Most importantly, it has pockets! And they are not an afterthought but an integral part of the design. Incidentally I’ve just noticed that the line art of the back view has a mistake. The zip doesn’t actually run to the top of the waistband. Instead the waistband has an underlap and closes with a hook and bar. The zip stops just below it as you’d expect.

Vogue 1247 line art

The original skirt pattern is seriously short. My version is lengthened by something like six inches. Admittedly I’m pretty tall but I don’t normally have to add length below the waist on any Vogue pattern. The original also has next-to-no ease. If you’re making this, check the finished garment measurements before picking a size; I found I needed to go one bigger than I usually do.

The original skirt has seams finished with bias binding throughout. It’s a beautiful effect but very time consuming to do. It’s much quicker to line the skirt than bind all the seams and in fact I prefer it lined. The first time I made this pattern I did the bound seams but that version of the skirt sticks to my tights and rides up. The lined versions don’t. This one’s lined with a large scrap of black satin lining I had left over from another project. I think it might be The Lining Company’s acetate/viscose satin.

I also used the lining fabric for the front pocket bags. The back pocket bags were cut out of the denim. The original pattern has the back pocket bag pieces cut in one with the skirt yoke but I cut them separately to save fabric. I also interfaced the front yoke just above the pockets to try to avoid any sagging and it seems to have worked.

Vogue 1247

I added some yellow topstitching to this version of the skirt. It’s just about visible in the photos. The grey denim needs the extra interest. I topstitched the yoke seam on the panels before inserting the zip or sewing the side seams so I had to be very careful about matching the topstitching lines up afterwards. Later I realized that I could have done it the other way around, sewing one continuous line of topstitching around the yoke starting and finishing at the centre back zip after I’d put the skirt together completely. This would probably have been easier to do. The eye is drawn to the topstitching and not the seamlines so it also would have disguised any failure to match the seamlines precisely at the side seams and centre back.

Vogue 1247

I expect I’ll make another version of this pattern any time I have a suitable leftover piece of fabric. The pockets are nicely roomy, it’s comfortable to wear, and if you skip the seam binding it’s a pretty fast sew.

Vogue 1247

Notes:

 

  • Vilene H250 interfacing on waistband, zip seam allowances, and front yoke above pockets. It was probably too heavy for the zip allowances.
  • YKK invisible zip, somewhat longer than the original pattern called for
  • Size 90 denim needle for main seams
  • Size 100 denim needle and Gutermann 968 denim gold top-stitch thread for top-stitching
  • Single row of topstitching on yoke seam and hem. Double row on side seams. None on waistband because it’s such a high waisted style it’s not visible

 

Vogue 1378 leggings in grey scuba

Vogue 1378 grey scuba side view

There are a lot of garments in this picture – that’s winter for you – but the one this post is about is the grey scuba knit leggings. I cut these out in October and have been sewing them up a tiny bit at a time when the baby is safely asleep. You might think that this is a very long time to take over making a pair of leggings even given that constraint, but in my defence these are not ordinary leggings. There’s a lot of decorative lapped seaming and topstitching which makes them quite a big project. They’re based on the trousers from the discontinued Vogue 1378 Donna Karan pattern. Line art below:

Vogue 1378 line art

You can’t really see it in the line art but the pattern has a vertical opening at the bottom of the leg where those four parallel rows of topstitching are. I’ve always thought that looks a bit odd so I eliminated it. The previous time I made this pattern I did it by overlapping the two pattern pieces for the lower leg and cutting them as one, but I didn’t like the end result because the topstitching fades into the background without a seamline next to it. For this version I cut the two separate pieces but sewed the opening shut by doing the topstitching through both the layers. That way the seam and topstitching matches the other decorative lapped seams in the garment.

Vogue 1378 grey scuba closeup

These are my usual size in Vogue, which is one size down from what the measurement chart would suggest I make. I normally find that works out fairly well. These have zero ease at the hip on me. I had to add some extra width below the knee to make them go over my large calves. I wish I’d taken them in at the ankle because I intended these as leggings not trousers, hence the skirt over the top. The other adjustment I made was to raise the waist. As drafted these came up much lower on me than the intended one inch below the natural waist.

My fabric is a scuba knit from Tissu Fabrics (long since sold out or I’d link it; they have other colours of scuba available though). It was easy to sew but tricky to trim evenly for the lapped seams. You can probably see the edges look a bit ragged in the picture below. It’s also a little too stretchy for the design; I’ve popped a bit of the topstitching since making these. My previous pair in neoprene worked a lot better because it’s that little bit more stable. The neoprene is also thick enough that I can wear that pair without a skirt over the top; the new pair are far too clingy for that.

Vogue 1378 grey scuba back view

So, probably not my most perfect or flattering make but they are warm and washable so I’ve worn them quite a lot since finishing them. You can’t say fairer than that.

Vogue 1378 grey scuba

Save

Vogue 1482 purple

Purple peril – Vogue 1482 again

Vogue 1482 purple 3/4 view

I liked my pink Vogue 1482 dress so much I made a second version. This one’s made up from a deep purple crepe de chine from Macculloch and Wallis. It’s a fibre blend I’ve not come across before: 20% silk and 80% acetate. Macculloch and Wallis describe it as having a very matt finish but I think that must mean by comparison to other crepe de chines. It’s not as shiny as a satin but it definitely has a bit of a sheen to it. It also creases as soon as you look at it. I ironed the dress before we took these pictures so you’re seeing it at its best here. The good news is that the creases will drop out on their own if the dress is hung up for a few hours so ironing isn’t strictly compulsory.

I had horrible doubts while sewing this as to whether the fabric was really suitable for the outside of a garment or should be kept for lining (the Selfish Seamstress’s epic rant on the subject has stuck with me) but it seems to have come out OK. And the fabric’s very pleasant to wear and wasn’t any more difficult to sew than any very lightweight fabric.

I cut this one out by laying the pattern on the fabric, chalking around the pattern pieces, and then removing the pattern and cutting along the chalk line. I find this method works better for me on very lightweight fabrics than trying to cut out around the pattern while it’s still on the fabric, which just leads to lots of messy jagged edges.

I used a self-fabric covered button for the back closure. There’s something strangely satisfying about making those up, although I suspect it would rapidly get boring if a garment needed lots of them. Just as with the pink version I had to make the self fabric loop for the back closure much skinnier than the pattern directs. I also meant to shorten the split this time, but forgot. Oh well.

Vogue 1482 back view

The long bias seam across the front has not come out brilliantly on this version. It looks fine when laid flat but there’s quite a bit of rippling when I’m wearing the dress as you can see in the picture below. With 20/20 hindsight it might have been better to stabilize the bias edges with some very lightweight interfacing and sew a conventional seam there rather than the French seam the pattern instructions use. And actually the seam doesn’t need to be on the bias; what I really like about this pattern is the overall shape of it and the pocket, and the pocket could just as well go in a horizontal seam. The seam doesn’t incorporate shaping so would be easy to change. I’d be inclined to make it slightly curved rather than dead straight across if I did change it as I think that would look more flattering.

Vogue 1482 showing bias seam

This version has the same pattern adjustments as the pink one: it’s the size medium with two inches length added at the hem and two inches added on the sleeves, split evenly between the cuff and the sleeve piece. This is a size bigger than I normally make in Vogue but my usual length adjustments. The exact choice of size in this style makes very little difference as it fits where it touches and nowhere else. Perfect for hot weather. I’m also hoping I might be able to keep it going a bit with leggings and a long sleeved t-shirt underneath when the summer finally ends because I love the colour.

Vogue 1482 purple back view