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Category: pattern reviews

buttoned up: vogue 9182

A few weeks ago I set a lofty goal to make quite a few new pieces for summer. With it hovering around 100 degrees here almost daily now, I’m in desperate need of clothes to help me survive the heat. So, long gone are the projects with full linings and zippers and sleeves. In their place are all the things I not only love to make but will also get a lot of use out of this season (hello, linen and floaty dresses and swishy blouses and wide leg pants!). The two dresses in today’s post are certainly on that list.

I have a standing date with my pattern stash every couple of weeks, where I look for inspiration or pull a pattern that has been patiently waiting for its turn to be whipped into something pretty. I can’t remember when I bought Vogue 9182, but I think I’ve had it for quite some time and I stood out to me during a recent dig through the stash. I’d been hesitant to use it because it exposes a little more skin than I’m used to and for a long, long time I was averse to anything sleeveless. Well, I’ve finally kicked the “I can’t wear sleeveless things” silliness, and to get a little more skin coverage I simply raised the back pattern so it covers my back completely.

The red gingham is from Fabric.com, and the creamy white linen is from Textile Fabrics in Nashville. It’s a Ralph Lauren linen suiting, so it’s quite substantial and weighty. I have enough of it left to make an embroidered jacket later this summer. Excited about that.

I initially wanted to make the red gingham version to take to Nashville last month, but time got the best of me before I could finish it. As soon as I got home, I not only finished it but turned around and made a second version because I liked it so much. (And I got the perfect fabric for it in Nashville, so the stars aligned.) Maybe it’s the buttons or maybe the full skirt (maybe both?), but this dress is just dreamy to me. I love it.

I only made a few adjustments to the pattern for the red gingham dress: a swayback adjustment and I raised the back pattern pieces for full back coverage. I also combined the back and side back pieces so that the back bodice piece could be one single piece. Because I was short on time I skipped making a muslin which, as you well know, is not something I normally ever skip. I knew, based on the finished garment measurements, that the dress would fit nicely and any small adjustments could be made later. I was happy with the fit of the red gingham dress, but for the white linen version I raised the side seams for more coverage under the arms and shaped the front princess seams for a more flattering fit.

This is what the back pattern pieces look like after the adjustments were made. And, again, I would usually trace my tissue pattern pieces on paper and make adjustments from there (to avoid messing with the tissue), but time was not on my side.

And here’s how the back looks on me. I have the coverage I need, and it’s nice and smooth because of the swayback adjustment. You can also see the difference raising the side seams under the arms made to the white dress. I raised the side seams by 1 1/2″, and I think the additional coverage is a little more flattering.

And the front pieces:

The skirt for this pattern is a full circle, and I went with the longer length in view B, which is 31 1/2″ from the waist. Both skirts needed to be leveled (more info on that here).

Matching the pattern on the gingham dress was a task that made me go a little cross-eyed, but I’m happy with the end result. I told myself I wouldn’t be using any gingham or stripes or plaid for a while after this, but what did I do but turn around and start working on a madras plaid shirtdress. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.

I keep referring to this as “white” linen, but it’s really more of a creamy vanilla or eggshell white. I like that because it will transition to fall nicely, especially once I make the matching jacket to go with it. I love linen so very much, and this fabric was a dream to work with. I’ll have to get video of this dress in motion eventually, because the way it moves it just stunning. And tons of fun to wear.

I included a waist stay on both dresses, which snaps together underneath the button extension. It does its job beautifully, because there’s no pulling around the waist where the dress is buttoned. That can happen sometimes with shirtdresses or any kind of dress that buttons closed even if it’s the right size, but the waist stay eliminates that.

Anytime there’s a facing in a garment that isn’t attached to a lining, I like to not only serge it but turn it under and edgestitch it too. It hides the serged seam nicely, and makes the garment look a little more professional and high end.

Pockets.

If you’re looking for a summer dress but your version of a sundress is more like mine (I need a wee bit more coverage), I recommend this pattern. I really love making buttonholes and sewing buttons. It’s a refreshing change of pace sometimes, even though my machine really does all the work for the buttonholes.

I think both of these dresses will serve me well this summer and beyond. The white linen dress is a little more dressy, so it might become my summertime date night dress. And you know I love gingham, so the red number will be worn a lot. Sometimes I know when it’s time to walk away from a particular print or color for a while, but I think my heart is set on one or two more gingham things. Probably a blouse and a skirt. Then I’m done, I promise. Almost for sure.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll be back next week with more summer projects and a new “how to” post. Lots of fun things coming up!

wrapped in white: vogue 9251

This time one year ago, I didn’t have many things in my closet, and I certainly didn’t have many handmade items yet. I spent the summer in a store-bought, white lace skirt with an elastic waistband which I paired with a men’s button up shirt that I tied around the waist. I would throw on a hat and sandals and that was my main summer uniform. It was pretty much all I had at the time, and it was the closest I could get to cool and comfortable. It wasn’t until later in the summer that I made a dress that replaced the skirt and shirt look. That dress also reminded me of the joys of elastic around the waist (so comfortable!), so I predict more of the same this season.

You see, it gets really hot here in the summer, like really hot. I can’t be walking around town in fitted dresses with big skirts and full linings. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. So this time around, I will be investing some time into pieces that are more suited for our (sometimes unbearable) Texas heat. That means a lot more linen, a lot more pieces that aren’t so fitted and formal, and a lot more things that aren’t fully lined or are only partially lined.

When the Vogue summer collection was released a few weeks ago, I instant fell in love with three of the designs, one of which is the dress in today’s post. (I also love 9253 and 9257.) This dress is elegant in its simplicity, and it’s so delicate and subtle. I love the sleeves, and I also love the personality in the skirt with the shaped hemline. Lots of bloggers and fellow makers have already made this dress, which only further inspired me to whip up one of my own. I have a few rayon challis prints in my stash that would have been a great fabric option, but I kept going back to the idea of clean, white linen. I’ve gone on and on and on about a few fabrics and prints lately (hello, gingham and stripes!), but I can’t overstate how much I love linen too, especially in the summertime.

Linen is not listed on the pattern envelope as a suggested fabric, but I knew it would work. I used a medium weight, 100% linen so it gave me a little more volume in the sleeves, which I like. I made this dress to take with me to Nashville last week, and I finished it in plenty of time. That’s the beauty of a quick sewing project! To be fair, I crammed a lot of sewing into the week prior to my trip, so I skipped a step I normally would never skip, and that’s making a muslin. I got lucky this time because it fits well and I like the overall look of the dress, but the bodice is 1.5″ too short for me. Not a huge deal, and I’m probably the only one who notices it, but I will lengthen the bodice for the next go round. And there will be a next go round, I can promise you that.

I wore this dress the day we went to the botanical gardens. I’ve been to Nashville countless times, but this was my first visit to Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, and it is well worth the visit if you’re ever in Nashville. It’s gorgeous.

I opted to leave off the ties in the dress and went with a snap closure instead. I wanted the option of wearing a sash belt or leather belt, and the waist ties would have gotten in the way of that. A sash belt is really all I can get away with though, because a regular belt only emphasizes the shortness of the bodice and I look a little stumpy.

Without the ties, the edges were a little messy, so I added a piece of grosgrain ribbon to conceal that. It’s also a nice backdrop for the snap.

The sleeves are so pretty!

Pockets.

I made my own bias tape for the neckline. Made yourself or store bought, I love this finish. It’s so clean looking, and it’s easy to do.

You can see the fold of fabric under one side of the bodice, which is the clearest indication that it’s too short.

I’ve already adjusted the bodice pattern and one of my weekend projects is making this dress again, this time in a rayon twill print (it’s sold out, sorry about that). I’d really like to see those sleeves in a lighter fabric with more drape. I’m also toying with the idea of drafting a fuller skirt without the shaped element, simply because rayon twill is too much fun to twirl around in, and you lose a little of that with the skirt as it is.

If wrap dresses are your thing, or you just like this dress I can’t recommend this pattern enough. Just keep an eye on the bodice and lengthen it if you need to. Stay tuned for the next version, and have a wonderful weekend!

seeing spots: vogue 8788

I recently overheard a conversation among a group of women during a shopping trip. They had just discovered a rack of clothing that included a few striped blouses, linen drawstring pants, and a polka dot skirt (you know, just a few of my all time favorite things). They all agreed–and with great enthusiasm, I must add–that polka dots were ridiculous. “Who actually wears such a stupid looking print?”

My feelings were hurt for the polka dots. Look, to each her own and all that, but polka dots?! What’s not to like? There are a few prints I will always have a soft spot for (gingham, stripes, big florals), but polka dots must be the happiest print on earth.

I found this polka dot print earlier this spring from Fashion Fabrics Club, and I love it. It’s a navy blue medium weight stretch twill with a pretty stiff hand. It would make for a lovely spring jacket, and a shift dress or full skirt would be a nice option too. When it was delivered, I knew it would be the perfect fabric choice for a vintage Vogue pattern I’d been eyeballing for weeks. There’s enough volume in the fabric to support the fullness of the skirt. No petticoat needed!

This pattern appealed to me because there’s good coverage in the bodice and the skirt is nicely flared but not too huge. I was also intrigued by the wraparound detail, which is quite flattering.

Like I do before every project with a commercial pattern, I did a little research to see what other folks were saying about it. The pictures I came across told me everything I needed to know. I thought there might be an issue with the sides of the bodice being too big, and they are (understatement of the year). So what began as an easy project quickly escalated into an enormous fitting challenge.

I want to preface my summary of the fitting issues by saying that this wasn’t a sizing issue. I am the same size across the board with Vogue patterns, and I appreciate that consistency. The issues with the fit of the bodice have to do with gaping in one specific area: the sides of the bodice where it wraps around the body. I had to contour the pattern to fit my body, which is a common thing patterns need when there’s a low neckline, a wrap detail like this, or anything with style lines that follow close to the body, like a strapless design.

The first thing I did was sew a muslin of the bodice to have a look at the fit. It was a mess, but the waist fit and the princess seams were in the correct spot.

I made three sets of adjustments to this pattern. Along the way, I had a good laugh about it because this has to be the most simple pattern I’ve ever had to adjust to such an extent. When I got into the thick of the adjustments, determination kicked in and just sort of said, “I will win this, you silly pattern!” I knew that if I could correct the fit I would have a really, really great dress pattern on my hands that I could make in a lot of colors and patterns, because it really is an easy sewing project. Once you get beyond the task of fitting it, that is.

Three muslins later.

In addition to the contouring (which is essentially just “pinching” out excess fabric), I shaped the front princess seam under the bust and removed some excess fabric from the back bodice (a swayback adjustment).

With the fit finally conquered, I could move on to construction. This dress is unlined so the seams are finished with bias tape. I’m particular when it comes to that finish. Sometimes, on white, for example, I don’t mind sewing the bias tape on my machine. The visible sewing line doesn’t bother me. On prints, however, it bugs me a little. So, all of the bias tape on the bodice is slipstitched down by hand so that there are no visible sewing lines on the right side of the fabric. Notice on this scrap how distracting the sewing lines are, even the navy one.

All that slipstitching took some time, but I’m glad I did it. The edges on the bodice are nice and clean. I used bigger hooks and eyes at the back of the neck and on the back wraparound pieces because they are easier to hook than the little ones. Plus, they’re sturdier, and I just like them.

I opted for the hook and eye and snap closures instead of the ties in view A because I want the option of wearing a belt, which wouldn’t have been possible if there was a tie already around the waist.

I mentioned this whole contouring thing in my Stories on Instagram, and there were lots and lots of questions about it so I will be dedicating a post to that concept sometime in June. I promise, it’s not that complicated and it makes a world of difference to how a garment fits. If you have any questions, let me know. Have a wonderful long weekend, and happy sewing!