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Category: pattern reviews

stars in my eyes: Vogue 9251 (version 2)

My dad has a saying about buying things: always get two. Found the perfect pair of jeans? Get two. Need a pack of batteries? Get two. Now, of course I don’t make it a habit of buying or making two of everything, but it’s a good concept to keep in mind. The idea of making two (or multiples, as is the case with me quite often) makes sense to me in sewing. We invest so much time and energy into making our clothes, why not get as much value out of it as you possibly can?

When I’m making a garment I’m focused on three things: how it fits, how I feel in it, and how well it works for my lifestyle. In the year and a half that I’ve been rebuilding my wardrobe, I’ve discovered a handful of patterns that for a variety of reasons work especially well for me. I’ll put a few examples at the end of this post, but Vogue 9251 is another one of those patterns. Funny enough, I never would have thought it would make the list of multiple makes, because the low neckline isn’t something I’m too comfortable in. Turns out, the fit and easy construction makes up for that. And don’t get me started on those darling sleeves. The other thing I like about this pattern is that you can draft a number of different skirts onto the bodice, which can change things up quite dramatically.

The first time I made this dress I was in make-everything-you-possibly-can mode prior to my Memorial Day trip to Nashville, so I didn’t make a muslin for the dress (something I never skip). The bodice turned out to be a little short on me, but I loved the dress and I knew I would make it again. So, I lengthened the bodice by about 1.5″, which was as easy as cutting the pattern along the “lengthen or shorten line,” taping paper underneath to add the length, and truing the sides. I also made a swayback adjustment to the back bodice (which is why the dart looks a little wonky).

For this version, I chose a stunning rayon twill print, and not only does it feel like butter it’s also completely opaque, meaning it can stand alone as a dress without a lining.

The thing that makes this version so interesting is the difference in the drape of the fabric. The fabric I used for this dress is a suggested fabric for the pattern, but the linen I used before is not. The linen version is in no way bad or wrong, it’s just different. This side by side of the sleeves demonstrates the characteristics of each fabric really well.

The linen on the left is a medium weight so it’s naturally more stiff and voluminous. It has lovely drape, but notice how it drapes away from my arm more than the rayon sleeve.

I drafted a full skirt for this rayon version, simply because I had enough fabric, and I absolutely love a full, floaty rayon skirt that swooshes as much as possible when I walk. I also knew that the fabric would fall along the bias, so instead of worrying about maintaining the shape of the skirt from the pattern while keeping it level, I went with something full that would need to be leveled the same amount all the way around. I left the dress on the form for a couple of days to let the fabric fall as much as possible, and then I evened it out. You can see here just how much the fabric relaxed. (For more on leveling a hem, see this post from last fall.)

When I can, I like to make my own bias tape, and I was able to do that for this dress. I love how it looks.

I used snaps to close the linen dress, but I followed the pattern instructions this time and made bias strips for the side ties. This limits me to only being able to wear the dress like this (can’t really put a belt on top of the ties, that’d be weird), but I like them. They stay tied too, which was my biggest concern.

I can’t tell you how comfortable this dress is. It’s probably as close to wearing jimmy jams as you can get.

I’ll be making this dress at least one more time, and I’m very excited about this version. I’ll be using a very lightweight blue floral rayon crepe and making the maxi version (view B). I’m going with the skirt from the pattern (no changes this time), but I am toying with the idea of adding a ruffle to the neckline. The fabric is so delicate and drapes so nicely that I think a ruffle might be lovely added detail.

I’m delighted that this pattern worked so well, and with (soon to be) three versions of it, I can file it under the “multiple makes” category, along with a few other cherished patterns.

Vogue 8825

Vogue 9197

The striped skirt.

Vogue 8772

Happy Sewing!

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!