Until a few weeks ago, my Instagram profile had a line in it about “building a handmade wardrobe.” A quick browse of other like-minded sewing and design accounts will say the same thing, and I love that there’s folks out there who are investing their time, money, and skills towards such a admirable goal. Some people approach it from a sustainability perspective, making a conscious choice not to buy fast fashion, instead investing in a few natural textiles to build a capsule collection of clothes. Other folks are tired of the endless frustration of never finding well fitting or well made things in stores and are inspired to take matters into their own hands. There are a lot of reasons to sew your own clothes, and I just love connecting with fellow sewers and watching them create a handmade wardrobe.
The thing is, I’m not necessarily interested in sewing an entire wardrobe from scratch. I have exactly zero interest in making undergarments, and the chances of me ever making a pair of jeans are slim – my Levi’s suit me just fine for the three or four months a year it’s actually cool enough to wear them. No camis or tank tops for me, thanks. T-shirts, swimsuits, workout gear? Nope, nope, and nope.
For as much as I believe in creating a wardrobe full of special pieces and handmade, unique items that no one else has, I also recognize that there’s plenty of things sold in stores that are done really, really well and there’s no need for me to try and do any better. There are more than enough great fitting tees to choose from, and I promise the perfect pair of jeans is out there too. So, as much as I love adding handmade piece to my closet every week, I will never have an entirely handmade wardrobe, and I’m okay with that.
All of this to say that the dress in today’s post came about not because I was inspired by the pattern itself (although now having made it, I can say that it’s utterly fantastic) or by the fabric, but by a store bought dress I have in my closet. It’s a rayon knit wrap dress I got from Hobbs in London last year, and it is wonderful. It’s one of those pieces you can just throw on and walk out the door, and it’s comfortable all day long. Every time I put it on I think, “Huh, I really need to copy this dress. I could use about a dozen versions of it.” So I finally did a little digging in my pattern stash earlier this summer when I was planning new projects, and decided it was time to give Vogue 8379 a shot. It was the closest thing I could find to the Hobbs dress.
This pattern has been out for quite some time, and it’s been made umpteen times by just about everyone – and for good reason. Of all the patterns I’ve used recently, this one stands out for its excellent fit right out of the envelope and for how easily it came together. My fabric is a cotton stretch I found at Fashion Fabrics Club earlier this year (I believe it’s sold out now), and I like it for the colors and print, and also because it’s not polyester. I work with poly every once in a blue moon, but I do try to avoid it whenever possible. It’s just not my favorite. This cotton jersey has nice stretch and recovery, and it was pretty easy to work with. Knits aren’t my go-to fabrics, but it was a nice change of pace to make a knit dress after so many projects with woven fabrics.
I made only very minor adjustments to the pattern. I added 2″ to the hem of the skirt, and I left off the cuff in view B. Because I left the cuff off, I added about an 1.5″ to the length of the sleeve to keep it a true 3/4 sleeve length. I also angled the ends of the ties, simply because I like the way that looks.
No swayback adjustment, no length to the bodice, no neckline adjustment, and I cut the same size in this dress that I cut in every other Vogue pattern.
This fabric is a lightweight stretch fabric, so I used a size 75 stretch needle, regular thread, and stretch interfacing on the facings (this Pellon interfacing is great for stretch garments). I put my sewing machine in “stretch light” mode, so it automatically sews a knit stitch. If your fabric is especially unwieldy or you need extra stability in the hem, you can always interface that as well.
You don’t necessarily have to finish the edges of knit garments because they won’t unravel like wovens, but I still serge all the edges and understitch where appropriate.
Here you can see the ends of the ties that I cut at an angle and a peek of the hem of the sleeve. I used a blind hem to finish the hems of the sleeves and the skirt. I don’t have a cover stitch machine, and I don’t always like a visible line of stitching along the hem–especially on a print dress–which is why I went with a blind hem. I love a nice, clean finish.
The skirt hem.
Pleats at the waistline.
This is a true wrap dress, so there’s an opening in the left side seam for the tie to feed through and wrap around you.
This is one of those classic dresses that you can make in a lot of different colors and prints, and I will definitely be making this one again and again. I’ve started a royal blue version, and I’m excited to finish it as soon as we’re settled in the new house.
Speaking of the new house, packing is coming along, and we’ll be moving in a few days. Ty and I have moved quite a lot in the past ten years, but this is the first time we’re moving into our own home, so we’re especially excited. I can’t wait to get in the house and show you my new studio space and share our big remodel plans for the kitchen. In the meantime, the packing continues!
Thank you for the kind words and best wishes for this adventure!
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.
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.
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!