Vintage Vogue 1489: giant collared suit

Tuesday 9 July 2019
After what seemed like an endless summer and non-existent autumn Sydney is finally having some cold weather. I love winter - wearing chunky knits and not having to worry about getting a sunburn from being in the sun for three seconds is definitely my thing! So it's timely that I finally finished sewing a new wool suit for work - actually I finished this about 3 weeks ago but it took me some time to find the right buttons and then get around to sewing them on.

lady posing in a handmade grey skirt suit

When it comes to collars on suit jackets, I usually prefer no collar at all except it seems when the collar is HUGE! This is a 1960 Vogue pattern that is a pretty simple style except for that oversized notched collar.

vintage sewing pattern for ladies skirt suit

Luckily this was a fairly simple project to sew because in true vintage style there was only one page of instructions for the entire jacket. I followed the vintage techniques as well, including hand basting in canvas interfacing instead of using fusible, and pad stitching that giant collar to support it.

close up of a large collar on a ladies suit jacket

I also lengthened the sleeves because my wrists get too cold to wear bracelet length. Apart from that I didn't make any changes - I even put in some slim shoulder pads. I used premade ones though - no one has time to make their own! I'm not sure about those shoulder pads though, they make me feel really bulky around the shoulders and I think my neck looks really short and stumpy in this.

lady posing in a grey wool suit jacket

The back view is fairly plain - darts at the shoulders and vertical darts to give waistline shaping. If only I had better posture and stood up straight then I wouldn't have those annoyng drag lines on the back! 

picture of a back of a lady wearing a skirt suit

It took me a while to find some buttons, and I was very nearly going to make some fabric covered buttons when I stumbled accross these simple angled buttons in Spotlight of all places. I didn't do the bound buttonholes because I thought there was a high risk of stuffing them up and ruining my jacket when it was practically finished. The buttons cover the buttonholes though, and those buttons really make the jacket. At nearly $5 each they are the most expensive part of the jacket, because the fabric I've used was picked up from a Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap last year. It's a gorgeous wool, so I can't understand why anyone would give this away, but I think I've made very good use of it!

image of a large black button

The skirt I've made to go with the jacket isn't from this pattern - I just used my favourite Burda high waisted pencil skirt because I know it fits me perfectly. This is Burda 2/2018 #119, which I've made a few times before, including this cute version in green floral barkcloth that I wear all the time.

image of a skirt sewing pattern

picture of a woman wearing a grey pencil skirt

picture of a woman wearing a grey wool skirt

picture of a woman wearing a grey skirt

Overall I really like this suit even if it makes me look like a football quarterback with those shoulders. Maybe one day I'll undo the lining and remove the pads, but knowing me I'll probably just keep wearing it as it is and just think about doing it everytime I wear it

picture of a woman wearing a grey wool skirt suit

Vogue 9021: it's all about the sleeves

Friday 26 April 2019

I'm still playing catch up to blog all my completed projects - here's a dress I finished in January and have worn quite frequently since then. This is Vogue 9021 - a simple fitted sheath dress with rather dramatic cut on sleeves.

Those sleeves are my favourite feature of this dress, but unfortunately if you make this pattern according to the pattern the armholes are so low they practically extend down to your waistline and give a clear view of your chest every time you lift your arms. When I made this dress previously I extended the side seam up much higher, so I did that adjustment from the outset this time.

Those sleeves however make it difficult to wear a jacket or cardigan over the top so I'm not sure I'll wear this dress much over the winter. The fabric is an Atelier Brunette viscose that I bought online from the Maai Design on line shop after seeing so many people use this fabric. The fabric is a lot thinner than I expected, and a bit transparent so I fully lined this dress in a thin navy blue cotton poplin.

I have to admit that I bought this fabric purely because of FOMO - I saw so many great garments popping up in my Instagram feed that I simply had to have some. But now that I've made it into a dress, even though it's a pattern that I love, I just feel a bit blah about it. I can't quite decide whether it's because the print feels a bit 1980s to me or whether I just feel a bit frumpy in this, but either way I don't love it as much as this palm print version I made from a cotton sateen last year:

I didn't buy much of this fabric because it's on the pricier side, so I didn't have enough fabric to spare to pattern match at the seams. It's such a busy print that I doubt it's noticeable at all to someone who doesn't sew.

In terms of the pattern it really is very simple and definitely deserves to be in the Very Easy Vogue category. I did grade between sizes as usual - smaller at the top and larger at the bottom, and thanks to the waistline with darts it is easy to get a close fit at my sway back.


Vogue 8667 - finally got there

Monday 15 April 2019
Every so often I glance at my UFO pile and think about finishing some of those projects languishing in it. Well finally I have finished one after several attempts and it is such a relief to get it done to a wearable stage!

This is Vogue 8667, a princess seamed dress with a rolled collar and a skirt options. Looks pretty simple right? I had originally set out to make view E - the straight skirt and short sleeved version.
I don't know why it took me so long to finish this - I just kept losing steam at every hurdle. Firstly I should have measured the flat pattern pieces more carefully to make sure I sewed the right size, because it turned out way too big. So I set it aside for a while to think about it. A few months later I picked it up again and pin fitted it while wearing it - I had to take the dress in quite substantially at the sides to make it fit across the bust. I also flattened the bust curve to make a faux small bust adjustment.

But once I had made that change the sleeve would no longer work - it was too big to fit into the now much smaller armhole opening, but making the sleeve narrower made it too tight to fit my arms! So away it went again for a few more months. Finally in January this year I decided to either finish it or scrap it, but thankfully it worked out. I changed the sleeve to a cap sleeve so I could get the shoulder coverage but not the tight feeling around my bicep - it all worked out in the end phew!

But the real star of this dress is the rolled neckline. I love the wide neckline and stand up collar - I feel very ladylike when wearing this, but it does make it hard to wear a jacket or cardigan over it.

I've left the collar at the back to splay open above the top of the zip. It is meant to have a hook and eye at the collar roll line (ie at the halfway point of collar) to make it stand up slightly, but I knew from past experiences with this type of collar that the hook and eye never stay closed and my hair tends to get caught in it instead.

The other design aspect I like about this pattern is the waist seam - it helps get a neater fit for my swayback. It causes pattern disruption at the waist line of course, but in a busy print like this it's barely noticeable but you can see from the side view that the fit is quite tailored.

The back view is rather plain and simple, with just a small walking vent

So even though it took me a very long time to finish this dress, I'm glad I didn't give up on it and preserved until the end. I really can't explain why I had no enthusiasm for this particular project - the fabric is a lovely double knit from the Remnant Warehouse in a great teal and lilac coloured print and I do love the design lines of the pattern. I guess that sometimes you just need to be in the right frame of mind.

My current favourite skirt: Butterick 5441

Sunday 24 March 2019
I never would have thought that a simple 1980s pattern with a rather dowdy cover illustration has become a favourite skirt pattern of mine! But I've now made four versions of Butterick 5441, with no plans for stopping yet.

lady modelling four versions of pleated skirts

It's a fairly simple mid length skirt pattern which until last year was definitely not a length I'd usually wear since I'm not particularly blessed in the height department. However I have discovered that this length can look flattering, and has the added bonus of covering up my legs on those lazy days when I haven't shaved my legs.

After four versions I've now made a few modifications to perfect the fit - instead of gathers at the front I pleat the fabric so it sits flatter across my stomach, I've shifted the zip from the side to the centre back and instead of gathers at the back I put in darts instead.

The latest version I made is from a leopard print cotton, jumping on the animal print trend that seems to be everywhere right now. It's a fairly thick cotton with little drape, so it makes the skirt flare out quite a bit which I like. It has pockets which is always useful!

A change in top and shoes makes it look quite different I think.

Back in January I made a version from a mid weight linen in paprika from The Fabric Store which was left over from some wide leg pants I made last year. This one drapes nicely because the linen has softened up a lot after many washes.

lady wearing a rust coloured pleated skirt and blue and white stripe tshirt

lady wearing a rust coloured pleated skirt with blue and white stripe tshirt

For this version I shortened it to knee length so that I could squeeze it out of the leftover fabric and added belt loops for a self fabric tie belt.

The second version I made last year in December (that's why there's a Christmas tree in my photo I swear!). This is a gorgeous cotton print in a deep teal colour I bought from Nerida Hansen during one of their irresistible sales. I also shortened this to knee length as I only bought a remnant piece.

Finally, here is the original version I made back in 2017 (blogged here) made in a lovely yellow Japanese cotton I picked up from a Sydney Spoolettes fabric swap that was kindly donated by Stef. This one is still in high rotation in my wardrobe, so clearly it's a winner!

Vogue 1156 - darts a'plenty

Sunday 17 February 2019
I've recently changed roles at my work and it has meant coming back to work full time after working part time very happily for the last ten years. It's a promotion and now as the responsible adult in the room I figure I need to look the part, so I'm really trying to step up my corporate wear this year.

First corporate dress off the rank is this grey fitted sheath dress:

woman modelling a grey fitted dress in front of plants

This is Vogue 1156, an OOP print Anne Klein pattern that has been in my stash for a few years just waiting for the right fabric to come along. And actually I don't think this fabric is the right fabric - all those darts and seam lines are barely visible which is annoying because it was quite tedious doing all the ones in both the fabric and the lining!

technical drawing for a sewing pattern

close up photo of the neckline of a grey dress

Not being very blessed in the bust department those darts do create a bit of puffiness at the front of the dress that my bony chest can't fill out, but apart from that it's a well fitting dress. I made a minor sway back adjustment to the centre back, and graded out from a size 8 at the bust to a size 14 at the hip to fit my pear shape and it all turned out pretty well.

woman modelling a grey fitted dress

woman modelling a grey fitted dress

The only thing I have a minor problem with is the neckline - it is so high that I feel like I'm being choked, especially when I'm sitting down at my computer or driving. I interfaced the neckline because this fabric was a loose weave, and I under-stitched the seam allowance to the lining so I think that creates quite a hard edge to the neckline which makes it worse. I just need to find the energy to unpick the neckline and re-sew it because it really is annoying.

close up photo of the neckline of a grey dress

This fabric is a lovely soft poly-cotton tweed like fabric from The Remnant Warehouse. I bought two metres initially planning to make some trousers, but since I'm so terrible at making trousers and the fabric was quite wide I realised that making a dress and a matching jacket (which is underway) is a far better use of the fabric.

I think this is a great pattern, but it seems it wasn't so popular with all the sewists out there on the internetz. There are only 4 reviews on Pattern Review and no others that I can find. The pattern is a bit involved with all those separate pieces and darts but isn't too difficult and all those seam lines offer a lot of opportunity for fitting. I would like to remake this dress in a plainer fabric - I'll add that to my never ending to do list!