Vogue 8787: Asymmetry

Vogue 8787

Pattern: Vogue 8787

Fabric: Blue ponte from Fabricmart


I’m not usually drawn to asymmetry.  I generally prefer both sides of my neckline the same, because I fear looking like a kooky artist (even if that’s what I am!)  I really liked this pattern though.  I was going to make the version with the drape neckline, but I decided to try something different.  Happily, I think it turned out well – I really like this dress!

I made a few alterations to the pattern.  Since my ponte was a medium to heavy-weight, I knew that I wouldn’t want to line it.  That was fine, but I had to figure out what to do with the neckline!  I decided to do a bias facing, so I removed most of the seam allowance in order to sew a 1/4 inch seam there.  Because of the way the bodice is constructed (with a seam at the corner of the square) it’s relatively easy to bind the square neckline.  You don’t even have to reinforce/clip the corner because it’s already open!  Just be sure to sew that seam up to 1/4 inch away, but not all the way to the edge.  Here is how mine came out:

vogue 8787

After sewing on the bias (and stretching the corner apart to sew a straight seam – similar to a v neck) I pressed the seam towards the facing, rolled the entire facing to the inside, and topstitched 1/4 inch away from the edge.  I then trimmed the leftover facing right next to the facing on the inside.  I’ve done this treatment several times (I’ve made several Vogue patterns that use it.)  It isn’t neat looking on the inside like a traditional bias binding, but it is faster.  And I’ll be honest – if I know the insides will not show, I will worry about it being sturdy, and not really care if the edge still showing.  Ponte doesn’t ravel, so it doesn’t require seam finishing.

I opted for the long sleeves, which wasn’t one of the views with listed yardages.  I ended up using nearly the full 3 yards of fabric I had bought.  Why is that?  Because of the skirt.  It’s very full and heavy, and it takes up lots of fabric to cut properly:
vogue 8787

After the dress was mostly completed I let it hang in my closet for a week.  Since the skirt is heavy and has bias pieces, it could have stretched out unevenly.  I didn’t want to have to redo my hem, so I always recommend hanging full skirts for a few days.  Luckily, this one did not stretch out of shape.  I ended up removing 4 inches in length, so that the dress would clear my knees.  It’s a little bit longer than it looks on the package, but not outrageous (I’m 5’8″ tall, if that helps!)

I cut a straight size 8 with no alterations.  I considered taking some width from the underarms, as they are a little loose, but I decided that I valued the comfort of the dress.  I also omitted the center back zipper and cut the pieces on the fold.  It is a little tight to get into, but it’s fine once it’s on, and I’d rather not have a zipper in a knit.
Vogue 8787

I have not hemmed the sleeves.  I have long arms, and I like where they are now.  I will probably leave them that way.

One final thing to be aware of – you cannot wear a normal bra with this neckline.  I’m wearing a strapless, and I’m fine with that, but it will expose any straps.

Overall I highly recommend this pattern.  I think it’s different enough to be fashionable, but it’s comfy (in a knit) and easy to construct.  I want to go ahead and make that other view – wouldn’t the drape neck look lovely in a black ponte?


Simplicity 1777: why 40s patterns aren’t for me.

Pattern: Simplicity 1777, reprint from 1943.

Fabric: Poly/cotton jacquard


I loved this pattern at first sight.  I haven’t made a lot of 1940s patters, and I thought it might be a good choice for me.  I had a few concerns about the  neckline, but I decided to give it a try.

I cut a size 8 on the top, and a 10 on the bottom.

I was expecting the center panel to be irritating to sew together.   It wasn’t really that bad, but it does make for a bit of bulk in that area.  My fabric is medium weight – in a light weight I’m sure it wouldn’t matter.  I opted not to interface the panel, choosing to underline instead.  My interior may not be as neat, but it’s less bulky!

Here is the dress sewn as drafted:

Picture 880

My issues: the skirt has too much volume – because of the deep pleats I needn’t have cut a size larger.  The dress is also too big around the waist and too tight in the arms.  The length is a little long.  The neckline is really high, even for vintage, see:Picture 885

I went back to the machine and made the following alterations: I removed 4 full inches of ease from the skirt and 2 from the bodice.  I let out the sleeves slightly.  I redrew the neckline.  The new one is about 2 inches lower in center front:

Picture 892

The skirt is much better, and I like the neckline.  The sleeves were still tight, and I had taken too much from the bodice, so I let the bodice back out a little  and let out the sleeves are much as I could.

I sat down to sew the final seams (up until this point it was all basting!) and that’s when tragedy struck!  I was finishing a seam allowance on the serger when my serger managed to grab part of the skirt and cut a nig hole in it with the knife before I could stop it!

I know you can repair a hole with interfacing, but I didn’t think it would look good – it was right in the middle of the back, and it was noticeable.  I decided to just shorten the skirt.  Unfortunately, now it’s too short.  I mean, it’s wearable, but I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable in it.  I don’t really wear skirts that are shorter than 2 inches above the knee.

The neckline is also finished with a strip of the cotton as a bias binding.  I made one New Year’s resolution I didn’t mention, and that’s to stop putting in neck facings unless they are completely sewn down.  In cleaning out my closet this year I noticed that the dresses I didn’t wear all had one thing in common – shoddy facings (is there any other kind?)  I have a few dresses I want to take the facing off and replace with a better method so I can wear them without fear!

I’m going to call this a learning experience, but I didn’t get a wearable garment in the deal.  I doubt I would have gotten one even if the skirt hadn’t gotten eaten.  A few things to note about the pattern:

1. The arms are small and short.  I have long arms, but not that long.  The sleeve length was so short that the sleeve darts ended up in the wrong place, contributing to the tight sleeve issue.  I would cut a size up in the sleeves, possibly even two sizes up.   Maybe that’s just the nature of long sleeved woven dresses?  I’m pretty sure that’s why I don’t make them!

2. There is a lot of bulk at the waist. I would either use a lighter fabric (such as challis) or opt to leave out one of the center panel layers.  The pleats are also bulky, so be sure to trim them down!

3.  The neckline is higher than you think.  Picture the highest neckline you can.  Then add an inch.  Now you might have an idea!  I dislike high necklines because of my irrational belief that it makes you look like your head is on backwards.  I redrew the front only, as I had already sewn the zipper, and I would totally redraw if I made it again.  I didn’t try the v-neck, because it looked like a pretty high cut one, which isn’t better on me.

I’d rate the difficulty on this pattern as medium.  The front piece is a little tricky, and there are a million little darts and pleats.  It’s not hard, but it is time consuming.  I would recommend either a lighter fabric or a stretch woven.  Definitely not a stiff fabric (no idea why the envelope is recommending taffeta!)

Ultimately I think that while I enjoy 40s patterns, they never look as good on me as some other eras.  All the pretty draping and ruching never looks right for some reason, and they don’t have the fuller skirts that I love (I know this is due to WWII era fabric restrictions).   I feel like gathering around a bodice just adds bulk to my waist, and I don’t have an enormous difference between my bust and waist anyway, so I like to emphasize what I have.  This style makes me look a little boxy.  I never think of that when I’m sewing, but occasionally I’ll end up with a garment that makes me look that way.

I did make some fun changes to the hem and neckline, choosing to use a hem band and a bias binding:


Is anyone else with me on the facing hatred?  I think the above finish looks so much neater, even if it does take longer.    I made a 2 inch hem band to finish the bottom, but couldn’t get decent photos.  It’s a good option for when you can’t afford to lose anymore length.

Moving on, I’ve been sewing this dress:

It’s nearly finished, and unlike my sad 1940s dress I really love it!  I will get photos when I can… right now I can only get them on weekends, as I’m in rehearsal or class most nights.

New project: vintage Simplicity

Thanks for all the comments about your sewing rooms – I’ve enjoyed looking at them all, and I’m starting to get a handle on what I will need.  Right now I plan to buy a corner desk for my machines, and get a freestanding kitchen island from Ikea to use as a cutting table/ironing station.  I will post more as my plans start to shape up – right now I’m just trying to get rid of all the bedroom furniture, as we will actually have 2 extra mattress sets otherwise (I’m buying a new mattress/bed for our bedroom later this year.)

Realizing that I only made one vintage pattern in 2012, I’m starting out 2013 with a vintage reprint – the recent Simplicity 1777.

Simplicity 1777

This fabric is a cotton/poly jacquard, originally used for a dress by Alice and Olivia.   I bought it from Banasch’s in Cincinnati.  It drapes well, but isn’t limp, which I think it what this design needs.  On the envelope, I like the looks of the floral version, but the red one is a bit sad:

It looks like they’ve used some sort of crepe for the floral, and a softer fabric (challis or jersey) for the red.  I prefer the crisp look.  I’m aware that the print will obscure some of the details, but I’m fine with that – I am planning on doing the center front panel in a plain black fabric so that it’s not circle overload.   Should I use the V or the high neckline?  Looking for opinions…  I want to get started tonight!

Year in sewing 2012: wear reports

When I was knitting more I used to give year end comments on the wearing of the yarns I used (the softest ones were usually the ones that didn’t hold up!)  I haven’t really done the same for my sewing, but why not?  It’s interesting to see how my favorites have held up (or not!) over time.

I made less overall this year, which isn’t surprising since I had so many life changes.  I graduated, started a new job, and redecorated/painted my house (still in progress).  I’m actually pretty happy with my results, considering that my sewing time has been cut in half!


9 dresses

8 tops

1 pair of pants (not a success)

I already posted my lessons learned, but I’ll go ahead and say it here.  The biggest lesson I have learned is that it’s ok to make pretty dresses all the time.  Although I made a bunch of tops (my resolution last year) I think they cut into my desire to sew.  I’m happiest when wearing the dresses I made – only 2 of them were limited success, and none were outright fails.  The tops were much more iffy.  Besides, I can buy tops easily – it’s dresses that are expensive and hard to find in styles I like!

I did a lot of experimenting with silhouette.  I did have some success – for instance, I now know that I enjoy the look of skinny pants, so long as I have a longer top.  I do not, however, like baggy shapeless things.  And dolman sleeves are really not that great on me – I prefer a nice set-in sleeve!

Fabric choice is super important – I need to stop letting myself use fabrics that are too thin without a lining.  From now on, I pledge that I will not talk myself into a project with bad fabric!

Here is the rundown – I started in Dec 2011 and went through Dec 2012.  I hope it’s helpful!

Simplicity 2054

Notes:  This is one of my most worn garments of the year.  I love the print and easy to wear shape!  I wear it with boots and tights, both with and without the cowl.  I’ve also worn the cowl on its own with other garments.  I get compliments every time I wear this dress – I recommend the pattern!  The ponte knit has, for something from Joann’s, held up really well.  It hasn’t pilled or shrunk.  Meanwhile, a pair of expensive ponte pants that I bought at the same time have basically become nothing but a mass of pills.   Ponte quality really varies!

Vogue 8771

Notes: This was an experiment for me, trying to decide whether I like dolman sleeves.  I decided that I do, but this isn’t my favorite top.  The knit I used was a fine rayon blend with metallic thread.  Every time I wash this thing it shrinks, seriously.  And I didn’t think it was quite long enough to start with!  I still wear it, but mostly around the house.

McCall’s 6408

I was initially not happy at all with this cardigan.  It was big and sloppy, even after extensive alterations.  But while I was busy being angry at it for being a lousy cardigan, I realized it was  a great robe!  Now I wear it all the time – it keeps me warm, and it’s super cozy!   I still think this pattern has issues as a top, but as a robe it’s awesome.

Vogue 8805

I’ve been wearing this more in the fall.  The issue with it was that it tends to ride up when sitting.  That’s fine with tights, but less fine in the summer.  Luckily I think it works for either.  The dress itself is very cute, and I’m very happy with it.  It even launders well (full lining and all!)

Burda 7220

This one counts as a fail.  It took forever to make (curse you, Burda instructions!)  and in the end it just wasn’t me.  I think this pattern would work better in a drapey polyester or rayon blousing.   And then there’s the color.  I don’t wear orange – what was I thinking?  I have already donated this one – maybe someone else will like it better than I did?

Vogue 8827

I haven’t worn it yet.  This dress is the reason for my resolution to not make anymore wrap garments.  No matter how securely I tie them, I am always aware that I am one snagged tie away from wardrobe malfunction.  Also, this pattern was kind of a stinker.  I do not recommend it!

Vogue 8815

This is one of my favorite garments from this year.  I wear it at least once a week!  I love the long peplum silhouette, and the fabric is quite warm.  I don’t usually make patterns twice, but I plan to make this one again.  Unfortunately, I will have to buy a new copy, as my cat decided that he didn’t like the way the tissue was eyeing him – he taught it a lesson!

Sewaholic Alma blouse

Sewaholic Alma

I really love this top – the sleeves, fabric, and cute collar all make it one of my favorites!  It does suffer from unfortunate interfacing.  I was trying to use more fusibles, but sadly this one had the same issue as all the rest – it bubbled after washing.  I’m sure I’m not using enough pressure or something, but I’ll just go back to my sew-ins.  They take less time, and there isn’t this element of uncertainty.

Mccalls 6569

This was a success – I wore it often over the summer!  This dress shows how hard fabric choice can be – although in a solid this knit is perhaps a little thin for a tank dress, with the pattern you would never notice any undergarment bumps.  I’m really glad that I finished the arms and neck with separate binding – it makes the dress feel very RTW.

Simplicity 1805

I’ve worn this many times.  I really like the open shoulders, and I’m pleased with the choice of woven binding to keep the neck from stretching.  I wish it were a little longer so I could give it a real hem, but it’s a nice top either way.

Simplicity 1803

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I still haven’t finished the hem on this dress!  Therefore it lies unworn in my mending basket.  The fabric is, to be honest, a little thin.  I should have lined it, because now I have to wear it with a slip (and I do not like slips!)

Simplicity 1881

I love this dress so much.  Now, why don’t I get invited to more luaus so that I can wear it?  This knit is thick – a true dress weight.  The hem tape elastic application makes the top very secure for a halter.

McCall’s 6518

This dress gets worn a lot.  It works in all 4 seasons, and it’s so cute!  I realized after making this that I really need more dresses made from suiting – I hardly have any, but I love to work with the fabric and wear it!  I made this as a copy of an Anthropologie dress.  Later in the year I actually found the inspiration dress in a thrift store and bought it.  Guess what?  I like mine better!  The RTW dress has a major gaping bodice issue – the sleeves constantly fall off my shoulders.   It’s nice to be reminded of the advantages of making your own clothes, such as easy adjustments for fit (I would never put up with that issue in a handmade dress!)

Simplicity 1877

This dress is just a little big in the bodice, and I might go back and take it in.  I wear it anyway, and it always gets compliments.  I think the pattern is drafted wide through the upper chest and shoulders.  I would size down if I made it again.  The little shoulder frills are fun, and give it a special touch that keeps it from being just another sundress.  The fabric is a linen blend.  I rarely use linen, but I want to use it more.  This dress wrinkles, sure, but because of the weight of the fabric it doesn’t approach the way my cotton dresses can wrinkle in the wash!

Butterick 5247

Not a fail, just a meh project.  I think the sleeves are too shapeless for my taste.  And I don’t like the fabric, a poly sweater knit that feels cheap.  While I love animal print, I don’t love this one – the teal colors take it to 1980s land, a place I’d prefer not to revisit.

McCall’s 6084

I am so, so sad to even look at these photos.  You see, after wearing a few times this sweater started to basically disintegrate at the seams – even though I finished the seam allowances, the fabric itself unraveled.  And I loved this fabric/sweater!  Ah well… live and learn.  I have learned that not only do I hate working with velvet, it’s not exactly the easiest fabric to live with either.

Vintage McCall’s 5336

Worn occasionally, but not my favorite.  I had to take this dress in too much at the end, which threw off the grain of the fabric.  I’m not in love with the bell sleeves either, but I do love the fabric.  I can’t believe this is actually the only vintage pattern I made all year, but it is.  I think the whole experience soured me on them a bit.  I don’t have a lot of time to make toiles in my current life, and vintage pattern illustrations are often so different from what you actually get!  This year I want to try again, making sure to choose a style that I know I will like.

So there you have it: 2012 in sewing.  Now I can look forward to the new year.  I plan to have a new sewing room by March, and I want to make lots of pretty dresses to carry me through!

Guest room to sewing room?

Welcome to 2013, you guys!  I spent the rest of my break working on my bathroom and relaxing.  The new semester starts tomorrow, so it’s back to work.  I had, all things considered, a pretty great holiday.

As always, when I have time to think I have time to plan, and I came up with a new scheme:

I’m seriously considering turning my guest room into a sewing room.  We have lived here 4 years and had overnight guests only a handful of times.  To be totally honest, I don’t enjoy entertaining overnight.  I’m introverted, and my house is my refuge – having people stay with me makes me super nervous (I feel like a jerk saying that, but I feel the same way when staying in someone else’s house myself – give me a hotel room any day!)  We can get a nice air mattress for when it’s needed.  My family and friends live in town (except my best friend, but she’s allergic to my cats and can’t stay!) and Marc’s family generally only do day visits.

My current sewing room is on the 3rd floor, which isn’t ideal.   Right now it’s so cold that I really can’t stand to sew, and in the summer it gets pretty hot.   It shares with my exercise equipment and my husband’s Lego collection, so it’s always cluttered.  I can’t control my husband’s clutter (and really, it’s his hobby, why should he have to?) but I do find that being in a messy room makes me stressed out and not at all creative.

I can take over the bedroom entirely, so long as I don’t mind giving up a closet (I don’t!)  I can’t make it dual purpose because it’s not big enough – the bed takes up a good portion of the room.  It’s not super big – roughly 10 feet x 12 feet.  I’ll leave my fabric storage upstairs, so I only need room for my machines, ironing board, and cutting table.  I have a Sullivan’s cutting table, and I might buy the ironing cover for it – that way I only need one surface for both!

Here is the room when we moved in:

Guest room when we moved in

And here it is currently (not this bright in real life!)
Guest room now


I’ll change the wall color – not sure to what yet!

So here is my question: would anyone like to share their sewing rooms with me?  I’m especially interested in seeing what you can do with a small room, but anything is good.  I need some inspiration, and I’m not averse to buying new storage or furniture (we have an IKEA in driving distance.)  I have a nice sewing desk (from Ikea) and a cutting table  – one of the ones that folds up to a smaller size easily.  I have another sewing desk with my Singer which I would like to place in the room, as I don’t have space for it upstairs.  It still needs refinishing, which isn’t happening until the thaw – it’s living in my dining room right now!


4 Lessons learned: 2012

As we enter into the last week of the year, I’m going to do a few posts to wrap up my experiences.  First up?  This list of hard earned lessons from the past year.

This wasn’t the greatest year for my sewing.  I got a new diploma and a new job, and adjusting to the schedule changes has cut into my sewing time.  Consequently, I need to be more focused in my making!

1. No more wrap dresses or tops.

For some reason I keep making wrap dresses, thinking to myself “I will wear this!” when the truth is I always think “No to anything that involves possibly accidentally exposing my underwear” and wear something else.  In addition, because I am very high waisted/long torsoed the wrap never hits at the right place for me.  No more of these.

2. Sometimes it’s ok to be in a rut.

I’ve made a lot of dresses that have my favorite sillhouette (full skirt, fitted top) over time.  This year?  None.  I felt a little bit like I was in a rut, but it’s possible that I like these styles because they look the best on me.  I think the high percentage of unworn garments this year goes along with that.  So even if the fashion world keeps insisting that slim, body conscious skirts are the trend, I will realize that I don’t feel great in them, and make something else.

3. There is no such thing as too much frosting.

I’ll link to Tasia’s discussion of cake vs frosting in our dressmaking.  If cake is the basics (pants, t-shirts etc) and frosting is everything else (pretty dresses etc) then I think I’m ok with making more frosting.  I can buy basics.  Yes, searching for pants is annoying, but not as annoying as eating up my limited sewing time with something that just doesn’t make my soul sing (note: I will still make interesting pants, but no basics!)  In addition, I find that my life requires a rather high percentage of frosting anyway.  This holiday season I’ve already run through all of my fancy dresses and started wishing I had more, and while the holidays are the busiest time for me they are by no means the only time I have to dress up!

4. It’s ok to take a break sometimes.

Maybe it’s the blog thing, but I’ll tell you that I feel sort of  guilty when I’ve not got a work in progress.  I do my best work, however, when I make a project I love rather than sewing just to be working on something.  This is my hobby, not a job!  I am… sort of OCD in general, so I really struggle with this issue.  So if I want to take a week to paint my bathroom, or I have rehearsals every night til late, I need to not feel guilty.  This one is a work in progress.

I’ll be back soon with the breakdown of my projects – it’s taking a bit to write!

Fabric weight frustration

This week I tried to make the Style Arc Marita dress.  I wanted to wear it to December commencement (which was today!)   I used this ITY knit, purchased from fabricmart:
Style Arc Marita

It wasn’t clear to me from the line drawing exactly how clingy the skirt was.  I added 2 inches to the side seams below the waist, but it still turned out pretty fitted.  I didn’t take a photo, but it would have shown everything through the fabric!  I’m sensitive about this issue, especially after the time that I let Vogue use one of my photos for their facebook page and someone oh so helpfully suggested that I needed different underwear.  And then 7 people liked that comment.  Thanks a lot, internet.  I think I’d rather not wear the kind of clothing that requires careful underwear selection. (Note: I’m not still upset about this, really!)

Anyway, I decided to cut it down to a top and removed 12 inches (the skirt fell below my knees to start).  Let’s see how that looks:

First, the top part:
Style arc marita

I’m planning to paint the whole bathroom the color over the light switch this week.  I am tired of this cold blue.

Looks pretty good, right?  The draping works, although you can see just how tiny those sleeves are (they are size 8 as drafted).  But then there is the rest:

Style Arc marita

The fabric is too thin and shows the buttons/fasterners on the skirt.  It even shows the black color through.  So no, this was a bad choice for this pattern.  It actually looks worse in real life, but it’s hard to capture with a still photo.   I really struggle with fabric choice sometimes.  I love color, and that’s what I’m usually drawn to, weight or project suitability be damned!   I have learned that online descriptions only go so far – this was described as medium weight, and while most ITY knits are medium, this one is not.

Not fabric mart’s fault, and not the pattern’s fault – I just have to learn how to take a step back sometimes!

I’m not sure it was the greatest style for me anyway.  I like to experiment with silhouettes, but I still default to full/a-line skirt looks most of the time when I get dressed.  The twisted front is similar to a cowl, and I don’t like cut on cowls (ie where the cowl is part of the front, not sewn on like a turtleneck.)

Upwards and onwards – I’m off to sort my fabric collection by weight, so that maybe I can avoid these types of wadders in the future!