Sunday, 15 March 2020

When it all goes a bit wrong (and then right)

So, Vogue 1277. The outfit I was making for my graduation. The outfit for which I have made one dress bodice toile, one full dress toile and one jacket toile (give or take a few sleeves). The outfit I have been working on for weeks. Last weekend I finished the dress bodice in the 'proper' fabric, and tried it on.

And. I didn't like it.

I had already accepted that my tailoring skills weren't good enough for me to complete the jacket in the time available, so was just making the dress. But it was only when I tried the bodice on that I realised that most of the detailing is on the jacket, and the dress on its own is quite plain.

Vogue 1277, the dress

This hadn't been a problem with the white toile, but I was concerned that a darkish blue version worn with a black gown over it would look too severe. The hunt was on for an alternative*, and at first I considered wearing something I had already made. But somehow this didn't seem right, after completing an entire dissertation on home dressmaking.

While looking through the stash for inspiration, I unearthed a length of navy viscose with a small floral print, which I'd bought for its 1940s look. And it struck me that I had the perfect 1940s pattern to go with it. In my dissertation I had discussed the authenticity (or otherwise) of reissued patterns, and had used my comparison of Simplicity 1777 and 4463 to illustrate the point. What could be better than actually wearing some of my research for the graduation ceremony?


In terms of construction, I mostly followed the methods I'd used the last time I made this pattern up. The only difference was that I used a zip, rather than a placket and press studs, for the side opening. In theory this was to save time but, as I always hand pick zips anyway, I'm not sure that it ended up being any quicker.

This is definitely a pattern which needs a fabric with drape. The previous, cotton, version has not softened over time, and the gathers at the waist bunch up awkwardly. In fact, I'm considering unpicking them and pleating the fabric instead. The viscose works perfectly, however. I founds some buttons which matched the brown of the flowers, and I think that they provide just the right level of contrast.

The completed dress

On top of this, the navy background went well with the blue hood of my graduation robes.

With my robes and degree certificate

(As a side note, I was unreasonably happy to finally get to wear a mortarboard. I did my first degree at Liverpool, and the female graduates weren't allowed to wear mortarboards at the ceremony - we had to wear weird square berets instead, which were a nightmare to keep on. I haven't exactly been nursing a grievance for 34 years, but still.)

Anyone who followed the progress of my Masters on this blog (thank you!) will be familiar with the Dissertation Police and their vital role in getting me over the finishing line. So it seemed only right that they accompanied me to the ceremony at Chester Cathedral. My parents meanwhile watched the livestream from the comfort, and warmth, of their own home - the cathedral isn't the cosiest building to sit in for two hours.

Flanked by the police, F and D (aka the Gentleman Caller)

Not only did this end up being the perfect dress for the occasion, it became my March dress for the Vintage Sew A Dress A Month, and it also used up some stash fabric as well. Although I do have to confess that some fabric has been bought recently. I've discovered the Ditto Fabrics website, which I fear may be a Very Bad Thing. I tried to resist, honestly I did, but then I came across this.

Because who doesn't want a dress with pineapples on it? (image © Ditto Fabrics)

So fabric has gone out, but fabric has also come in.

Still in credit

* - Just to be clear, Vogue 1277 hasn't been completely abandoned. I still want to make it, but it's now more of a long-term project.


  1. Congratulations! You look wonderful--and very happy.