Sunday, 26 September 2021

Vogue 2787 completed

I don't know why I'm still surprised when something takes longer than expected, given that it's the story of my sewing (and indeed, entire) life. But I'm certainly not going to be even starting my second planned project for #SewVintageSeptember (i.e. the one which was planned, using a UseNine2021 fabric). My impulse two-tone version of Vogue 2787 is, however, done.

Last week I had a back in two colours and a front in two colours, and was ready to join them and hope that they matched. Happily for me, they did. I sewed the left side seam and then, while the dress was still one relatively flat piece, top-stitched round the edge of the blue section, from centre back to the front.

The topstitching crossed the seam line . . .

. . . and ended 'under' the curve of the brown fabric

Next, I sewed the right side seam and set in the zip, before sewing the shoulder seams. This meant that I was hand-picking a zip into a tube rather than a completed dress, so had more access from the top.

Reinforcing the bottom of the sleeves with tape had worked really well on my second version of this dress, so I took the idea a step further. This time, the strip of tape is machined into place, following the lines of the sleeve hem.

Inside and outside views of the sleeve reinforcement

As an aside, one thing which I hadn't considered was just how frequently I would have to keep swapping between blue and brown thread on my sewing machine - hardly onerous, but faintly annoying!

Anyone who reads this blog regularly (thank you!) will know the agonies of choice which I usually face over buttons. This time, it was pleasingly straightforward. Even though the buttons at the back are almost entirely on the brown fabric, I had found some vintage buttons in my stash which were a perfect match for the blue, and I liked the idea of the contrast.

An easy button choice for once!

The shoulder pads are bought ones, because I wanted to get the dress photographed today, but I will probably replace them with a set made from the pattern.

I must admit that I'm not totally sold on the end result. I hadn't taken into account the fact that the 'curve' of the front contrast piece is very flat at the bottom, and a prominent horizontal line at my widest point is not a feature that my figure is calling out for.

Not the best look

But, the idea of changing the pattern by extending an element round the dress was definitely worth pursuing. I recently read this obituary of Janet Kennedy, the main designer for Clothkits in the 1970s and 1980s, in which the writer mentioned that Kennedy's training in sculpture informed her ideas for patterns which flowed round a garment. This reminded me of something I wrote about my Big Stitch piece back in 2017 - that for home dressmakers the choices are all-over pattern or plain fabric; cloth printed specifically for a garment is nowadays limited to ready-to-wear. So I'm looking on this as a learning experience, and hope to create more pieces with a look that's 'in the round' in the future.

In the meantime, here's some more pictures of the finished dress, including some seated shots.

Dressing it up with gloves, handbag and my Vogue 7464 hat

The handbag disguises the horizontal line

Front view, standing

Front view, seated

Side view, seated

Back view

The gathers in the blue section at the neck make it hard to display a brooch properly, but eventually I managed to get this vintage bakelite number at an angle where it didn't vanish into the folds.

The finishing touch

And finally, the all-important Stashometer. The blue was a far bigger remnant than I needed, so the stash had a net gain from this project.

0.8m added

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Vogue 2787 with a difference

I know I said last week that I needed to crack on with using up some more of my UseNine2021 fabrics but unfortunately, 'it' happened again. (Hint: small, tree-dwelling mammal, UK native species red, imported species grey, rhymes with "Wirral".)

It's safe to say that inspiration rarely strikes me while I'm ironing, but I was pressing my previous version of 2787 and it struck me that the design would lend itself to being made up in two colours, in true 1940s style.

The line drawing shows the dress pieces clearly

I must admit that when I first came across the 1943 Make Do and Mend booklet, I was very doubtful that anyone would have actually taken up the suggestion of making a new dress from two old ones.


But since then I've come to realise that in fact, the look predated clothes rationing. Several Vogue patterns from 1940 are shown with the option to be made up in two fabrics. Some just have a contrast at the front.

Vogue 8853

On some it extends to the back.

Vogue 8864 and 8882

And others have contrasting sleeves.

Vogue 8862 and 8849

And then, of course, I made up Vogue 9546 (from 1942) in two fabrics. So the idea isn't without precedent. Admittedly Vogue 2787 dates from 1948, by which time contrast sections were probably entirely out of fashion, but I wasn't going to let that stop me!

My initial idea was just to use a different fabric on the left front bodice, but I decided that this would look clumsy, and that it would be better if the contrast extended to the back as well. Once I'd got an idea of the yardages required, I headed out to Abakhan for fabric. On a previous visit I had spotted some brown patterned fabric with a slight ribbed weave that I liked, but wasn't sure what I wanted for the second fabric. Initially I looked for something in one of the colours of the print, but nothing seemed quite right. Then I found a remnant which was more a duck-egg blue than the pale blue in the print, but a similar tone.

My over-optimistic plans for #SewVintageSeptember

Plunging the Stashometer further into the red

Armed with the fabric colours, I then created a sheet of the front and back pattern drawings, so that I could experiment with different curves. Because I'm left-handed, I tend to put side zips in the right seam of dresses rather than the left, which made things easier. My first attempt was based on the dart placements, but I quickly realised that this was too thin and that the design needed more pronounced curves.

Trying out ideas

Once I had the basic idea, I put the previous version of the dress on Nancy, and used pattern design tape to create the shape I wanted. I needed to avoid crossing any of the darts, and of course the bottom of the curve had to join the front bodice piece. The overall shape just looked better if it slightly crossed over the centre back seam, and because I was planning to apply it to the completed back section anyway, this wasn't a problem.

The back shape, compared to the front

I had already copied the upper section of the dress back pattern piece onto tissue paper, so then it was a case of very carefully getting the dress off Nancy and laying it flat without dislodging the tape, laying the tissue sheet on top, and tracing off the line of the tape. Finally, I smoothed out the curve, and added a seam allowance.

Very bad photo of the pattern piece in progress

The front of the dress was constructed as normal, just using two fabrics instead of one. The remnant is not a full satin/crepe, but the right side is definitely smoother than the wrong. I decided to use it wrong side out, which involved checking, double-checking, and triple-checking that I had my pattern placement correct!

The two backs were sewn together, the seam pressed open, and the edges neatened. I cut out the contrast piece (nearly getting it the wrong way round, despite everything), turned under the seam allowance on the curve, snipping where necessary, and basted it down. Then I pinned it to the dress back along the raw edges, and placed pins vertically through the tailor-tack marks which were on both the back and the contrast. Finally, I pinned along the curve.

Not sure if I've used quite enough pins here!

The contrast section was top-stitched to the back, and once I was sure that everything was hanging together properly, I cut away the excess brown back fabric and neatened the seam allowance on the curve. Next step - joining the sides together, and hoping that they match!

Sunday, 12 September 2021

New Look 6594 completed

Well, that went better than expected. Way back when I was cutting this dress out, I was resigned to the end result being a semi-wearable toile, for at-home use only. In fact, I've got a wearable dress that I'm very happy with. (Admittedly, I'm not too happy with the photos, but the weather has been dismal here today - hence the washed-out look.)

Done at last!

Not that it was Happy Ever After once the cutting out was complete. The front sections didn't pattern match, probably because one of them was cut close to the selvedge, where the fabric had less stretch than the centre part. (I did take a photo, but then accidentally deleted it while writing this post - typical of the entire project!) Fortunately, I had enough spare fabric to cut a replacement, and made sure that the pattern would match all the way up before I took scissors to cloth .

I finished the sleeves with a narrow hand-sewn hem, to keep them as drapey as possible. Because the fabric frayed a bit, I actually did most of this before setting the sleeves in.

The completed view C sleeve

As ever, I hand-picked the zip. I find that this works particularly well for side zips, as it makes it easier to accommodate all the curves involved. I know that some reviewers of the pattern disliked the side zip but I had no problem with it, probably because I am used to them from using so many vintage patterns. I used a zip 5cm/2" longer than was recommended, because I already had one of that length and the right colour in my stash, and this makes the dress very easy to get on and off.

It's not immediately obvious from the illustration, but there is a deep pleat on the left side of the skirt front. The instructions are to sew this closed for part of the seam, but I left it open from the waistband.

Trying to show the pleat on the left

I'm not sure if the pleat is actually necessary - the skirt is quite full even without it - but by leaving it open the skirt does not bunch across your lap when you sit down.


It turns out that I could have made waist tighter, and I did consider adjusting the side seams to do so, but decided that a snugger waist would emphasize my hips more than I wanted.

I went for a mid-calf length, as anything shorter looked a bit shrunk-in-the-wash. I then allowed a 4cm/1½" hem, to add a bit of weight, so was glad that I'd made my skirt pieces longer than view C of the pattern. Even though it's a modern pattern, it has a distinctly retro look, and I'll certainly be using it again. In fact, it's sufficiently retro for me to consider it my first contribution to #sewvintageseptember.

It's also another length of fabric out of the stash, and therefore another win on the #fabrichoardchallenge . . .

Getting closer to stash-neutral

. . . and another of my UseNine2021 fabrics used (although given that it's only the second one, and it's now September, I need to get a move on with the others!).

Less than a third complete - action is needed

The completed dress has a few odd pulls, and slight asymmetry in places, due to the way I had to cut out the badly-printed fabric, but overall it turned out surprisingly well for a project which initially seemed to have 'disaster' written through it like a stick of rock. And for extra amusement, I decided that my fabric choice and shoes allowed me for once to #poselikethepatternmodel!

It had to be done!

Sunday, 5 September 2021

New Look 6594 - midriff section

I'm giving this topic its own blog post, rather than including it in a longer post about making the dress, in the hope that it will be easier to find for anyone else struggling with the pattern. Only one of the online reviews I could find for New Look 6594 mentioned having trouble with this section, and that was written by a self-confessed beginner. My guess is that all the other reviewers were, like me, experienced dressmakers and so, like me, had known what to do without reading the instructions. But when I did look at the instruction sheet, it seemed to me that part of the instructions for attaching the midriff sections to the bodice isn't very clear, and the illustration doesn't provide much help. I'm not surprised a beginner found it confusing.

There are two, identical, midriff sections for the dress, and these are the instructions for attaching them to the bodice.

New Look 6594 instuctions, steps 12 and 13

Step 12 states to pin one midriff section to the outside of the bodice, pull up the bodice gathering to fit, and then baste the two together. The two pieces should be pinned right sides together.

My dress, with step 12 completed

Step 13 is to pin the midriff facing to the midriff, right sides together, with the bodice in between the two midriff sections, and sew the three pieces together. However, you really have to look closely at the illustration to see both midriff sections in it, and it probably helps if you know what you're looking for.

The midriff facing is only just visible

At first glance, the illustration just looks like the same part of the dress as shown in step 12, shown right way out instead of inside out.

This is what the step 13 illustration looks like to me

My explanation of step 13 would be to lay the right side of the midriff facing onto the wrong side of the bodice pin the three layers together matching centres and notches, and stitch. I also think it would be better if the illustration of step 13 showed the wrong side of the bodice, not the right side, to make it clearer what step 13 achieves. I have tried to show it in the photograph below. Unfortunately, the right and wrong sides of my fabric are quite similar, so I have labelled each part.

What step 13 actually looks like, when pinned together

I always find it far easier to follow instructions if they include a picture of the end result, so I can see what I'm aiming for (especially useful when I'm trying to follow a recipe!). So, for anyone whose mind works the same way as mine, here are pictures of the completed bodice and midriff, from the outside and the inside. (Note: I only thought to take these photos after I had attached the sleeves - I use the commercial construction method of attaching the sleeves first, and then sewing the sleeve and side seams in a single step.)

Completed bodice and midriff - the outside

Completed bodice and midriff - the inside

I hope this is helpful to anyone puzzling over the pattern instructions. As ever, if you need any more information, please add a comment below and I will do my best to help.