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!

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