Tuesday, 31 May 2011

FINALLY: Vogue 8718 Suit in DKNY Stretch Linen


I started this suit back in February when it would have been very wearable and not shivery weather like now (coldest May in 40 years for Sydney), and I came very close to finishing it in a relatively short time. But for some reason I stopped at the point of press stud jacket closures and taking in / lining the skirt. There was so little left to do that I can't believe it took me so long to get here! Anyway, I got around to finishing the jacket one evening last week, and yesterday I finished off the skirt. 

All along I have loved this suit, but I was quite worried about messing it up, especially in the final steps - which is where I typically mess up. I didn't this time, and I  absolutely love the finished suit. I think it's a really interesting jacket shape - I love that it *makes* a waist, and accentuates shoulders. If I saw this shape of jacket in a shop I would really be drawn to try it on.

It also feels quite an achievement to have made a proper work suit!

The story of the suit - a series of fortunate events
Back in the first week of February this year, first week back at school, saying bye in the playground, I ran into a friend. She was wearing a gorgeous dark grey linen suit with raglan sleeves, a peplum with foldover details and I think also deep pleats in the bodice and skirt. It looked so flattering and unusual that I found myself really wishing I had one like it, to the point of nearly emailing her to ask where she'd bought it. I even went looking in the shops near my office - but I didn't find it. When I realised this Vogue pattern was rather similar I was just delighted.  I ordered the pattern, and popped along to the linen sale at The Fabric Store in Sydney on the off chance. Surprisingly I found a very similar looking fabric (DKNY stretch linen). No excuses left, I got cracking on my copycat suit!

Here's the pattern envelope picture of the V8718 suit jacket and skirt - it's one of those very useful wardrobe builder patterns, so there are also pants, top and dress patterns included.  

Fitting and sewing a suit
I was such a keen bean that I didn't stop to make a muslin or even check measurements - just ploughed ahead with a straight size 14, widened a little at waist and hips. This crazy fast start caused my only real fit issue - I should have made a small bust adjustment and removed a little depth from the front bodice. Otherwise the jacket fits well, albeit with raglan shoulder pads to create shoulders...

Fit seems OK at the back too!
The skirt is pretty straightforward but I made it too large initially, and have had several lots of take-ins on the side seams to get it to fit properly. The pattern has the skirt unlined, but the jacket is fully lined and ends up being quite heavy for a summer jacket so I thought the skirt needed lining so as to be a consistent weight.  I had different recommendations from different people about lining this skirt: one person counselled a stretch lining made the same size, one suggested a regular lining made wider than the skirt (the fabric is quite stretchy) and another said I couldn't possibly make my lining wider than the skirt and that regular lining didn't come with stretch so I should consider using a jersey (!!). In the end I took my own advice and cut and sewed my normal lining fabric a little wider than the skirt.  I then tried it on and wore it for a while around the house with every intention of taking in the lining if it was making the skirt bulge - but I don't think it does, and I don't think you can tell.

Feel free to let me know if you think it is particularly noticeable as it wouldn't be too hard to change, and I'm unlikely to be able to wear this for a while now that we're in winter weather here in Sydney...

Check out these crazy sleeves - the upper sleeve seam line is longer than the lining and is folded and sewn to the lining at strategic points.
There's some hand-sewing on the inside to attach the bodice lining to the peplum - here's a view looking inside the jacket. I used large black snaps, sewn on with top stitching thread (probably unorthodox). I didn't use any of Sherry's RTW tips because I came close to finishing this jacket before starting the RTW sewalong... which I have not yet completed :-(.

If you're on the other side of the globe and contemplating this as a summer suit, I can highly recommend it - so long as you're OK with having more than the usual number of pieces to cut out for the jacket. The pattern is very straightforward and the pieces go together well, and they make a really distinctive suit.


Late Edit:
Audrey mentioned in the comments below that this pattern was an exact copy of an Akris designer jacket, so I went image searching - and sure enough it is! So here's the Akris original in two different colours:

The skirt and pants are quite different from the pattern though.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Teal Blue Wool Jersey Dress (V8511)

I thought I was going to be posting about my finally completed V8718 suit ... but I haven't had the self-discipline to re-fit and line the skirt! The jacket is ready and looking pretty nice on the dummy, but I don't want to show you it without the skirt.

Instead, here's my latest distraction - Vogue 8511 made in a wool jersey. 

I've replaced my original late night no make-up, I-am-a-mess photos with overcast not much light in winter photos - not much gain... 

I really don't sew with a plan. I buy fabrics and patterns with a plan, but then I tend to sew what I feel like. This dress is a classic example - the fabric is a wool jersey, $24 for a 1.5m x 130cm remnant with a 'fault', and all along I was planning for this to be a plain and cosy long sleeved top that I could layer and wear with skirts or trousers.  But then I noticed this post by Carolyn, and recalled that I had a similar Vogue pattern (V8511) to the Burda one she'd used. When I checked the pattern envelope it estimated a sleeveless version of the dress in size 14 only needed 1.4m for a 150cm wide fabric! Given they always seem to allow a bit of extra fabric in these reckonings I thought it worth a try... and laying out the fabric pieces on the fabric I found I could fit the 3/4 sleeve version (pattern envelope estimate of 1.9m for 150cm wide fabric, size 14). Only just, of course. The corners of some pieces were somewhat trimmed but still within seam allowances, and the sleeves were about 2cm shorter than intended.

Here are two more views of the dress, front and back:

and the dress on the dummy:

Pattern comments:
The recommended fabrics for this dress include knits and wovens. Obviously I used a knit fabric, and I started out making this dress in a size 14 with a little extra room allowed around the waist. That turned out to be way too big, and I had to take all my bodice seams in to make it more like a size 12. I think the bodice now fits well, but that was quite a bit of taking in. Maybe it would have been fine in a size 14 with a woven fabric.  I also found a zip was not required with a knit fabric, which is always good news.  The dress has a lined bodice, but the skirt is not lined - not sure why not. I chose not to line at all, and I am thinking to make a slip separately for this and other unlined knee-length dresses. I think apart from sizes needing  to be adjusted for knits my only adverse comment about this pattern would be the sleeve widths - the envelope drawings show fitted sleeves but these turned out quite wide. If I make this again I'll take the sleeves in too.

Here's the technical drawing from the pattern envelope:

If you like this dress, Hand Sewn Home Grown, Jorth and A Sewn Wardrobe have made some lovely versions you might also want to check out...


* * * * * 

A postscript - although I prefer to be able to sew without a plan, I do need a plan.  I have an evening dinner "do" coming up in a few weeks, for which the dress code is cocktail.  I bought some rose coloured lace and a lining fabric at The Fabric Store's 1 day sale on Thursday, and was thinking to make a 3/4 sleeve dress with fitted bodice and ?? not sure skirt. This is what my fabrics look like:

Any suggestions as to patterns (Vogue or Burda preferably) or styles? There's 2 metres there.... if necessary I can probably get a bit more.

Monday, 23 May 2011

One Small Outfit (Skirt, Top and Hoodie)

It's been a crazy week - the flu, way too much work on, lots of non-work issues at work, worries for my son at school, and lots of tears in the mornings as my daughter transitions to a new kindy.  Lots of broken sleep.  And then Blogger updates and consequent problems on top of that!

But finally I have something to show - the result of some Saturday night / Sunday afternoon sewing - a small outfit for my DD, started when the Saturday night project PJs for my DS went pear-shaped.

First up was a quick knee-length skirt, made from a remnant piece of heavy printed linen (plus cute button to mark the front and some lace trim for interest):

next up was a cosy fleece hoodie, which I originally planned to make last year - made using the hooded t-shirt pattern from Burda 9614 in a widened size 4:

and finally a long-sleeve t-shirt, made from some cotton jersey bought for a song at a Tessuti Fabrics sale a few months ago, and using the hoodless long-sleeve t-shirt pattern from Burda 9614 in an unwidened size 4:

front of t-shirt

back of t-shirt

Happily all these garments could be made from the stash - no need to buy fabric or haberdashery - AND all seem to coordinate well.  I want to make some leggings to go under the skirt too to keep little legs warm, and I think I've found a reasonably matching pink striped jersey remnant for that too.  

The three year old verdict: the skirt is pretty, the hoodie is not needed, and the t-shirt is great.  "Oh wow! Dat's soooo cool mumma!"  (I think the t-shirt is kind of cool too... )

Monday, 16 May 2011

Vogue 1193 DKNY in Red

I think this dress measures up!

This Vogue DKNY pattern is rated Easy, and a fast sewer could probably whip it up in just a few hours + cutting out time.

I had thought a dress made up in a ponte di roma fabric would be good for winter (which is what this autumn feels like).

Is it work appropriate??? I'm not sure - it's a bit more clingy than I would typically wear to work, and very loud.  I work in a conservative company, in a conservative Department but for the trendy Marketing Department.  Hmmm.... I could think about this a lot... but on the other hand, the dress doesn't appear to need ironing and is cosy so I'll probably wear it pretty soon.

Here are a couple more views of the dress - I am mostly removing my head because it's late at night and I am not at my most presentable lol!



I made this up in a size 12 rather than my usual 14 because people seem to suggest using negative ease in knits. Because I was using a cheap ponte di roma from Lincraft I didn't make a muslin, just measured the flat pattern pieces, added some width to the waist, and sewed it up as per the pattern instructions. At the end I added 2 cm to the length by removing it from the generous 5cm hem.

Late edit: a few people have commented about the very invisible invisible zip in the centre back.  I hope this isn't a disappointment, but I am not clever enough to have inserted an invisible zip so cleanly in a stretch fabric. Luckily I found that the dress could go on and off without a zip... I tested this with a basted centre back seam before the final sewing.

There was just 1 step in the pattern that I had to stare at for a little while - relating to the pleats, which folded in the opposite direction to expected - so here's a close-up from the inside of the dress:

I think the fit is surprisingly good for an easy dress - but then again, it is a DKNY pattern and we all know Ms Karan makes dresses that fit nicely!

Monday, 9 May 2011

V1247 Rachel Comey Top in Orange Ikat

This is my orange ikat variation on the top from V1247, a Rachel Comey pattern.

front view

back view, unfortunately bunching up the fabric with my hand!

Again, as with my original V1247 top, I am rather pleased  :-). 

This time around I sewed the top in a straight size 12, and didn't grade up a size at the waist and hips. In fact, when I tried the top on it seemed too loose for the way the fabric hangs, so I took the top in at the sides starting from a miniscule amount at armpit level to about 1.5cm at the waist, then grading out again to nothing at the hem. And to give the top even more shaping at the waist I also added a fold-over pleat that lines up with the shoulder pleats. I can still get the top on and off easily, but I have really narrow shoulders and upper chest - otherwise this may not have been possible. I probably should have also moved the shoulder darts in a little closer to the centre to account for those narrow shoulders.

front view

Because the fabric didn't lend itself to French seams I just used normal seams. I would use French seams on a sheer or silky fabric in this top though. 

I cut fronts and backs so that my fabric's border print would be on the sleeve edges, and this meant that these pieces of fabric were cut on an angle to the grain - which I hope makes my shoulders look bigger!
border print dictated cut of the fabric

Also to create a stronger impression of a waist I changed the orientation of the other pieces: I cut the lower front pattern piece (piece 4) on the fold and on the grain (it's intended to be cut as 2 pieces on the bias) and cut the lower side front pattern piece (piece 5) on the bias ( intended to be cut on the grain).

Finally I omitted the bias-cut fabric strip for the neckline and the sleeve cuffs as I wanted enough fabric left over for a skirt for my daughter. On the neckline I used satin bias binding instead, and I think this looks alright although I probably prefer my original version's neckline treatment. With the sleeves ending in a border print I didn't think a cuff was necessary. 

pinning satin bias binding in place around neckline

Fabric details
I bought this fabric last year from Sukarara village in Lombok, Indonesia. This village is a weaving centre which makes a lot of traditional ikat and songket fabrics.  My recollection is that we were told that traditional ikat fabric isn't very wide because it's the width that's comfortable to weave by hand - certainly the women we saw weaving were making quite narrow cloths, and the larger standing looms we saw were I believe for use by men.

My fabric is an ikat because the pattern is woven and doesn't have gold or silver threads inserted between the weft threads the way a songket fabric would, and I'm guessing it would have been woven by a man because it's wider than the women's looms we saw.  The woven patterns are specific to and passed down through families - and although this may be surprising given the muted colours of batik, colourful ikat fabric did seem to be authentic in Lombok!

Photo from Wikipedia, but this is similar to the displays we saw at Sukurara
I don't want to bore you with too many travel snaps, but here are a couple of photos taken at two different wedding processions (yes, if you're wondering, I did get permission to take these photos).  Everyone in the wedding processions seemed to be wearing traditional sarongs. It looked to me that the brides and grooms wore long sarongs made of songkret fabric, but I think others also wore smaller pieces of songret.

Children in a wedding procession - the blue sarongs would definitely be ikat, as would the red/yellow one on the right

The official band in what looked to be an affluent wedding procession

Quite possibly if there were a few of these ikat V1247 tops in a room we might be mistaken for a gathering of celebrating APEC officials!  I hope not!  Thankfully few of my colleagues, friends or family have ikat shirts - and of course I don't get out much - so the risk should be pretty low.

Official photo from APEC 9 in Indonesia

Hmmm... actually those people are all men, aren't they! Risk = infinitessimal!

Finally I should warn you that the likelihood of your seeing many more incarnations of this top is high - I'm curious as to how it would fare in a wool jersey or in a t-shirt material, also in a silk or other drapey fabric and in a formal looking fabric. Too much, too much, I know - but I never had a TNT before, and this could be it!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

V1247 in Charcoal

A new Vogue pattern, and a new top for me - woohoo! This top is made from Vogue 1247, a new Rachel Comey pattern.

I love, love, love the shape of this top, and even though it's intended for warmer weather I think it also works layered over long sleeve tees (yes, I'm still cold!).  I've made it in a semi-transparent charcoal coloured fabric of unknown fibre content.  The shop owner I bought it from said it was a linen-silk mix, but it was ridiculously cheap without being on sale - seems all wrong for Sydney! 

Yet again I've used fabric that's hard to photograph... sorry :-)  Maybe these photos on the dummy will help you see the structure a bit better - lots of french seams, darts and pleats - and pieces cut at different angles to the grain of the fabric.


After checking out Adonising's top (and she made the skirt too!) and making some rough and ready measuments of the flat pattern pieces I went with the size 12, and added 1.5cm of fabric all the way around the neckline as I prefer a higher neckline. I graded out to a 14 at the waist, but the top is in a loose style so that may not have been necessary. 

I made a few more small changes... instead of turning the neck facing to the inside of the neckline I left it as a sort of narrow flat band, which of course made the neckline a bit higher again. To match this band I also varied the sleeve cuffs, and didn't turning them over as shown in the technical drawing below. Because my fabric was a very loose weave it also stretched out along several edges, particularly at the waistline, so I took up this excess fabric with some pleats on the waistline to align with the front shoulder pleats. 

Here are the technical drawings of the top and skirt from V1247:

and here's the back view from the pattern envelope pictures:

FYI this pattern is rated Average /  Moins Facile, but the instructions for the top are really straightforward. There are some french seams but that's about as hard as it gets. I haven't made the skirt (yet - it's definitely on my projects list) but apparently it uses Hong Kong seam finishing, which I've never tried - I'm guessing the skirt is harder than the top!

And I'm planning on making this again very quickly in a bright Indonesian cotton - I'm tempted to make it in a whole lot of different fabrics, but it'd be a bit crazy to build up a whole wardrobe of tops that were all the same shape wouldn't it???

Sunday, 1 May 2011

V7187 (OOP) - Cosy double-jersey jacket

I've just taken a short break from my RTW sewalong jacket (Burda 7576) and linen suit (Vogue 8718) to make something quick and cosy:

It's the short jacket from this pattern:

I discovered this pattern when I was trying to tidy up my overflowing pattern stash - which just shows there's something to be gained from occasionally tidying up!

The jacket is described as a "loose-fitting, front wrapped below-hip length jacket or mid-calf coat"... with ... "shawl collar, back belt carrier, patch pockets and self tie belt holding in fullness at waistline. Wrist-length raglan sleeves are set into deep armholes." This description is pretty accurate, and the jacket has turned out better than expected for something cut out and sewn so quickly.

My 6 yo son, who is a very kind person, gave me several compliments on my sewing of this jacket out of the blue this evening, and suggested I make another of these in more interesting colours or patterns. Maybe!  If I make it again I'll know to have more fabric so as to be able to face the collar.

I know you can't see the fabric properly in the photo - it's a double layered cotton jersey with the two layers lightly attached together in the way of a Japanese double gauze. I bought this last year from Tessuti fabrics, and they do stock quite a bit of Japanese fabric so this may well be Japanese fabric - and it may even be referred to as jersey double gauze. The outer layer is textured, and the inner layer is flat:

And as an aside, I think this pattern has some similarities with Burda Style 12/2009 pattern #119, which I'd had in mind to make for a while. What goes around comes around! Now that I know how well this sort of thing works I may even get around to the Burda pattern some time.

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