I mixed together two fabric remnants I unearthed at a local thrift store and turned them into a sleek asymmetrical shift dress using Vogue 1673. Learn more about the construction details and see finished pics in this blog post.Read More
In which I set out to make a dupe of a chic Proenza Schouler dress seen at an exhibit at the Costume Institute using only a Japanese pattern book and some delicious burgundy merino wool jersey. See how I did it in this post.Read More
Florals for spring? Groundbreaking. Or not. But what do I care when they’re so beautiful sewn up into this Trinnie StyleArc dress? Check out my pattern review here.Read More
Got a pile of old sweaters that you’re going to throw out? Don’t do it — instead, cut them up and piece them together into a colorful striped knit dress. Check out this post to learn how.Read More
Sheer, gauzy curtains are perfect for transforming into floaty summer dresses. Case in point? I turned this thrifted white striped gauze curtain into a sheer shirtdress that can be used as a coverup at the beach or pool.Read More
Learn to transform an old print curtain into a glamorous Vivienne Westwood-style corset dress. All you need is a lightweight curtain, Vogue 8385 and my free skirt pattern.Read More
Mood Fabrics’ free Primrose Pant pattern is a great pattern to use to sew a relaxed fit pant. Check out my notes on the pattern and pics of the finished green velvet pants here.Read More
I made this sharply tailored jacket using an old thrifted curtain and Vogue 1751. You’ll be amazed how you can breathe new life into old worn fabrics, with just a little (ok, a lot) of handsewing and some couture sewing techniques!Read More
Simplicity 1607 is a pattern for a very sweet Cynthia Rowley dress with unique straps. Read my review of this pattern in this post.Read More
I made up McCall’s 5752, a.k.a. “The Perfect Knit Dress.” Does it live up to its billing? Find out in this post.Read More
After a decade of leggings and skinny jeans, the wide legged/bootcut pant is finally coming back into style! After searching fruitlessly for the perfect pair of ready-to-wear bootcut pants, I decided to make my own from Vogue 9032, a pattern for a classic bootcut pant with fly front closure and slanted side pockets.Read More
I’m generally pretty jaded when it comes to new pattern releases, as most patterns seem to be more of the same old silhouettes we always see. Not so with Vogue 1645, a sewing pattern for a gorgeous asymmetric Rachel Comey jumpsuit. This pattern reminded me of the pleasures of a really well-drafted designer pattern - my favorite part is it has a really unique construction where the seams and darts flow directly into the pockets, creating a lovely shapely silhouette (even on me, with my straight boyish build).
The pattern fit pretty much straight out of the envelope, with no excessive ease (imagine! A Big 4 pattern that isn’t swimming in ease!!!). I cut the small and made only a few (really minor) fit alterations:
Pinched out 1/4 inch at the neckline to reducing gaping and account for my small bust (see pic below)
Turned up 1 1/4 inch at the hem (instead of the 1 3/4 inch recommended by the pattern)
To my surprise, I found that I didn’t need to make my usual straight back adjustment or lower the belt placement to account for my long torso. These are adjustments I typically have to make with Vogue patterns, but I did not need them here.
I generally followed all of the construction steps in the pattern instructions, with a few minor changes:
I did not bind my seam allowances as the pattern suggests (as much as I love a bound seam, I just didn’t have the time or energy to do that here, so I serged them instead).
I catch-stitched the facing to prevent it from flipping out
I under-stitched the pockets to stop them from peaking out (particularly important for me because I cut the pocket out of lining fabric in a contrasting color)
I added a snap to secure the neckline
Overall the pattern instructions are clear, but some of the illustrations are a bit confusing. I particularly found the construction of the pockets and side seams to be confusing, so I made a video that walks through each step of the construction of the pockets, in case it is helpful to anyone else who is puzzled by the pattern instructions.
I know that other sewists who have made this jumpsuit thought that the neckline needed to be topstitched and/or needed twill tape to keep the edge crisp, but I didn’t have that issue - I found that having an interfaced facing and catchstitching it down was enough to keep the edge crisp and secured in place.
One thing to bear in mind - the armhole is low enough to show bra straps. If I made this again, I would cut the armhole piece wider so I can wear this jumpsuit without a shirt underneath.
I absolutely ADORE this jumpsuit. I love everything about it - the shapely seaming that gives me the illusion of a waist-to-hip ratio, the flattering tapered legs that are still roomy enough to be comfortable while lounging on the couch, the luscious soft linen that conveniently hides all of my catchstitching - I could wax rhapsodic for days about this jumpsuit. I literally would not change a single thing about this garment, and I rarely think that about anything I sew.
As an aside: if you’re listening Vogue/McCall’s/Butterick/Simplicity, THIS is what we sewists want to see from you and THIS is how you can stay competitive against indie pattern designers. We want to see more high-end designer patterns with really unique silhouettes and construction details. If you aren’t going to sell your patterns at sale prices any more (as is rumored to be the case in the internet forums), then you will need to give us all a good reason to pay $20+ per pattern, instead of turning to other pattern companies that sell their patterns for $6. Please know that there is a community of sewists out there who appreciate high-quality, advanced designer patterns and would be willing to pay for it - if you keep offering them.
What do you think of Vogue 1645? Let me know in the comments!
Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. It has been a cold, drizzly week here in NYC and I am utterly SICK OF IT. Thankfully I have a cozy new pastel blue coat to cheer me up:
I made this using the Parker Coat pattern by StyleArc. It is a long line coat with inverted collar and patch pockets, and I loved the smart-casual vibe of the coat, figuring it would pair well with my growing athleisure wardrobe. I did not follow the pattern’s recommendation to use knit fabrics, choosing instead to use a pale blue (woven) wool fabric from my stash.
While I like the look of the finished coat very much, I have a few gripes that I need to get off my chest as far as the pattern is concerned. I purchased the PDF downloadable pattern, which meant that the pattern was broken up into several ‘tiles’ and I had to print out all of the pages and stick them together. The pattern was not laid out efficiently at all - several of the pattern pieces could have easily fit onto only a few pages, had they been positioned with the tiling in mind, but instead the pattern was laid out such that there were tiny slivers or corners of pattern pieces that spilled onto the next page. This is frustrating and wastes paper, and is a problem that could be easily fixed.
Another issue is that some of the pattern markings/text are printed outside the pattern area, in the part of the page that you would discard when you cut the pattern out. This doesn’t make sense - surely you want the markings to stay on the pattern once you have cut it out? Again, this problem would be easily fixed by simply placing the text or markings on the pattern piece.
My other gripe is with the shape of the coat. In my (humble) opinion, the upper part of the coat (around the chest area) is not flattering as there is too much bulk around the armhole - it makes me look like The Hulk and I am not a large lady. Some of this might be because the fabric I used was too thick and had too much body, but I took a look at other peoples’ finished projects online and it looks like there is a lot of volume in their coats as well. I can see having a lot of volume in the upper chest area if this was, for example, a cocoon coat where you are going for a round silhouette. This however is supposed to be a straight, long-line coat, and I just don’t think the roundness in the upper chest goes with the straight silhouette of the bottom of the coat.
Despite these minor nits, overall I love the coat, especially the dramatic inverted collar, which looks particularly good when viewed from the side:
This coat is a fairly simple make, so I added a few special touches to the finishing - I added leather trim to the front facing and a leather triangle at the back vent:
The final verdict? I’m glad to have this cozy addition to my wardrobe, particularly now that my wardrobe has gotten increasingly casual. The coat is so comfy I can even dance in it!
What do you think of the coat? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from others who have made the Parker Coat and made it work for them. Did I go wrong with the fabric choice?
When it comes to comfort and style all in one package, the DVF-style wrap dress is hard to beat. There is a reason this style is a perennial favorite — the wrap silhouette is universally flattering, the collar and cuffs give a bit of structure and polish to the look, and the dress can be made in an infinite number of prints.
There are lots of sewing patterns that purport to give you the perfect wrap dress, but for me, the pattern that stands heads-and-shoulders above the rest is Vogue 8379. This pattern has been in print for awhile and it has garnered hundreds of rave reviews from sewists over the years. I myself have made six different versions of this dress, and it is on my list of patterns that make up the perfect set of wardrobe classics. (Check out that list and pics of my other versions of Vogue 8379 here.)
Pattern Alterations and Construction Notes
This time around, I made up Vogue 8379 in a black-and-white graphic print jersey from Emma One Sock. I did not make any alterations to the pattern other than extend the skirt to floor length.
I did, however, add several steps to the construction of the dress, to give it a bit more structure. I wrote a whole article about this for Seamworks Magazine back in the day, but here’s a brief recap of the extra steps that you can take to add structure to your wrap dress:
Pre-wash your fabric. I skipped this step for approximately the first five years of my sewing career, but I have paid for this foolhardiness with at least two cotton jersey wrap dresses that shrank after the first wash (leaving me feeling like Alice after she ate the cake that made her grow bigger). I have written elsewhere about my skepticism about pre-washing fabrics, but when it comes to cotton jersey, I have found that it is absolutely essential to pre-wash. JUST DO IT. Do it as soon as you receive the fabric you ordered. Do it before the fabric goes into your stash. Do it before your brain starts dreaming about your next project and you forget all about banalities like prewashing fabrics. JUST DO IT.
Add elastic at the neckline to reduce gaping in the chest area. We’ve all been there - you lean forward to pick something up and accidentally give the world a peak at the girls (even if you’re flat like me and the girls are virtually non-existent). Trust me, adding elastic magically eliminates gaping, and it only takes a few extra minutes to add. I usually add even more protection against gaping by adding a small snap at the “v” of the neckline, to ensure that nothing slips out of place. (Relatedly, in order to add the elastic at the neckline, I always remove the facing on the front bodice pieces. I hate loose facings that flap around, and adding the elastic neatly removes the need for any facing at all.)
Add elastic at the waist seam. The skirt of this maxi dress is very long and full, so the fabric tends to drag down the front bodice. Adding elastic at the waistline ensures that the waistline stays where it should - at your natural waistline. For those with a couture sewing background, the elastic effectively functions like a waist stay.
Interface the collar, cuffs, edge of the skirt, hem and waist ties. I know that it is always tempting to cut corners and skip the interfacing, but DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. If you do, your dress may look good at first, but it will dissolve into a limp, crumpled mess as soon as you wash it for the first time. To ensure that your collar and cuffs stay crisp, the edge of the skirt stays flat, your hem falls correctly, and your waist ties lie smoothly, ALWAYS interface these areas. Your future self will thank me.
Use the zig zag or stretch stitch on your sewing machine (or your serger if you have one). Most of you probably already know this, but if any of you are newcomers to stretch fabrics, do NOT try to use a regular straight stitch when sewing stretch fabrics - your stitches will break as soon as you wear the dress and start pulling the fabric. Check out my post on sewing machine settings for stretchy fabrics for more details on the types of stretch stitches you should use. Also, if you find that the fabric starts puckering when you try to sew it, learn to avoid that by reading my tips on sewing knit fabric without puckering.
The Finished Product
I love my finished wrap dress, and I think it’s the perfect combination of comfort and style. I can lounge around my house in it, but it’s also polished enough to wear out to dinner at an upscale restaurant. I can throw it into the washing machine and it comes out looking good as new, as long as I hang it up to dry (I have learned not to tumble dry, as the dress tends to emerge very wrinkly and then I have to iron the entire dress to get it looking crisp again).
Want to make a maxi dress of your own? Here’s a list of the materials you will need:
Pattern: Vogue 8379. You will need to extend the skirt to maxi length, as the pattern only comes with a knee length skirt.
Fashion fabric: my favorite online stores for stretch fabrics are Emma One Sock and Girl Charlee Fabrics. The dress above was made with Emma One Sock fabric (sadly, they have sold out of the exact fabric). For a maxi dress, you’ll need 3-4 yards of fabric, depending on how tall you are.
Elastic: I prefer to use clear elastic rather than the lower quality white elastic that breaks frequently.
Good luck with your maxi dresses! Please let me know if you make one - I’d love to see what everyone comes up with. =)
Are you interested in a video tutorial to show you how to adapt the Vogue 8379 pattern to make a structured maxi dress? Let me know in the comments - if there is enough interest, I will put one together.
When I first came across V1636 in the Vogue Fall 2019 lookbook, I quickly skipped past it. For some reason, Vogue decided to style this top with an atrocious pair of flared ankle-length pants (just typing that phrase makes me grimace!). It wasn’t until I saw Erica Bunker’s wonderful round-up of the Vogue Fall 2019 patterns that I saw the potential in this top. The design is inspired by an Oscar de la Renta top worn by Meghan Markle last fall.
I knew that I wanted to make this top in a light pastel color, so that I could wear it with some dark grey pants that were already in my closet. After browsing Mood’s crepe fabric offerings, I settled on this butter yellow 4-ply silk crepe, which I knew would be drapey enough for this design and substantial enough to not require a lining. 4-ply silk is pricey, but trust me when I say that nothing feels better against your skin.
Luckily, the pattern fit pretty much right out of the envelope - I cut my usual size 10 at the bust and hips, grading out to a size 12 at the waist. The only adjustment I made was removing about 1/4 inch at the center back seam to account for my straight back (I’m told I have very good posture). I used French seams throughout and added snaps to keep the top closed (instead of the tie that the pattern calls for). There are two snaps at the waist holding the ends of the wraps in place, and one snap at the bottom of the “v” in the neckline that helps me stay modest.
This pattern includes facings, which I have always hated because they tend to flip out when worn. To solve that problem, I decided to use iron-on interfacing to secure the facing to the front bodice. First I stitched the interfacing (sticky side down) to the facing fabric at the outside edge, then I turned the interfacing out and pressed the edge flat with my fingers (don’t use an iron! This is important). That left me with a facing piece that had sticky interfacing on one side. I then stitched the facing piece to the front bodice, turned the facing to the inside (so the sticky side faces the wrong side of the front bodice) and ironed it in place. I realize it is probably very confusing when described in writing, but I’m happy to share a video with the technique if people want to see it. ;)
Overall, I love this top, particularly the asymmetrical peplum, which gives my waist some much-needed definition. I was initially worried that the peplum would look too large on my small frame (I’m only 5 ft 2 in), but that did not end up being a problem. My only gripe is with the right side of the front draped piece, which hangs a bit oddly. The pattern instructions have you finish the right edge and then “lightly press” the edge in, but on my version the fold doesn’t hold and ends up flipping out at the bottom edge. By contrast, you can see on the original version that Meghan is wearing, the fold stays in place and reveals more of the draped piece below it. I might try tacking the fold to secure it.
I can’t wait to make another version of this top, this time in a more substantial wool crepe!
Pics of the top in action:
Dress form pics: