Tuesday, 2 May 2017

D&G Sundress: Vogue 8974

There was an icy wind blowing down the street the other night as I walked home from the station, trying very hard to imagine being warm. Despite the sunshine in these photos, Sydney weather has turned the corner, and the evenings have a bite to them.

I thought about this summer dress, waiting to be blogged, but frankly it didn't warm me up at all...

...all it did was remind me I needed to get cracking and write the blog post!!

The dress is Vogue 8974 which I imagine you've already seen blogged here and here, or in one of its many other blogged incarnations.  I started sewing this dress back in 2015 (!!), tweaking a muslin till the fit was perfect, but when I applied my adjusted pattern to the good fabric (Dolce & Gabbana textured cotton from Tessuti Fabrics - and no, pretty sure they don't have any more of it), the fit was completely off, and much looser than in my muslin.

I focused on aligning the centre front and back chevrons, then put the dress aside till the following summer.

In 2016 I got thinner, and when I came back to this dress the fit was even looser.

I sewed the main seams, set in an invisible zip in lieu of side snaps, moved the shoulder straps to line up the stripes (oops, a cutting out misalignment) and then spent hours and hours pinning and re-pinning the dress to take in all the saggy areas.

And then I put it aside again, wary of committing to so many adjustments.

I got it out AGAIN a few months ago, and hooray, I'd gained lots of weight and the dress now fit me perfectly!  #silverlining

Unfortunately by the time I'd finished up all the hand stitching on the inside of the dress (sewing opened seams flat, attaching facings to seams,sewing up the hem... ) I'd gained yet more weight, so in these photos you are not seeing that wonderful moment of perfect fit; you're seeing my "this is slightly too tight but I'm smiling anyway" version of fit :(.  Bugger.  

At this rate though I am hopeful it could fit brilliantly next summer ... or the one after?


Vogue 8974 is a nice little pattern - the dress has interesting lines, a fit and flare profile that's a bit different from the usual, and I think it looks good on a variety of figures. It's a fun one to use with a striped fabric, and it's not super hard to sew.  The pattern includes instructions for side snaps to fasten the left side of the dress, but this is easily swapped for a zip, and you can also omit the belt if you don't happen to have belt-making paraphernalia to hand.

I haven't tried the little unlined jacket pattern that comes with the dress but I think it looks pretty sweet too. I was originally thinking to make a matching jacket with the piece of fabric I have left over from the dress, but then that might just be stripe overkill.

If I make the jacket, or make the dress again, there is one point I'd like to change: I'd add interfacing. How modern, right?  The pattern only shows the belt being interfaced, and while I noticed this vintage feature in time to retrospectively interface the dress facings, the upper edges of the bodice and the side seams, I wish I'd noticed before sewing the strap tubes.

Fit / Size

Arghh. Well, fit is the real challenge with this dress pattern. I found it was a bit of work to adjust the bodice to fit nicely, with darts in the right place, straps laying flat (I didn't quite achieve that - I needed a fitting friend for the back) AND side bodice not too low or high under the arms. You might be lucky and the dress might fit you out of the envelope, but I think it'd be realistic to go into sewing this dress expecting lots of try-ons and adjustments as you go.  For the record my dress is mostly a size 12-14, but ranges from size 10 above the bust to size 18 at the waist.


I made a few "modernification" modifications to the pattern:
  • An invisible zip instead of side snaps - I'm too lazy for side snaps! 
  • Front straps without buttons (couldn't think of what sort of buttons I'd want)
  • Moved the front straps to align the stripes (they shouldn't be set back from the "V" but should continue its line), and next time I'd angle the back straps to make them sit flush against my back
  • Used my overlocker instead of turning under and stitching down seam allowances on the facings
  • Used interfacing on bodice edges, side seams and facings
  • Added height to the bodice as when the dart was in the right place the bodice cut looked too low 
  • Skipped the belt in favour of showing off the chevrons at the waistline

From memory I think I also changed the grainlines of the pattern - I really, really wanted those chevrons down the front and back, but that meant cutting the centre front (CF) and centre back (CB) seams on the bias.  I intended for the chevrons from the bodice and the skirt to meet at the waist in a double ended point, but I mustn't have measured carefully enough when I was cutting out, and that double point doesn't quite work out.


On a completely different topic, in case you were wondering where I went between February and April... I went nowhere; life just got crazily stressful, both at work and at home.

The full time job I mentioned towards the end of this post grew a couple of months ago when my colleague in the team left the company for an amazing overseas role, and I've been stretched trying to cover both our roles ever since.  We've recently been interviewing to fill the position, which was going to report to me (yay, a manager job!), and I was hopeful we'd be making a job offer in the next few days, but on Thursday night I was given the bad news that my Department has decided to save money by not filling any vacant positions for the rest of this FY.   I'm not sure what I'm going to do now, but I know I'm not prepared to kill myself for another 6+ months doing two jobs.

On the home front things are going nicely at the moment, but that's after a couple of pretty intense months with my daughter spending a few weeks in hospital, my son starting high school, the cat developing severe allergies, and my dad and his partner both in and out of hospital for surgery and tests. My daughter is hopefully having a preventative operation in a few weeks, and dad's having more surgery next week, but hopefully after that the health worries will ease off.

So - that's why I was MIA! I used to think sewing was my form of relaxation, a contrast to the frustrations and stresses of work and family life, but it turns out that when the stress is ramped up I just don't have the mental bandwidth to sew.


And back to the sewing... Marie of A Stitching Odyssey has been running the Vintage Pattern Pledge since 2014, and I joined in last year (somewhat unsuccessfully, you could argue) and the year before.

Here's all I managed last year against my vintage pledge:

Vintage Vogue skirt
Vintage DVF dress

This year I'll be having another go at pushing myself to sew from my vintage patterns - and I'm delighted that after three attempts this dress finally counts towards my pledge!

During 2017, I, Gabrielle of Up Sew Late, will sew up or finish sewing at least four of my vintage or reproduction sewing patterns. 

I'll try to blog again soon - I've got swimmers, frocktails dresses and a couple more tops to share with you as soon as I can get my photos in order :).

Happy sewing

Gabrielle xx

Monday, 6 February 2017

Irregular Checks Collared Shirt (Vogue 2634)

I intend to get through several of those items listed in my New Year's Resolution post, but with Sydney frocktails less than two weeks out I'm not letting myself go near any sewing that isn't The Dress.

And accordingly let's move onto the blogging backlog.

This one is an oldie but a goodie - a collared shirt I sewed up years ago but which I'm still wearing every now and then :). To be honest, the shirt's fit these days is not what it used to be (it used to be loose) but no buttons are actually popping, so it's still passable. I used Vogue 2634 for this shirt: the pattern was issued in 2002 so would definitely be out of print by now, but if you do come across it in the second hand store it's worth at least considering for purchase. That is unless you want long sleeves on your shirt, in which case please read Katherine's review of this pattern.  Actually you should read it anyway - she is not such a fan of this pattern, but a second perspective is a good thing!

The pattern describes itself as follows:

Loose-fitting top (three-lengths) has collar, collar band, slightly forward shoulder seams and short or below-elbow sleeves with stitched hems or long, two-piece sleeves with pleats/button cuffs. A: shaped hemline. A, B, C, D: pocket variations. B, D: flaps. D, E: sleeveless, side slits.

Mine shirt is hip-length with short sleeves - it's essentially view D with the short sleeves of view B.

I used a lovely white linen with irregular checks in navy blue - I think the occasional breaks in the navy blue lines probably represent a printing flaw, but I don't mind the way it looks. Oh and there's a small navy blob on one shoulder because all along one edge of the fabric was a navy shadow print of figures playing sport, and I didn't have quite enough fabric to entirely avoid them. I think my small blob is the top of a baseballer's head :).

The navy blue thingamabub hanging on the coathanger is a half-baked idea - yeah, that's what they look like :). Back when I made the shirt I had this idea it would be cool to have a sort of reference to uniforms and epaulettes that I could wear with the shirt when I so desired - and I sewed up this little thing with D rings only to find I couldn't attach it to itself or the shirt. So now it hangs with the shirt so I can remember what I was intending, even if I can't fulfil that intention - and that's OK, it amuses me to think I was that impractical!

Because I made this shirt a long time ago, at a point in my sewing career when I hadn't realised you didn't have to sew straight sizes and when I hadn't realised sewing pattern sizes didn't correspond to RTW sizes, I sewed this as a straight size 12.  I also hadn't realised you were supposed to wash your fabrics before sewing them, so while this shirt started its life lovely and loose, over time it's gotten quite fitted as I've grown and the linen has shrunk.

My seam allowances are finished with a 3-step zig-zag but it's held up really well over the years - I won't show you the zig-zags, but here are some close-ups of the button front (which looks like it needed more interfacing!) and the side split:

With all the crazy, non-stop, exhausting heat we've been having in Sydney (and many other parts of Australia too I gather) I'm thinking the sleeveless variant of this shirt would be ideal for work. [Just how do men cope in summer with their suits and long sleeved shirts?] Possibly a size up though, and with pre-washed fabric...

See you soon

- Gabrielle xx

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