Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sewing Easy Vogue

You call this easy?

I've only done very easy Vogue patterns before. Am I ready for the next level? I'm finding out with my vintage Vogue wraparound dress pattern.

Stretch cotton sateen
I found the perfect material at John Lewis in Reading. I hemmed and hawed over a few colourful floral patterns - unfortunately most of them were out of my price range at £16 plus per metre. I was just about to go with the inevitable navy (with small red and white flowers),  but at the very last minute I spotted a stunning pattern of large black flowers on a white field - and even better it was on sale!

I thought I should be able to manage this pattern because there were no buttonholes or zippers. But there are other ways to make sewing difficult, I've discovered. The sewing has taken me over two weeks, mainly because of the complicated bodice.

The fitted bodice is made up of front, back AND sides. And once the pieces were sewn together, I had to attach bias binding on the arm and neck holes and on the tie ends.

Wrap-around dress requiring 3 metres of fabric
and LOTS of finishing
Sewing, I have decided, is basically a matter of seaming and then finishing the edges. I'm ok at the seaming part, but I tend to lose patience when it comes to finishing. Most of the seams are in the inside anyway, where no one will see them! But tidy seams are less likely to come apart, and they are more pleasing.

The bias binding covered up the shoulder and neck seams very nicely, but it was time consuming to apply. First I had to stay stitch to strengthen the edge. Then I pinned on the bias tape, sewed along the fold, cut off the extra fabric, folded over and pinned the bias tape, basted the tape in place, then sewed on the right side of the fabric along the basted stitch. And then removed the basting thread. Phew!

Pin bias tape, stitch in fold, then trim off excess fabric

fold over bias tape, pin, then baste

I thought the whole basting business seemed a bit overkill - why couldn't I just sew the pinned bias tape in place from the inside? But after trying the shortcut method (on the less visible tie sections) I am now converted to basting. Basting holds the fabric exactly where you want it to be, which makes it easier to sew on curves and prevents pinches in the fabric. And machine sewing looks nicer from the top.

I will definitely do more basting in future if I sew more difficult fitted patterns. So much better than having to resew (or even worse, make a muslin).

That said, I still had to do a fair bit of resewing, because I somehow managed to sew the skirt on back to front! I blame that on the fact that I was hurrying to finish before lunch. And for some reason I only attached the middle part of the front skirt to the bodice. That was because I was in a hurry AND I'm hopeless at reading patterns - both sewing and knitting.

But I did finally manage to finish up sewing on the skirt in one day. And I even went a step beyond with the finishing and sewed bias binding over the waist seam. I know I should also tidy up the bodice and skirt seams, but the fabric includes a bit of stretch lycra (or spandex), so is unlikely to fray much. My perfectionist instincts have definite limits.

I still need to hem the skirt and attach the hook-and-eye closures to the side tabs. The pattern advised hanging the dress for 24 hours before hemming, to allow the bias-cut skirt fabric to stretch out. I probably didn't really need to do this because of the lycra, but I figured I could use a bit of a break from all that sewing.