The Vogue Cocktail Hour Sew-Along! – Floral Brocade V1537May 12, 2017 / byFiona Parker / Categories : Feeds
So this is the maddest outfit I've ever made and I LOVE it! I chose the pattern before the fabric and then had real trouble deciding what I wanted. I often sew with soft and drapey fabrics so the fact that this requires fabric with a bit of structure which is also occasion appropriate was a nice challenge. The idea of using a jacquard/brocade like the sample garment appealed to me but everything I was coming across seemed a bit home dec/old fashioned/something I'd use for a period costume at work! I was after something fun and contemporary. I decided to hit Goldhawk Road and after not much success finally spotted a roll of this amazing floral brocade hidden away in Classic Textiles. Just after buying it I discovered that Fabrics Galore also stock it and have seen it pop up on social media a few times since. Rumana took full advantage of the amazing inverted colour-way on the reverse and made a great reversible sweatshirt style top out of it!
This brocade has an amazing texture to it which appears slightly crinkled and almost quilted in the way that the flowers seem to rise out of the black background. The texture means the fabric has a bit of give in it as the texture can be flattened out which makes it interesting to sew and also very forgiving to fit! I'm not sure what the content is but there's definitely a bit of poly in there so I kept my iron on a mid rather than high temperature but it washed well at 40 degrees. The only thing I didn't like about this fabric is how much it frayed. Big fluffy chunks come off the moment you cut into it and my floor was more thread than carpet by the time I was done! Luckily both dress and coat and fully lined so it's not a problem now it's done but it certainly made the more fiddly construction elements tricky.
I cut a size 12 which is a size down at the waist and hips from what the pattern recommends but my experience with these patterns has told me that there's more ease built in than I personally like and a 12 does just fine. To make doubly sure I checked the finished measurements which are printed on the pattern pieces themselves at the waist, bust and hip lines rather than the envelope. I'm VERY pleased with the fit and am glad I sized down. The dress has the perfect amount of ease for a shift and I like that it still gives you a figure and has great shape through the back. When I first put it on it seemed a little roomy in the shoulders but has settled into place with wear. If I made it again I'd probably take a smidge of length off the shoulder rather than width as I think the problem is to do with where it sits rather than the size of the neckline. For the first time in a long time I did absolutely nothing to the length of the pattern! Being 5ft3 I normally have to shorten things by an inch or two but I love this as is. It is quite a short style and looks much more youthful for being that length but if I was any taller I think I'd feel a bit concerned about bending over!
This was certainly a challenging and time consuming project but a very enjoyable one. There are huge number of techniques and steps to work through and no less than 28 pattern pieces! Just the cutting took me a day. The coat wasn't as complex as the winter coat I made myself back in January as I wasn't contending with a thick wool but it contains pretty much the same number of techniques and elements. Luckily as it was only a few months ago that I made that one the method felt quite familiar so I went into it with confidence. To make the process a little speedier I actually tackled the instructions in all the wrong order and did the coat and dress simultaneously so I could pin lots of pieces, sew lots of pieces then press lots of pieces without having to move around too much. I assembled all the little bits and pieces like the pockets, sleeve tabs and collar first so they were just ready to attach when I got to that point in the instructions.
To my surprise I discovered that the trickiest part sewing wise was in the dress rather than the coat. The finishing techniques on this pattern are to die for and one of my favourite things is the facing and lining combination inside the the dress. Attaching that shaped lining to the facing a sewing the deep v of the centre back was definitely a challenge that required accuracy and patience! I'm really delighted with the way it turned out though and almost want to wear the dress inside out. It's such a stunning feature.
This design is labelled as advanced but I wouldn't class myself as an advanced dressmaker and wouldn't say you need to be to tackle this one. If you break it down into small chunks and take your time it's entirely manageable. You definitely do need a bit of dressmaking and basic coat making experience under your belt though as I think you'd benefit from an understanding of how these kind of garments come together. The instructions are very thorough and clear but do rely on you having a bit of sewing knowledge.
Always daunting when sewing a coat is the fact that you start with your bound buttonholes! The method in the pattern instructions is different to the one I followed when I made my coat but I decided to go with the pattern instructions this time. I think I'll go back to the method from 'Couture Sewing Techniques' next time as I didn't get as clean a finish this way and it was difficult to get crisp and even welts in this textured fabric. The fraying of the brocade made them particularly difficult, especially when it came to slashing and turning in the edges inside the coat to finish off. I didn't enjoy that part at all!
I pretty much stuck to the instructions all the way through as they're great. I was confused by the ease stitching instructions for the front and back princess seams as it said to ease stitch the centre front and back pieces when I would have thought it should be the side pieces as that is the larger curve that you are trying to fit into the smaller. As it was I had no trouble easing in those areas by hadn't without gathering stitches.
The only other time that things got confusing was attaching the coat lining to the facing as you are meant to sew down to the small circles near the hem but I couldn't see any small circles! There was a notch but that seemed quite high up from the hem. I sewed to that point anyway figuring if the gap was bigger than usual I'd just have to sew more by hand. There's A LOT of hand stitching involved in the coat. You could avoid a lot of it by bagging out the lining but I quite enjoyed sitting by the tv and closing everything up nice and accurately!
I love that the coat includes top-stictching. It's another of those little details that really elevates a project. It doesn't really show much on my bonkers brocade but looks great up close. I added topstitching to the side and shoulder seams even though the instructions don't indicate too as it seemed odd to leave them out. The shoulder seams I pressed open and topstitched on both sides. The side seams I pressed towards the back and just topstitched on that side of the seam.
I chose a plain black cotton lawn to line it as I thought this was a good match for the weight and structure of the brocade and I'm not a fan of wearing those more traditional 'silky' lining fabrics against the skin. I used a lightweight fusible cotton interfacing on both the coat and dress. I was concerned about how the brocade would fuse because of the texture but it actually moulded to the ridges of the fabric beautifully. The buttons came from my stash. I figured plain black and simple would do just fine with a fabric this loud!
Both the coat and dress are packed with little details that elevate this design to real 'special project level'. The swing catches between the lining and dress at the hem to keep everything in place are a lovely touch, as is the fact that the patch pockets are lined. Next time I'd probably trim down the lining pieces slightly though so that they are encouraged to roll to the inside of the pocket.I had a hard time pressing those curved corners and getting the lining hidden away.
My favourite features are the bracelet length sleeves of the coat and that amazing back detail on the dress. I really enjoyed the process of sewing a totally new design detail and love how it looks. It's just the right depth and width to be slightly sexy without being one exposed and I was delighted to discover that the lower strap is in the perfect place to hide my bra band!
The instructions recommend adding ribbon hanging loops inside the shoulders of the dress which I decided against as I didn't want them to peek out when wearing. I'm actually tempted to add smaller ribbon piece inside the shoulders with poppers to connect them so they can act as bra strap carriers as well as keeping the dress on the hanger. It's totally possible to wear a bra with this style but the straps could do with a little help to stay hidden.
I was a little sceptical about how this style would suit me but I feel surprisingly comfortable and 'like myself' in it. I think it's a great look for petite ladies and the shape of the dress is totally timeless; when can't you wear a shift?! The bracelet length sleeves of the coat and it's cut have a slightly sixties vibe (especially in a flower power brocade!) but the combination of shift and jacket is also giving off a nineties feel too.
It feels so 'fashion' to wear both pieces together but I'll be honest and say that it's unlikely I ever will. I adore the dress on it's own and definitely can see me getting a lot of wear out of it but I absolutely love the coat paired with a simple ensemble of skinny jeans and a white tee with black stilettos. I've never had a statement piece of outerwear before and I'm really enjoying it! I do have a friend's wedding to attend in November which the full ensemble might make it to if I pluck up the courage. Speaking of winter weddings, I never know what to wear and this combination of coat and dress is perfect. If my choice of fabric is a little bit much for you I think it would look amazing in a solid, vivid colour of beautiful wool crepe!
This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Diary of a Chain Stitcher
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