G’day! Today I’ve got a particularly frothy creation to share with you. The pattern is Vogue 8789, a vintage reprint. Vogues are expensive in Australia, but V8789 is one of those patterns where both variations are so lovely and unique, that it seems better value for money than shelling out the same amount for one basic design. I sewed variation A, which has a bias-cut bodice and v-neckline.
I am an avid op-shopper, and am always thrilled at the possibility of picking up some vintage sheets for a song. This sheet was from a haul I bought several months back, and I’d been keeping it for someone else – why should I waste such lovely fabric on myself when I’ll only wear it around the house? I finally decided I deserved nice things too, and resolved to make myself a full 50s dress from it. V8789 was the perfect choice, as I could utilise the striped floral design in the fabric to make an interesting chevron at centre front.
As is often the case when sewing with vintage sheets, there were some hiccups in the process, but I see them as creative challenges more than problems. The sheet was, I believe, a vintage-style fitted sheet: it had no elastic, but flaps extended from each side, I assume to tuck under a bed. Combined with several noticeable stains (I usually DGAF about stains and misprints in my fabric, but these were quite prominent), this made cutting a challenge.
As a result, my skirt is much less full than the pattern dictates, and even narrower than the standard width I use for my gathered skirts (100cm each side, this was 87.5cm). The pattern actually calls for four gathered rectangles to form the skirt, each 88cm wide. On my body at least, this would create unnecessary bulk and make gathering and sewing all that fabric quite difficult. I still would have liked a more full skirt, if not quite as full as the pattern dictates, but I’m willing to accept my narrower skirt as a trade off for this fantastic print.
As per usual, my skirt has inseam pockets, and as I liked the length, it is hemmed with a bias facing (thank you, AliExpress, for the cheapest bias tape there ever was). I made several fitting changes to the bodice, and even muslined twice – shock! horror!. My first muslin was a size 16 in the bust, 18 in the waist. I was wary of the large amount of ease allowed for the bust, but the ease was so comparatively little in the waist that I felt I should favour a looser fit.
This was a mistake – my first muslin hung off me, and even a friend who doesn’t sew garments commented that it looked huge when she saw it lying on my sewing table. I recut a size 14 bust, 16 waist, with an extra 1cm added to each side seam at the waist. As usual, I made a 1/2″ forward head adjustment, and also let out the front waist darts 1.3cm for more belly room. The original waist dart intake was so large, I also wanted to minimise the likelihood of a pointy nipple dart forming.
My biggest change to muslin #2 was a style alteration: despite my first muslin being too big, I could tell that it would still be a very wide and deep neckline. I really dislike the feeling of necklines slipping off my shoulders, and am extremely prone to sunburn on my back neck and shoulders. Living in a country where the rate of skin cancer is 2 in 3, and being a pale person whose grandmother is constantly having skin cancers cut off, I always err on the side of caution when protecting myself from the sun.
So I raised the neckline by performing the immensely complex task of drawing a line parallel to the neck fold line, 3.5cm up (for a 2.9cm raise and 6mm seam allowance). I really like the vintage vibe this gives the dress, and muslin 2 fit perfectly.
This meant changing the bodice construction. The pattern has a cut-on neck facing, that is simply turned under, with separate arm facings, but I decided to fully line the bodice. I used my cheater’s lining method, whereby I attach the lining to the neckline and armholes like an all-in-one facing, sewing the side seams first before finishing the underarm area to establish seam dominance. I sew and understitch the neckline before moving on to the armholes, so I can understitch all the way around easily. The underarms are more difficult to understitch fully, and I always get a little kick* out of being able to understitch all the way around, like I did in this project.
The “cheating” comes into play when I baste the lining to the waistline and centre back seam, and treat it as an underlining. This makes construction a lot easier, and most importantly, means I’m not unpicking a lot of handstitching if I need to alter the garment. Susan Khalje would probably faint in disgust to see me insert my zip fully by machine, before turning the tops of the tape under and tacking them down, but hey I DO WHAT I WANT.
I moved the zip to centre back as I find clothing with side seam zips impossible to get in and out of – possibly due to my fat head. Centre back zips also allow me to step in and out of clothing, rather than having to raise my arms to get it over my head, which may result in random fainting. Damn body.
The finished garment is what I’d hoped to achieve with this fabric, albeit with a less full skirt. The chevron at the front bodice gives it a unique look, and I love sewing with vintage sheets, knowing I’ll have a garment that no one else does. V8789 is definitely a winner, so long as you keep an eye on the bodice ease, and consider just how full you want the skirt – I suspect the skirt pattern as is would be too full and unwieldy for most. I’d definitely recommend a bodice muslin before making your garment.
Pattern: Vintage Vogue 8789
Pattern details: paper pattern, available in sizes 6-22. 2 bodice variations.
Fabric: vintage fitted sheet, from Salvo’s, cotton lawn for bodice lining
Other materials: dress zip, 12mm bias tape.
– cut size 14 bust, 16 waist + 1cm each side seam
– 1/2″ forward head adjustment
– let out front waist dart 1.3cm for more waist room
– lowered front waist dart 1.5cm
– raised neck 2.9cm overall by drawing line parallel to neck fold line. Added 6mm seam allowance (ie 3.5cm added total).
– lined bodice rather than using turn under neck facing and armhole facing
– moved zip to CB
– much narrower gathered skirt due to fabric shortage, with inseam pockets, hemmed with bias facing
*Yes, I am extremely boring.