Sunday, December 1, 2013

Made by Me Files: Vogue Paris Original 2048 (Laroche Dress).

It's been a while since I have written a "made by me file," but that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing.  In fact, I have been sewing, almost like a crazy mad woman, but because the main focus of this blog is ootd posts and big Boden sales, I have not had the virtual blog space to publish more made by me files.  :-)  (I vaguely remember a time when I was updating the blog more--the time before third kids and school activities started elbowing into all the spare time I had to do updates!)  If you want to take a gander at some of the items I have sewn, take a look here at this Kwik Sew top, these Style Arc pants, and this vintage Butterick girls coat.  I also sewed up a complete Glinda costume for CW, but haven't had the strength to publish that one here or there.  (I am haunted by the ridiculous and over the top puffy sleeves on that one--they are so big they looked like they could eat CW's head for breakfast.)

Anyhow, back to this particular project...

This a favorite of mine, and boy am I glad I expended the energy on creating it.  I fell in love with vintage Vogue patterns after my sewing teacher gave me a few of her patterns from the late 60s and 70s.  From there I realized that while I could enjoy today's patterns (and definitely still do), there is a lot to be said for hunting down these vintage finds on ebay and etsy instead.  For one, all the vintage patterns are single sized, which means cutting out a pattern is much easier.  (I typically take a 12 or 14 in vintage patterns but if I can't find my size, I am willing to put in some extra work on grading up or down to make the pattern fit me.)  Another nice thing about these patterns is that the style of the decade can be made up in more modern fabrics, so while you have a "vintage" dress, it won't come with all the issues of vintage fabric.  (That said, I do have a few yards of vintage fabric that has held up well, but for the most part, it does start to wear down with age unless properly stored.)

I also love the directions that come with vintage patterns, while not overly wordy, they have precisely the right way of explaining how to attempt something while sewing, so I am never confused.  I do find that they expect more from me by hand, but that was also because many machines of that era were unable to do the things my current machine can do.  I decided for this pattern that I would follow the directions as precisely as possible because I had entered a vintage pattern contest over at and one of the ideas was that sewing up the vintage pattern would be as close to what ladies of the era would have done.  Obviously we can't do everything exactly as the vintage patterns ask us to, but when I could, I did.

I was hunting around for some vintage Vogue patterns on ebay a couple of weeks after my teacher gave me hers when I discovered the pattern treasure trove known as Vogue Paris Original/Vogue Couturier/Vogue Americana.  These three pattern groups still exist in some form or another today, and still have some of the hallmarks, like a designer name, a large format envelope, and one or two designs within the packet, but the allure seems to be less so with today's pattern than the ones from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  I am not sure why these patterns are less special, and they may not be, but wowza, some of the ones I have seen pop up on ebay and etsy have been grand, unique, and incredibly special.

So when I was able to buy a Guy Laroche dress pattern from 1968 or 1969 (still not sure of which year) for $16, I was all, "yes, please."  :-)

I only own a handful of these beauties, but slowly I plan on sewing all of them, even though I probably shouldn't even be attempting them owing to my overall lack of tailoring experience.  Eh, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  I'm getting too old to let silly things like being less experienced stand in my way of making a really pretty dress, right?

Anyhow, here it first attempt at a Vogue Paris Original.

This is my favorite image of the bunch since it most resembles the awesome cover photo of the pattern.

I found the brooch in a sewing project bag that I purchased for $12.  I have plans to make the bag for Christmas, but this brooch is exactly the right one for this dress, I decided to get the purse another bit of embellishment instead.  (BTW, that bag project usually retails for $80--I scored when I found that at a closeout sale recently!)

Here is the cover photo, thanks to the wonderful resource Vintage Patterns Wiki

I found the process very time consuming, every direction seemed like it was straightforward, but in my sewing reality, every step took two or three hours to complete.  The very easiest part of the pattern was the very first step which said to sew the darts up in the back bodice.  It fooled me, that first step.

I had the hardest time with the placement of the bib since I was off *just* a hair in one direction.  So while it isn't readily apparent, the bodice's bib is slightly skewing to my left shoulder.

I also struggled a bit with setting in those sleeves, and many of my sewing minutes were spent steaming the heck out of the shoulder seams.  Fortunately in the end, the sleeves look pretty good considering my beginner status.

For all of the time I spent, I realized pretty quickly just how well drafted all the pieces were was nice to see edges lining up just so, and pockets fitting precisely in their place, seams lining up properly, etc., etc.  Today's patterns are fine, but because they are multi-sized, I think it can be pretty easy to accidentally improperly cut your size and end up finding the pattern doesn't work as well together as it could. 

If you don't look at me dead on straight, the bib looks really nice, right?  ;-)

This is a bit of a saucy pattern, at least for me since it is open from neckline to waistband.  I dig it, but this one can only be worn to church if I wear a cardigan or jacket over it.

I have plans to sew this pretty lady up in a heavier black wool (I used a lightweight sage green wool twill here) for the sleeveless version, and with that one I will go ahead and alter the back to zip all the way up instead, kind of like this lady did for hers.

On the hanger, ready for me to wear. 

1. The pattern didn't call for a ribbon at the waist, but I really loved how this satin bias ribbon looked with the green wool, so I figured out some way to add it to the waistband facing, which was kind of hard.  My brain loves puzzles, but you really have to bend it to truly get how something that gets sewn in face in and wrong way up will look when it is face out and right side down.

2. You can see a little of the lace hem facing that I used in the sleeves.  I also used the same lace facing for the hem, and I am a convert.  I may start using facings for all of my hems since they look really good and add a bit of interest to the inside of the item.

3. You can also see the interlining/underlining peeking out of the sleeve.  That was sewn up to the fashion fabric to act as one fabric together.  That was kind of a pain, but for the sake of this project, and for this wool material, it was the right call, so I am glad Laroche's pattern forced my hand.  The interlining also allowed me to hem the facings to the sleeves and hem without the thread showing through the top material, so the hems are seamless, which is pretty awesome.

I shouldn't have to interline/underline the heavier black wool with the next dress I make, which I am a *tiny* bit okay with.  LOL.

This is a closeup of the topstitching on the bib.  I don't know, it looks fine, but the topstitching thread and my machine don't like each other too much since the thread is nested under the topstitching.  Basically it works, but if I snag the thread on something, it easily comes out, which is not cool.  I may rip it out eventually and try again with two regular strands of thread in the needle instead of the topstitching thread.

This is actually my favorite thing on the entire dress, this back closure.  I bought both the fabric and the button from Fabric Mart in their famous bundles, which are these amazing bags full of leftover fabrics and buttons and such for really great prices.  I think the sage green wool came in a $10 small 6 yard bundle, and the button came in a FREE button bag (full of other buttons--I think there were close to fifty buttons).

If you look closely you will see the darts that were sewn in the first step of the project which led me to my mistaken thought that the dress would be easier to construct.  Ha.

Another back view.  I wish the closure of the zip was better, but I won't complain since it works and could look a WHOLE lot worse. 

I have plans to shorten the entire waistband of the bib and back by an inch with the next go since the bodice overall is too long, which leads to a very poufy top when I am seated.  The only place I can shorten the bodice is here since the rest of the bodice has too much going on for me to shorten it with any ease.

Close-up of the lace hem facing.  So pretty!  I hand sewed that darn topstitching thread to the interlining.  It took me about an hour and a half to hand sew the facing to the hem and the sleeves.  Labor of love, you all!

And there it is, in its infancy.  ;-)  If you look closely, you will see stitching lines, placement lines, cutting lines, etc.  The pattern makers of that period were very detail oriented.  You definitely don't see this amount of info on pattern pieces anymore!

Okay, that's it for now.  If you are interested in seeing my review over at Pattern Review, here it is.  I entered the Vintage Pattern contest, so if you are a member and want to vote for me, I won't say no.  Haha.  :-)

I will probably be back tomorrow morning with news of a Cyber Monday sale from Boden.  They had one last year, right?