Friday, 12 May 2017

The Vogue Cocktail Hour Sew-Along! - Floral Brocade V1537

Today it's my turn to share with you the outfit I've made for the Vogue Cocktail Hour Social Sew-Along in aid of The Eve Appeal! I really enjoyed taking part in their Big Vintage Sew-Along last year and am delighted to be one of the bloggers spreading the word about their campaign this year. McCalls UK have selected a variety of cocktail hour appropriate patterns including dresses. jumpsuits and separates. The proceeds of the sales of these patterns from March right through until November will be donated to The Eve Appeal who are the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers. They do invaluable work focusing on risk prevention, early detection and screening. There are a whole host of fantastic bloggers taking part in the sew-along and sewing up their choice from the patterns to show you their potential and inspire you to make your own!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade V1537 Coat and Dress

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

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!

Do take some time to check out the other patterns you can by to support the campaign and keep your eyes peeled for the other projects over the next six months. I can't wait to see what everyone has been up to! 


26 comments:

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    1. Thank you! I've never felt so trendy in an outfit!

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  2. fiona, this is beautiful! it sounds like your fabric definitely tested your patience but it was so worth it, the end result is really stunning! i'm so worried my make won't be half as good hehe.

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    1. Thanks Rachel! That fraying definitely was a test but in other ways the fabric wad lovely to work with and has turned out to be perfect for this design. Your's is going to be ace I'm sure! Looking forward to seeing what you've been up to!

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  3. Ooh, fabulous work! I'm sewing the coat for the blogger tour. Haven't even started yet!! How long do you think it took you to sew these? I really should get cracking.

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    1. Haha I was the same a couple of weeks ago Karen! It is a really time consuming project because of all the little details. I reckon probably four days worth of sewing but hard to say for sure as I did it in bits and pieces...one of those was just cutting out and a good 5 hours or so of hand sewing. Enjoy it though! It's a lovely project to get your teeth into and I can't wait to see yours! Thanks

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  4. How absurdly lovely! I was just looking at this combo as a contender for a wedding guest outfit. It'd be hard to find a more beautiful fabric for this pattern!

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    1. It's the perfect wedding guest outfit Morgan! Go for it! The mini length stops it from feeling too twee.
      I'm really happy with my fabric choice even though that much print isn't something I'd usually go for. I know I'll get so much wear out of both pieces individually too

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  5. Everything about this is lovely. Beautiful fabric a stylist pattern and such lovely sewing. You have done such a great job. I really hope that you wear both of these a lot. The coat would look great over simple separates wouldn't it?

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    1. Ah thanks so much Rosemary! It is a great pattern packed with unique details and I'm really proud of the finishing
      You are absolutely right and I think the coat over simple slim trousers and a t-shirt with pumps will become my new favourite 'going out' outfit!

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  6. Stunning work Fiona, both the dress and coat look wonderful. I agree, they work brilliantly as separates but I think for a winter wedding the two together would look amazing! I love the combination lining/facing details too, it gives it such a professional finish. xx

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    1. Thanks Jane! I've never had such a statement piece of outerwear before and am loving it! Need to pluck up the courage to go bold with the winter wedding!
      The finishing is my favourite thing about this pattern. I'm really proud of it

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  7. Do it! Wear the combo to the wedding! It is stunning and botanical prints are all over the high street right now. You can button up the coat for the ceremony and let your little black dress out for the reception. Love the shoes too!

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    1. Thanks for the post of confidence Cathy! I'm swaying towards doing it now! I think the combination of party dress and classy coat is what makes this perfect for a wedding. Such a great pattern

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  8. This is fabulous, and would be perfect for a wedding! Absolutely loving the fabric, and as I have this pattern and plan to make the coat, it's great to see it made up and read what you think of it.

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    1. O great Lynne! Enjoy. It is a challenge but a really enjoyable one and nothing your couldn't tackle with confidence. A really good style for us petite ladies too! Thanks

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  9. So much awesome - love this ensemble! That cheeky back on the dress is so much fun ;o)

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    1. Thanks very much! I love the cut out back on the dress. Cheeky like you say but not overly exposing and great that I can still wear my usual bra

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  10. What an absolutely gorgeous get up!! Just love it. I feel for you with the fraying brocade but wow, so worth it. You look amazing! x

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    1. Thanks so much Janene! I thought it was quite a statement for me compared to my usual wardrobe but feel surprisingly comfortable in it. Love both the pattern and the fabric!

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  11. This outfit is so, so pretty! I am totally in love with it - and the inside of the dress is so pretty, too! I hope you get lots of wear out of it!

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    1. Thanks Melanie! The insides are probably my favourite aspect! I love the combination of a lining and facing. I can see this being a very versatile combo in my wardrobe

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  12. I am making a mint green boucle coat -- the Pilvi coat -- but it's just like your coat. I'll wear it with jeans, probably, but it occurs to me that it looks exactly like the coat my mother wore on an Easter Sunday in the 60s. How perplexed the Easter ladies would have been to see how we wear these coats. I love this and it gives me a great idea to make another. I do like it as the complete outfit but I immediately thought it would look so cute with jeans and a tee!!!!!

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    1. O that sounds gorgeous Colleen! You shall have to let me know how you get on, I'd love to see some pictures.
      I'm sure they'd be absolutely fascinated by the way we wear things now! I think the coat will be getting most wear with jeans!

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  13. Oh, I love this pattern and am so glad to read your post about it. Thanks you for all the juicy details!

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    1. Thanks Grace! I'm glad you enjoyed it. The juicy sewing details are what I most like to read about! It's a great pattern, I very much recommend it if you're looking for a project to get your teeth into

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!