I think I mentioned a while ago that earlier this year the lovely Cloth House sent me a dreamy bundle of their Japanese cottons and crepes. I’ve been hoarding it all since January, anxious to pick the right project for every piece to ensure it’s used to its best potential. Eventually I had a breakthrough and cut into the first one, and this is the result.
It’s a Vogue 1395, a pattern I’ve had on my radar for a while after seeing Morgan and Lauren‘s gorgeous versions. I grabbed it in Minerva‘s half price Vogue sale and realised it’d be a perfect match for the Paintbox cotton because both remind me of Japanese kimono. Hence why I decided to get outside and pose next to our lovely baby Japanese maple tree, which always pops back into bloom every spring.
Dream fabric and a cool pattern: making this up was definitely pure sewing joy. I’ve come to realise that my favourite types of project are ones where the sewing itself is quite straightforward but the construction is a little leftfield, with a bit of trickery or challenge thrown in. 1395 definitely fulfils that with its double-layered back bodice, the over-layer of which wraps to the front to form the waist ties.
I’m not lying when I say this fabric is probably the nicest I’ve ever sewn with or worn. It’s got a slightly textured seersucker type of weave and while it took a press like a dream it barely creases with wear. Magic fabric! I’m even considering investing in the black colourway for another frock.
I made several flat pattern alterations based on how Big 4s always fit me. I cut a size below my measurements all over, shortened the bodice (perhaps half an inch too much in retrospect), took neckline wedges out, and cut the very smallest size through the shoulder. I still needed to shave more off the shoulder seam towards the edge because the sleeves were winging out weirdly, but overall I’m pleased with how the fit turned out. It’s supposed to be blousy and elasticated at the waist so you can’t really go too wrong.
For once I found the instructions were in a pretty sensible order so I did mostly follow them (except the weird direction to double-stitch every seam – I did French instead), but one change I made was to create a sort of facing piece for the ties. In the instructions they’re just roll-hemmed, but the back side of my fabric is pretty obvious looking so I wanted a neater finish that would only show the right side.
This was quite straightforward – I just traced off the shape of the tie, cutting it off around the side seam point, sewed it RS together to the overlay and turned to the outside. The rest of the overlay hem is then finished with bias binding.
Here’s another yummy detail, a gathered portion at the back neck that’s made by cutting a horizontal slit, seaming above and below it, then gathering and sewing the slit shut.
The whole back with the ties undone – the top layer is just caught in the waist seam at the centre back. I just love this dress as an object, I keep looking at it and petting it. Dork.
As you can probably tell, I’m digging this dress and I reckon I’ll make more 1395s with a few little tweaks: make the ties slimmer and longer because they feel kind of stumpy, try a curved scoop neckline, and try a more drapey fabric for a different effect – perhaps even a knit. You could even omit the top layer completely for a simple elastic-waist dress. Well on its way to becoming a TnT I think!