one-piece wardrobe

Vogue 8996

Pattern: Vogue 8996
Fabric: 100% cotton tartan from Fabric Depot
Size: 6
Adjustments: 1.5” removed from bodice length, taken in by ~2cm from bodice side seams and shoulder seams, shortened by several inches.
Location: Natural History Museum – Vienna, Austria

I picked up this 100% cotton plaid over the summer at Fabric Depot, one of my favorite Portland fabric shops. I believe it was on a sale bolt and unfortunately cut into two lengths: one at 2 yards and the other at 1. Since it was so cheap (and since I have a weakness for plaids and yarn-dyeds), I ended up grabbing all of what was left. Besides, small limitations like this tend to stoke my creative flame more than infinite freedom does.

It’s a twill weave, which gives it some body and a nice drape despite it being on the heavier side. Initially, I thought it would make a great pair of coveralls, but I was skeptical on whether I’d have enough fabric with it being a split yardage. I also feared that a pair of coveralls, if not fitted properly, could end up just looking frumpy. Finally, I had left the coverall pattern I was most tempted to sew up—a vintage Betsey Johnson number—back in Portland.

I landed on a slight compromise to the coverall idea: a pinafore. I used Vogue 8996 as a base, taking several inches off the length to perk it up a bit. The style lines on this dress are what drew me in; I love how the front of the bodice extends down into the skirt, omitting a seam between the skirt and the bodice on just that panel. The skirt itself is a gored circle, with so much volume and flair while still lending itself to pattern play. I also love that this dress includes in-seam pockets; not in the side seams as one might expect but rather in the seam connecting the front-side skirt panel to the center front panel.

To emphasize the contrasting plaids and angles, I added in a flat-piping along the front bodice and skirt seams. The flat piping runs at it’s full width through the skirt and tapers to nothing from the waist to the bust dart. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. This was my first time doing piping of any sort, and it was surprisingly a simpler process than I had envisioned, though I imagine sewing piping with cording would be more challenging than flat-piping. The most challenging part was visualizing how to attach the piping along an in-seam pocket, while still using french seams as well. The image above shows the exterior flat piping on the left and the interior french seams on the right.

I did, however, do my best in pattern matching throughout the bodice. I did kind of fudge up the pattern matching on the back zipper, and I ended up asking my Instagram friends about whether or not I should rip it out and sew it back in. To be honest, my instinct was to try it again, but I was told by nearly 50 fellow Seamsters that I should leave it as is. So, as you can see above, my couple millimeter skew has stayed as is, and I’m surprisingly really happy to be flaunting such a “major” flaw. I matched at the side seams (though that matching was lost when I had to take in a couple cm for fit), at the back center zip, and as well as I could with each skirt panel where it attaches to the bodice. Because of the curved nature of these bodice-skirt seams, it’s less technical matching and more of a feel for how one stripe leads into another, and I’m okay with that.

My favorite part about any given dress is usually the pockets, and this baby is lined in a navy silk Habotai I picked up as a yard remnant at Mill End for less than $10. It always feels so amazing to sink your hands into something as soft and luxe as silk, especially as a very tactile person, and this kind of luxury only costs a less than a dollar per pocket when you can buy a remnant and use it repeatedly.

It’s actually also helpful when fabric shopping in foreign languages. I know that might sound a little insane, but hear me out. Often, when fabric shopping abroad, the fabric content isn’t always labeled in a language you speak and sometimes it’s not labeled at all. I can often feel the general fabric content of certain fibers, especially if my hands are “fresh”. But after feeling up a dozen or so synthetics, my hands start to get confused (okay, now I sound really crazy). My pockets then act as a palate cleanser to remind me of the qualities I’m looking for.

A friendly tip: when you’re sewing with a silk you plan on building into a garment you’d wash regularly in a machine, prewash it in a garment bag on the highest/hottest setting you could imagine yourself washing the garment in. Outside of taffeta, I’ve not had a silk cloth react poorly to being washed in a machine, but YMMV. It’ll bleed out whatever dye would come out of it anyway, the texture may harden just a tad, and you’ll be able to see how it reacts to a regular washing machine treatment. I think this was washed at 20C, which is the hottest I’d let any of my darks or Me-Mades go in anyway. And at the end of the day, it’s just pockets. If they get a little worse for wear, well… it still won’t be something I regret sinking my paws into.

But my only qualm with these luxe silk pockets (and this is a mistake I make more often than I’d like to admit) is that they are actually quite low for my paws. I often don’t follow the guideline for where pockets should land on a pattern because most of the time, ideal pocket placement is subjective, and I’m shorter than most people. Instead, I put the garment on or hold it up and check for my ideal placement. And most of the time, I make the mistake of measuring the placement for the top of the pocket opening rather than the bottom. Sometimes my pockets land so far low that I have to lift the skirt up to reach whatever is hiding at the bottom of my pocket, as is the case for this dress. I’m really hoping that writing about it publicly will keep me from making the same mistake in the future. Admitting I have a problem is the first step in fixing it, right?

For construction, I used one long french seam on the front bodice bust darts and skirt seam, with flat-felled seams for the rest of the bodice skirt. French seaming bust darts is a little weird, since you are generally trying to reduce bulk and french seams only adds it if you’re working with a heavy fabric, but it turned out okay. I also Honk Kong bound the back zip seam allowance and used bias tape to finish the neck opening, armholes, and bottom hem of the skirt. Let me be the first to tell you that, aside from the flat-felling and bias tape on the neck and armholes, these were definitely not the best choices for finishing a garment with this fabric weight. I’m honestly not sure what the best option would have been, aside from using a serger, but the fabric is so heavy it just adds a lot of unnecessary bulk. It’s not visible from the outside, nor can it be felt from the inside, so I’m not too concerned about it, but I know there must be a better option out there.

I’m pretty thrilled with this dress, and while the colors are decidedly fall/winter, I think it can be somewhat transitional. Here, it’s dressed down quite a bit worn as a pinafore with a turtleneck underneath, but when worn with no shirt underneath, it’s actually quite easy to dress up or throw on for a holiday party. I also love skater-cuts and fit-and-flares, so I’m pretty positive this pattern will land in the make-more-than-once pile.

We took these pictures while traveling in Austria at the Natural History Museum, which was absolutely beautiful but didn’t have the best lighting for modeling my me-mades. These were also taken after waking up at 6am to catch a flight and traveling for half a day. I actually wore this dress on the flight, even getting a compliment out of the nice woman working the security line at the airport, and while it was extremely comfortable for flying (tights and dresses for flights is the jam), it also picked up a million creases from being sat on for hours. So any creases and crinkles picked up in these fuzzy photos by the dim yellow lighting inside this beautiful museum is due to that. Life happens, you know? Also, despite it’s tendency to look somewhat faded, I’m quite fond of this fabric. Fortunately, I only used two of the three yards for this dress, so I still have enough left to make a V1247 skirt, which I think this fabric is perfectly suited for.

I hope y’all are having a wonderful Friday and a lovely weekend.

xxoo, saki


7 Comment

  1. I love a good pinafore! Yours looks fab, so well made – definitely #sewingGoals for me! I love wearing a pinafore over a shirt, but for that I’d need to make a plain black one so that it goes with everything – and I can’t bring myself to make something plain!! Maybe I’ll just buy one… 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Sarah! You can totally make one… you definitely have the skills. Also, yeah, I’m not one of those people who dreams of replacing my entire RTW wardrobe with me-made things. Although for a black pinafore, maybe you could make it with interesting construction details so that it still screams YOU.

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