The title that I really wanted for this story was: My Vogue Pattern Shirt With Added Pockets and Really Hacked Sleeves. But that was just a tad too long.
This pattern is described as a top. It has a full buttoned front, with a yoke in the back. There are two different sleeve options, which in the end, I didn’t use. Overall, I would rate this pattern as intermediate.
I’m dividing my story into two parts. Part One will be how I want to wear my new dress/tunic/duster and Part Two will be all about the sewing nitty gritty.
It Began With Some Stripes
The idea for this top/dress started over two years ago, when I was lucky enough to attend a Kaffe Fassett lecture in Laurence, Kansas. Those of you who knit, quilt or needlepoint will be familiar with Kaffe. For those who aren’t familiar, I hope you visit his website and check out his incredible sense of color and design. Also, a good selection of his fabric can be found at Fabric.com (US) and The Cotton Patch (GB).
After his presentation, there was a pop-up shop of his quilting fabrics available for purchase. I fell in love with a fabric pack of woven stripes and brought it home, not really knowing what I was going to do with all those “fat quarters”. But I thought the stripes were beautiful and had to have them. Unfortunately, these particular patterns are discontinued, but you can still find a few on ETSY.
A month later, thrift shopping with my oldest daughter Michelle, I ran across a piece of denim looking fabric and when I got home I deposited it next to my Kaffe Fassett stripes. An idea was born. I would use the denim for the base dress and use my stripes as much as I could for contrast.
Ideas For Wearing My Dress/Tunic/Duster
The pattern is described as a top, but this was designed for a taller person than myself. I think I can, if desired, get away with wearing this as a dress. If, at home, I would just wouldn’t put a belt on and go easy wearing.
I really like it with my wider thrifted brown belt that I’ve had for years with nothing to really wear it with.
I can also wear it as a tunic with the self fabric belt That came with the pattern. I had fun piecing all the different stripes for the belt.
By far, my favorite discovery and way to wear my top is as a duster. Throwing it on one day as we were leaving to go grocery shopping, I glanced in the mirror and was smitten. I love dusters but never had one for everyday. My gut feeling is that this is how I will mainly wear it.
If you look closely at the bottom you can see the bias tape I made from the stripped fabric to use as hem facing.
I loved playing with all the stripes. There are five different patterns shown on the back (with the collar up.
And Now It’s Time To Change Gears
The Sewing Nitty Gritty
I decided on the Option Vogue Pattern 9299, which is a simple shirt dress with a pleat in the back. The design also includes an optional self fabric belt. At the start, my heart was set on making view B, but that didn’t work out (more about that later).
In the end, I added some things, took away some things and did a serious sleeve hack.
What I Added
As usual, I added bust darts. Bust darts serve two purposes. Because they add much needed fabric in the front, they will gaurantee that the garment’s hem is even. I’ve never understood the clothing industry’s decision a few decades ago that women just didn’t need darts. Darts also makes a garment lie much flatter in the front. It could be said that stretch knits would need less darts, but I draft darts for my stretch knits too.
I have decided that when I can, I am adding pockets to my dresses and tunics. They are so handy. This is a feature that I feel the clothes industry and pattern makers have cut out to save time and money and I for one have decided not to settle for that!
Since I usually finish my garments with French Seams (this one included), inserting pockets posed a problem. I certainly couldn’t figure it out but it was YouTube to the rescue. I watched a variety of demonstrations to solve this dilemma. To me, many seem to have finishing problems, except one. Global Fashion Workshop with Irina Paukshte came has an incredible amazing technique. You do have to follow through an interpreter but the visual demonstration is great and I had no problem getting the technique down. I did make a practice pocket before I attempted the ones on my dress. This might be one of the most important techniques that I’ve learned in a long while.
What I Took Away
It’s always important to look at the suggested fabrics that the pattern was designed for. The fabric used is very tied to how your garment will drape and behave. However, if you are stubborn, like I was with this dress, you might have to make some changes. The pattern suggested fabrics such as cotton shirting and rayon challis. My thrifted fabric was a heavier sort. You can’t tell from the pattern drawings, but there is a lot of fullness in the top. Because I was working with a heavier fabric, I decided to take out a good amount of width down the sides and was not sorry for my decision.
One Unplanned Sleeve Hack
As I mentioned earlier, I originally had my heart set on View B with the ruffle sleeves. So much so, that they were the first thing I made. Oh how I loved those sleeves. I basted them in place and hurried over to my mirror to admire them. Horrors! They looked awful on me and I didn’t have enough of my solid fabric left to create new sleeves or at least, single piece sleeves. As we say around here, “I was up the creek without a paddle”.
But, as we also say, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I had to sit down, get out my drawing pad and come up with something that would work.
I remembered a tunic I made a couple of years ago, Vogue 9089 by Marcy Tilton. I wrote about it in February, 2019 . It had sleeves with cuffs that I loved.
Could I somehow incorporate them into my dress? I could, but with some alteration. Each sleeve would have to be cut in two half’s because I didn’t have enough fabric. Since I had to cut each sleeve with two pieces, why not make a center pleat and insert some of my striped fabric in the sleeves-turn a mistake into a design feature.
Problem-The dress already had set-in sleeve caps. How could I transition the cap to the new section? Maybe a tab? So went my mind to try and solve my dilemma.
This answer made the sleeves pretty busy. But aren’t statement sleeves still in? And I like the peek-a-boo thing going on with the center pleats.
By the time I got to the belt, I was working with pretty small pieces of stripped fabric, but had so much fun piecing them all together. With even smaller scraps, I pieced together a mask-sort of a crazy quilt affair. I still have scraps left and think I’m going to make my two four legged guys ties for Thanksgiving.
This top/dress/duster turned out to be quite an adventure. In the end, I’m very happy with what I ended up with.
That’s the end of this sewing and style tale. I hope you have enjoyed this creative journey of mine. I’m always interested in how many of my readers have sewn during sometime in their life. If you’re new to MeadowTree, let me know.
For me, being creative is like breathing. But, I also was an art teacher for 32 years and so I guess that comes with the territory. What I love about sewing is that we all get to be designers. Even if the pattern is designed by someone else, you still get to pick the fabric, trims and all the other stuff that goes into making something. Even if it’s a simple tote bag, it still reflects you and your personality. You will always make mistakes but that’s part of every learning experience. Believe me, my seam ripper is one of my best friends.
If you ever want to dip your toes into this sewing pond (or get back and swim again), I have to recommend Anita by Design’s YouTube channel. She’s a great teacher and has beginning sewing lessons where she takes you from creating skirts, tops and finally a dress. I have watched quite a few of her sew along classes and think she is just wonderful. Some of the patterns she uses are discontinued but replacements could easily be found.
I am continuously updating it as I find new designers.
That’s finally it.
Take care and stay safe.