Tabs and snaps


I spent some time looking for suitable closures for the jacket I’m making, Vogue 1335. The original pattern calls for home-made leather tabs with snaps applied to them. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to produce anything like that so spent a lot of time searching for toggles, buckles, and the like online.

Vogue 1335 envelope art

I completely failed to find anything suitable, so tabs it had to be. I got these scraps of cream-coloured ‘leather’ from eBay. I very much doubt it’s real leather but it’s the right colour and texture.
Leather scraps from eBay
John Lewis supplied a pack of 10mm snaps and pliers for applying them. Those things are fiddly. Here’s my first, rather wonky attempt.

Wonky snaps

I did better after drawing a lot of guidelines on the wrong side of the leather.

Top tabs

The smaller tabs weren’t so successful. 10mm snaps are a little bit too large so it was difficult to position the second snap without catching the first one in the pliers.

Bottom tabs

But they don’t look too bad when fastened.

Finished tabs

Of course it could all still go wrong because I’ve got to top-stitch them to the jacket yet.

I’m still making Vogue 1335, the slightly mad Guy Laroche jacket from autumn 2012. It looks like a fairly straightforward sew at first sight.

Vogue 1335 line art

But did you notice the top-stitching? It’s something like an inch to the side of the seamlines. Normally I’d top-stitch by lining the seamline up with something on the sewing machine’s presser foot, which works nicely for regular top-stitching of 1/4″ or less. But no presser foot is two inches wide.

What I’ve been doing is using my Elna’s quilting guide, which is a metal rod that slots into the back of the machine’s shank. It bends down at one end to rest on the fabric. The idea is that you slide it over to the width you want and line up the original seamline or stitching line with the quiet guide. Only mine doesn’t really work out of the box; it fits so loosely that it moves around as soon as I start to sew. A little paper and sellotape cured that though.

Sewing machine with quilt guide wrapped in paper

Paper wrapped quilt guide from the side

And here we have reasonably straight one inch top-stitching. There are welt pockets too. I already blogged about making welt pockets and these are exactly the same as the last lot so I didn’t take any construction pictures this time. Very pleased with how they have come out though.

Vogue 1335 construction: jacket front

Vogue 1335 top-stitching closeup

Hopefully now I’ve done the pockets and worked out how to do the top-stitching the rest will be simple. There are a couple of inset corners on the neckband but I can’t see any difficult bits apart from that.

It doesn’t seem five minutes since the spring Vogue pattern release and now the summer patterns are out. As usual they aren’t available in the UK yet but that never stops me picking my favourites.

The designer section is strangely samey this time around: it’s one sweetly feminine dress after another. If that appeals, there are plenty of interesting variations to choose from. Want scallops? 1398 has you covered. Peplum? See 1399. Lace? Try 1393. Pleats and a button back? 1394, although making it up in a splashy print as in the photo below completely hides the details.

Vogue 1394 envelope photo

If you’re not into sweet and feminine there are a couple of edgier styles. DKNY has a throwback to the eighties in 1396 (and for the avoidance of doubt, that is a good thing.)

Vogue 1396 envelope photo

And Guy Laroche has an unusual shirtdress, 1400. I’m not convinced by the pockets over the bust, but look at the cut-out shoulders and the bands. I recommend clicking through to the Vogue website because the back view is good as well. Now if only we get a summer this year.
Vogue 1400 envelope photo

There are two new Vintage Vogue patterns: 9000 is a cute shirt-styled dress, and 8999 is a dress with a fabric hogging 20 gore skirt. You’re going to need about six metres of wide fabric to make it, but the end result will be spectacular. The pattern includes a bolero, but Vogue didn’t photograph it.

Vogue 8999 envelope photo

There are two Sandra Betzina Today’s Fit patterns. 1390 is seriously tempting. The shape is unusual and I love the pintucked version. I’m showing the line art because Vogue only photographed the plain one. I wonder about the fabric options though: linen, silk, cotton stretch wovens, knits, soft leathers or suedes. So, pretty much anything at all then?

Vogue 1390 line art

The Easy Options patterns are solid as usual. Two more very feminine dress patterns, and unusually a 9008 is a pair of shorts. At first sight the shorts don’t seem to have many variations but you can have pleat front or flat front, back yoke or darts, and two types of pocket.

Very Easy Vogue is the most interesting section. There are lots and lots of pretty dresses, but also some more unusual styles. 8996 admittedly is yet another pretty dress, but it has pockets. 8994 is an original shape. And 8992 is an interesting take on the wrap dress.

Vogue 8992 pattern photo

As for the rest? There’s a Claire Shaeffer Custom Couture jacket, which is not for me but is sure to delight many other people. The regular Vogues have a couple of great tops in 8991 and 9004

Vogue 9006 envelope art

Overall it’s a very girly collection, big on puffy skirts and tiny waists. But for those of us who prefer other silhouettes there are one or two options in there. And major kudos to Vogue for providing more finished garment measurements on the envelope. All the ones I looked at had at least bust and hip measurements. It makes such a difference when you don’t have to unfold the tissue to choose your size.

I thought this would be a popular collection- everyone loves a dress after all – but the overall reaction I’ve seen so far has been lukewarm. What did you think of this one?

Vogue 1335 envelope art

Anyone remember this Guy Laroche jacket, V1335 from the autumn 2012 Vogue patterns? The considered opinion of the blogosphere at the time was that it is ridiculous, but I confess I’ve always rather liked the style. It’s had a place on my sewing shortlist ever since it came out. I got some bargain wool melton in winter white last month, so the time has finally come to make it up. It may work out well or I may end up looking like a big white football.

Here’s the line drawing. I think there’s a mistake in it. In the photo the front closure is clearly asymmetrical but in the line drawing it looks almost centered. The pattern pieces look much more like the version in the photo.

Vogue 1335 line art

I was curious enough about this one to go and look up the original. You can see a photo at It’s very different: made up in brilliant scarlet, with much less ease, and a double-breasted button closure. It is heresy to say I prefer Vogue’s version? Although I do wonder a bit about the ease. Here are the finished garment measurements:


6 8 10 12 14
biceps 17¼” 17⅝” 18″ 18½” 19″
bust 55½” 56½”” 57½” 59″ 61″
waist 42½” 43½”” 44½” 46″ 48″
lower edge width 40½” 41½”” 42½” 43¼” 45¾”
length 26″ 26¼”” 26½” 26¾” 27″

I’m not sure how meaningful the bust measurement is. The armscyes are so dropped that they fall well below the bustline; in fact they aren’t far above the natural waist. However the waist measurement is unambiguous. That’s got nearly 20″ of ease in it. The lower edge looks as if it falls at hip level and is two inches smaller than the waist, giving a much more reasonable 8″ of ease or thereabouts. It’s an interesting silhouette, that’s for certain. I considered going down a few sizes, but even the smallest size would still have bags of room in it. And really the point of this style is the oversized shape, so I’ve cut out the pattern in my usual Vogue size and just added length.

On the subjectr of adding length, it’s one of those annoying ‘no provision provided for above waist adjustment’ designs. I think that’s because the very dropped armsyce gets in the way of drawing the usual adjustment lines. I simply added the length I needed just below the armscye. I don’t think anyone is going to notice if the bust point isn’t in the right place on this one.

The pattern calls for interfacing on the facings and neck bands. I’m planning to add quite a bit more: the fronts, backs, and the top of the sleeves. I don’t want the jacket to collapse into drapey folds when worn!

Watch this space. Hopefully the Michelin Man will be appearing here soon.

My search for interesting cycle-friendly clothing continues. The latest effort is the trousers from Vogue 1378, a Donna Karan design. I could swear I saw these on Net-a-Porter at some point recently, but they’re gone now.

Vogue 1378 line art

The pattern calls for a two-way stretch knit. I used some thin neoprene I got from Cloth House a couple of years ago. It’s not got quite as much stretch as the pattern calls for. From what I’ve read about the pattern sizing the style comes up big and most people have had to go down a couple of sizes. Given my choice of fabric I decided to play it safe and make my usual size in Vogue, which is admittedly already one size smaller than the measurement chart would suggest. When I measured the pattern that gave zero ease at the hip.

They have come up pretty slim fitting. The size at the hip worked out fine but the calves are tiny. I had to let them out dramatically below the knee! They also come up long in the leg and short in the waist. I’m 5’10″ and didn’t have to lengthen the leg at all, but the waist is a lot lower than the promised one inch below the natural waist.

The original design has a long slit at the ankle which gives a slightly flared effect. You can just about see it on the line drawing. I wanted trousers that were tighter fitting at the ankles so I overlapped the two pattern pieces for the lower leg and cut them as one, but kept the decorative top-stitching. If I make these again I’ll use the two separate pattern pieces for the lower leg but sew the slit shut so as to continue the decorative lapped seaming down to the ankle.

Here’s a better view of the lapped seams. I posted some details about sewing those last week. Suffice to say this very thin neoprene is easy to mark and sew: chalk markings, a Universal size 90 needle and a longish stitch length work well. Thicker neoprene like the stuff I used for my little black dress is much more temperamental.

And here’s a back view. The fabric has drunk all the light again, but yes there are wrinkles. However they’re pretty comfortable to wear and I don’t think I’d want them much tighter.

I wore these to work this week. I compensated for the lack of pockets by putting my grey kimono jacket over the top. No one at work batted an eyelid at the fabric…or at least if they did notice they were too polite to say anything! And I can report they’re comfortable and warm to wear, especially on the bike.

Thanks so much for all the great advice about how to fix my trapeze dress. I finally found a source of zips of the right style and length on eBay, so I’ve ordered one. Fingers crossed it does the job.

Meanwhile I’ve been making the trousers from Vogue 1378, inspired by Shams’ version.

Vogue 1378 line art

I’m using a very lightweight neoprene instead of the doubleknit the pattern recommends. It seems to be working out pretty well, but the frustrating thing is that the neoprene is black, and I’m sewing by artificial light, so it’s impossible to see any of the cool seam detail when trying them on. They just look like black leggings.

I did manage to get some photos of the lapped seams using the flash on the camera. The eagle-eyed may notice that the picture of the quadruple top-stitching below doesn’t match the technical drawing. I decided to omit the slits at the ankle.

Thin neoprene is fantastically easy to top-stitch. It’s stable, smooth, and very easy to mark with chalk. I made a paper guide for the curved top-stitching lines in the picture above and transferred the lines to the right side of the fabric using a chalk wheel. The chalk just wipes off with a damp cloth when you’re done.

Vogue 1378 seam detail

For the lapped seams I marked the stitching and placement lines with chalk. I didn’t bother making templates for that but used my seam gauge. I used a few pins here and there to hold things together while I sewed, but they don’t seem to have damaged the fabric.

Vogue 1378 seam detail

As well as the lapped seams there are also some regular seams. I sewed those using my machine’s triple stretch stitch for maximum durability. Pressing those open was something of a battle. I had most success when I pressed with a fairly hot iron and no steam, and then put a heavy book on top until they cooled.

Vogue 1378 seam detail

Hopefully I’ll have some daylight pictures of the finished object next week.

Remember this dress? I made it last year as a bit of an experiment. It’s an unusual shape, and has no centre back seam so there’s a zip in the shoulder and the side so you can get in and out.

Notice anything about the shoulder zip now?

Silver brocade dress shoulder zip

Closer? That’s right, the zip no longer has a slider. I obviously didn’t do a good enough job of sewing the zip in, because the slider came off the bottom of the tape! I had cut the zip off above the original stop to make it fit the dress. The bottom of the tape pulled out of the seam at some point and the slider just slipped off the end.

Shoulder zip closeup

Unfortunately I can’t see a good way to fix this. The dress is fully lined and the bodice lining is stitched in the ditch through all layers at the empire seam, so any attempt to replace the zip will involve a lot of ripping out and hand sewing, and will probably look terrible. I am no use at all at hand sewing.

I had the idea of stitching an exposed zip over the top of the invisible zip, hiding it completely. But I completely failed to find any zips for sale online which combined the right length, colour, and reasonable postage costs. None of the bricks and mortar sewing shops near me had anything suitable either.

Then I thought of putting a frog closure over the gap and mail ordered a couple of these, described as ‘small frog fasteners’.

False frog

Only it turns out they aren’t frog fasteners, they are ‘fake’ frog fasteners. Great if you don’t need your dress to actually open, but they’re not going to work for me. Also I’m no longer convinced a frog fastener would hold the shoulder together well enough.

I’m stumped. Anyone got any bright ideas for fixing this? Or know of a UK shop with a good range of zips?


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