Saturday, 23 February 2019

The Bamboo Dress - Vogue v8875

See, sometimes it’s worth being reminded that we shouldn’t be left to be masters of our own taste – because we’d leave so many gems undiscovered. I think v8875 is an absolute gem and it would have slipped right under my radar if it weren’t for a friend.

About a year ago, she approached me to make some bridesmaid dresses and picked v8875 as one of the patterns (the other one being V1172). That was the beginning of my little love affair with the design and I knew I needed my own version too. Here we are:

a cotton summer dress on a coathanger


So what makes this pattern so special? The skirt is relatively long, straight and plain. So it’s a good opportunity to put your own stamp on what happens below the waist. On the bridesmaid version I pegged the skirt and added a vent. On my version I drafted a massive high-low circle skirt (with pockets).

The pattern is unlined with facings, which makes it lovely and easy-going if you like the casual look. Otherwise, it’s relatively quick to line if you prefer.



The true magic is in the bodice. The bodice is a boat neck, cut-on sleeve top with darts, side panels for shaping and 4 (yes, 4!) beautiful inset corners. I’m not sure what sort of voodoo makes it fit together perfectly, but it does. It’s just enough of a sewing challenge to keep dressmaking interesting – let’s face it, making dresses can be a bit dull after a while. The pattern is probably a bad choice for a beginner but great for someone with intermediate skills.

You know I love a good boat neck and cap sleeve combo, so I’m clearly going to be biased in favour of this pattern, but I also think the bodice offers very elegant shaping and proportions for many different shapes. You could make the seamlines the feature of the dress or downplay them as a surprise for anyone who wants to take a closer look. The choice is yours!

So let’s talk adjustments. I desperately wanted to believe that this pattern would fit me straight out of the packet, but after a muslin or 2, I decided it really needed a small bust adjustment (often known as an SBA). For those of you not in the know, many patterns are drafted to a particular cup size and if it’s not the same as yours, you may need to make an adjustment before cutting the final fabric.

Luckily for me, By Hand London made a tutorial a few years ago on adjusting the bodice or the Anna Dress, which is a very similar shape. So I loosely followed that.

The pattern is branded as vintage, though I think the sizing/draft is fairly modern. It does keep vintage techniques and instructions, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. I like the facings, but you could hem or bind the edges just as easily. Similarly, the optional belt in self-fabric is not a basic rectangle, it is subtly curved so that it sits level on your waist. I can’t remember if the pattern includes an internal waist-stay, but it’s probably optional as well.

If you are not married to vintage construction techniques, I’d recommend ignoring the instructions for the inset corners. I achieved nice results by:
  • Fusing a small patch of interfacing to the wrong side of the bodice at the V-points
  • Staystitching the points on the bodice and side-bodice pieces
  • Clipping up to the V where necessary
  • Matching the staystitching lines, attaching pieces together and then pressing.

Fusible interfacing and staystitching. You can overlock the SA afterwards


If you are married to vintage construction techniques, good luck, you probably don’t want my advice.

For my Bamboo Dress I used Nani Iro Rondo SAAA SAAA double gauze from my Japan trip. It wasn’t my first choice for the fabric-pattern pair, but I think they work nicely together. I barely had enough to complete this dress and ended up having to shorten the front to make all of the pattern pieces fit. It was worth it though.



I seem to have a thing for irregular stripes (remember the Anna dress? Or maybe the Drape Drape monstrosity?). The thing is, yes, they are supremely beautiful. I think they bring a sense of life and movement to a design principle that can easily risk being strict and mechanical. They're a devil if they're not on grain though. And they're a devil to pattern-match. So, I did my best on this dress for "pattern consistency" rather than "pattern matching". Hopefully the dense bits and the same shades of green are in vaguely the right places.

That’s about it for now, hope you like it

K

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