Here is my first (and only, for this year at least) Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge make; something of a surprise success, considering that the toile looked very reminiscent of my costume for the part of King Herod’s advisor in a junior school nativity! The pattern is Very Easy Very Vogue 7808, and once I’d disregarded almost all of the instructions, I did find it quite easy. I should point out that there isn’t a weird mark above my boob in real life, it’s just photographed strangely. I took the pictures in front of my mum’s shed, but let’s pretend it’s a beach hut.
I made view A, but as you can see in the photo below, there are some departures from the pattern envelope. It was a really interesting challenge to try and understand the instructions, while using today’s techniques, and to also find a way to make this pattern into something which wouldn’t feel too much like a costume. It’s pretty bonkers, but I’m really pleased with the results!
I got the fabric from a shop in Goldhawk Road (most likely A-Z fabrics), where they had a massive selection of wax prints. I was shopping with my mum at the time, and although I had no idea what to make from a potentially croissant printed fabric (or trees? or kidneys???), she is a very bad influence on me, and I bought it. I might use the leftovers to make a blind for our kitchen!
I tried to make this pattern earlier in the year, but it was all a bit of a disaster – not even considering the King Herod’s advisor part. Considering it’s just a kaftan, this is the project I’ve made that has required the most changes, so I’m going to list them out below.
Lesson 1: Stay Stitch, you idiot!
The instructions have you attach interfacing to the main fabric, not the facings, presumably because it wouldn’t have been iron-on in the 70s. On my first try, I decided to attach it to the facings, but forgot to stay stitch the neckline, so that looked a mess. This time round I left off the interfacing, partly because of the thick fabric I was using, but mostly just to see what would happen. It seems to have worked out ok. I also stay stitched the shit out of everything, and am pleased with the results.
Lesson 2: Facings and sleeves before side seams
The instructions would also like you to sew the sides before attaching the sleeves or the facing, but I decided to leave that till last, since the facing was nearly impossible to attach last time, with the sides sewn up. I attached the sleeves in the flat, before just sewing straight along them and the sides to close the dress up. Much easier!
Lesson 3: Keep the girls under wraps
The front slit was a bit of a challenge, and my first attempt featured a very wide, very puckered and dangerously low opening. The pattern calls for buttons to do it up, but I didn’t want to add any, and didn’t take into account that this would leave the girls very overexposed. I reduced the length of the opening by two or three inches, and sewed the facing and front together a lot closer to the eventual cut line in order to reduce the width of the slit. It’s still not perfect, and there is a little puckering at the bottom, but it’s a lot better than before.
Lesson 4: Ribbon trim is not for the impatient
My original attempt featured a ribbon trim around the neckline, as on the pattern envelope, but it looked very amateurish and puckered a lot. Since this was such a busy print, I went simple this time round, keeping the details to a minimum. As it’s going to be used for holidays, I did some topstitching around the neckline, just to stop the facings flipping out every time I put it on.
Lesson 5: Experiment before hemming the skirt and sleeves
During most of the construction process, I had no idea whether this was going to turn into something wearable, but I was very surprised when I tried it on by how much I liked it! After messing around with various hemline ideas, and sleeve lengths, I was further surprised by my decision to go for a short hem at the front, dipping down at the back, and quite long sleeves.There are slits in the sides, which would probably make me feel a little exposed if worn away from the pool/beach, but I love the combination of retro pattern, African wax print, and a Japanese vibe when worn with an obi belt.
I wore this months ago when we went to stay with Ben’s parents in France for a few days, and it was absolutely perfect. One additional benefit to the hi-low hem is that you don’t burn the backs of your thighs on plastic patio furniture which has been left out in the sun! So practical! If we were in the 70s, I’d wear this non stop, but alas, we are not, and I’m not sure if it’s something which’ll see much wear away from the beach or pool in my 21st century existence. However, I work in a pretty chilled out office, so I might treat them to some surprise croissants and legs next summer.