I have been working on a few new items for my summer wardrobe.  Looking for something relaxed enough to wear on the beach, smart enough for work-wear, sleeveless but also suitable for layering I thought Vogue patterns V1236 would fit the bill perfectly.

The ladies who come to the Jane White Couture Tuition workshops love their Vogue patterns and I am a big fan of Vogue’s Donna Karan and DKNY ranges, especially the jersey items. I hope that the recent news of Donna Karan’s departure from the Donna Karan company will not impact on her range for Vogue patterns.

My first dress is made in a John Kaldor orange and ivory print stretch cotton sateen and, as it was fabric I had been donated, I thought I would make it as ‘wearable toile’. A term coined by sewer Eileen and very appropriate for something we make in fabric we haven’t paid much (or anything) for and are happy to go with the flow with if it needs too many alterations to be wearable. I know making a toile entails extra work but it really is worth it for a fantastic fit and to prevent fabric wastage. If you would like to know more about using toiles and how to get a fabulous fit have why not a look at my Fitting Surgery workshop.

Vogue 1236 DKNY Donna Karan alterations - Jane White Couture Tuition

Vogue 1236 DKNY alterations – Jane White Couture Tuition

The first thing I did to the pattern was to add a proper facing to the in-seam pocket (see photos) Why do the pattern manufacturers skimp on facings? Adding a 1.5cm facing to the front and back side seams at the pocket placement and on the pocket bag will move the seam further into the pocket and give a neater finish. This is important if you are making the pocket bags from a different fabric as they will be less visible.

The neck/armhole combined facing is well cut and fits perfectly. I interlined the facing with light weight fusible woven cotton which I much prefer to bonded interlinings on larger areas. The grainlines on the fabric and interlining must match exactly. The woven interlining moves with the garment and wearer and does not disort the edges in wear.

The back pattern piece has no centre back seam and is cut on the fold. I found the centre back neck point stood away from my body at the base of my neck. I find a better fit can usually be obtained with a centre back seam because it can be shaped and moulded to the wearer’s shape. This is crucial for anyone who has a very curved back or lower neck area. On the ‘wearable toile’ I could live with this but it did need addressing for other versions.

I found the dress too deep in the armhole so I folded out the excess in the body of the pattern (see photo above). Alterations made within the body of the pattern tend to give a better fit. Don’t always be tempted to add or reduce from the outer edge. The facing was altered to match.

I have a slightly rounded back at the armhole and find sleeveless garments gape at the back. To combat this I folded out a dart across the pattern in the back armhole only. This sits the armhole edge into the body (see photo above). It should be noted that this knocks out the straight centre back but this is resolved with either a centre back seam or a small dart if cutting the centre back on the fold. The neck facing was altered to match.

My second dress is made from a crisp cotton print from Jaylaurs in Brigg. It pleated beautifully into the neckline. This time I tried a

Vogue patterns 1236 neckline detail - Jane White Couture Tuition

Vogue patterns 1236 neckline detail with button decoration – Jane White Couture Tuition

concealed centre back zip which allowed more shaping into the back neck. I found the waist area was a bit bulkier than in the cotton sateen and the pleats need a little more manipulation. To hold the pleats at the neck edge in place and add decorative interest I added lime green buttons each with a slightly different surface pattern.

My third incarnation is in a design digital print from the fabulous Fabworks in Dewsbury. I’m not sure of the fibre composition, a man-made with lycra which draped beautifully. Having been a bit on the mean side when buying I had to piece the waist tie and cut the pocket bags from a contrast fabric. The envelope suggests 1.60m for 1.50m wide fabric for size 12. I am pleased to find this is not overgenerous but don’t forget if you are using a patterned fabric you will need to buy an extra pattern drop for each major pattern piece for narrower fabric if you want to pattern match. I decided that I didn’t want (or need) for a pop-over dress a centre back zip this time. I added a small, discreet, dart at the CB point. I remembered to alter the back neck facing to match.

All three versions have had numerous outings already. The cotton version was cool and easy to wear over swimwear on Praa sands in Cornwall. The orange/ivory one dressed up well for a posh meal out and the digital print has been worn sleeveless and layered with a purple long sleeves T and coloured tights.

Great value from one pattern! I’d love to receive your comments about your dress.

Don’t forget I can order Vogue, Butterick, McCalls and Kwik Sew patterns for Jane White Couture Tuition students directly from Vogue patterns at a discounted price.