Sunday, 22 April 2012

Finished Project: Vogue 8511, Working with Directional Fabric.

V8511, I heart you. I like that you are not complicated by darts or gathers. You have a perfect princess seamed bodice. You are 'very easy' and very perfect for me. 

I work up on Saturday morning with motivation to sew! On the way to Spotty to get a zipper and liner, I stopped for some banana milkshake goodness and a pie, then I was set for a Saturday sewing session.

There was a VIP sale at Spotty so I got 30% off the 'good' lining (sunsilky), WIN. I also checked out cutting mats and rotary cutters, and I am working that cost into my sewing budget.

I got home, and was surprised to see a KONY2012 poster on my fence!

After I texted everyone about the random KONY poster, I got started on my dress.

The inspiration dress is a dress I saw Nicole Richie wearing. Love the mustard color. I decided to use my 'floralicious' cotton sateen, since I still had so much of it, for my retro-inspired dress.

My dress.
The Inspiration.
Nicole Richie in a retro-inspired dress.
From the above picture, I could see that the dress had a princess seamed bodice, a v-slit neck and a gathered skirt. I decided that my new favorite pattern, the V8511, would be perfect. All I needed to do was replace the pleated skirt with a gathered skirt, and cut a little 'v' on the front bodice, and I would have something similar to Nicole's dress.

The fabric has flowers on it, and I believe that is called 'nap' directional fabric. I usually work with plain fabrics, and the other day in sewing class I was almost about to cut my entire dress upside down. I just don't think sometimes!

Today, I remembered to have the pattern pieces facing the right way, but I didn't read the instructions, so I didn't pin the  front bodice and side bodice next to each other. I started cutting then realised that the pieces that joined together to create the princess seam should be near each other, so when it's sewn up, it won't look ridiculous. Luckily, I had about 2.5m of fabric so I started over.

Take 2. Wasted about 1 meter of fabric.
Lesson learnt! Focus needed when working with nap directional fabric.
The pattern said 1m lining was required, so I bought 1.5m so I could also line the skirt.
I managed to fit my size 6 bodice pieces on about 0.5m of lining (sunsilky lining width is 122cm).

The dress took about 7hrs to finish. This included cutting fabric, lining, bagging, pressing, gathering, overlocking, and hemming by hand. Phew.

This bodice is so quick to put together because there are no darts, no sleeves, no bust gathering. It's a godsend.

I had the most relaxing time making this dress, mostly because I knew the fabric I was using was bought on sale for $3/m, so if I made a mistake, meh, I'll start over.

I found a weird discrepancy with the pattern... I saw it last time too when making the red version, but thought that it of my cutting. When matching the notches on the shoulder, the seams from the side and front/back bodice don't meet. Strange. I swear I was cutting properly today!

I decided that the seams should line up, so I ignored the notches.

Weird notches: when notches match, the seams don't!
I chose to fully line the dress. I am addicted to lining. Even though I own an overlocker now, I still can't resist lining my dresses.

I bagged the bodice, the technique is very easy. Sometimes the pattern instructions tell you to do it another way. I first learnt this 'clean machine finish' technique from The Slapdash Sewist then again at sewing class. My tutor said to ignore pattern instructions, because this way is easier, and no hand sewing required! Clean machine finish!!

I encourage everyone to try it, you won't go back to facings, talking to you Sue :) I took some photos today when I was bagging my bodice, maybe during the week, I'll post up the photos of me bagging my bodice.

For the skirt, I didn't want to make it as full as my previous gathered skirts like the 'peter pan' and 'high tea' dress. I made the skirt with one piece of fabric, cut at the fold. The skirt is as wide as the fabric, 122cm. The length was 19". This included seam allowance and hem. I wanted the skirt to be short. 

Gathering my skirt. I sew 3 lines of gathering stitches. Gathers better me thinks.
BF came over to watch football, got him to take photo for me :P
Lately, all the dresses I have been making are long to the knee. Though they look very nice and lady-like, sometimes I need a short skirt. Have to admit, I felt naked today when I was trying it on! 

The 'v' slit thingo on the front bodice came out OK, it's a bit wider than Nicole's dress though. I am happy with the princess seams matching up with not too much dramatic change in the floral pattern. 

I am extremely happy with the effort I put into it. All the seams are aligned, the zipper is awesome, the back seams are perfect. I'm really rapt with this dress because the red version of V8511 wasn't 100%, and the dress I made before that, the Vintage Simplicity 3222, wasn't technically great either. I also mustered up the courage to change my overlocker threads to black so I could serge the raw edges. I handstitched the hem. You know I love a dress when I choose to handstitch!

Pattern Review: V8511 (bodice only)

Size: Size 6
Fabric: 1.0m cotton sateen (floral), 1.0m lining (black).
Notions: Invisible zipper (black) 22", Gutermann thread (000).
    • replaced skirt with full gathered skirt, cut 19" length (SA and hem incl),
    • 'v' neck detail.
Time: 7 hours.
Cost: $14 (fabric, lining, zip), pattern and thread from my stash. Fabric was on sale for $3/m, lining was on sale $7/m, zipper $4.

TIPS for next time: 
    • FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS when working with nap directional fabric, lucky I had heaps of this fabric otherwise I would've been devastated for cutting into it incorrectly, and it would been such a hassle to go buy more fabric.
New techniques learned: 
    • Used my own overlocker to finish raw edges, 
    • I didn't break the machine when I changed threads :)
Front and back of lining.
Close ups!

Luckily I like where the flowers sit on the bodice, I didn't think about picking some nice parts of the fabric for the centre of the bodice, I just pinned and cut and then thought about it afterwards and panicked. The back of the dress looks really good. I cut the back bodice centre and back skirt centre at roughly the same spot. NAP! Directional print! I'm getting used to you!

I have about 0.5m left of this fabric. I was speaking to my girlfriend this morning. She let me borrow a top to go to a music festival couple of weeks ago, it was a midriff top with 'cups' detailing the bust, floral print, so cute. It was perfect to wear with a high waisted skirt. We tried looking for it in the stores, but they sold out. She even checked her hometown. Nothing. Then she said "Why don't you sew one..?". Ding! Of course! I don't know why I didn't think of that! So now I'm on the hunt for a pattern to make that top, then I'll make it with this fabric.

I have been mentally compiling a list of things I want to sew:

  • strapless bustier bodice dress
  • midriff top
  • pencil skirts
  • semi fitted dresses for work, in colors such as black, grey, mustard.
  • a birthday dress
Any suggestions for what I should make for my birthday dress? I drool over Lladybird's birthday dress from last year, and the one she's making this year looks like it will also be amazing. My birthday is in August...

I also need help with choosing a rotary cutter, I saw  few brands at the store. for the size, I'll get the largest one, 60mm, but with the brand, is Clover the best? What brand should I get?

Hope you all had a great weekend, thank you for reading.


  1. Very cute! I often forget about prints and nap too. You did a great job!

    I only have one rotary cutter but I do love it. It's a 45mm Olfa. I worried the 60mm would be too large to cut smaller pieces (though, that is a matter of preference.) My mat isn't an Olfa though. I have one of these though, I would recommend getting the largest size (of whichever brand) you can afford/have room for.

    1. Good point Jen, I didn't think about cutting smaller pieces! I will also get the 45mm then. I am amazed that something like that can cut through so much, they must be hella sharp!

      I have a friend that works at the craft store, I'll see how much discount I can get, otherwise I'll get a cutting mat and cutting tool online...

      Thanks for your advice Jen, it really helped!! xxx

    2. I agree with Jennifer. Get the largest mat you can afford and I'd say go with the 45mm rotary cutter (that's what I've got).

      I've just been considering upgrading my cutter, though. I currently have the basic fiskars cutter but - maybe I use too much force when cutting - it hurts my wrist and hand when I'm cutting through any more than one layer of fabric because I have to press a little harder. This could totally just be user error, but I'm trying to find one that looks more...ergonomic.

  2. Love it, such a great dress! I'm just finishing my first shirt with a nap too, so important to keep concentrating!
    Great work, I love it :)

  3. I only make skirts and have always lined them, even my first so use to it. Would feel weird not doing it. I will one day omit the lining when I want that summery feel to the skin , and have the appropriate fabric.

  4. That is SUCH a cool dress! I want one just like it, seriously! I really love how you opened up the neckline. It becomes a completely different dress. Adorable!!!!

  5. I love this dress! The bodice is pretty and the skirt is juuust short enough. As usual, the insides look as beautiful as the outsides. I really must practice lining more (thanks for caling me out, haha). :)

  6. Hi Neeno, lovely dress. I looove the pattern on the fabric. v neck also i good one, I have been wanting to make a v neck for myself but i have been dragging my feet. Definitely making one now.
    Nice to know u'll be getting a cutter and mat. I'll repeat what has been said.
    A 45mm cutter is generally the good size cutter to use. Also its most convenient to buy largest size mat (A1). There are quite a few good brands out there, i use olfa rotary cutter.

  7. The length of this dress is perfect. It's so flattering and pretty. I want this dress!

  8. What a gorgeous dress, I love your choice of fabric. Lx

  9. You make gorgeous dresses :) Congrats, I'm jealous, haha! Thanks for the link and talking about bagging the lining. Sounds intriguing :) I'll have to try it out sometime!

  10. Oh, I love my rotary cutter and mat! Seriously, they have revolutionalized my cutting, which is good since that was my least favorite part of sewing prep. I will also echo everyone else and say the larger the mat, the better.

    I have been lucky that most of my directional print fabrics have worked out, as I haven't paid particular attention to my cutting. I should probably start, though, before my luck runs out! So glad that you had enough fabric for the re-cut; the dress is super cute and luxurious-looking!

  11. Hello Neeno! You have such great taste choosing patterns and fabric. And your "insides" are spectacular! Looking forward to seeing your creations at Me-Made-May. How lovely you joined in!

  12. This dress is gorgeous! I love it! It's soooo cute! I have an Olfa cutter, too (45mm), and I love it! My cutting is so much quicker and more accurate now.

  13. Gorgeous dress! I have this pattern cut out now, hopefully I will get to it by this weekend!

  14. I got this cutting mat (size A0 - 120cm x 90cm) (from and I'm very pleased with it. I'm pretty sure that even with a massive Spotlight sale their price can't come anywhere close.

    Your dress looks great - I was surprised by the pattern picture, boy does your dress look a zillion times better.

    Nap actually refers to the pile of a fabric like velvet, velveteen etc. but with prints that are clearly in one direction you need to follow the "with nap" layouts if you want the print on each pattern piece to sit the right way.


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