Vogue 8577 Retro Shirtdress – finished!



And I really like it. This dress has certainly kept me occupied for the last week or so. I did a bunch of modifications, lots of  fitting, and a prodigious amount of ripping! A look at the original design:


I changed the sleeves to be elbow length, and the skirt to an A-line instead of a very full circle. The latter was the biggest change, since I used the skirt from Vogue 9168, and as I discussed in my first post on this dress, I even changed that.  But it’s still very swishy.  I love the way it fits closely through the hips and then blooms.


One of my biggest concerns in laying out this print was the placement of the large white element. I didn’t want it centered over my bum or the girls.


I was also concerned about losing the design basics to the print. The dress has three pieces – bodice, middle band, and skirt – and matching things up would have disguised all those lovely elements. I did the layout in single layers so I could see where things were going, and it took forever. Honestly, this was my least favorite part of this project. I wanted to sew!


Just a few notes:

  • I started with a size 14, and was happy with the fit as a starting place.
  • All the pattern pieces are laid out on the bias in the instructions. However, I cut the bodice pieces on the straight grain – only my skirt is cut on the bias.
  • This dress ended up with 15 buttons! My buttonhole plan:

I-v8577 swap

  • I also practiced the buttonholes on a swatch that was cut, faced and interfaced exactly like the dress – I didn’t want them to skew or stretch on the bias fabric. The pattern calls for horizontal buttonholes, but I don’t like the way buttons slide in horizontal buttonholes. So mine are vertical.
  • Hemming this took a lot of time and patience! I let it hang on Emile for 24 hours, then put it on to mark it. Oh my gosh, what a pain to do alone. That bias…I took up 2 5/8″ at the center front, 2″ at center back, and about 3/4″ at the side seams. But since I have a dropped right shoulder, nothing was symmetrical. Best thing – it’s done!
  • I love the fabric, which is a 5.5 oz linen/rayon blend from Fabric Mart. It has just enough weight and weave to handle the bias cuts and hang nicely without a lining. The suggested fabrics are gingham, washed silk and lightweight linen. I would never, ever, do this in light silk or charmeuse…



When I first started this project, I did quite a bit of reading about sewing bias-cut fabrics. Some nice links:

Next up – I’m going to sew Vogue 9168 as soon as my fabric arrives. I’m in the mood!

Bye for now – Coco


Vogue 8577 – Sewing the retro shirtdress

large bodice
Fabric: linen/rayon blend, 5.5 oz, from Fabric Mart

What a project – I’m four days in and just finished the upper bodice. This has been so much fun, and a challenge on many levels. So much so that I’m thinking that 2 posts will be better than one loong one, and I know that not everyone wants to read the sewing details 🙂

This is an interesting pattern – it has a definitive retro vibe, even though it was released in 2009, and it’s just full of surprises…


I worked on the pattern for 3 days before I cut my fabric. Most of this time was spent on the skirt. Even though the pattern calls for only 3 yards/60″ fabric in my size, it has a huge, voluminous, more-than-a-circle skirt. Many reviewers of the pattern mentioned how heavy the dress is once it’s lined. I think it could be heavy unlined! And when I laid out the pattern pieces, I totally disliked the skirt -the pocket, the volume, the back-gather overkill, the whole thing.

V9168 line artSo I pulled out the skirt from Vogue 9168. It has the same lines, it’s also cut on the bias, and it’s ‘calm’, not fussy.

Even better, it’s a maxi length, so I don’t have to add 11″ at the hem (V8577 is midi-length at it’s longest, and shorter than a midi on me at 5’7″).

I haven’t sewn V9168 yet, so I put a lot of work into the adaptation.

The V9168 skirt is shy of being a full circle, but I took down the volume a little more. My small change actually removes about 10″ from the width at my hip, from 62″ to 52″:


This and the original skirt are both cut on the bias. Long bias seams can be tricky stuff, so I used the layout directions from V9168 (flipping of the pattern is really important, more below)…

Skirt layout

Yes! I got my edges right. I.e., the side seam comes together with opposing vertical grainlines:

Opposing grainlines in bias seam

Note: if bias boggles you, here’s a great link to Bias 101 by Marcy Tilton, Threads magazine.

On to the bodice. No lining! It’s too hot here. I can’t wear linen against my neck, waist, etc., so a simple binding around the neck was out. Instead, I drafted facings for the front neckline and lined the back yoke. To prevent bloom show-through, I used white cotton/poly broadcloth for my innards.

inside bodice front

Small irritant: the pattern uses the same armscye for both the sleeveless and sleeved version. Crazy. I trimmed and reshaped the armscye quite a bit, taking away from the shoulder and putting a little more curve in the front and back. I had to wait until the bodice was sewn together to make these changes, even though the need for them was apparent from the beginning.

inside bodice back

I’m getting jazzed now, and have the waistband ready for attachment this morning.


Bye for now! Coco

Thinking spring …


deco for spring


Oh boy! I’ve been indulging my impatience for the change of season. Of course I’m totally ignoring articles about spring and summer trends – styles, colors, and so on. I’m more concerned with what colors I can wear with my ‘new’ white hair ,and how to reinvent my favorites (maxi dresses and tunics) for some different looks!

I must say that BMV patterns and Fabric Mart have been very collaborative. I’m beginning to feel like Chris at Fabric Mart is my BFF. So – a few thoughts.

Flutter sleeves and a floaty skirt, in light and drapey rayon challis.



Retro shirtdress, in a large print…



Short-sleeve knit midi or maxi, with a twist…

Edited to add: this is Kwik Sew 3873

spring knits

Enough to keep me busy and out of trouble for at least a couple months! Meanwhile (I’m waiting for patterns to arrive), I made a little housedress in silky soft rayon knit, using the Cali Faye Gardenia Dress. Emile gets to wear it while the skirt and sleeves ‘drop’ before hemming. Spring green!

Spring Gown

I love the curved bodice on this pattern. Small details make such a difference.

gown 2

I had just enough leftover fabric to cut out a pair of my favorite Love Notions Sabrina Slims. Probably PJs, because I can’t imagine what I’d wear with green leggings, but kicky for a trip to the mail box 🙂

Ciao! Coco

Getting restless…time for a change


I’m ready for a change of season. It’s time to look at spring/summer dresses and tops. Light fabrics. Things that blow in the wind. After a winter of dental work (2 crowns), boring house fixes (new water heater), and another PITA issue that just appeared yesterday (busted pipe in the irrigation system) – I’m broke and ready to be rescued!

The last straw in the wintery loft was this skirt. I love this rayon crepe fabric, but I just couldn’t lay it out on a dress or tunic without risking orange headlights. So I made a skirt.

Incredibly, I don’t have a pattern for a gathered skirt, so I made one. It’s based on my hip at it’s widest point, 12″ below my waist, and drawn in a simple A-line from waist to hem.

Drawing the skirt patternThe interesting part of this project was trying a different technique for the elastic waistband. Normally, I either fold over the top of a garment to make a casing, or I attach a separate waistband. However – while trolling PInterest , I came across a link to a ’30-minute skirt’. Well, I knew that was an understatement of effort but I was curious enough to go look. The real time-saver is the waist treatment.

I tried it and like it!

Step 1: I decided to use 1″ knit elastic, mostly because I had a package I picked up in the grocery of all places. And because I didn’t want to risk the ‘good’ stuff that I buy by the yard.


Step 2: And a great surprise – I measured my waist and found it’s 2.5″ smaller than it was in October (when I got over my diet moaning and and subsequent indulgence in everything delicious, and started a new nutrition plan. I’m down 20 lbs, and I’m feeling 100% better). I cut the elastic to be 1″ less than my waist, after an allowance for the overlap.


Step 3: The skirt edge and the elastic were quartered and pinned, and I serged the edges together, stretching the elastic as I sewed.


Last step: I folded the elastic one time to the inside and stitched it in place, sewing down the middle of the serger stitches.


I bet lots of you attach elastic this way already, particularly on PJs and children’s things. It really did make a very comfortable waist and was fast from start to finish. Yes, old dog, new trick 🙂

It was easy with this ‘thin’ fabric, but I wonder if it would work as well with a hefty fabric. Has anyone tried it with something like corduroy, denim, etc.?

The skirt is headed for a re-make, because it’s just not my style. I may yet have those headlights! I’ve been at odds and ends since I finished it, reading a lot, and sewing infinity scarves from my overflowing stash of jersey remnants. It’s only 9 months ’til Christmas…


Bye for now – Coco

The Sewing Workshop Trio Top – second version


I’m on my way to an ‘outfit’ – skirt and top.

Rather than talk about 2 garments in one post, I thought I’d just focus on the top this morning.  Another Trio, in a nice metallic pin dot quilting cotton from JoAnns. Pin dots are favorites around here for lining bags and pouches, and adding contrast binding and waistbands. I used to have this fabric in lime and purple, long gone, and had just enough of the rust to make a Trio top.

trio top line art

This fabric really showcases the back inset detail (so so pretty)…


This time I kept some notes and pics from the construction process, techniques that can carry over to many patterns.

  • That collar – Linda Lee suggests making a template to draw the tricky ends of the collar stand and ensure they are the same when sewn. Great idea! I drew this template straight off the pattern, and I kept it for future use.

collar template

collar sewn

  • Sewing the curved hem – here’s a look at hem allowance in the side seam area. My first step was to re-shape the hem allowance to allow for the turn, but I wasn’t done. Note the resulting bubble at the fold line – if not resolved, this little bit of excess would bunch up inside the hem.

hem 1


So I clipped it out…

hem 2

These two little fixes provide a nice smooth hem.

hem 3-horz

  • Finishing the interfacing at the hemline – the pattern says to turn up the hem inclusive of the interfacing. I just don’t like how that looks! so I always turn the interfacing to the right side, sew it just below the hem line, and turn it back out for a nice clean finish.

interface 1


This is a casual shirt, so of course I just topstitched the hem 🙂

interface 2

Next up, a skirt to go with the top. I’ll post it as soon as I feel like putting on lipstick and combing my hair for pics!

Parting shot from my sewing room in the wee hours this morning – April the giraffe keeping me company.

sewing with april

Bye for now! Coco