Pattern Review: Vogue 8888 — The Super Secret Project Finally Revealed
Remember way back in January or February when I was working on the Super Secret Project for my Mom’s birthday present? Remember how disaster struck? It sat crumpled in a corner of my sewing room for months until I took it with me to Pattern Review Weekend in SF for my sewing sisters to help me figure out how to rescue it from the ashes. And boy, did they come through for me. Read the pattern review below to find out how all was lost and then won back through sheer determination and will. It’s a saga worthy of Homer. Ok, it’s not really, but it sure felt like an epic. I promise not to hold you down too long with the wordy words.
Pattern Description: Misses’ Robe, Slip, Camisole and Panties. I made the Robe with some modifications of course, because I love to make things difficult for myself.
Pattern Sizing: 6-14. I made a straight 10 for the muslin and found I didn’t need to make any changes. There was enough ease to comfortably raise arms up and forward with no restrictions.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes and no. The overall silhouette was the same, but I added contrasting hem bands to the bottom of the robe and to the sleeves for a little extra oomph and to complicate things for myself.
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes and no. For the most part the instructions were adequate. However, for the following sections, the diagrams and instructions were woefully incomplete or incomprehensible:
- The diagrams and markings where the collar is attached to the robe were either incorrectly marked or I couldn’t understand the instructions. My finished collar does not look right where it meets the robe opening. There is extra fabric sticking out where the facing joins the front sections. Still not sure what I did wrong but I wasn’t going to unpick all that basting, stitching and topstitching to figure it out.
- The directions for inserting the pockets in the side french seams were absolutely incomprehensible and I ended up with half a pocket on the outside and the other half on the inside. This is where the project crashed and burned. I didn’t know how to recover from this debacle and lost my will to live at this point.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved the look of the shawl collar and lines/shape of the robe. It seemed like it was roomy enough, but still elegant. Hated the complex pocket/french seams instructions and wonder if it was user error or poor pattern markings that bungled up my collar. I am betting it was user error. *sigh*
Fabric used: Floral silk charmeuse for the body of the robe from Yardage Town in Encinitas and solid silk charmeuse for the hem bands from Paron Fabrics in NYC. I pre-treated swatches of both silks with a hand wash, rolling them up in a towel to get the excess water out and then drying them in the dryer on low. There was very little loss in sheen or color, so I did the same for the entire yardage so that my mom wouldn’t have to dry-clean her robe. She will have to hand wash it though. Sorry Mom.
Pattern changes or design changes made: As noted above, I added hem bands to the bottom of the robe and to the sleeves. I thought they would weight the body of the robe nicely and add a little pizzazz. For the sleeve hem bands I just measured the length of the sleeve edge and cut an appropriate length of the solid silk. Then I sewed the side seam, pressed the seam allowances down, and sandwiched the sleeve in-between to topstitch them all together. For the hem of the robe, I just treated the hem band, after attaching it, as the regular hem of the robe before topstitching onto the robe. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. (I love that phrase, can’t stop saying it.)
Any problems encountered during construction? Oh my, where do I begin?
- The interfacing I chose to use on the collar was a little too stiff. Yes, I did samples. And yes, I still chose the wrong kind. I don’t know how. I don’t know why. I persevered on anyway.
- The collar insertion. I already talked about that though.
- The pockets. Oh the pockets. The bane of my existence. As I mentioned above, I somehow f-d up the pockets and didn’t know how to salvage the robe at this point. When I showed it to Sherril at PR Weekend, she asked me, “Does it need to have pockets? Why don’t you cut them off and redo the French seams? There should be enough ease in the robe to take a little out of the side seam.” Pure genius. And that’s precisely what I did. It’s a little bit of a hatchet job, but it’s done and secure and it’s French. And that’s all I’m going to say about that situation now.
Any new techniques learned? Why yes, now that you ask. I learned how to make a thread loop. Of course the Vogue instructions weren’t helpful, but I did find this helpful tutorial from Liesl Gibson at Oliver and S on the interwebs.
Any interesting design details in this pattern? Well, the thread loop was interesting. And the internal ties were a surprise, but both of these elements together go a long way to making this robe really function and drape well. They are construction details not to be skimped over or left out. You definitely need them all to have this robe close and hang/drape attractively. I had asked Claudine about the interior ties early into the construction and she said in no uncertain terms to add them. And now that I have tried on the robe several times, I tip my hat to Claudine and her infinite wisdom. Also the external ties were inserted into the back pleats. Genius!
Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction? I know you will all be surprised to learn that I used my Viking Emerald 183 exclusively for this project. Why you ask? Well, for this fabric, silk charmeuse, I definitely needed my walking foot and it works on that machine only. Yes, my beloved Featherweight looked on longingly as I forsook her for the walking foot and the Husqvarna Emerald 183. *double sigh*
Time to complete construction? Eons. And more eons. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Will you sew it again or recommend it to others? Not sure, but leaning towards no, I will not make it again. I don’t know if I could do better at the collar or figure out the pocket situation. I do know though that I do want a silk charmeuse robe for myself, so I might find another pattern to make one for myself. I just don’t have the strength in me to figure this one out again. I definitely don’t recommend this pattern to beginners. It’s a long project with tons of steps. Definitely intermediate to advanced sewers could probably figure out this pattern better than I did. But consider yourselves warned.
Conclusion: It’s hard to enjoy the beauty of this robe for me as it caused me such grief, but seeing it on my mom was a thrill. I know she will enjoy wearing it. And here she is modeling her new robe (she asked that I blur out her face as she wasn’t made up yet).
Happy Mother’s Day!!!