More Donna! White Linen Ketchup Magnet

Another in my (soft) mission to sew up my Pattern Stash treasures. This is Vogue 1368 by Donna Karan, a longline jacket and dress two-piece. As is usually the case with the Donna Karan styles that I love, the understated elegance of this piece had me swooning. It looked like an easy make and I had every intention of launching into it as soon as I bought it. For whatever reason it never made it onto the “make it” queue. Finally, it will have it’s moment.

I decided to stay true to the pattern and make this ensemble in white linen as it appears on the envelope. I know this is risky because I’m not very good with white clothing but it was the image that drew me to this outfit in the first place so I’m going to forge ahead. If the worst comes to the worst I can perhaps dye it later on.

Incidentally, using the linen makes this project a fabric stash buster as well, in fact, while I haven’t had it as long as the pattern, I’m sure I bought this linen with this piece in mind.  A final accolade will be that finishing this project will mean one item off my UFO list. It’s a project that should have been done in one sitting, however, it’s been on hiatus since the end of last summer when some other project(s) distracted me.  I decided to finish it now because I think the dress would be perfect for this year’s #sewtogetherforsummer challenge which is a sundress. Organised by @sewsarahsmith, @sewing_in_spain and @rocco.sienna, it’s an annual challenge where they give you two months to sew a summer garment to a given theme. That’s right I said two months but don’t ask me why I always submit at literally the last minute. The dress is paired with this frock coat with impressive buttons.

This is quite an old pattern, I’ve had it for 20 years and it only goes to size UK 16 – can you believe it? I think of the current discussion on size inclusiveness in the sewing pattern industry. The big four are shocking when it comes to things like this. They do have two size ranges now to be fair but I don’t think it was an option when I bought it. Cutting off sizes at 16 was brutal. In fact it’s why even when I was still buying RTW, I never used brands such as Zara because walking into their stores made me feel like crap as their top size was usually a 14.

I was size 12 when I bought this pattern, alas no more, therefore it needed grading up a size to fit me in size 16 to 18. I do this by measuring the increments at the various prominent ‘landmark’ points on the patterns such as the shoulders, side seams and corners. Notches make excellent anchor points so I make use of those too.

There are a few things to be careful of when cutting and sewing if the centre back has a vent. The left and right are two different pieces. Make sure you cut one of each on a single layer of fabric. Also use notches to get the exact position when you match them up.

Another thing to be aware of is that on patterns like this with princess lines, you’ve got ‘side fronts’ and ‘side backs’ which look very similar, I’d recommend marking your pattern pieces very clearly. I used the Frixion pen to mark the pattern pieces so I could tell my fronts from my backs when it came to join them. One bonus of these pens that they are heat sensitive and once I’ve joined everything together I can just iron off any pen marks and they’ll disappear just like magic.

In order to make sure my linen doesn’t unravel, I like to overlock all my edges so I carefully went round and did that on all 10 of the pieces and 40 minutes later I was ready to sew them together. However, do make sure that you mark where your notches were so that when your overlocker slices them all off, you know where to match your pieces.

One shortcut that I like is to sew all of the long seams in a batch on the overlocker/regular sewing machine. Whichever technique I’m using I try to group them all together as far as the pattern will allow.

The teaching moment here is always read through the instructions before you even start cutting anything and then you can get a feel for which stages you can group together. I rarely follow the pattern order completely unless it’s very complicated and this pattern is really easy. As far as I’m concerned, when you get a pattern with two garments and it’s only got 3 pages of instructions you know that it’s straightforward and quite hard to go wrong.

I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me later on in this process.

The front of the jacket has a long facing piece that takes in both fronts and the neck back. These are joined together and then attached to the front of the jacket in a single process. There are a few curves to clip then it’s turned and topstitched. I seem to have used the grubbiest piece of interfacing I’ve ever seen on this facing, when I cut it out I thought it didn’t look too bad but next to the white of the linen it really looks awful – I’m just hoping that a good wash will bring this up to a decent colour.

With the main pieces joined and the facing attached, the next step is to install the two-piece sleeves and once the decorative buttons are added I think that’s a wrap for the jacket.

The dress couldn’t be simpler, it’s cut on the bias to give it a lovely drape but it’s just two pieces front and back with facings for the neckline and armholes. I actually ended up dispensing with the armhole facing as I couldn’t get them to lay right, in the end I simply pressed a 1cm hem and topstitched it.

I’m more than delighted with the outcome. There are some things that make it less than perfect; the armscyes are as often is the case for me, too big, there’s a tiny bit of gaping on the dress. I maybe need to look at my sloping and rounded shoulders too. Plus, the sleeve caps on the jacket have too much ease and are a little poufy, but I think I can live with those things.

I managed to slide this one into #SewTogetherForSummer just in time. What have you sewn for summer and has the weather where you are allowed you to wear any of it yet?

Thanks for dropping by,

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

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