Saturday, August 8, 2015

Vogue 1440 - the shirt

When Vogue had one of its pattern sales earlier this year, I scooped up V1440. My online acquisition decisions are ephemeral it seems. I have to assume I bought it for the shirt because (a) fringe trim (UGH) and (b) The Sewing Lawyer does not need a Vogue pattern to make leggings (oh sorry, "close fitting tapered pants").

I figured I'd use the remainder of the happy print I used to line my trench coat to try out the shirt pattern. (Happily I had just enough left after cutting out the shirt to re-do the waistband of my Jalie jeans.) I have only scraps left. Stash busting at its best.

I cut the shirt out in a cutting marathon along with my two pairs of pants. That was in June sometime. But I wasn't going to let myself start sewing it until I had redone the waistbands. The bad news is that it took me weeks to get around to doing that little retrofit. The good news is that it was much worse in the contemplation than in the execution. Too bad the delay meant that my shirt wasn't ready for the super hot week we had at the end of July.

So the review.

This shirt is not for a cool day. It feels like a halter top. There is a good reason. Basically it is a halter, with extremely cut in shoulders, a shirt collar that totally does not hug the neck, and really big openings at the arms.

Here's the back and side views. See what I mean?

You really need a racer back bra with this shirt, and if you don't want it to show in the arm opening (as mine does) you need a non-sports racer back bra.

I am very tempted to alter the pattern to raise the under arm by about 3cm and generally make the whole opening smaller. I'd leave the back yoke the same and reshape the arm opening at the front and side. Other alterations that seem advisable to me to make the shirt a bit easier to wear would include:

  • Shortening it. The model on the pattern envelope is clearly an amazon. I'm not super short but would have to lop off about 7.5cm (3") to have the hem at the same level relative to her body.

  • Reducing the flare. I could take in the side 5cm at the hem on each side and it would still be loose fitting.
  • It could also stand to be taken in 2cm on each side at the armscye. 
  • Raise the top button even more. It is extremely low - as designed I think it would sit just a bit above my bra's bottom band. I raised it 1.5cm (5/8") but it could easily sit even 5cm higher. It's only not a problem because the fly front band is relatively firm and the collar keeps the edges close together.
  • I'm unconvinced by the CB opening at the hem and might skip this in a future version.
Now for the construction information. In my opinion, the sewing instructions for making the back yoke are less than ideal. In effect, this shirt has the armscye facings on the outside, and they wrap around in a lovely continuous line with a V at centre back. But Vogue tells you to sew them in two completely distinct parts. The instructions for sewing the facings to the back yoke involve topstitching the facing on both edges. Try getting a precise and even facing with all seam allowances neatly enclosed doing that, I dare you. Then they want you to sew the shoulder seams through all layers last, and then to fake a French seam. This means you have a lumpy and possibly also uneven edge at the top of your shoulder. 

If you are making this shirt, do the following instead:
  • At step 13, stop sewing the facing about 2.5cm (1") away from the shoulder seam. 
  • At step 14, only topstitch the back part of the facing. Stop the topstitching at the side seam.
  • Complete step 14 as instructed, but do not press the seam allowances towards yoke.
  • Complete step 16 but not 17. Clip and press down upper seam allowances of the back facing as instructed. I reinforced the V with tiny stitches before clipping. 
  • Sew the lower edge of the back facing to the lower edge of the back yoke by machine, stopping about 2.5cm away from the shoulder seam on both sides. I did this in two passes to get the sharpest possible point at the V. I also trimmed the seam allowances in the V, a lot. Check that the finished assembly lies very flat, i.e. that you're not throwing the back off balance. I am pretty sure that a tiny imperfection in my yoke-back seam is making my shirt flare out at CB. 
  • Now do a French seam at the shoulders on the shirt body only, making sure you don't involve the loose ends of the front and back facing pieces.
  • Sew the facings together at the shoulder with a regular seam. Trim and press it open.
  • Make sure your facing edges will lie flat over your shirt body at the shoulder. 
  • Sew the final bit of the seam joining the facing to the armscye edge of the shirt at the shoulder.
  • Topstitch the inner edge of the facing starting at one side seam and continuing through the back V to the other side seam.  
This gave me the nice clean and fully machine done finish I like in a cotton shirt. 

Here is the finished result from inside (L) and outside (R)

One more detail shot.

I have some nice white cotton that might look pretty sweet in this pattern, once modified.

But in the meantime I'm getting reacquainted with my Janome Coverstitch machine. We've been estranged for a bit. I'll show you the results soon, I promise.


  1. Pearl in VancouverAugust 8, 2015 at 6:09 PM

    Yours is the second version I've seen of this blouse - I really like it! Adding it to the list of patterns to get...

  2. I really like the print that you used and the very neat finishing of the collar and yoke. I kind of like it all loosey-goosey at the bottom but does seem a tad too long on you.
    Overall, looks like a great piece for hot weather.

  3. Ok I won't sew this shirt. I seam way too complicated for a shirt. Ho la la.. as my Burda skirt is too complicated for an A line skirt ;-) Nevertheless, the result was certainly worth the time and trouble.

  4. The thing is, the proportions and general look of your outfit are so much more attractive and modern looking than the one on the model.....I wouldn't alter yours to make it more like hers.


  5. I fell in love with this top and purchased the pattern when it was released. However my skills aren't up to snuff yet so most likely it will be next summer by the time I get around to making it. I appreciate the steps you've laid out. Thanks. I love your version.

  6. I've had the same experience with this blouse. I made two versions this summer but never had enough time to do the elaborate post it needed and now I see you have similar experiences I at least know I was not in the wrong about the shoulder construction (thought it might be me but Vogue not giving visuals in that part of the instructions might proof they knew it was not good).
    In my second version I used facings on the inside (using a bit sheer cotton it was still visible as a special detail) and combined front and back armhole facing to one pattern piece. Remains a complicated pattern.

  7. I will need to earmark this post when I finally get around to making the top. I fell in love with the potential of the shirt. Thanks for the detailed description on how to achieve better finishes! The print is a great with this shirt!

  8. I love it when bloggers give alternative instructions. Thanks!

  9. Really a great blouse. I probably wouldn't make it, simply because of the racerback bra. They don't make them for me. Maybe I could find a convertible halter bra that would work. Hmmmm. A quest! I really love the back yoke, and your fabric is perfect.

  10. Terrific information... The model is truly very tall to make this blouse look so short on her. I always need to shorten sleeveless armholes with vogue and mccalls, they usually reveal way too much bra in that area.