Sewing Ghosts

The ghost of Joan Goetz has been hanging over my shoulder for the last several weeks. She wrote her name on the envelope of vintage Vogue pattern #2718 which has caused me so angst. I can’t help but wonder who this woman was!

Sewing Ghosts

Goetz sounds awfully like Ghost, don’t you think?

I can tell from the changes she made to the pattern that she was much taller than I, with much longer arms! She added 1” to the arm length, while I subtracted 1½”. She also added three inches to the hem length, and I ended up cutting off 3” from the length. However, nowhere on the pattern does she indicate any problems with construction. I, myself, refrained from scribbling “ARG-G-G-H“ on the pattern, although I was certainly thinking it. When last I wrote about this doomed project, I wasn’t sure if I could save it. Thanks to many good suggestions and words of encouragement from my readers, the future for this dress is looking less ghostly and ghastly. Some of you suggested a break from it, working perfectly into my schedule, which included another trip out of state. Others suggested I sew on something else for a while, which I did and will write about soon. The one thing I did not do was set it aside completely. I was afraid if I left it to finish (if even possible) another time, I never would get back to it.

Actually, I have to admit, that the problems I encountered with this pattern were really not the fault of the pattern. It was entirely of my own making. The pattern required a stretch knit fabric. I used a stretch silk woven charmeuse. That would have been fine, except I insisted on underlining it. I cut the underlining on the bias, which I thought would work, but it was a disaster. It caused the bodice to bind crosswise, pull up lengthwise, and it restricted the stretch of the silk, which was necessary for this particular pattern.

This fabric from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC is a stretch silk charmeuse, with a wonderful drape to it.

This fabric from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC is a stretch silk charmeuse, with a wonderful drape to it.

With nothing to lose, I started to remove, meticulously, the silk gauze underlining from all the bodice pieces, starting with the back. I was encouraged enough at the improvement that task made, to continue to do the same with front. Then I tackled the sleeves. What a difference it made! The bodice actually started to fit, although it was still tight across the bust. I then reset the sleeves, releasing about 1/4 “ in the front seam on each side. That was all I could steal from my already-trimmed seam allowances.

The reset sleeves and the finished neckline, cut a little wider than the pattern.

The reset sleeves and the finished neckline, cut a little wider than the pattern.

I sewed the skirt yoke without underlining, but I did use an underlining, cut on the straight of grain, for the gathered skirt. Once all assembled, I basted in the zipper to check the fit. Still a little tight over the bust, but otherwise, not bad!!

Both views of the pattern show the dress with a purchased belt. I tried three different black belts, of varying widths, and did not like the effect of any of them. All made the dress look like it was cut in half. I took a few scraps of my fabric and tied them around the waist on my dress form. From this I could tell a self-belt would look so much better, but all I had left were scraps. Hopefully no one will notice that this sash is pieced together in four places!

the pieced sash.  I'm glad this fabric design is so busy, otherwise the multiple seams in this sash would definitely show.

The pieced sash. I’m glad the fabric design is so busy, otherwise the multiple seams in this sash would definitely show.

The finale details of this dress (snaps at the sleeve vents and a good press, for starters) are finally complete.  I think I can finally say that I have saved this dress from a ghostly demise.

Sewing ghosts

The dress on the form does not show the slight tightness across the bust.

Sewing ghosts

A back view. Notice the asymmetrical skirt yoke, which I think is a nice detail.

Sewing ghosts

I do love this fabric!

And here is something fun - a dressy handbag to wear with this dress ( a recent find from one of my travels).

And here is something fun – a dressy handbag to wear with this dress ( a recent find from one of my travels).

A nice complement to the dress...

A nice complement to the dress…

Finally, some photos of me wearing the "ghost" dress!

Finally, some photos of me wearing the “ghost” dress!

Sewing ghosts


sewing ghosts

sewing ghosts

Finishing this dress successfully definitely warrants a smile!

Will I ever make this pattern again? No.   Have I learned from this project? Yes. Will I enjoy wearing this dress? I think so. And right now, that’s good enough.


Filed under 1980's dress patterns, piping, sewing in silk, vintage Vogue Designer patterns

22 responses to “Sewing Ghosts

  1. So glad you found a way to make it work. I don’t see any pulling across the front as the first version had. Truly spectacular fabric and the piping highlights the seams beautifully.

  2. I laughed out loud at your first paragraph, and again with the caption to the first photo! I
    t was so pleasing to read on and find that you finished the dress with positive results. I love it. And the bag is great. The textures, colors and patterns have a sense of opulence without being too extravagant. I can’t help but think of Saint Laurent’s ‘Opium’ period!
    I hope you get as much pleasure from wearing it as you did angst from making it. Can’t wait to see how it looks on.

  3. The last time a make caused me so much anguish it nearly ended up in the bin. But since then, I’ve worn it loads, so I’m wishing you good luck with this! And ditto the comments above, it looks lovely 🙂

  4. Oh my the dress looks lovely and I too can’t wait to see you in it – absolutely worth the angst (gorgeous fabric and perfect bag too BTW). Phew!

  5. Sheila

    Good for you! I knew you would work it out and it looks really nice. I love dresses and have made many in the past but to tell you the truth, we don’t go out as much as we did in and I have many hanging in the closet that don’t come out to play very often.. I’m busy now doing some Christmas sewing for friend’s children and a few other yearly gifts. I hope to see you and your dress soon! You really do beautiful work and I’m happy to be getting to know you. I think I’ll make a “little black dress” from the one you and Freddie helped me with and a jacket from the “blue” muslin that I’m sick of fussing with…I’m going onward with that whether it fits or not!

    • I, too, love dresses, and have just decided that I am going to look for every opportunity to wear them! I am thinking a “little black dress” might be in the cards for me in 2015, so we’ll have to encourage each other! I think you are right to go for that jacket – there comes a time when the fussing just has to stop! But I suspect you will be happier with it than you think.

  6. Catherine

    Congratulations for your perseverance. Your dress looks fabulous, as do all your projects. You are a true inspiration. I am a long time sewer but had not sewn in almost two years. I enjoy reading your blog. You often make me laugh. Your sharing is much appreciated.

  7. You are so meticulous and persistent! And it always seems to pay off. Lovely dress — and I love the bag with it! Can’t wait to see you in it.

  8. Well done for persevering. It looks fabulous. Can’t wait to see it on you, and with that lovely handbag!

  9. It looks very pretty! When you move on to another project, you’ll forget all of the little things bothering you, and just enjoy wearing it.
    As for ghosts, they are everywhere in my vintage patterns. Missing pieces! Old rusted pins! Names, addresses, notes, even a 50s budget with expenditures on gas and groceries. Thank you, ghost ladies, for keeping these patterns in your stash!

    • This is one of the joys of sewing with vintage patterns! I love all the notes, etc. which a part of their history. Makes me think I should be adding my own little additions on and in their envelopes! Great to hear from you, Julie!

  10. Hooray! So glad you made it work after all! The little bag is lovely. Hope the dress becomes a well worn item in your closet without too much of the frustration it caused still attached. =)

  11. It is such a fantastic fabric that I’m glad you were able to work out the problems. It looks lovely!

  12. Thanks, Lizzie! Had the fabric not been so lovely (and expensive), I might have had more difficulty putting my nose to the grindstone on this one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.