Vogue Cocktail Hour dress V9241

V9241 cocktail dress

cocktail hour eve appeal

The first time I’d heard of the Eve Appeal was when I took part in last year’s Vintage Sewalong campaign. They are the ONLY UK  national charity that raises awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers so it wasn’t too much of an ask for me to join in the Cocktail Hour once again, and help McCalls promote a range of Vogue patterns that raise good money for such a great cause.

Last year I made Retro Butterick 5813 for the Big Vintage Sewalong 2016. This year I chose Vogue 9241, a fabulous design by Kathryn Brenne.


A little bit Helena Bonham Carter, A little bit Anne Robinson, perhaps… but totally full of character and no doubt a talking point at a cocktail party. Sadly the only cocktail party I’ve ever been invited to was the one at The Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally and I was typically too busy with work to attend. Though I prefer to think that I have been to loads and they were so good, I’ve clean forgotten all about them!

But if I do ever get another invite (nudge, nudge) I would be proud to wear this dress. It would rock a room of standard LBDs and not leave without comment.

I chose this design because of that awesome collar, of course, and because it reminded me of my birthday dress – the skirt section at least – and I considered using silk dupion, the same. But not only do I not like doing things twice, I find the suction of creativity too much to bear if I copy what’s on the packet. ie a red silk dress. I felt like black would have hidden too  much of the detail so I went a bit off piste and used a pinstripe suiting fabric instead, lol!


I wanted those pinstripes to emphasise the godets and that collar. Actual stripes would have been a bit too cray-cray (mmmm…. maybe next time though?!) I really wasn’t 100% sure it would turn out as special in what is effectively a boring cheap suiting fabric!

But it did. And I am so happy. Which is lucky really because I hadn’t left any time to change it up!
This dress really isn’t as complicated as it looks. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a doddle but really just more time-consuming than anything. It needs a fair bit of yardage too so watch out if you’ve got any big ideas on fancy pants fabric. It could end up costing an arm and both legs!
One thing which I must point out is that there is an error on the layout and pattern pieces. The instructions say to cut 2 of front which threw me a bit because there was no reference to use it anywhere. The layout plan indicated the same. I wondered if it could be a facing/lining of sorts but a quick Tweet message to McCalls confirmed it was an error and that they had contacted the US office to amend.
This pattern has a massive amount of ease. It’s so helpful to have body measurements and corresponding size table on the packet but better still to clock the ease on the pattern pieces themselves. Not all pattern companies do this so kudos to Vogue. With that info at hand, I realised I could afford to drop a whole dress size. I’d suspected I might have to do this because the pattern image itself looks a little bit roomy. I like things more snug, like a hug!
The collar is sewn front to facing, then the wire is sewn to the seam allowance of the outer curved edge before turning out. The wire is sewn in using a wide-ish zigzag stitch making sure to keep the needle either side of the wire. Requires a fair bit of concentration. Frightened the bloody life out of me when I took my eye off the ball and the needle clonked on the wire!
This is the second time in a month that I’ve had the need for animation wire, the first being for the wings of Amelia Fangs outfit. I ordered some more off Amazon. Affiliate link here:

I ordered all three weights as I really wasn’t sure what constituted ‘medium weight’. Initially I tried the lightest one but it was a bit flimsy so I opted for the 2mm diameter.
I’ve been having a lot of fun positioning the collar in all sorts of ways. But there would be more fun I’m sure if my fabric was sturdier or interfaced to give it a bit more structure. I could go totally could go totally Maleficent! This pinstripe stuff is very soft with quite a bit of drape which still works well, mind.
V9241_cocktail_dress collar
The skirt is all about the godets. How do you even say that? Godettes or godays? A little care is needed to insert the points accurately into the open seams of the bodice but if you’ve ever made quilt blocks with inset seams you will be walking it!
I noted the length was kinda granny for me. So I lobbed 4 inches off before I cut it out. And it reaches just shy of knee length now. But by nature of how the godets are tied up inside, I can just as easily lower the hem a couple of inches or so if I must be more demure!
I pretty much followed the instructions to the T but I could have done with taking some of the excess out of the back bodice length – that’s always an issue for me. But skirt seciton moves around and drapes so unusually, I don’t think it’s a biggie! And I hand stitched the bias facings of the armholes, rather than topstitch as instructed. Call me old fashioned!
So I am the last entry on the Vogue Patterns Bloggers Calendar 2017. I initially thought that was the best position to be in but the mash-up of anxiety and inspiration was building with each gorgeous post that popped up, every month.  In case you didn’t catch them all, click here to the amazing contributions from all the fabulous sewing bloggers. I just love how everyone has put an individual spin on their own cocktail dresses.
I do hope that some or one of these at least will inspire you to buy a pattern from the Cocktail Hour selection and rustle one up for yourself. Or maybe even buy one for a gift for a sewing friend. All helps towards the amazing work done by the Eve Appeal.
Thanks to The Foldline for including me in the line up, to Dan for the fabulous photos and also to Aska and Tom at the Thatched House in Hammersmith for allowing us to shoot them in their lovely pub.

Georgia the party squeeze!

BHL georgia dress

Meet party girl, Georgia! She was meant to be my party dress for last Christmas. But well, you know what happens. I make a plan… and then I make another plan!

But nevertheless, here she is for this season’s line up of parties. Kicked off at London’s Bob Bob Ricard’s no less, for my good friend’s 50th birthday celebrations. I even had the foresight to ensure I coordinated perfectly with the lavish decor of black and gold.

Mr Ooobop wasn’t available to do his paparazzi bit, so many thanks to the lovely @Alphabeckles for this impromptu snap.

Georgia dress at bob bob ricard

The pattern and instructions for the BHL Georgia dress are dead easy to follow. And the online sewalong is a great back up for the finer points.

I made some personal pattern adjustments that included a little FBA, a little shortening of the straps, and a not so little gradation from a 12 at the top to a 16 at the hip (Well that certainly was a surprise!).

I dutifully made the above alterations to a toile but the age old problem was that my toile fabric, although relatively the same weight as my chosen fabric, had a little more give. My gold and black heavy silk-like, embroidered viscose brocade had absolutely none, zilch, diddly-squat!

Yes I know! I know damned well the By Hand London ladies recommended a fabric with a little stretch so please don’t remind me that I totally ignored their perfectly perfect advice!! But you see I got sucked in by the gorgeous tartan version that Sally Bee made! And she used a woven with no stretch!

It must be mentioned that although I was exceedingly honest with my measurements for this dress: over bust, full bust, waist and hip. I neglected to take into consideration my underbust measurement. I think I have a disproportionate bird rib cage to be fair!

And so once I realised that I was going to twist my spine out of alignment or at best pull a muscle doing up the side zip of the actual dress, (which actually wasn’t going anywhere above waist level anyway) I figured I’d have to gain an inch at least from somewhere. So I claimed half inch from each side seam of the skirt side panels and accounted for that in the side-seams of the bodice too.

It fitted. Boy did it fit. No room for sharp intakes of breath but it looked pretty damned good, even though I say it myself.

I grinned and beared it… all day (yes I wore it to work before hand!) and all night.

But at some fateful point over that corsetted period I acquired a little uninvited breathing space!

BHL Georgia rip

This happened of course because I had left the teensiest of seam allowances to glean my inch and although I serged the tiny seam edge, it frayed from the strain!

Lucky I wore a ‘modesty jacket’! Which incidentally was a panic dirty rtw purchase the day before, from Monsoon. I say dirty, not because it is, it’s very clean and lovely in fact, but because there is an element of shame that I broke my routine of only hand made clothes for at least two years. I’ve only allowed myself underwear and cardi purchases from the high street. Anything else to be bought from charity shops. I could so easily have made this jacket. It’s not dissimilar to the Victoria Blazer. But time was not on side and nobody needs to see those fleshy underarm bits in daylight hours!

The jacket did it’s job and clearly hid the naughty side split until I got home too!

So now my dilemma. I want to wear this to at least 2 more parties which are coming up soon. Like next week… eeek! Do I patch it up or do I re-cut two new panels taking new seam allowances into consideration? I do actually have enough fabric.

TBH, I don’t actually know how I’d patch it up. So I think I know the answer. Unless of course anyone has any an amazingly good solution…. please?