V8888: The Charmeuse before the Storm

Oh it feels so GOOD to be back!!!

We’ve been back from honeymoon for a while now, and since then I’ve been doing a lot of nothing, some cooking and baking, obsessively stalking ValeyofDolls on instagram and even doing a little bit of sewing. So prepare yourselves for a wedding blog post extravaganza, but first – a little sewing that helped me keep my (in)sanity throughout the last six months. Well, five of them actually.

Vogue 8888 02

 

Vogue 8888 03

 

Vogue 8888 07

These robes are from Vogue 8888, which is a fabulous ‘lounge-wear’ pattern set and includes a short and long robe, two slips and some gorgeous french-style knickers. I made one for myself, my two bridesmaids, my mum and Mr poppykettle’s mum.

Methodically working on one of these was a great way of achieving calm and perspective. No fitting required, just straight, simple and satisfying sewing. It was a great way to get used to working with difficult fabrics, too!

I went hunting for the perfect floral printed silk charmeuse whilst in New York last year – which I found in B&J’s. A few different shades of matching solid charmuese in pale pink, hot pink and chartreuse (from Tessuti and the green was a remnant from Franke Stuart) to differentiate each one at the cuffs, too.

This was production line sewing at its finest – I did all the cutting in one shot (each robe had 25 pieces – it took me nearly 4 full days to do it all, piece by piece because the charmeuse was just to difficult to control when cut on the fold – and I very definitely blunted a rotary blade in the process), then sewed all the sleeves, all the collars, all the ties then all the robes. Then each one was packed away in a pretty box with some tissue paper (to keep the creases at bay) and lavender.

Vogue 8888 01

Vogue 8888 06

Vogue 8888 10

Vogue 8888 05

Vogue 8888 04

Vogue 8888 09

I made a practice version first to test the fit, instructions and construction method of course – the shawl collar is attached to the robe in what seems to be a very similar manner to that of a collar to a collar stand in a button-up shirt. I found it fairly tricky to get the collar and the robe front to line up in a pleasing manner all of the time. Contrary to the instructions, I hand stitched the collar down on the inside using a fell stitch to avoid top stitching on the silk.

Vogue 8888 12

Vogue’s instructions would have you interface the upper collar pieces – but as yet I’ve unsuccessfully managed to use iron-in interfacing on silk, it always bubbles after washing. I tested with three different types of iron-on interfacing just to check. Bubbles on all three counts! So self-fabric interfacing it was – I used silk organza at the cuffs and in the collar. It worked a treat and has a lovely soft yet stable effect.

The pattern has pockets in the side seams – I felt a bit traitorous taking these out because I wanted french seams on the inside. I reasoned I could always put patch pockets on at the front if it felt right! I didn’t in the end – these robes are shamelessly for looking sultry on a lazy Sunday morning only. There is a bias tie and loop on the inside to hold it all together which I would recommend if you’re sewing in the recommended fabrics due to the slipperyness factor – other PR reviewers have used different (nb: ‘stickier’) fabrics and not required this. Slightly painful to create, but effective in the long run.

Vogue’s instructions would also have you sew the sleeves in flat – before sewing the side seams together. The sleeves are easy to sew in – no ease! I chose to sew up the side seams first and set the sleeves in, so I could french seam the sides, shoulder seams and then flat fell the seams around the sleeve. The sleeve band was then sewn on – the instructions at this point were a bit bizarre, and I didn’t follow them – choosing to instead cut a sleeve cuff facing which was then fell stitched to the sleeve and cuff seam allowance. I particularly like this little detail because it means there is not a single exposed seam line in the entire garment. I really should look at buying an overlocker…

I’d sewn the contrast cuff on the sleeves for everyone’s robe but my own because I didn’t know what combination of solid silks to use – at that stage I still wasn’t really sure about the chartreuse silk, but having exhausted the possible combinations from the pale and hot pink option-box I figured there was no alternative. I found some lace trim (purchased from the Alannah Hill fabric outlet) hidden in a box of notions, and figured that the lace would at least ease the transition from floral to the not-quite-matching-green. This was pick stitched onto the cuff to keep it in place:

photo 1

Once I’d sewn it all together, I realised I LOVED the green with the print….and wished I’d come across the lace trim earlier so I could have included it on the other robes!

Because sewing with charmuese is a rather slippery affair – I basted the contrast sleeve trim to the sleeve before sewing on the cuff. This meant I could turn it over and use the basting lines to keep on the straight and narrow, and I’d have a higher likelihood of getting the cuff and trim to line up at the sleeve seam. Having an even amount of trim visible around the sleeve was an important detail for me, too.

photo 2

A little extra time and effort in preparation always makes for a beautiful finish.

To keep the inside seams looking neat, I mock flat-felled the armscye seam. Getting slippery silk to fold under nicely around a curve would be a nightmare but for Carolyn’s tip of sewing a gathering stitch into the seam allowance and pulling on that to get the seam to curve under evenly.

photo 3

Interestingly, the waist tie is sewn into the back of the robe in two separate seams created by sewing a pleat. This is lovely because there’s no chance of a tie independent of the robe slipping about or getting lost.

The hem was simply folded up, ironed, basted then machine sewn in place.

I enjoyed sewing these and I think the recipients were thrilled to receive them as much as I enjoyed giving them :) And the best thing about sewing with this fabric was that it was a great way to warm up and get experience for the next few things you’re going to see!

The Stats:

…I didn’t record the time to sew each of these.
Fabric Utilisation = 17.5m (3.5m each)

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125 thoughts on “V8888: The Charmeuse before the Storm

  1. Hi Melanie,

    It is good to have you back! I always enjoyed reading your blog. Those robes are beautiful. You do not really want serged seams in such a garment? I am so curious to see your wedding gown.

    • Oh it’s so lovely to finally be blogging again :) you’re absolutely correct though – I would’t really want to have overlocker seams in such a garment! They really do deserve the French seam treatment. Thanks!

  2. They’re beautiful! Though I still think you were crazy to make five. The lace is a nice extra touch for the bride. Is that a bridesmaid dress in the background??

    • Thanks Kathleen! I finished them just after Christmas whilst still working on my dress Muslins, so it worked in well :) and yes – you’ve spotted a bridesmaid dress in the background! There’ll be more on those later on :)

  3. Gorgeous! Honestly, I would not expect anything but perfection from you. The couture hand stitching details are perfect. Loved working with you in Baltimore and following your sewing blog. Until we meet again.

    • Oh Thank you Gina! I loved doing that class with you, too! I hope that lovely dress you made gets lots of wear :) I’ll be back again one day to do another class, definitely! See you then ;)

  4. Just stunning and what a beautiful gift. I love all the thought that goes into your sewing, the finish is gorgeous and it really brings the whole gown up to a new level.
    Great to see you back blogging too!

    • Aw thank you so much Suzy! It’s so lovely to be back after so long – and I get so much enjoyment from reading your blog too. You really are the queen of practical sewing :)

  5. Welcome back. Congratulations. Well done on the robes. They are beautiful and what a lovely special hand made gift. I love the lace trim on yours and makes it kind of special that only you have it…. being the bride and all. Can’t wait for the next post.

    • Thank you so much Sofie! I’ll admit, the lace is my favourite little detail on my robe – it really lifts it :) I can’t wait to share the next post either! Just as soon as I get around to writing it…

  6. Oh my, Mel! Those robes are simply to die for. What a special gift. You look gorgeous in yours — so glamourous. Thanks for your wonderful post on the process, which I’ll come back to when I make one for myself!

  7. Beautiful job and how thoughtful. What a job to complete all the robes, your gown and thousands of other details. Can’t wait for the next post

    • Thanks Mary! I was lucky enough to have everyone tell me I would need more time than I thought I would need to work on my dress, so I scheduled it all out on a progress tracking chart to make sure I could fit it all in. I finished all of these not long after Christmas last year whilst working on my dress muslin. It was nice to tick off a few completed items at that stage, it have me hope for the rest! :)

    • Thank you! You should absolutely sew one up – they’re so luxe and lovely! I was pretty chuffed to give them as gifts – I think they went down rather well :)

  8. Just beautiful! What thoughtful and wonderful gifts for the wedding party. I’m amazed you were able to make these in the midst of wedding preparation madness! Congratulations and I look forward to reading about the event!

    • Thank you so much Jean! I enjoyed sewing these a lot, actually ( not so much cutting them out though!) and I’m so glad I managed to squeeze them in! I’m so very much looking forward to sharing my dress photos – just as soon as I write the post!

  9. Wow, that’s a LOT of silk, and even more French seams!! :) What an incredible, priceless gift :) You are amazing, not only making these for everyone but keeping the same attention to detail you always have for individual projects – even in the midst of wedding madness!!! You look absolutely gorgeous; I cannot wait to see the masterpiece that must be your dress! :)

    • Indeed it was! Before I cut into it, I covered my entire living room with the yardage to see how far it would go just for a giggle :) 17.5m goes a long, long way!
      Thank you so much!! :)

    • Thanks Sonja!! I’m super excited to share a few pictures of the dress with you all too! Just as soon as I get back from an interstate work trip… Always bad timing!! :)

  10. Wow, these are beautiful! What a sweet reminder for everyone of that day as well. I’m totally stunned that you made them all, though, what focus! Looking forward to the next few posts!

    • Thanks Kelly! I did finish these just shortly after Christmas whilst I worked on my dress muslin, so it was actually really lovely to get that ‘finished garment’ feeling at that point! I had a pretty strict timetable to work too though. So glad you like them! x

  11. What an elegant, timeless print and colours for those robes. They are gorgeous! Thank your for discovering this pattern for us!

  12. Congrats on getting married! The dressing gowns look stunning, I can’t wait to see your dress!

    I think I had the dates mixed up as I thought you were getting married later in the year, I’m still working on my dress (wedding in July), I have plans to sew another dress for the evening part but I’m starting to run out of time a bit, looks like you had it all planned very well! Can’t wait to read the rest of the wedding posts!!!

    • Thanks so much Anne! I had a very strict sewing program that I did at times struggle to keep to… Can’t believe at the start I thought I’d be able to squeeze in a little honeymoon outfit sewing as well… That never happened! I did finish on the Tuesday night the weekend before the wedding, thank goodness. Good luck with sewing for your dress – it’s definitely worth all the hard work!! :)

  13. I’m so excited you’re back! Yay for exquisite sewing! I’ve been in the US since just after your wedding and have been eagerly awaiting this. B&J’s was my favourite fabric store – oh so very classy. I can’t wait to see all your work!
    Katie

    • Yep, B&J is like sewists heaven. So many beautiful fabrics, and laid out in such an orderly fashion! Thanks Katie – I can’t wait to share the dress pics, just as soon as I get the chance to write a post for it :)

  14. Welcome back and it was worth the wait! Gorgeous, gorgeous robes–and very practical too. I really love having one around while I’m putting on makeup. These were beautiful gifts!

  15. Wow – these are amazing! I was only talking about you the other day to a friend who also reads blogs and we were wondering when we would see wedding pics. I can’t wait to see!!

  16. Welcome back. You look absolutely stunning. What a fantastic pattern and your choice of fabric is amazing. Can’t wait to see more of your work. Congratulations!

  17. Oh my goodness. A silk floral gown is one of my long-held fantasies, and you have made not one, but five of them!! I am drooling over your photos. Beautiful. Divine. What a sublime gift for your bridal party. It sounds as though your sewing was very meticulous. All the different cuffs make for pretty details.

    • Thanks Katherine, and I would absolutely recommend sewing one – I’ve been wearing mine quite a bit since and I adore it! The cuffs are my favourite part :)

  18. These are just so beautiful. A wonderful and thoughtful gift. Knowing how much I lounge around in my robe, I know these will be cherished and worn forever.

  19. Welcome back. The robes are stunningly beautiful and you all look gorgeous in the photos. A really beautiful and thoughtful gift. Can’t wait to see the rest of the sewing. Congratulations on your nuptials too!

  20. How beautiful! I really wish I had done matching robes for my girls at our wedding. Yours are stunning! I love the print and contrasts. Can’t wait to see more wedding sewing posts.

  21. Yay! And it’s SO good to have you back :)

    These are absolutely gorgeous and the fabric makes for some seriously luxurious robes! True to form you’ve outdone yourself even in your ‘simple’ makes! I can’t even begin to fathom the details & effort you put into your dress if this is what you call your sanity sewing :p

    Also, how satisfying is production line sewing?! Just watching them all come together slowly & then hey presto! 5 finished garments! Whoo!

    • Oh I’ve missed blogging rather a lot Jenny! Thankfully I have all you ladies to keep me sated by reading about what you’re all sewing instead. And yes, mine has been getting heaps of wear since! Production line sewing all the way ;) Thank you!

  22. Wait, WHAT?? You made all those garments for the wedding and then decided to, oh I don’t … know MAKE A COMPLETE SET FOR FOUR PEOPLE? Oh-my-GOD! And nailed it with couture techniques? You are insane(ly talented)!!!! What the hell are we going to do with you and all your genius-ness? Stunning! And you look a vision in your photos too! xx

    • I know, I’m a complete over achiever. It looks fine now, but even though I finished these just after Christmas, it got pretty stressful about whether I would finish in time in the month before the wedding!! But I’m so glad I did them because I absolutely love mine and it’s certainly had lots of wear already :) by thank you so much – you’re too kind! x

  23. So glad you are “back”!! Beautiful robes. Just divine and I am really looking forward to your coming posts!!

  24. Welcome back, Melanie! The robes are exquisite, what a wonderful gift! Looking forward to seeing everything else you made.

  25. I am SO ready for the wedding post extravaganza!! It’s so great to have you back, and with such a lovely post to boot! These robes are absolutely stunning – such an amazing gift! Your attention to detail and construction is always so inspiring. Also, you look so beautiful and happy in these photos!

    • Well I’m about to start writing/uploading it just as soon as I’ve finished replying to all your lovely comments! Whoohoo! I’ll admit, the robes are super gorgeous and the photos totally do them justice. Mine has been getting heaps of wear since! Thanks so much, Sallie :)

  26. Welcome back! And, congrats on the marriage! I can’t wait to read about all of the sewing you’ve been up to. I can already tell each wedding post is going to be pretty spectacular! Those robes are just gorgeous!

    • Thanks so much Amy! And I love your new avatar – such a gorgeous picture of you both :) I’m super excited to share it all – and will be writing up the post just as soon as I’ve replied too all the wonderful and lovely comments you’ve all been leaving for me – talk about feeling spoiled! x

  27. Simply gorgeous in every respect! Congratulations on your wedding and look forward to seeing more stunning photos!

  28. Beautiful robes and beautiful photos! No wonder you haven’t’ been posting – far too busy sewing :) Congratulations on the wedding and really looking forward to that post!

    • Oh, it’s was incredibly busy sewing in the lead up, I can assure you! I’ve been enjoying sewing at a verrrrrrry slooooow pace ever since ;) Thank you so much Vicki!

  29. A sigh of delight at how gorgeous these are! This is why I love reading about your work…I could never muster the patience for this kind of detailed, meticulous sewing myself, but I love seeing you do it! Your mom, MIL, and bridesmaids must have felt so loved getting these robes!

    • Oh you’re just far to kind, Cindy – thank you! The robes turned out freakin’ gorgeous, I’ll certainly admit. It was definitely worth while squeezing them into the sewing schedule. And please – what you did for your friends wedding dress (and I loved seeing it featured like that on the bridal website!) was amazing! Love your work :)

  30. lovely . What a lovely present . I found that Charmeuse was tamed when I aquired some really heft pattern weights from an old friend of mine who used to run the work room for Prue Acton . That was when clothes were still made her is Australia!! That and a rotary cutter and using silk organzer for interfacing (bought by the several meters in several colours online at a really cheap price ) Those pattern weights are absolutely worth every gram of their considerale weight. They are rectaglesof stainless steel with a handle on top . The washer style ones arent really heavy enough .Great for knits as well. Pins are almost passes with these .

    • You know if I ever work with charmuese again, I will absolutely be investing in paper weights. I used pins, and whilst I like the precision of pins (assuming of course that you don’t pull the grainline off accidentally) having both would made things a million times easier. Thank goodness for rotary cutters! I can absolutely attest to the brilliance of silk organza as interfacing when working with silk – it works a treat. Thanks, Mem!

  31. So great to see you back!! I’m amazed you were able to make these with such couture details amongst the usual wedding preparation crazy. Beautiful work as always. Can not wait to see The Dress!!

    • Thank you so much Milo – it’s so good to be back, I’ve missed this little space! As a result I am incredibly far behind in my blog reading… and can I just comment on the perfection of your pattern matching across Frida’s head on your Elisalex bodice? Amazing!!

  32. Lovely to see you back again :)
    Those robes are just divine, so much work – the recipients are very fortunate to have such a lovely and selfless bride!! Well done on the dedication to such gorgeous but troublesome fabric, you patience is to be envied!
    I cannot wait to see details on your wedding dress :)

    • Thanks so much, Lizzie! It’s great to be back in this little corner of the world :) You’re just too kind! I’m writing up the post this afternoon, woohooo!!!

  33. Absolutely stunning gowns. Exquisite work. Very lucky friends and family – and well done you for keeping one for yourself … I tend to give away my best work.

    Congratulations On your marriage. May you be very happily married.

    • Thank you so much! This is the first time I’ve given away my work like this… it’s worth it when they’re for people you care so much about :)

  34. Welcome back and congrats on your recent ‘hitching’! These robes are soooo incredible. What an ace friend you are and what a beautiful gift and memory you’ve created.

  35. You are just amazing – five gorgeous charmeuse robes and a couture wedding dress! And welcome back, it’s so nice to read about your sewing projects again.

  36. I am gobsmacked. First of all, it would be humanly impossible to look any more beautiful on your wedding day. FACT. Second of all, the fact that you took the time to make these beautiful, time consuming projects during the madness of planning a wedding is an inspiration. These will truly be garments your ladies will cherish forever. If you need a late to the party, across the pond “spiritual” bridesmaid…. I would totally do that for you. I think a robe for a long distance bridesmaid in spirit is TOTALLY a fair trade.

    • Says the lady who you know, like – puts out really awesome patterns and stuff. But awww – thank you – you’re making me blush! I would be honoured to have you as a spiritual bridesmaid ;) Thank you so much Heather! x

  37. SOOOO beautiful! You did take the time to research, supply and sew these gorgeous robes! I am not even talking about the wedding dress. Beauty is all around! Such a perfect day shared with perfect people! My congratulations!

  38. So pretty & great solution using organza as interfacing for the silk. will try to remember that when I need to interface silk again. cant wait to see pics of the wedding dress ;-)

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  42. Your silk robe collection is so, so beautiful! These must have taken you a lot of time and hard sewing work, but they really are special and such a lovely gift for the ladies in your wedding! I hope to make this robe as well for a bridal gift for my friend. I will certainly be referencing your fantastic work as I sew! -Stephanie

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  44. I just got the Vogue 8888 pattern and was wondering how the robe would look sewn up and I stumbled upon your photos through Google Search. Yours are stunning! Will be Pinteresting for inspiration reference! :)

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