Moderne: A Fresh Start

(Wearing History’s Moderne, sent to me free as a test-sew pattern. Though Lauren let me off the hook I’m not ready to give up just yet.)

After my recent break-up with the lilac cotton pique for Moderne, I wanted another crack at the pattern with more suitable fabric.  I already altered the pattern and put it together well enough to know I like the cut, so why waste the pattern work?  Lately, I find myself working on ridiculously complex projects to the exclusion of simpler sewing.  I might need to take my time on this Moderne, fitting it between lighter projects.

My tropical weight wool arrived last week.  The small person delighted in burrowing into its folds.  Check out the drape.  It’s soft against my skin, no itch.  I never worked with tropical weight wool and despite the name, I feared it might be too heavy to wear in this climate.

Now I have no doubt it will be light enough for year-round wear.  It’s gently slubbed and faintly luminous- like silk but not so flashy.  It’s also surprisingly wide, I may be able to eke out a little waistcoat or even a skirt in addition to the dress.  I crammed the wool into my front-loader, dumped in a cup of vinegar and washed on the wool setting.  Dried on the line and hey presto, beautifully pre-washed fabric with no noticeable change to texture or width.  I know I should have tried a sample before washing the whole shebang, but I have experience with my machine’s wool setting.  I will not hand-wash anything but hand-knitted items.

Tonight I needed a break from WW2 jackets.  Seriously.   So I played with my new fabric.  Here’s a 22mm self-covered button.  It’s a little blah on the gray.

I like the Chanel-style buttons in Claire Shaeffer’s book and after seeing Patty’s gorgeous coat with those delicious buttons, I wanted to try it out.  This is with the silk (shiny shiny silk!).  I suppose it’s a good thing I went through an outrageous black phase in my sewing.  I have a PILE of useful black fabric scraps (not to mention a wardrobe full of black separates, which mix so easily with everything).

The linen is subtler and the texture pleases me, so I’ll use linen for the button rims and buttonholes.

Zero problems with the buttonhole, I like the effect.  I wonder if I should make smaller cuff buttons, or just use plain black linen buttons on the cuff?  These buttons on the cuff would provide a real “wow” factor when I reach out my hand, but I’m not sure I want to make five for the body plus four more for the cuffs.

I tried every top-stitch on my machine with two different weight threads, then stitched my favorites on a curve to gauge the result.  The five from the furthest right were with a regular weight poly-cotton; the other straight lines were with a slightly heavier mercerized cotton top-stitch thread.  I think I like the lighter weight thread.  The french knot lines charm me, but the Husband said they remind him of Frankenstein.  They may be too heavy, and don’t look so great on a curve.  I’ll probably use the plain saddle stitch (second from the right).  As always, input is appreciated.

In the interests of science, I plan to throw the whole sample into my next load of darks and see what happens.  Will the buttonhole ravel?  Will the stitching warp?  How will the Armo-weft interfacing behave with the fabric when washed?  I don’t know, but I figure if I torture this piece of fabric to the fullest extent of my imagination, I know how I can handle the finished garment.  Maybe I’ll spill coffee and wine on it and see what happens.

Next time: WW2 Jacket the Second: Man Version.  It will all about how I discovered men’s bodies are shaped differently to women’s (no really!), what I realized I did wrong on the first jacket, and why cutting napped fabric when you need a nap yourself is a terrible idea.


  1. I love your perseverance on this pattern and can't wait to see it. Tropical wool is a cool idea–I'd never known what it was till I bought a bit this year and wonder how it would feel outside of winter. And I spill coffee and wine as a regular pre-test (and um, after-test)–or that's what I should tell people, heh. I'm a notorious spiller and must get out of my white phase, fast.Oh and p.s. I ordered the smooth sailing pattern. Yay!

  2. Yay! Can't wait to see how the tropical weight wool is to sew with. You know how I love wool. Oh and I haven't commented on your break-up with the previous Moderne pattern but it was one of the funniest blog posts I have read in a long time! I'm glad no one has hard feelings. Also, I'm a big fan of your test run with fabrics and am slowly adopting (despite my love of rushing head long into projects) it in all of my sewing!!!! It's brilliant!

  3. I think I like the middle curve stitching sample. You did do double lines of the same stitch, correct?I am intrigued by this pattern. The ruffled front would look ridiculous on me, but the version you are doing might be OK. Of course, I still might look like a rectangle in a dress… lol.

  4. 30's dresses are amazing for making people look longer and leaner. I'm pretty short and curvaceous, so I never thought I should try 30's dresses. I guessed they were for straighter figures. But you know, most people I see in 30s dresses look amazing. Try it!

  5. Okay, I'm a little late to the game, but I'm just catching up from a relatively long hiatus. :) I'm so glad to see you trying this pattern out again! I really like the grey wool with the black detailing, even more than I did the purple. But then, I'm in love with grey right now. lol

  6. Pingback: I Want This Jacket « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  7. ages and ages since you posted about this, but i have been scouring the web for someone who has made this moderne dress, and you are one of the only ones i have come across. did you ever finish it? please feel free to email me erinalter at yahoo, if that would be simpler:)

    • Hey E- I never did finish it… In fancy I think Moderne kind of put me off trying to make straight-up vintage cuts work for me, not long after that I started learning to adapt/translate vintage cuts for modern wear… It’s a really cool design, though…

      • you know, your comment has given me something to ponder. i am trying to be more thoughtful about patterns that i choose, so that they are ones that really do suit me. after you mentioned trying to make something work versus adapting/translating something, it occurred to me that this pattern would probably not suit me as is. however, if i adapted it to be a jacket?!?!? hmm. it bears more thought. but it is also something that is beyond me right now, so i will put it in next year’s group of ideas, and circle back to it then. i do ADORE the sleeves, especially the cuffs…

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