Jaques Heim’s gorgeous Vogue Paris Original 1574 and the art of the bound buttonhole

So, being pregnant with our second child it seems rather pointless to do too much sewing…. I can hardly fit dresses to myself that will be worn in a years time… However, the catch is that when the new baby is born I am fairly sure that I will very little time for anything else but the baby! And I would like a new self-made dress for the christening.

For years I have been longing to make VPO 1574, a 1960s one piece dress by Jacques Heim- a 6 piece pattern. The dress is cut in one, shaped with darts and a second piece cut on the bias forms a roll collar. Well, I could always make up the muslin, I thought and then use that for fitting post baby- half the work would be done right…?

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Little did I know how magical this dress would be- I loved the simplicity of the lines, the ease of the construction… it brought to mind the things I had read about Givenchy and his mentor, Balenciaga… the pursuit of simplicity, minimal seams etc… this dress was just a pleasure to put together. I love it when a designer almost makes origami from the cloth to create something beautiful.

The image shown here of the front of the muslin (with the line drawing/ back of the pattern) is simply pinned and partially basted. After a couple of days I was motivated to further action…. After all, I could always progress the project as far as possible and the stitch the final seams after the initial fitting after the baby is born… And there really is only one major seam at the back…

I cut the pattern from a beautiful lightweight, rich plum brown wool from which I have also cut Nina Ricci’s VPO 1125, of the same area (waiting to be seen up in my sewing room). The marking and seam lines have been thread basted. I am debating about a lining, a slip underneath would do nicely too.

The back of the dress is very pretty, low cut and secured by two buttons that form a subtle feature. It makes absolute sense to me, that these should be done with bound buttonholes. Whilst I have played around with bound buttonholes in the past I have never actually applied them to a garment – I have been too scared of messing up my project!

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So, after three attempts, I think the third practice is there- I plan to pop the buttonholes into the dress before it is all finally sewn up… and given the dress is cut in one piece and a mistake could totally ruin things, I just hope it works out well. Below are pictures of the final practice swatch… the first one shows the thread traced markings (the red thread was used noting it was a practise and a bit easier to see until I figured everything out). The second shows the bound buttonhole sans threads… for anyone out there practising bound buttonholes/ attempting them, I did find that interfacing the back with silk organza yielded a less stiff result than iron-on interfacing and for that reason I preferred it (but you do need to take care to securely baste the organza swatch well at the back so it doesn’t shift when using your sewing machine. Off the top of my head, I think Claire Shaeffer recommends that in her book Couture Sewing.

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Feeling very nervous about doing this on the actual garment! Wish me luck…!

 

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