Weigel’s 1808

Hello friends! If there is one thing I have learned with sewing, it’s that a little imagination and a willingness to make mistakes can go a long way to creating something wonderful! That was definitely the case when I decided to try Weigel’s 1808, View B. Technically this pattern is for a house/brunch coat, but months ago when I spotted it for sale I thought – wow! That would make an amazing dress! It had every feature I like in a dress, including the most incredible looking pockets! I had also been extremely curious about Weigel’s patterns after seeing other people making and discussing them on some vintage sewing groups I follow, and wanted to see what it would be like to work through one.

The pattern arrived in very good time and in a fantastic condition – exactly as the seller had promised. I was so excited I got straight to preparing the pattern pieces and traced everything out for View B. It also looked like it would work well with a vintage sheet I had in my stash, which was great in terms of focusing on using what fabric I had. But the first muslin was made of an old doona cover in order to check fit. I was very pleased to find the sleeves weren’t too tight and that the bodice seemed all right too. However, once I had attached the skirt portion I realised the fit was not nearly as good as I first believed. It became apparent the bodice was at least ½” too long, if not more. The skirt was also not so much a circle shape as suggested by the illustration on the front as it was A-line. It was so tight over my hips I couldn’t even button it up past the waist!

I was taken a back and not quite sure how I was going to fix at least the issues with the skirt. So I puzzled over it for a bit, consulted my sewing books and some online resources, and came around to the idea that I would need to re-make the back-skirt pieces without changing the fit of the waist, and then raise the waist about 1/2″ to start with. But I wasn’t sure at first how to fix the back skirt pieces without side seams to let out, which is my first go-to when it comes to easing things out around the hips. I then decided there was no time like the present to try my hand at the slash and spread method for pattern alteration. This would allow me to change the width of the back pattern piece without effecting the actual length of the waist, and help me to get a much more full skirt.

I started by folding my tracing of the back-skirt piece in half and then further dividing those halves in two. I then repeated this for each section until I had about eight lines I could cut along, stopping a few millimeters below the waist. Then I compared the back-skirt piece to another from a dress with a circle skirt, and spread the cut pieces open until it was roughly the same size. I used some scraps of old tracing paper offcuts to hold the bottom of the skirt in place and traced out the new shape, transferring across the markings for the pocket. In the end I think I added over ten inches to the skirt width! To finish the alterations off I also raised the armholes by about 1/2″ so it would stop it showing the side straps of my bra too much – for reasons I will explain below.

Much to my delight these alterations were perfect (apart from the changes to the armholes, as that was done after this dress was complete). The only strange thing was that there was something very off about the dress and I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me. At first I thought it was the lack of buttons, or the fact that the waist area looked strangely vacant. I rectified both of these issues with very large secondhand buttons from my stash and a secondhand belt buckle which I transformed into a simple matching belt. But that still didn’t seem to fix whatever about the dress was bothering me, so it came time to get a second opinion.

I sent a photo to an old friend who knows me and my style very well and asked what he thought, and he agreed that something was wrong. It didn’t seem like a me dress somehow. Then it hit me, the issue was the sleeves! Out came the unpicker and I proceeded to remove both sleeves and pin down the armhole seam allowance as if they were finished and faced. At once the dress was transformed. I reached into my stash again, this time for some secondhand bias binding with which I could finish the armholes, and set to making my final additions – a snap fastener at the waist, the sleeve finishing, and the addition of the pockets. The latter of which I ended up moving further out by about a thumb’s width so they would sit more around my hips. Then it was time to hem and admire the final product! 

I am just so incredibly pleased at how this one came out. I was able to try a new dress pattern and alter it to make it work for me. It also allowed me to use up fabric from my stash for something fun! I’d never tried the slash and spread method before, or tried making my own belts. But now I can definitely see the attraction and I think I may start collecting old belt buckles from the Op Shop moving forward.

Pattern: Weigel’s 1808 

Views Made: View B 

Pros: Very detailed instructions for a vintage pattern – including tips on making welt buttons if you are making a coat, has fairly decent length for either summer or wintery makes, can be sneakily made into a dress. 

Cons: Very tight in the hips – so beware if you are large in that area like I am. 

Would I recommend it to beginners: I really don’t think I would recommend this one for beginners, as it has a few trickier elements that might be better to come at later in your journey. 

Would I make it again: Now that I have all the alterations sorted, I can definitely see myself making more sleeveless dresses for summer! 

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