archive for 'sewing'
what a wonderful smell
du barry 5136: this tailored dress has a yoke and fly front cut in one. shaped pockets trims the front of the skirt. back of blouse has two inverted pleats below back yoke. fig i: has upper collar made in contrast and bishop sleeves are used. fig ii: has short sleeves with tucks at lower edge.
if i needed it confirming, this is the project that confirmed it: i will never make a seamstress. the clue’s in the name, -stress. it’s not making things for other people in general that’s the problem, i’ve bombarded my nearest and dearest with enough homemade tat to disprove that. but those have always been a surprise, they didn’t carry the weight of other people’s expectations. it’s making to commission that apparently takes a lot of the fun out if it.
also, making something apparently small and simple that is actually all kinds of stuff you’ve never done before doesn’t help. the pattern (burda 9990) had mock welts. personally i can’t think of anything crueller to inflict on a 4 year old than pretend pockets, so i had to make them functional. despite my many mini-trials with the bound button holes it still took a bit of brain bending to get my head around the process. then a bit more brain bending to get around the fact that i’d cut past the opening and into the main fabric on the first pocket
i stitched up the cut as best i could, but i wasn’t confident about the repair holding. neither was i confident about the strength of the pockets themselves, as the lining fabric is thin (in future i’m making a huge effort to find good quality lining, this stuff was horrible to work with) and the structure of the welt pocket – clipped right into (past ) the corners – weakens it further. i also wasn’t happy that the pocket lining was showing through the main lining. happily, i solved all the above problems with an interfacing fudge
i didn’t bother to look it up, as i’m sure there’s a million reasons why it shouldn’t be done, but at that point i Really Didn’t Care. the denim has a very soft hand so i’d interfaced the whole of the front pieces with a dark fusible. so i took a patch of the same interfacing and fused it over the whole of the back of the pocket, simultaneously reinforcing the pocket, reinforcing the repaired cut and masking the pocket lining. clever huh? (now you can tell me why it shouldn’t be done because it is Too Late To Do Anything About It )
the buttonholes, which had been giving me the heebeejeebies all the way through, were slightly less trouble than i’d feared. i did have to unpick and restitch a couple of times, but i didn’t cut through any threads when i opened them. they’re a little stiff cos i clear nailvarnished them in the hope of keeping any fraying under control.
overall i’m pretty happy with the finished product, all the fussy cutting i did at the beginning has really paid off, i’m happy with where the horses are sitting, which i think is the standout first thing you notice. will have to report back re sizing (i combined differing height/chest measurements). i’ve sized up the recipient next to my 3-yo and i’m hopeful that the way it fits on her (i had to beg her to take it off ) indicates it should be a good fit on him.
it’s just a shame that the process was so tortuous. it turns out that i’m mostly in it for the journey.
i’m totally stalled on a current project for a dear friend thanks to my utter failure to make reasonable buttonholes. note to self: surprise people, never promise stuff in advance, it makes you look bad :facepalm:
trouble is, the buttonholes on my machine are unreliable (or at least i can’t make them work reliably). i wonder if something’s come misaligned because the rows of stitching seem very tight, and i ended up slicing through the side threads on my last couple of sets
i tried topstitching thread, with a heavy needle and reduced tension, but the tension’s clearly still awry cos i’m getting nasty – and unpredictable – snarls on the back.
i tried bound buttonholes using my magic doofer, but i’m not having much luck at getting them a) the same size or b) reliably tight, rather than gaping. to say nothing of the unholy mess it makes of the wrong side, and i’m sure bodgingly hand sewing the backs isn’t supposed to be the answer
and so i’m beginning to think that the very first buttonholes i did, with regular thread on the machine, are actually the best of a bad bunch. i briefly considered whether i could get a vintage buttonholer to work on my machine, in case that would be any better, but i think it’s probably lunacy. i did however get a tip from this recent tutorial (thanks susan!) to try two passes, one with a longer and the other with a shorter stitch length. i like the way this looks on the samples, so i’ll have a go, knocking down the density accordingly. and then i’ll just have to have a very steady hand indeed when i open them. gulp.
i mentioned to a (non-sewing) friend that i’d been battling with buttonholes all morning. she looked aghast and asked if i was really that much of a perfectionist that i cared how the buttonholes looked. i admitted somewhat shamefaced that yes, yes i was, but i was rather taken aback by her horror. please someone out there reassure me you understand …
in other news, i’m off to see the quilts next week. i expect to return full of renewed inspiration, with another million projects i just have to start right now this minute
i had a sudden realisation yesterday when i put on my vogue 1044 “wearable” muslin. it really is too big as in unwearably so the extra is mostly around the bust and shoulders, i really don’t think there are any alterations i can make that would fix it.
i guess before i was too close to the project to be able to assess it objectively, but yesterday i realised that were it rtw i would immediately be reaching for the next size down and i’d try the one below that for good measure, too. which is a little worrysome as the pattern i have only goes down one more size, not sure i can face either buying it again or grading down the one i have.
i suppose i have to put it down as a learning experience. when i first came across the pattern i was planning to sign up for a sewing class – focussing on fitting, oh the irony – but couldn’t really afford it, so i could see the time and money invested in the dress as my diy version of the class. still, it really hurts to know i’ve sunk so much into something i simply cannot use. i’ve made stuff that didn’t quite work out before, but usually it’s been on a much smaller scale, or still been functional even if not pleasing to the eye.
it’s just a shame that my first foray into dressmaking for me in a very long time has turned out to be a rather large purple white elephant. i think i really need to pause and focus on what i can learn from this to take into my next project. this garment sewing is proving to be a steeper learning curve than i anticipated…
innit? not reflecting a total lack of activity, just a lull.
various things are in progress, i’m onto the second front for my cardi, i must get on with ordering some buttons.
i’m also working on a waistcoat that should have been a piece of cake, but has taken some very involved fussy cutting and an awful lot of experimenting with my latest new toy.
it’s a bound buttonhole maker, by rencrest, 1955. i assume it works the same as the widely feted dritz version, but with a lot less competition on ebay i’ve worked through a few variations, hence the electrical tape markings, to allow me to work slightly in from the very edge, which works fine for longer buttonholes (for enormous buttons!) but not so well for the 1/2 – 3/4″ ones i need to make.
i’ve been delving further into the 1940s too, fuelled by excessive reading over at the fedora lounge. i was pipped at the post to a rather fetching cc41 bra on ebay yesterday, although tbh i was grateful not only because i am still beyond skint* but also because it would have been a miracle had the thing actually fit. i was planning on rubbing off a copy, which could be tweaked as required, then selling the original on.
*the hollywood pattern book went for a good price in the end, would have been £60+ including uk shipping, thankfully. had it gone for the opening price i’d have been gutted!
i’ve been playing around with pincurls this weekend which has been a whole load of fun. i’ve always gone for “striking” hairdos, which in the past i’ve achieved with cut and colour (i think the only colour i’ve never had is green) and never spent much/any time actually styling the stuff. but i’ve recently chosen an uncharacteristically natural shade (dark brown, not my natural shade, but still… ) so i’m enjoying the chance to spice it up with more unusual styles. it’s going to take a hell of a lot bit more practice before the curls are fit to wear as they are, but i absolutely love the volume/texture it gives my mostly straight and slippery hair. i’ve been able to do this 1940s style, which i adore, entirely ratless which makes me happy
i think it’s a sign i’m on the right track that (to me, at least) i look like my grandma
returning to radio silence for a while, i expect, i have a birthday party/half term/camping just around the corner so blogging will have to take a back seat.
i absolutely cannot afford to buy this 1935 hollywood pattern catalogue (i’m beyond skint and the shipping is prohibitively high ), but somebody should because it’s an absolute steal at that start price and then some.
i’ll be hunting down #836 in the wild that’s for sure. the fact i have absolutely no occasion on which i could possibly wear it notwithstanding…
hollywood 1127 arrived yesterday, without customs charges, yay
big thumbs up to dress vintage for top customer service.
even bigger yay for the yardage – i’ve seen a couple of copies of this pattern in circulation, but never the back of the envelope. i figured i’d do contrast collar/cuffs if necessary, but with luck i should be able to squeeze the whole thing out of my 3 2/3 yards (actual requirement is 3 3/4 but that includes facings and i could probably skimp on the hem a little). i hoped that being a mid-war pattern it would be pretty economical and it really is, it has pretty much a layout for every size and the pieces are well and truly tretrissed on
thing is though, i’ve been leafing through some 1940s pics recently and so many of the dresses have white/collar cuffs i’m beginning to wonder if i’d rather do that anyway…
been shopping again
i was sold this as original 30s and although i know virtually nothing about the era i’m inclined to believe it, what do you reckon? any experts out there?
whatever it turns out to be i can’t get enough of this print, it’s got all my best colours, it has a wonderful drape (rayon) and a subtle sheen. condition is as new. can you imagine how nervous i’m going to be cutting into it?
it didn’t take me that long to mull it over
did i pick well?
thanks to rasputnik for turning a negative into a positive. i found a not-quite-so-perfect-but-similar-enough-to-be-a-contender vogue pattern and i was trying to decide between them. the vogue was in my size (yay for 40s proportions!) while this one isn’t. he asked which i’d learn most from. seeing as i’d have to grade it up the hollywood is the clear winner when you look at it like that.
why so perfect? princess line, pleats, flattering neckline, slight puff to the sleeves but not too much volume, sleeve cuffs, and i really like the side buttons. i’m sure the cute picture showing it made up in a similar print to mine doesn’t hurt at all – i don’t have to make a huge leap of imagination to be fairly certain it will work, i’m not keen to take unnecessary risks with this one.
i realise these are mostly details that could be adapted/tweaked from a similar pattern, and i even briefly considered drafting my own version, but i have a slightly more realistic assessment of my skillz at this point.
for ref, burdastyle on grading up
i didn’t win my perfect pattern (outbid) which leaves me with a dilemma. it’s available elsewhere but it’s pretty expensive, once i figure in shipping and potential import charges it comes into the verrry expensive category (i.e. more than £25). that’s a ridiculous price for a pattern, isn’t it? it couldn’t possibly be that perfect, could it?
i suppose i could trace it then sell it on…
i’ve been hanging out more than is good for me on the vintage sewing blogs lately. i’ve always recognised the rather obvious appeal of fifties fashions, but the less showy delights of the thirties/forties are a whole new world for me, and there’s nothing i like more than immersing myself in New Stuff. so that’s how i came to be browsing etsy for 40s fabric and that’s how this little beauty came into my life.
from vintage pickle on etsy, i totally recommend this seller.
such wonderful colours, red white and blue seems to be everywhere atm (not least in vintage sewing land, susannah’s got it too). i have a favourite dress from last summer in those colours that sets off my newest tattoo a treat
i won’t be flashing it with this though, something demure and somewhat sensible i reckon, a classic forties pattern. it’s a not-particularly-drapey cotton, so i’m not sure it will work with the gathered yoke dresses i’ve recently come to love. i have my eye on a princess seam dress that looks like the perfect balance of quirky period detail with a utility vibe that plays down the girliness of the print (i fear there’s danger of straying into this kind of territory if i get carried away with the puffs and the ruffles!).
i have to hold my breath a bit though, as i don’t know if the seller will ship to me and it looks like i have competition, it’s a cute pattern. also i can’t find any yardage info for the pattern and looking at similar styles it may take more than i have. i have cunning plans though, and if i can’t squeeze it all in i’ll use contrast collar/cuffs/whatever. i read recently (i don’t remember exactly where) that it was common for wartime patterns to include a mix of fabrics, so they could be assembled from what small lengths of fabric were available, often recycled from old garments.
so fingers crossed i get the pattern, and watch this space …
it feels like this has been a long time coming, but looking back, the idea only occurred to me just over a month ago. until then i’d never even considered sewing vintage patterns (although i’d always bought vintage fabric, buttons etc.) and now look at me
i’m glad on so many levels that i’ve treated this as a wearable muslin. i’m not sure i’d have had the courage to start without that “it’s only a trial run” feeling. and i’m still learning about the fit now i can see pictures of the finished article. there’s no way i could have considered making the whole thing up but never wearing it, and without the skirt and belt i missed plenty of fitting issues so just mocking up the bodice wouldn’t have worked for me.
in terms of fit, it’s fairly close to the pattern illustration, which shows a slightly blousy top, but i would prefer it a full size down next time. i can deal with the volume of the skirt if it’s tempered by a lack of volume above the waist. i cut a 14 as that most closely matched my measurements (35.5-29-37), then added 2″ to the waist at the bodice-fitting stage. in practice this was at least 1″ too much, the skirt completely alters the hang of the bodice and the posture alteration from wearing heels makes it even more roomy.
i wanted to test the pattern so i followed the instructions pretty much to the letter. it was intricate (10 pieces in the bodice) but mostly straightforward although i found the inset bodice/yoke seam an absolute pig to sew and ended up doing it by hand. i’ve since read around and seen that there are a number of different way of reinforcing these corners, and i think i’d pick something other than the seam binding strips that the pattern has you use.
i was fore-warned by the only review at pr about potential floppiness in the yoke. i didn’t know quite how to go about interfacing it, so i relied on stitching the inner facings a little tight, to hold it all in, and it seems to be working very well. hopefully choosing a crisper fabric for v2 should help too. i think i may shorten the back waist in v2, this fuzzy picture gives an idea of where the belt sits, as well as the spare inches around the bodice.
oh and yes, my shoes are too big amazing what stands out in a photo that you never really noticed irl!
apols for lack of v1044 pics – i got waylaid last night by the lure of burning stuff whilst drinking beer. hopefully i can catch a few tomorrow. may get a bit soggy though.
in the meantime, i bring you the pictorial guide to modern home needlecraft. it was my treat to myself for finishing the alice dress on time. i’ve only had a brief look through, but what really stands out to distinguish it from modern books (my edition says “reprinted 1946″) is the emphasis on “Mend and Make Do”.
the section entitled “Renovating, repairing and cutting down worn garments” is full of these kind of gems, i’m particularly taken by “camoflage for underarm shabbiness”
i also like the inclusion of underwear, something that rarely seems to get a mention these days. after being inspired by debi’s recent triumph with satinny things i get the feeling that slinkies might be somewhere on my horizon…
if you’re taken by these pics i have a few more on my flickr, or grab your own copy of mhn, can be easily found on ebay for a fiver or so.
well, it counts as finished when it’s at the photo-taking stage, right?
will have to wait for daylight to actually get the pictures, but v1 of v1044 is at the photo-taking stage (after a damn good pressing).
i’ve learned a million things through the construction of this wearable muslin. i count myself as an advanced beginner when it comes to dressmaking (actually, that seems to be where i peak with most of my endeavors ) and i would never have had the courage to approach this pattern (which turned out to be rather trickier than i recklessly anticipated) without the sense that this was a trial run.
v2 will hopefully improve on fit: v1 is at least half a size too big.
it will improve on length: v1 is too long, and somewhat wonky.
it will improve on drape: v1 is too droopy, this dress begs for a fabric with a really crisp hand.
it will improve on economy: no ridiculous 12″ hem next time, i’m planning to add tucks like on M’s alice dress to hold the skirt out.
it will have a proper belt: the part that gave me most trouble and that i’m least happy with on v1.
it will have the best buttons in the world: this was where the whole project started, and i’m itching to put them to use.
by the skin of my teeth, i made it. no collar though, M said she didn’t want one and frankly i didn’t have time (i was still sewing 30 minutes before the party ).
i haven’t been as happy with a finished project for a long time, i think this picture best shows why:
pretty close, no? tenniel’s alice has stripy stockings in through the looking glass, although not in wonderland. the hair was entirely accidental, she slept with her plaits in.
amongst the things i’ve learned is that i love unprinted patterns. i found the pattern (butterick 9883) so easy to lay out, cut and mark. the seam allowances were indeed included and the seam lines were marked on the pattern. i can’t quite fathom the switch to printed patterns tbh, although i guess the convenience of multi-sizing outweighs the multiple other conveniences of the unprinted pattern.
i’ve also learned that when you’re fitting a bodice (perhaps in particular with a large, heavy skirt, i found this with v1044 too) it’s wise to fit it closer than you think you should. i spent a very long time fitting this bodice as although the pattern chest measurement was supposedly right for M there was massively too much ease across the chest/shoulders, and she’s just a different shape to the pattern so i tweaked a lot. but once the dress went together the bodice mysteriously grew yet more ease which i’d have been happier to remove, but lets call it growing room
on which subject i’m super pleased with the growth tucks, i wasn’t sure if they’d be overkill with the dotted swiss but i think they look a treat (as does M) and they give additional stiffness to help hold the skirt out. there was spare length in the bodice too, which i’ve rather optimistically kept in case we want to lengthen the bodice in future. considering this would involve removing the zip and all the petticoat fastenings i’m not sure i can see it happening, but you never know.
the petticoat was a lot of work but most definitely worth it. i roughly followed the instructions on the anticraft for making a tiered petticoat, although i gathered the top tier onto the waistband to give some body at the hips, and added (6m of ) broderie anglais trim. i’m very glad indeed that i decided to go for cotton for comfort rather than net, which would have been more appropriate to the vintage theme i suppose. wrestling with that length of fabric was bad enough, without adding net to the equation. M hates waistbands that sit around her actual waist, so i used some of her la rigoletta snaps to fasten it along the inner waistline of the dress. (predictably she came back from the party petticoat drooping where the snaps had come undone )
the other important thing i learned: check then check again what’s going on underneath. with the volume of skirtage going on it’s a miracle i didn’t sew over it more often than i did (which was lots), i ripped more than i’ve ever ripped before. it wasn’t quite so easy to fix when i pinked through the skirt when i was trimming the seam allowances along the zip very, very luckily it wasn’t the bodice, which would have been a proper disaster, whereas this sat within one of the folds, so i just sewed it together, barely noticeable.
all in all a very happy project, and M was gratifyingly thrilled/twirly too
edited to add a couple more things i learned about ric rac, that if i don’t write down i will have unlearned pretty soon!
1) when sewing ric rac into a seam, bend it down past the seamline at the end. don’t just cut it because it will fray horribly
2) clear nail varnish is a pretty good substitute for fray-stop when you need to remedy fraying ric rac in a hurry
3) it takes longer than you think to hand sew ric rac – an hour and a half for the (2.5m) hem of the dress.
4) the mystery presser foot i’ve been using ever since i lost my straight stitch foot appears to be some kind of an applique foot. it has a raised channel down the centre that perfectly accommodated the width of the ric rac. no way was i setting out to hand sew the stuff onto the pinny at 10 o’clock on the night before the party so i thought i’d wing it on the machine. lo and behold the sewing gods were smiling on me and i found i could feed the ric rac in as i sewed, without even pinning it on. i just guided the fabric edge along the seam guide on the machine bed and let the applique foot take care of the ric rac. great stuff
5) it may be that the 1/4″ foot i bought and returned because it didn’t fit the machine might fit the machine if i’d had the foot attachment properly screwed in
M was twirling delightedly in front of the mirror then she suddenly looked serious and said “mum, i hate to say this, but you do know the party’s on saturday..?”
the basic dress is done, save a spot of finishing inside. i have yet to baste on the sleeves, draft/cut/baste the collar, or do anything about the apron or promised petticoat. the growth tucks are doing a great job of stiffening the hem of the skirt so it sticks out, but given how excited she was when i gave her my petticoat to try, it would be the perfect finishing touch.
my money’s on me getting as far as the apron, but i think the petticoat may be a long time coming and if i don’t get the collar done for saturday i’ll skip it altogether. never say die, though, i’m still aiming to do the whole kaboodle. watch this space…
i couldn’t believe my luck when i found this pattern
it’s undated, 60s judging by the illustration, logo etc., but the style says 50s to me. the pattern is unprinted, at which i also can’t believe my luck, as it means i don’t have to trace the bugger (my most hated sewing task). i’ll be super careful with my cutting and all the marks can be easily transfered with tacks/snips without damaging the pattern.
it says “5/8 inch seam allowance on all butterick patterns” on the instructions, which i assume means that the allowances are included but i’ll do a little careful measuring to be sure. i like this tip about measuring collar and neck opening to check whether allowances are included or not.
i’ll be doing a little jigging about with this on the sizing and the style. i want to make it usable as a sundress after the urge to be alice has passed, basically i want to be able to remove the peter pan collar and puff sleeves. i’ll check the construction to see if there’s an easy way to do this. i’m tempted to finish it as a sundress and simply tack on collar and sleeves – i think finishing the neck and sleeves while it’s still flat will be easier and neater. i’m not a huge fan of big facings but i don’t think this would look right bound either, but on reading my vogue book of sewing (which i really should do more often!) i learned of the bias facing. i might even make life even easier by using bought tape rather than making my own.
M is keen on the idea of a petticoat, especially once she saw a swatch of pre-gathered broderie anglais trim i’d nabbed for reference. we’ll see how the skirt fares without one first – the fabric is pretty crisp so should stand out well. my own recent experience is that full 50s skirts are enough of a culture shock on their own to really require that much boosting, but we’ll see, she seems really engaged in this project so if it would make her happy who am i to argue. i will try to talk her out of purple ricrac though
progress on v1044 is proceeding, although it stumbled a little when i rocked my rocking chair over my belt buckle and squished it i’m planning a marathon handsewing session of facings, buttons and hem this evening, in front of the election debate, whilst simultaneously drinking on the phrases “real change” and “hard working families”. i may have some unpicking to do in the morning…
time for a much-needed step back from hopelessly chasing the next pattern for me – time for a kid project. links for ref:
reference pattern (okay any hint of it being a mystery is gone now… )
i’m thinking of tweaking the traditional look along 50s lines (natch), not least because i have yards and yards of dotted swiss aching to be made up into something. in that vein i’m also thinking ricrac
john tenniel’s original illustrations clearly show a border on the white pinny, but are obviously black and white. i assumed the red i’ve seen in costumes etc. was a disney thing, but apparently not. to my mind there wouldn’t be any red involved, but thinking about making the outfit i’d really love the excuse to ricrac it up a bit.
eta: reference pattern 2
by hook or by crook i’ll find way to make a dress like this too.
i think it’s mostly the plaid that’s calling to me tbh. there have been quite a few plaid/tartan dresses i’ve been lusting over in the last year or so, i clearly need at least one in my life. (actually, i do have one, which is sadly torn, really the best thing to do would be to fix that one, but i think it will be a tricky fix… ) but it’s also the drape of the silk that’s making me drool. i have very little in the way of silk clothing, and certainly nothing in silk satin. i urgently need to remedy that
bound seams a little much for a toile? i will be taking out the tailor tacks!
and in other news, mystery shopping
eta: heh. i wrote this before i read yesterday’s discussion on gertie’s new blog. i’ve only ever made a couple of garments for me before and i had no real idea how my measurements were likely to match up with commercial patterns. but i also knew that this pattern would take a lot of work before i could get any true sense of fit, and i’m not one to want to do the same thing twice. so i figured i’d make up the bodice in cheap but wearable cotton first, before deciding if it was worth the extra 4m ( ) for the skirt. it’s shaping up no worse than much of my rtw, perhaps a bit on the big side, but i don’t think i’m going to get a true sense of the fit, especially ease required for movement, until i’ve worn it about a bit. so perhaps not a “muslin” in the true sense of the word, but – hopefully! – wearable nonetheless.