Friday, 21 January 2011

Self-Drafted Poppy Skirt

Skirt back

I know sewing a skirt should be easy, but whenever I sew up a skirt pattern according to my pattern size it doesn't fit.   I assume quite a bit of ease is being added to waist and hip measurements (on top of wearing ease) - does anyone know how much, or how consistently?

So for now I'm making skirts the slow way, with no pattern, just my tape measure and a washable marker pen. 

I made this skirt using a pretty poppy print cotton voile from Tessuti fabrics and an orange-red lining.  My "pattern" was constrained by the amount of voile I'd bought. The skirt front and back are rectangles shaped in a little at the waist, to the length I'd measured would take the border print to my knees. There are two pleats front and back, made of whatever width was excess to my waist and hips. These pleats taper to fit me, sort of as darts would.  There's a (regular) zip at centre back, and to make up for the lack of waistband there's an interfaced inner fabric piece that fits snugly around my waist. To this inner piece the lining is attached - I used A-line skirt shapes cut a few centimetres wider than necessary so I could add some simple fold pleats in the lining corresponding to the position of the skirt pleats.

I'm pretty happy with this skirt - it's a nice light little thing that's perfect for our very warm summer.
Skirt front, viewed upside down
Inner waist & lining
Inside out, front view

Woo hoo!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

My Lucky Day

I guess I had a lucky day: I was picked by the random number generator on Debi's My happy sewing place...  as the winner of a Wearing History repro pattern.  Debi's vintage outfits and pattern collection tend to make me daydream about a rather different sort of lifestyle... so in selecting a pattern I decided to go with the dream and pick the one that's the super-cutest to me:

I have a lovely heavy weight navy linen that's been looking for its pattern match, and I think this is it.

To see a gorgeous outfit made from this pattern, have a look at Casey's version here - then wish me luck!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Top C2: "Feminine Wardrobe" (Japanese Pattern Book)

 May I present top # C2 in the garden:


I think magnolias go with this top

 and also on me:

gee I hate getting my photo taken - even by myself!

this top is from the below Japanese pattern book for women.

I made the top in a size "LL" - according to the book's sizing chart I should definitely have made a smaller size, but I decided I would prefer this top quite loose.  The top was an absolute delight to sew - due to lovely fabric (beautiful cotton from Tessuti Fabrics in York St, Sydney) and a straightforward pattern that goes together nicely. I rather enjoy the freestyle form of sewing where you either don't have any instructions or can't read them, but when I was up to the attaching sleeves stage I was kind of relieved to come across this step-by-step tutorial, which confirmed the top was going together correctly (phew).

Although I made C2, the pattern I was really keen on was C3 - I didn't quite have enough fabric, even for a C3 top, so I'll have to make it another time - but have a look at this and this for great C3 examples.  It's the dress that's on the cover of the book - basically a longer version of the C2, with different sleeves and a big bow stretched across the front bodice.

PS this looks like a useful site for translating the commonly used kenji characters for sewing - and also this one spells out the basics of using a Japanese sewing pattern.  And this blog has several posts on the topic of Japanese crafting/sewing by guest blogger Kuky.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Vintage Pajama Pattern Collection

I'm finishing Vogue 1025 in black linen, starting a new Japanese pattern, contemplating cute swimmers for my daughter (my partner popped into Tessuti Fabrics for me this afternoon with a sample of elastic to match and unfortunately he was given the wrong stuff, so that project will have to wait) and planning Vogue 1207... and I need to keep an ear out for my kids. 

As I can't work on or show you a finished garment, I thought I'd show you my vintage pajama pattern collection:


The bulk of the older patterns shown above were bought as one - they were all squished into a manila envelope in the "craft box" at one of my local second hand shops.  A crappy old envelope sounds like a terrible way to treat delicate patterns, but they were definitely better off in that envelope than being loose in the craft box with other patterns, knitting needles etc.  The one exception to the manila envelope rule is the 1920s women's pajamas which I couldn't resist on etsy. 

This sweet pattern was also shoved in with all the pajamas:

The more recent patterns were separate but mostly bought at the same place, same time or soon after. They were certainly very cheap - but I do NOT need any more pajama patterns.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Vogue 2859 - the Blouse

Vogue 2859 is a 1935 design for an outfit: slip dress, blouse and jacket.  It's rather swish!  Here's what the outfit is supposed to look like - the blouse is what interested me initially:

The back-of-the-envelope figure thingo says this outfit flatters "inverted triangle" or "hourglass" figures; I assume I didn't notice when I bought the pattern, because I distinctly remember thinking the blouse would suit a small shoulders, small bust kind of shape.  I don't think I'd really paid attention either to the fact that the pattern is rated "Advanced/Plus Difficile".

Anyway, here's my finished blouse (with my Anne Klein pants):


Now that I see it on I can understand the figure recommendations, but that's too bad. Actually I think it looks like a 70s blouse, but maybe that's just the print on the fabric, a slinky thin material that I bought last year at Lincraft. This fabric looked like it would drape nicely, and be good practice for me in sewing with slippery fabric.  Also it was kind of cheap and I had twice as much as needed, so not disastrous to mess up.  

Based on my measurements and minimum wearing ease (ie waist: +2.5cm, bust: +7.5cm) I graded up a size at the waist, and otherwise my only change was to extend the blouse about 5cm below the waist line in a sort of straight peplum.

I think this blouse really needs a drapey, slippery fabric, and that's part of the sewing difficulty. There are only really bodice front and back pieces plus the single layer belt, but the instructions are confusing in a few places (the construction of the twisted collar, for one, plus unexpected darts on the shoulders), and the blouse would be vastly improved by loads of hand sewing in lieu of rolled hems.  I do think it's an attractive and unusual garment though, even if it would be better on someone curvier.

And finally, have a look what a google image search on '1930s ideal figure' turned up: a picture of a newspaper insert from the 1930s, showing the then Hollywood ideal! And bear in mind that 1930s fashion was heavily influenced by Hollywood...

If the change in ideals from the 1920s to 1930s interests you, also have a look at this interesting article from a 1937 issue of Physical Culture magazine - lots of nutty raving about the benefits of sun bathing, but everyone was keen to look healthy and curvy after the Depression years.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Last Year's Vogue 1086 Dress

I don't know the rules of blogging or if there are any rules.  Usually I think I shouldn't post about pre-blog garments - but I saw kbenco's post on her Vogue 1086 dress the other day, and her dress looks so different than mine that I thought a look at my version might be useful for those thinking of this pattern who are (a) small-shouldered and pear-shaped (like me) or (b) tempted to use an unorthodox fabric (like me).     

In April *last year* my mother-in-law invited us to come see her choir singing at The Priory in Hunter's Hill.   Concert day was a hot day for April, but after the performance we went for a lovely walk in the adjoining grounds, stopping in the shade of a grand old tree.

A small bike is a useful accessory, n'est-ce pas?

I wore my Vogue 1086 Tracy Reese dress... which wasn't too flattering due to fabric choice and dress shape vs my shape. The fabric I used was from one of the ex-Cue rolls Tessuti get in without any fabric details - so it was only about $5 a metre.  It's a non-natural blend of some kind with a hard feel and a crinkly post-wash texture, and the pattern on it reminded me of the pattern on a blouse I'd seen the Selfish Seamstress make with success.  I made the slip out of a cream coloured cotton voile, and it's been very useful and lovely but I'm not going to show you how it looks by itself because it's a bit see-through.

Vogue 1086 was pretty straightforward...

... but I didn't think carefully enough before selecting fabric, cutting and sewing, and didn't make a muslin.  It turned out that the neckline was too low-cut for me, but this ended up being alright because I had made the accompanying slip higher cut.  My fabric crinkled and warped and unravelled in unexpected ways, despite french seams in all directions.  Inserting the side zipper in this sort of fabric was really difficult - the seam kept curving out and growing, and I got so annoyed that after a few goes finally I cut it out and sewed front and back together a bit tighter than desired.  This only really affected the tightness of the waistband as the bodice is a bit puffy and the skirt has gathers. And the only reason I was able to get away with no zipper is that I have very narrow shoulders; unfortunately this also means the dress tends to fall off my shoulders.

The slip shows above the v-neck, fabric is loose on bust, dress is sliding off shoulders, etc
I think with more attention to details and a more suitable fabric this dress would be nice on - if I remade it I'd replace the gathers on the bust with some nice stuctured folds, and for my small shoulders maybe I should have used a fabric with more body.  Any other top tips or pointers to more successful incarnations of this dress would be welcome!

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