Monday, 31 December 2012

Vintage Outfit for the New Year

Back so soon!  And I've actually done what I said I would (congratulates self on improving time management skills) and completed a little outfit for my daughter. It took longer than expected (nothing new there) but I think it's pretty cute!

It's a button back dress with matching reversible kimono sleeve box jacket.

The buttonholes on the dress back are horizontal at neck and waist but vertical in between, reflecting the different amounts of stress I expect at these places.  I've used pale pink vintage hemispherical buttons which proved hard to photograph...

The dress and one side of the bolero are made from a light cotton voile which I figured would work well in our hot summer weather, and the coordinating fabric for the jacket is a midweight linen.

I pretty much used the pattern (Simplicity 4968 from the late 50s or early 60s) as is, with only a couple of small changes. After sewing the bodice up I got Miss UpSewLate to try it on and she advised me that it was too short. In her view, her waistline is below her belly (let's hope she grows out of this opinion and never gets too keen on beers), and she gets annoyed with all the dresses that put a waistline at her ... uh... waist. It was a bit short but not as short as she thought so I added a waistband - just a band of double layer, interfaced fabric to extend the bodice. In the end this was acceptable. She also didn't want the cute patch pockets shown on the pattern picture and in fact wanted NO pockets, because pockets always seem to get sand in them. And this is of course true for all those who like playing in a sandpit...

I think the result is really nice. Not my style, but very sweet for a young girl and quite dressy with the little summery jacket. I prefer the jacket linen side out, but Miss UpSewLate's preference is flowers on the outside - more, more, and more flowers, mum!, as you can see from her photos with flowers. Perhaps the floristry trade is calling?

Now if you've been reading this blog a while you'll know I haven't sewn much since around late October last year, and I've hardly blogged since then. It felt like there were too many "fails" amongst my last few projects, so I was hoping this project would help me regain my sewing skills so I could take on another adult project with a bit of hope for a decent result. Although I'm sure this pattern could not be regarded as complex, it did let me practice a few sewing skills that I have definitely not yet mastered - namely using the serger (I need to work out the correct way to serge corners; maybe I need to watch the boring educational DVD!) and hand sewing (for some of the edges of the reversible bolero and for the inside facings at the shoulder seams). For these personal challenge areas I took it very slowly; the results are not perfect but are decent enough for me. For a Simplicity pattern, the instructions weren't as detailed as I would have expected (eg no mention of interfacing - surely it was used in the 50s / 60s?), but the illustrations in the instructions were very clear. And I do like pre-cut pattern piece patterns; I traced around them to cut the fabric on my new (Christmas!) cutting mat and the cutting activity was a pleasure :-).

So, what do you think?  Can I move on up to selfish sewing now?

PS Because I managed to make this within December and it's for a child, it's eligible for the current "Sewing for Children" competition on Pattern Review. So I'm entering :-). The entry gallery is here, and there are some fabulous entries but if you particularly liked my outfit I wouldn't mind at all if you voted for it. Really!

Sewing For Children

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Merry Christmas, + Up Sew Late Hits and Misses in 2012

Merry merry Christmas everyone! I hope you've had a relaxing time with family or friends, and that Santa remembered you...

I know I've been away for ages (and yes, I did go away - Bali for 2 1/2 weeks after a decadent long weekend doing wineries and degustation meals in the Yarra Valley), but I think I'm back now :-).  You might recall that my sewing skills were looking dire anyway (irritating swimsuit, I'm thinking of you - and you too, constricting dress), but while on holidays I fell into the habit of just relaxing in the evenings. Sigh... G&T? Thanks... Who wants to play cards? Otherwise there's a Downton Abbey DVD we could watch... or you could read one of these interesting holiday novels...  So who could blame me? Habits such as this are hard to break, and it's taken weeks of sewing inspiration in the form of blogs (probably yours), pattern inspiration (the siren call of Etsy, mostly), and sewing-related Christmas gifts to get me off the couch. The evening before yesterday - whenever that was - was it Boxing Day? I started making a little 50s outfit for my daughter, and it's going well so hopefully I'll be able to herd myself back to selfish sewing shortly.

Now I have no particularly interesting thoughts on 2012 or sewing right now (maybe some other time, hey?) so without further ado, here are my* hits and misses for the year. 

* including selfish sewing only

The Hits 

Breezy Linen Dress with Contrast Sash


This dress went away to Bali with me and proved absolutely perfect for hot, muggy weather, for dinner somewhere fancy, for shopping in Seminyak, for the beach... generally without the contrast sash though. Back home it also did really well at Christmas parties. I love the colour and even though it's so loose it still seems to look kind of dressy. 

Classic Linen... 


These trousers were a tad tight when I made them but now fit really well after lots of exercise at the gym. I love the fit - the crotch shape on this pattern is just right, the legline is flattering, and because I made them myself I got a waistband that actually fits, unlike all my RTW trousers. I love the sturdy zipper and the stripe matching, and these trousers are super comfortable. What's more they don't seem to be doing much (any? am I deluding myself?) sagging in the bum area. 

The Blinder

I love this white top. So clinical and sharp looking - I feel all designer-y when I wear it (was it Celine that had those very crisp, plain and very covetable clothes this year?) I think this top is made by the fabric - a great medium weight, enough to carry a peplum, but with a little stretch that makes it very comfortable to wear - and the pattern, which fit beautifully with very little modification.

Troubadour Top

And I love this stripey top even more than the white version! Stripes may be my weakness - I seem to buy them whenever I see them (that's another story though), but stripes or not, it's rare for me to be able to make something that matches my vision. In this case the top ended up absolutely as I'd hoped - woohoo!  I haven't worn it much but I am nonetheless getting a lot of enjoyment from just looking at it. Good enough! 

Merino Hoodie

My fave hoodie, which gets a regular wearing for smart casual Fridays and evenings out when there's a little chill in the air.  This was a bit of an experiment - I mixed an untried Betsey Jackson pattern from the 80s (interesting hood and neckline) with a modified Burda basic, and it came out as well as I could have hoped. Neat top stitching and my first flat felled seams!

Donna Karan Fitted Skirt

A very fitted skirt really, but with a stable stretch fabric that's fine! This skirt is comfortable, with the slightly elasticated waistband kindly accommodating my fluctuating diameter, and it goes with everything. The tucks and pleats are fabulous Donna Karan details, and I was really pleased with the finish on the inside - Hong Kong seams even!

1950s Long Tall Sheath

I am not one of those people that knows what suits them - I still get plenty of sewing surprises - but I wouldn't have thought I had the right shape for the 50s.  This one was a pleasant surprise; something that seems to look smart and feel good, and I wear it to work regularly - with a cardigan or the jacket below.

Colour Shock! New Jacket

Making this jacket was a trip down memory lane. I had a (smaller sized) copy of this skirt + jacket pattern in the 80s, and while I made the skirt back then I didn't get around to the matching jacket. Maybe my standards are low (I can see on my original post that I found the jacket too loose) but I now wear this jacket to work and am really enjoying the colour and style, which seems much more "vintage" than the 80s.

Broderie Anglaise + Linen: V1175 Donna Karan


Another dress that was taken on holidays to Bali - this one proved less suited to the humidity due to its lined bodice - but it's perfect for the less steamy summer days in Sydney, and boy do I love it! I love the shape of it, how it's fitted in the bodice and loose around the hips without looking like maternity wear, and all the triangles and trapezoids in its construction. I love the mix of broderie anglaise and linen and daisy chains, I love the in-seam pockets, and I love the interesting hemline.

Enough of the lovelovelove, let's look at the problems.

The Misses

Unwearable Swimmers


Sooo disappointing. I didn't add the length in the right place, and these ended up way too low in the bust; even lower cut than the RTW swimmers I was hoping to replace. The crotch was also way too wide, and I accidentally placed the stripes in a weird pattern at the seam line on the lower bum :-(.

Not So Classic Linen

This top started off pretty uninspiring, and got worse (bigger, baggier) in the wash. It had one trial at work - FAIL - was then demoted to the sleepwear drawer - FAIL - and will soon be moving to the charity bag. Lovely fabric but evidently I don't know how to sew with it. And evidently (see an earlier make here) this pattern is not for me.

Rustling Dress

Oh it hurts me to class this one as a "miss", but it feels way too tight even after the gym (and my ribcage will never get smaller). I don't want to refashion it because I sew for enjoyment and refashioning drives me insane, so I'll try it again in a month or so, and if it still doesn't fit this one is going to have to be parked in a box just in case my daughter (1) grows up the same shape as me but slimmer in the waist/ ribcage, (2) likes this sort of dress, and (3) has occasion to wear this sort of dress. It might be a 10 year wait...

Drape Drape Dress

I hate it on me now. I don't understand why I was pleased with it when I made it. It's not being worn AT ALL.

Kirsten Kimono Tee

Entirely user error, but this top is really unflattering on me and the white overlocked seams look terrible. Look how grumpy I am in those pics! I must try making it again in the right size with the right colour thread...

A Heavily Modified Koos (V2971) Top


One of those makes that I liked at first... but the top has become saggy as it's washed, and I don't appreciate that it has a tendency to flash bits of my belly.  This pattern was never really the right shape for me, and my poor choice of fabric just made it worse! 

V1368 (OOP) - Ugly Bias Linen Dress

This one takes the cake! What was I thinking???? I haven't worn it and didn't take it to Bali (even though it's loose and linen). Enough said!

That's 9 hits and 7 misses, and here's the rest of what I sewed in 2012:

October 2012:


September 2012:


August 2012:

July 2012:



June 2012:


May 2012:

 April 2012:



March 2012:

girl's dress, not blogged

February 2012:


January 2012:

That's all!

Back soon with a 50s girl's outfit... see you soon!

Gabrielle x
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