Sunday, July 26, 2015

T-shirt perfected: using Jalie 2805

A t-shirt perfected. Maybe not perfect - although it did come out nicely.  I guess I am thinking that in terms of fit and shape, I have perfected this type of t-shirt for me. Mostly due to a bit of redesign on the neckline.

multi t-shirt front on form

and a small delight in the results of the binding on that v-neckline. Which I played around with a lot as I was cutting the pieces. To get that satisfying juxtaposition of stripe and color.  This is perhaps the embodiment of a perfect fabric to me. Graphic, angular, predominantly blue, aqua, white. with a touch of black to make it wearable with a lot of other separates. It might seem to bright for many but you know my love for vivid prints. PLUS it was on the half-off shelf at Stone Mountain recently so a nice quality rayon jersey knit top for about $ 10. Score!

multi t-shirt neckline closeup

Also satisfying, the way the print layout is kinda sorta centered and yet not. Perhaps balanced is the right word?  Or maybe I am reading too much into it. But really - I think that often the success of a final garment is due entirely to some serious thought, concentration and planning when cutting out. There are many times when it actually takes me longer to cut out than sew an item.  And cutting out is my least favorite part of sewing (probably also for most people). Grain - I am a bit of a fanatic. Completely flat - no wrinkles. Pattern placement if a print. For stripes and plaids, checking and double checking. Yeah, all this can be super tedious but pays off in the end.

multi t-shirt back on form

Getting back to t-shirt perfected.  I highly recommend this pattern which is Jalie 2805. If you sew for yourself and other people - such as small people:) then the value in these Jalie patterns is incomparable. All sizes from small kids through women's size. 4 different necklines, including a turtleneck and the instructions for the V-neckline are so simple and yet result in a perfect binding.

Jalie pattern photo)

Also once you get the fit down you can riff on the pattern by changing all kinds of things, neckline width, color blocking, etc.
Which brings me to the changes made. I originally made this pattern back in 2012 (here is a link to that post). And while I really like the original version I wanted the neckline to be a bit more open.
I have this t-shirt which my sis gave me ages ago, from a little boutique in Kailua (Oahu) this is no longer there (sad tears, I bought so many cool things there, t-shirts, swimsuits, sandals and when it closed I was so bummed).  Anyway...the neckline on this v-neck t-shirt is just right for me, not too low but a little lower than the Jalie, a bit wider and slightly rounded.  (note I am not super crazy about the strangely abbreviated sleeves on this t-shirt - and I have another copy in turquoise where the sleeves are a bit more normal shaped). So I decided to copy the neckline of this shirt and apply it to the body of the Jalie top. Because why not? And the Jalie pattern actually facilitates this because the way they fit all the versions on their pattern pages is to separate the tops from the bottoms rather cleverly, so the top portions are interchangeable with the bottom pieces. If you have made a Jalie than you know what I am talking about.
One tiny note about fit: I found the sleeves on the Jalie pattern to be a bit skimpy and I am not particularly broad in the back or arms so to counter that on my chosen Jalie size which I think was U, I added 1/2" width on the back pattern piece at the underarm tapering that away by about 4 inches down. and then added 1/2" extra on the sleeve back to match which alleviated that tightness at the back/underarm area. Like any pattern it needs fitting but once you get it squared away it is a workhorse.

original neckline tee

How to copy the neckline? Here is a picture I have that shows a quick and easy method. I think I used this photo on a Craftsy blog post. Wax paper is such a great tracing medium for things that are flat like a t-shirt and you cannot beat the see-through-ability of it.


So that's the scoop on V-neckline t-shirts. Also the neckline binding - I have to admit that I don't use any of the pattern pieces. I just decide on the finished width I want, cut the binding on the cross grain of the knit fabric, fold, press and then baste it on. Yes - I said baste. Machine baste. One of these days I will have to do a post in praise of basting.  Which I don't often see mentioned on sewing blogs but I baste a lot. How else can you check fit and adjust? Or maybe its just that no one mentions it. But I think the former - not done and you should try it :)
Back to the t-shirt neckline, I use the Threads Magazine video method. I have linked to this before and if they ever take down this video I will be bummed as it is the best explanation I have seen for this technique. Plus no pattern piece required!

Realizing I had no photo of me wearing this t-shirt I took this one using the timer feature on my iPhone. Which actually works pretty well. Even though this is kind of a dorky photo. And you can see my bookcase with that big fat copy of Wolf Hall with the red dust cover - probably the current number one "not read" book on many bookshelves. I bought that hardcover at the library $1 sale so low investment and I since I read stuff like that when traveling a gigantic hardcover book is never going to make it into my travel bag. What was I thinking? Oh well. Save it for a rainy day. (ha ha, rainy days are for sewing!)  And I am wearing my Vogue 1170 Rachel Comey skirt in green corduroy.  Which has turned out to be a better wardrobe mix-and-matcher than I would have predicted. (also the black dotted version - nice to wear with a solid top)

multi t-shirt on me

Summer sewing in full swing, I am just finishing a dress for Heather using her first Mood fabric (pattern is Vogue 8787, a really nice pattern that is for wovens but I have made the cowl version in knit twice and it is great,  blog post and pics to come with some fitting info).
And some summer and pre-vacation sewing for me. The usual collection of slightly ridiculous tropical prints...hey whatever makes you happy, sewing-wise, right?

Happy summer weekend, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, these are miniature roses and this plant receives no attention but like most of my roses keeps on blooming.

June flowers

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Alameda Dress from Pauline Alice Patterns

Enough with the sneak peeks on this outfit, right? I put the last stitch on the hem about 2 weeks ago but it took a while to get some photos organized, and I thought this deserved something better than my usual photos. My pal Alice can be counted on to take my best blog photos and she is always on the lookout for a stray thread or the odd wrinkle. Now that is a good friend, right?

Alameda outfit on me

This is the Alameda dress from Pauline Alice patterns. I actually didn't take any photos of this while sewing, it is fairly straightforward in construction. Most all of the fitting was done as I sewed it up. I chose a skirt size based on my hip measurement and it was a bit on the big size, both all over and especially the waist - however all those princess seams in the skirt allow you to shape the waist/hips to get a great fit. After doing that it was a smudge big around the hips also, but since the zipper goes in last its an opportunity to take a larger center back seam.

Alameda on form frontAlameda on form back

If you have read my blog for a while then you know I don't sew very many indie patterns, I don't see many that are interesting or different from patterns I have. But I always noticed the Pauline Alice patterns and thought they had some interesting details, a little more complexity than is often seen. By the way, her patterns are very high quality, the paper is bright white and a good thickness which makes it easy to trace onto tissue (which I always do when using this type of pattern). The instructions seem thorough as well, and in 3 languages.

Alameda dress pattern envelope

When she came out with this Alameda dress/2-piece pattern I thought it was very pretty but noticed that on her website there was no line drawing. So I just figured I would email her and tell her that as a  long time pattern buyer I would not buy a pattern where I couldn't first look at the technical drawing and she should consider putting those on her site. Maybe that sounded a bit, I dunno, pushy? or helpful? Anyway - she wrote back immediately and uploaded the technical drawings. And then we became acquainted via email. Long story short she asked me to be a tester for a new coat pattern and I usually tell people no, but she enticed me by sending a photo of her own test version of the Quart coat pattern. So I replied Yes! as that coat is so fantastic. I did test it and gave her some info on the pattern, particularly in the sleeves which she appreciated. And then I did make a real version of the Quart coat for a friend of mine.

I have had this pattern for a while and decided that as soon as the weather warmed up I would make it. Which sent me searching through my fabrics to see if I had anything suitable, and this cotton sateen I bought at Stone Mountain last summer seemed like a good choice.

Alameda skirt on form

The colors are more visible here and you can hopefully see the seaming and pockets. The fabric is actually navy blue, green and white. I think it is one of those "you either love it or hate it" fabrics but now that it is finished I love it. I chose to make the two piece version of this pattern as I figured I could wear the skirt on its own with a solid top.

Yes, it is the two piece version of the pattern though it might not appear so in that first photo. See, I'm showing you here. The things I do for you!

Alameda crop view

The only major modification on this outfit sticks with the idea on the pattern, but in practice I didn't use all the pattern. Because I had the pattern pieces out which I used for this dress - which you should go look at as it is one of my favorites and has a lot of fitting info. Anyway...I thought hmmm, that top part fits so well, the shape is similar, and I figured out the shoulders/armhole etc. so oh heck, why not use that for the crop top portion. So I did. Any I bet you would not have noticed had I not told you.
Although I did modify those pattern shapes to match this pattern more, by deepening the front neckline, and then making it a pull over the head top with the zipper opening at the waist. You can just see the zipper tab at the bottom there. Which gives a super clean finish on the neckline and armholes of the top. So another clever idea. And apologies to Pauline Alice for not using all her pattern pieces but close enough.

Alameda top back zipper on form

Too many pictures?

Alameda 2-piece

I should have taken some without my hands in the pockets. But you know that pockets like these are irresistible. And if you like skirts with a flounce then I highly recommend. I know the flounce is not for everyone but I have always liked it and this has a great amount of flounce. Is that a thing you can measure?  maybe not, but sewing satisfaction, this one is a winner.

Flounce skirt

Happy weekend sewing, I am off to our Bay area Sewing meet up group on Sat. where myself and 3 other local seamsters will be talking about blogging (how we got started, surprises, challenges, changes over time, advice and then some show and tell of things we have sewn). Always fun to talk sewing with like minded obsessives!


Today's SunnyGal garden photo, one perfect gardenia. The fragrance by the front door is intoxicating when the bushes are in full bloom. They only last a day or so, which maybe makes them all the more beautiful.

June flowers

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Random Threads # 14 and a jacket finale

Random Threads is a good title today because I have been totally random in my sewing, flitting from one project to another, with a bit of sewing instruction thrown in for good measure.

As a follow up to something mentioned previously, here is a link to the final jacket post of Meg who came over for an intensive jacket sewing lesson. Her blog is Meg Made This, and if you want to see her completed jacket check out this post:  Meg Makes a Jacket, the Finale.

Meg jacket lapel

Look at that nice crisp lapel. You will to click over to her post to see the rest of the jacket, and then look at her next post to see the cute dress she wore with it. What a great jacket. I am so happy she came for a lesson and now has a great jacket pattern that she can make in a different fabric.

Is anyone else looking forward to the new season of Project Runway? Starts August 6 on Lifetime. Yes, that show has totally fallen apart and yet - I will still watch it. So glad I have Tivo - can zip through the commercials and the repeated scenes. Mostly I'm interested in seeing the final garments and then the judges critiques. Since they used to show a lot more construction in the early years of the show but now seem to cram more nonsense into each episode. But like I said, a TV show with sewing machines and trips to the fabric store, I am in. Plus I see there are a couple of contestants from the bay area so that is always interesting. Also they do show the episodes on line I think a day after they air so if you don't do TV you can probably see the show.  I wonder if you are overseas if you can view on the website?

New Vogues.........Mostly blah to me, with a few very kooky or art-teacher looks thrown in for good measure. I never get too excited about fall season sewing - just not my interest. And now I will reveal  -  please don't throw any tomatoes (or tomato pincushions) at me - but I really like this, Vogue 1461. Also it is by my favorite Vogue pattern designer Donna Karan (or whoever is working in her design studio these days). Plaid yes - and then the release pleats in the skirt. I think it is cute! However I will not be making this up now or ever. But I just like it. I did have a very similar skirt years ago with that tight seaming over the hip releasing into just that shaping, and my dress was rose red silk duppioni. Very holiday outfit and I loved it.  Wonder what I ever did with that?

OK, onward to more practical items. Kind of, sort of.
I think I have a medical condition called Stripe-itis. Which I just made up and is characterized by excessive purchasing of unnecessary striped fabric. All jersey knits except the fuchsia and white on the bottom left which is more like a ponte weight.
What am I going to do with all these stripes? Top left, got that at a rummage sale for a few bucks, middle top bought at Joanns with a super coupon, the remaining three ordered from Girl Charlee. (see marketers those "hey it's a sale" emails work on me).

Stripe knit fabrics

I like them all but summer is flying by so who knows what I will get sewn up.

As for my next project, I am going to start on some of the fantastic fabrics that my friend Heather bought at Mood and Elliot Berman in NY.

And I got some photos accomplished so stay tuned this weekend for a full post on my Pauline Alice pattern, the Alameda dress. Here was a sneak peek from a few weeks ago. People either love this fabric or back away slowly questioning my judgement. I will be interested to see what you all think when you see the finished outfit :)

Pauline Alice pattern skirt sneak peek

Happy summer sewing, Beth

Today's garden photo, these penstemon are definitely in my top 10 of garden plants, they are so hardy and the flower colors are fantastic.

June flowers

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pattern Whisperer presents: Summer Sundresses

The idea for this post has been floating around in my head for weeks now and I realized that is has an expiration date. Time to get it going as sewing for summer probably comes to a close in parts of the globe sooner than it does here in sunny California.

A Pattern Whisperer post - the topic is summer sundresses. The category of summer sundress has some very specific elements to me, and granted these are just my opinion on features that make this type of dress different from your other wardrobe selections, such as dresses for work, formal events or even a casual everyday dress.

So what makes a sundress special? I love the category of resort wear - which sound a bit what? Elitist? Too specific? Brings to mind women of a certain age swanning around in caftans. That is not what I am talking about. I think of a sundress as that item you might wear when the temps are high, but you want to look pretty and be cool. To wear instead of shorts and a tee. A sundress needs to be sleeveless, and definitely show some skin, so no high necklines or collars. Thin straps, halter necklines or cutouts make it a sundress in my book. Of course fabric choice is everything. Mostly cotton or linen, maybe a cotton or rayon jersey. Depends on the style but nothing that needs a lot of lining or even pressing. Something to wear to a backyard barbecue or a casual outdoor wedding.

As in my previous Pattern Whisperer posts, I mostly suggest patterns from the major pattern companies, Vogue/McCalls/Butterick, Simplicity/New Look with a few ideas from Burda.

First up is one that I consider the quintessential summer sundress, Vogue 9100.

Vogue 9100
Having shown it in that fabric seals the deal  - so cute. It has an interesting bodice which I actually think might be quite easy for fitting. The princess seams are moved to the center and finish in the center neckline. If you have trouble with gaping necklines this is a sneaky way to be able to adjust the dress on the fly, instead of on the pattern. If I were making it for myself I would add an inch in length to the bodice, plan on shaping it over the bust for a close fit, and presume to shorten it at the shoulder seam, and center back. In fact I would shift that side zipper - which bug me - to the center back just for ease of fitting. And note that if you don't want such a full skirt you could reduce the circumference or even use a different skirt pattern.

Cutouts - when else can you wear them? Well I don't know your life but probably not too often in winter :)  I like this Simplicity Amazing fit pattern because:  Amazing Fit.  They do have a bit too much ease but if you can figure out the starting size and put in a bit of fitting work they are really nice. Plus offer more than one pattern view and I always like things that have more than one look for my pattern dollars. Cut in shoulders, my Fave! cute cut-out but looks bra-friendly. Comes in the full range of sizes. Pockets! Nice princess seaming over the bust. Cup sizes. I just might have sold myself on this one  - like I need any more summer dresses and/or new patterns.

SImplicity 1354

For something a bit more sporty, McCalls 6955.

McCalls 6995

I like that it has both a non-gathered skirt and a gathered option. The shaped back gives it a lot of interest but I think you could easily wear an adjustable X-back bra which is nice. I really like the contrast hem look, I could see making this in two complementary fabrics instead of the solid contrast.

This New Look pattern must be a really good seller because it has not been discontinued and I first bought it at least 4 years ago.

New Look 6457
 I have used this bodice for a lot of different things and my pattern pieces for the gathered skirt are my TNT for that look, they have so many pin holes and fold marks but it is full but not too full so doesn't actually take up all that much fabric. It also has the 2 halter views so a lot of choices.
This was the pattern for this dress and I first used it for a dress that I gave to my hairdresser. Works really well with cotton sateen and see this post for a clever trick that I copied from a J. Crew bridesmaid's dress.


This Simplicity dress is probably a tricky fit, as the bodice has to fit just so for the contrast to look right but I like the sharp white contrasted with black. Or in chambray denim with a dark denim accent. It is a similar idea to the Vogue 2902, which is also very pretty and probably a big fabric hog.

Simplicity 1688Vogue 2902

Somehow I think the Vogue pattern might be both easier to sew and fit, and also must be another one that sells well as it has been around a while.

Both versions on the envelope of this Burda pattern sold me.

Burda 6918
The white one is really cute, the seaming allows for lots of fit possibilities. The stripe one just looks very designer - maybe I saw it recently? (I think on Amal during her Clooney wedding fashion parade?)

For a similar shape and easy wear, this Burda downloadable could be sewn in any fabric and be perfect for summer.
Burda Easy sundress
You could change the straps to anything you want, even halter tie. The smocked back could make fitting very simple. The pleated front is also easy to wear without being too much fabric. Kind of the easy version of a corset style dress.

As for knits, there are plenty of summer styles to choose from. One that caught my eye is this New Look pattern.

New Look 6122
I have had good success with these New Look patterns that offer a multitude of looks in one pattern envelope. There are a lot of small pattern pieces to rummage through to find what you need to make up the selected style, but this one doesn't look too bad at all. A lot of New Look patterns have this same skirt, kind of straight, gathered at the center of the empire bodice. Super easy to wear (read: hides the big barbecue meal) but not full looking since the sides are tapered. I like that grey example - the cowl neckline - not the fabric choice. But a easy pattern for knits with some cute options.

I know there are zillion choices out there for summer sundresses - and I have sewn many of them. My appetite for this type of pattern always exceeds any need for something new. If you read back through this blog you know I have more than enough in this category. And just today I saw this Decades of Style pattern  which is so pretty. And I love the Lonsdale dress from Sewaholic. Why have I not made that?

Too many patterns, not enough time. Are you with me on that one?

Hope you are having a good weekend! 
Happy Sewing, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo: I planted so many gladioli bulbs and they are randomly popping up all over the yard. The colors are great but they don't last very long.

pink glad

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

McCalls 7121 knit dress in Girl Charlee cotton jersey

A one hour dress. Doesn't that sound great? So I was thinking when I saw this pattern, McCalls 7121. It is actually one of the simple styles that they didn't mess up with a hideous fabric choice in the example photos. Very cute with the diagonal stripes and includes a maxi version. (well that black and red example is a bit weird).

So I figured I would sew it up with something from the stash - a novelty knit from Girl Charlee.
I am a sucker for certain novelty knits - I just ordered another one from them, a very eye-popping palm tree and stripe combo. Which has arrived and caused me to question my selections. But by the next morning I was working out the perfect pattern for it. However we will set that aside to reconsider this.

A rather distant shot  - look at the pretty grapevine trailing up the fence and not at my dress.

Sailboat dress

I somehow feel I have achieved geriatric housedress with this combo of fabric and pattern. Or maybe 1970's Sears catalog? Although I was able to pair a belt with it that I bought ages ago in Italy on a "last day of in the country buy all the leather items spree" and which I have never worn. How is that? Who knows. I don't make many navy blue or navy blue adjacent items so that might be why. Also my cute navy and white espadrille sandals.

Perhaps this dress is growing on me. Actually I can say that it is because 1) super easy to sew and 2) quite comfy to wear.

Or possibly because it was 102˚ F at 6:15pm when these pictures were taken. Yes, after 6:00 and still over 100. Illustrating that adage, be careful what you wish for - I long for summer the rest of the year and don't think at all about the scorching days that will arrive. So a cotton jersey dress is super easy breezy to wear.

Pattern envelope and a better look at the fabric.


I have to say that the fit on the pattern was quite good, and that includes the fact that this cotton knit is not very stretchy at all. But the width of the shoulders was nice and the armholes not too low. Two new McCalls patterns this year that fit reasonably well - I might have to look more closely at them in the future. I made this up with the idea of testing it out before I took the trouble to make a diagonal stripe version - but now I am over it.  Just too simple for my taste, and too many other patterns I want to try out.
On the dress form. I had to put it on my super tiny size 2-ish form because the other one that is more like my size has slightly larger shoulders and I could not get the dress over it without breaking the stitches. The neckline and armholes are just turn and stitch, which normally I don't like in a jersey but this knit pressed so crisply that it worked really well. So it does look a bit goofy on the form.

Front View
Isailboat dress front

Back view:

There is 1/4" elastic at the waist which is possibly not necessary but it did give it a bit of shaping.

And one last shot of me "glowing" in the heat. The forecast is for lovely warm but not super hot over the upcoming 4th of July weekend which sounds good to me!

sailboat dress on me 2

I am just about finished with my two-piece version of the Pauline Alice Alameda dress. What a fantastic skirt silhouette - I can't wait to wear it.

My friend Heather bought lots (I mean lots) of fabrics in NY so you will see quite a few designer fabrics sewn up here in the coming months.

Hope my fellow Americans have a great 4th of July holiday weekend (ha, my fellow Americans - sounds like I am running for office.  Now what would that be? Secretary of Patterns? Fabric Czar? Special Sewing Notion Dictator for Life? yes in my own mind I am all of those:)

Happy sewing, Beth

And today's garden photo, the very hardy yellow rose that doesn't get quite enough sun but reliably blooms anyway. Love that saturated color.

Yellow rose

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sewing projects in the works and some reading recommendations

Happy Friday! I like to do a weekly post but this week I don’t have any finished garments to show you. Lots of things in process, my favorite being this one.

Pauline Alice pattern skirt sneak peek

I posted it on Instagram and mentioned that I was loving the pattern choice but not so sure about the fabric. Well after a week of looking at the partially finished item which is pinned on my dressform - set aside while I deal with lots of other projects – I can say that I am crazy about it and can’t wait to finish. And realize why I bought the fabric in the first place. A cotton/lycra sateen I bought at Stone Mountain last year on a whim when I was thinking I needed some prints and colors in my wardrobe that were not turquoise. The pattern I am using is the Pauline Alice Alameda, and that is all I will say until it is done. You know I am not usually an indie pattern girl, but her styles are really clever and also very professionally done.

My friend Heather is in NY and thanks to what is an everyday occurrence - but when you think about it is a modern miracle – by that I mean texting photos and/or Facetime, she has purchased some wow fabrics and I have a feeling she is not done yet. I told her to be on the lookout for a border print for me, perhaps in white with border of any interesting color. I love border prints on dresses and skirts and they seem so difficult to find here. I will tease us all with one of the pics she sent, which she did purchase. Armani silk for a blouse. Armani ! I can't wait to see it.  (from Mood I believe)

Armani Silk fabric from mood

Our hot weather has arrived and consequently things are getting very brown – although not as parched as they probably should be. Still a surprising number of lush lawns in my neighborhood. I heard a perspective story on NPR radio the other morning saying that instead of being nicknamed the Golden State for our sunshine and actual gold ore discoveries we should instead become accustomed to being the Golden State for the golden brown hills and general lack of greenery.

So on that note I will recommend a blog post of my friend Veronique who I met through our local sewing blogger group. She is doing drawing more than sewing these days and has great post illustrating the water shortage in an entertaining way. All her posts amaze me (she helped me make my sewing lesson website) and whenever I see one of her floral illustrations I want to have her print or draw on some fabric so I can sew it. I will ask her about that next time we get together!

Speaking of blog recommendations, I have some others for you today.

In the spring my friend Meg (blog: came over for a jacket sewing intensive lesson. As she saw me at a meet-up wearing this jacket she decided she had to conquer jackets (always something I like to hear, considering my jacket obsession). So she came over for an all-day session and we got just enough done – including a lot of the tricky bits – so that should could finish it in her own.
She has now written a couple of posts on the process, and since I get a lot of positive comments on my tailoring process posts I will point you in the direction of her blog. It was really interesting to hear about my teaching style from the other person’s point of view.  Which may be that I have strong opinions on how to do things? Actually I didn’t need to read her post to confirm that. But you can tell she is a good student – I don’t mean a good student of mine but a very very smart person who grasps concepts and can write about them clearly. She is going to grad school in the fall so her brainy ways are a plus, and lucky for her pals she is staying in the area. An aside, she is a pants fitting wizard!
She wrote two posts – part 1 and part 2. But we have to wait for the final reveal!

Do you get really happy when you discover an interesting new-to-you blog? I do. Particularly if the writing is great. So I direct your attention to Wasted Weekends – misadventures in crafting. That has to be one of the all time great choices in blog names. She is a writer by trade and a sewer by obsession (aren’t we all?) so has documented the good and the bad of her recently discovered pastime. Plus she made her wedding dress! As a novice sewer. Apparently finished with moments to spare! Read all about that and other topics. I look forward to her next adventures.

And Seam Ripped, do you read Charlotte's blog? Subtitle: a sewing blog without the sewing. Which is not entirely true. Some sewing, but more often a very smart and interesting discussion about sewing, fashion, what women wear for work and play. Plus the occasional pattern review, stash update and video post.

There are some brainy women out there in the sewing blog world. Well, I knew that, brainy women everywhere, but thanks to the sewing blogosphere I get to meet more of them.

Happy weekend and never wasted when sewing, right?

today's garden photo, the first dahlia bloom of the season, such a summer flower and I love these spiky ones.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Vintage sewing with McCalls 2386 in cotton sateen

Vintage patterns are not something I use very often but recently I pulled this dress out of the closet and realized it hadn't made an appearance here. For a while I went through a phase of looking at all the incredibly cute vintage patterns available on Etsy or Ebay and then ordering a few. Not with any real intention of sewing them up but just because they were so pretty or unusual. I also went through a phase of selling on Etsy, so I bought a fair amount of yardage which I have been sewing from for a good two years now.

I saw this fabric on line and ordered a lot, like 12 yards as the price was very low, and then when it came I loved it. I made a sample dress, someone contacted me on Etsy. Long story short I made 5 bridesmaid's dresses using this print and had about a yard or so left. Yes - I am short and can get a sleeveless dress out of about 1 yard of 60" wide fabric.

So that is the kind of long backstory of how this dress came to be sewn up.

Vintage dress on me

Here is a close up look at the detail on this dress, which is really simple but clever and easy to sew. The shaping is achieve by sewing with elastic thread along pre-marked lines at the waist.

vintage dress gathers

Here is the pattern envelope. You can see I changed the neckline area quite a bit. As it it so reminds me of the later season costuming on Mad Men. Can't you imagine one of the women in the office wearing any of these 3 versions?
Looking at the pattern envelope brings me to something I was thinking about the other day. Why not just draft the pattern instead of buying one for that simple detail of where to put the elastic stitching?
For me it is all about proportion. I could fiddle around with a simple dress pattern and get here in the end but it just seems like so much work. Perhaps that is why I rarely draft anything unless I absolutely have to. It is sooooo much easier to start with the pattern that I want and take it from there. I realize that this presumes knowing how to do the fit adjustments needed and fully admit that fitting is something I don't mind at all, whereas starting from scratch or close to it sound an awful lot like work :)
Anyway - I am happy for the commercial pattern companies, old and new, to do all that work for me.
Dart placement, collar size, skirt width, seaming, etc are all such issues and if the proportions are not right it just bugs me. (my current pet peeve, some indie patterns where the darts are way too long and end up looking strange or too noticeable)  OK rant over. And conversely, to stick up for indie patterns I just started another Pauline Alice pattern last night, it is looking good!

McCalls 2386 vintage pattern

Front and back views. I was actually careful with the pattern placement, yellow is not my favorite shade to wear - don't think I have a single yellow item - and so I wanted the mostly blue/lavender sections on the front bodice.

Vintage dress formVintage dress on form back

MCC Dress on me

This fabric is cotton sateen, with no stretch, and very lightweight. To me it is gorgeous, both the quality of the fabric which really surprised me  - ordered from Fashion Fabrics Club - and the coloration. I just think it looks like a beautiful abstract watercolor painting and the color combo is beautiful.

vintage dress neckline

For the neckline, I think I used one of my other sheath dress patterns that has a square neckline and copied the depth of that. (proportions again) . I really like a square neckline, it's my favorite shape (as opposed to V-neckline: nice, round neckline: just OK, boat or high neckline: serious dislike)  So I copied the square neckline but rounded the edges a bit as that makes it easier to apply the bias binding and looks a little softer. So in my mind I call this the "roundish square neckline" and I have used it a lot over the years. For the binding I wanted a visible binding as this gives a nice finish and emphasizes the neckline - as opposed to sewing a binding and turning to the inside and topstitching. I am not a fan of using bias tape for binding, it seems just a smudge to bulky or stiff for anything other than mid-weight cotton. But I did use it for the armholes as there was nothing left of the dress fabric.

Now one more pic which made me laugh when I saw it on the laptop - what is up with that pose? Mail order catalog model?  Bendable Barbie doll stance?  Didn't you put your Barbie in this exact pose? I always found Barbie kind of annoying, and my sister and I always lost the stupid tiny high heel shoes immediately so ours ran around in ball gowns and bare feet. Our dolls did a lot of swimming since that is what we did all summer in the backyard consequently their Barbie hair was completely fried. Come to think of it, our hair probably was too! Chlorine from the pool and lemon juice to try and create blond highlights. Oh well - it was natural and organic, ha ha.

Vintage dress on me2

I wanted to take some blog photos on Wednesday as it rained most of the day here, to document a dash through the raindrops but it was actually pouring. Crazy!  Oh well the plants liked it. Now today it is over 100˚F here. More crazy! Summer in California. As we all say "at least there's no humidity!"

Happy summer sewing, Beth

and in the background in this photo above, on the left, is the shooting star hydrangea. It is getting huge and I am so happy. I think my mom bought it for me about 3 years ago, it was in an 8 inch pot and not very big. It must like that spot because this year there are a lot of blooms. Pretty huh? and so nice when the small white flowers dance in the breeze.

Shooting star hydrangea

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