Oops, I think I did it again…

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Cocktail Outfit Contest

Yep, I’ve entered a new contest ūüėÜ I really don’t need another cocktail outfit, but I just want to have some fun sewing!

Vintage Pattern Contest – Completed Projects!

I ran out of time (and steam) and only made the capelet and the dress. But these were the two major components I wanted to enter in the contest, so mission accomplished! The voting has begun, I’m quite nervous. I don’t know if I really have chances in winning one of the prizes — in any case I worked really hard on both my capelet and my dress, with grading and tracing and figuring out how to construct something without instructions!

Vintage Pattern Contest

The Capelet

The pattern comes only in one size, Small (sizes 10-12). By comparing my bust measurements to the ones on the pattern envelope, I discovered I fell somewhere in-between sizes Medium and Large. But the challenge remained: this pattern is in size Small, and I need to make it bigger! I am familiar with the slash and spread grading technique, but I just couldn’t see where/how I was supposed to slash the cape pattern pieces, they are so very different from a normal top! And getting the collar to fit just right after grading the capelet was also a challenge for me.

I went through my (modern) patterns stash and found a pattern for a cape. I observed how the grading was done Рadding more to the side seams, a bit less to the neckline, and not adding any length at all. And then I carefully reproduced a similar grading on my own vintage pattern (which I had previously traced on pattern paper, of course! ;))

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I quickly whipped up a muslin to check the fit. When I assembled the collar, it became very obvious I had somehow added way too much to the under collar piece. I knew I was supposed to ‘ease’ the under collar while attaching to the upper collar, but this wasn’t easing, this was making pleats!

Back to the drawing board!

I compared the upper and under collar pieces, spotted the differences, and decided to re-draft my under collar closer to the upper collar shape. I measured the neck opening of the capelet pattern pieces with my flexible ruler — making sure I measure between the circle of the font piece and the center back, subtracting seam allowance, and transposed the measurements to my¬†collar pieces. I cut it again out of muslin fabric, assembled the pieces and ahh!¬†Much better! (By the way, the wrinkles are because of wrinkles in my fabric!)

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The final collar looks pretty good on my capelet, so glad I managed to make it work!

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The Dress

Whipping up a muslin and actually making the dress are two completely different things, I discovered. I omitted the back neck facing when making the muslin, for example. And order of construction doesn’t really matter because it’s just a muslin anyway, right? But now that my dress is cut and ready to assemble¬†for real, I’m having doubts about what I should sew first. There is no mention of interfacing on the list of notions or fabric needed, but I decided to interface the cross-crossing edge of the pleated front pieces with a strip of fusible interfacing, to give them more body. I also interfaced the back neck facing.

N.B.: I have no idea if the order of construction I improvised for my dress was the best order possible, I just tried to do what seemed the most logical, step by step. And I decided to start with the pleated front pieces, which appeared like the most labor-intensive part anyway.

And it was. It really was.

I had to mark the pleats, circles and crosses twice, as the markings was fading from manipulation and steam. And each time I thought I was done steaming the heck out of these pleats and ready to baste them in place, I would try to line-up the pleated piece with its facing, and realize it just didn’t match. Ugh! I had to ‘un-pleat’ and ‘re-pleat’ the front pieces at least 3 times each until I reached an acceptable matching between them and their facing. I basted my pleats in place and then basted the front pieces and the facings together.

Then, I stitched the back shoulder darts, and stitched the back neck facing to the back piece. Now the tricky bit: How do I get the back facing and the shoulder seams to be all neat? I puzzled a bit, and then figured out I had to wedge the back facing between the front and back pieces, wrapping the front piece around. When done stitching, cut the corner, trim seam and¬†turn inside out. It¬†didn’t turn out perfect, I guess my pleated front in all its layers was just a bit thick to really make the edge even with the back piece.

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My next step was to make the front and back darts. This step is relatively simple — only relatively because there were some strange markings telling me I had to stitch horizontally, and it just didn’t make sense to me. I decided to ignore them.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI thought this was the best time to sew in my¬†invisible zipper¬†to the left side seam, stopping the stitching at 1,5 cm from the bottom edge, to be able to sew the side panels without going over the zipper. I also closed the right side seam, this time stitching all the way to the edge. At that point, I still wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with the armholes opening. There are no facing pieces. I don’t see any stitching line on the drawings. I left the armholes as is for now, I figured I’d solve that puzzle later…

Pleats, pleats, I love pleats, give me more pleats! Time to pleat the side skirt panels. Again, the pleats were very tricky as the pleats on each side edges need to form a box pleat when stitched to the front and back pieces. Pleating the side panels went quicker than the front pieces, for sure — I guess experience was finally sinking in?

To attach the side panels, I aligned the center pleat with the side seams, and eased the rest. Indeed, my front and back pieces together were a few cm bigger than my side panels. I thought it was a bit strange, as I had carefully marked my cutting lines of all my pattern pieces with my chalk marking tool, carefully marked and press my pleats, etc. The tricky bit of the side panels were indeed the pleats formed by the joining of the panels, giving the illusion of continuity with the front and back darts. I was off by a couple of millimeters every time, nothing that couldn’t be corrected with a few hand stitches on the final dress!

At that point, I tried on my dress, squealed in delight, but realized the horizontal seams at the side panels were stretching a bit and the whole thing was losing its shape and sharpness quickly. What to do, what to do? I grabbed a piece of twill tape and sewed it in place as an emergency measure. No more stretching! Crisis aborted!

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Armholes, right? Nope, let’s push this problem to later. Let’s do the hem instead! That one is easy!

I used horsehair braid to give more body to my hem. My horsehair was white, and I didn’t like how it looked on my blue fabric, so I ‘hid’ the horsehair with a bit of¬†black lace. (For step-by-step instructions on how to do this, see¬†this post¬†on my blog.)

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Yes, the armholes. I refused to address the problem until now, no way around it, I have to find a solution. Then I laid my eyes on a pack of bias tape I originally bought to neatly finish my seams (but ended up using my pinking shears instead)… bingo! I’ll use this tape as a facing, and¬†hand stitch in place, brilliant! Problem solved!

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The last, last step was the bow. I cut a strip of fabric 10 x 35 cm, folded in 2, stitched around at 6mm leaving a small opening for turning. Then slipstitched by hand the opening shut. Tie it up in a cute bow and hand stitch in place.

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OMG, MY DRESS IS FINISHED!

I love it. LOVE IT. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT. Worn with a¬†petticoat, it’s really one of my dream as a little girl come true! Look how¬†twirly¬†it is!

And worn with my¬†capelet¬†for a bit more coverage, I’m ready for a vintage night out!

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There’s one down side to this vintage pattern contest: it has rekindled my interest in vintage fashion and I’m definitely going to try other vintage patterns (or vintage reproduction patterns) I have in my stash. Where shall I start…?

Vintage Pattern Contest – muslin progress

I officially dislike vintage pattern magazines for their lack of instructions, markings and, well, clarity. Hats off to the seamstresses of the time — they obviously knew what they were doing! I mean, look at this sheet:

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Seriously? I’m dizzy just looking at it!

I took the bull by the horns and attacked tracing my pattern pieces. Lucky for me, there are only 5 pieces, 6 if you include the back facing. Pleats and darts are somewhat clearly indicated, however you’d expect a bit more markings, like notches to know where to attach the pleated front bodice pieces to the lower piece? I can only rely on the sketch and the picture in the magazine to imagine what goes where. Again, hats off to the seamstresses of the 50’s!

Here are my pattern pieces, ready to cut my muslin fabric. As you can see, I got confused around the back dart/pleat, hence the extra lines.

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After this was all done and my muslin fabric was cut and marked (so. many. pleats. to. mark. ugh.), the first challenge: how the heck to assemble this? Where do I start? What comes next? And better yet: how are you even supposed to get in and out of this dress? They don’t mention a zipper or buttons in the list of notions, and the pictures don’t help at all. I studied the pattern and figured out I had to put a zipper at the side seam — both back and front pieces are cut on the fold, and the skirt is composed of side panels, also cut on the fold. That leaves only tiny side seams, about 20 cm, where to put a zipper.

Below is my (almost) finished muslin, with only one side skirt panel attached. Seeing the width of the skirt, I’m not worried about not inserting the 2nd one to check the fit, I was more concerned about the waist and the bust to be honest!

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The front/side pleat hangs funny because I didn’t press it at all and I’m still wearing my sweatpants under the dress ūüėõ Interesting construction though, basically the joining seam of the front and side skirt panels form a pleat that merges into the front darts. Brilliant. Same happens on the back.

I’m absolutely ecstatic about how the muslin turned out, I think I won’t need many alterations. The lower bodice is snug but not uncomfortable, I can bend, breathe and sit without a problem. And the fabric I’ll be using is a gorgeous stretch sateen, so I’m not worried about the final dress being too tight. I might give myself a bit more room under the sleeves though, I guess ladies of the 50’s didn’t have big muscular biceps and triceps with extra loose skin hanging after losing a lot of weight ūüėÜ

Talking about fabric, here’s what I want to use:

stretch satin blue

Isn’t it amazingly beautiful? And only 4.50 EUR/meter! I should receive my package today or tomorrow. Can’t wait to start on the real dress! ūüôā

Vintage winter holidays party outfit ideas

This Vintage Pattern Contest is really inspiring! Or it’s driving me mad, one of the two. Because I don’t have enough of just making a dress, I thought I’d just go ahead and make a complete outfit — just in case I’d be invited to a fancy cocktail party. I know I won’t be, but I just don’t care ūüėČ

Here’s what I’m hoping to make:

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Top left is the dress from an old July 1959 issue of Dutch pattern magazine Marion. Top right is a capelet from a Simplicity pattern dated 1964. The gloves and the purse are patterns from the 40’s. I know, I’ll end up with an outfit spanning three different decades, but I thought they all matched, somehow.

I’ve started on my dress muslin, I’m ecstatic about the outcome — but I’ll keep that for my next blog post.

Vintage Pattern Contest – I’m in!

I just entered the Vintage Pattern Contest on Pattern Review. Not an easy task, as the contest is already underway and I have a serious lack of vintage patterns that fit in my stash.

I suddenly remembered I had a few Dutch pattern magazines (Marion) from the 50’s and 60’s. Not all the designs are on the tracing sheet, and even worse, not all the sizes are on the tracing sheet.¬†But lo and behold, I found it: The perfect vintage dress, in my size, in the July 1959 issue. I’m in LOVE!

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Look at this beauty! The pleated top! The full skirt! The bow!

But it will be a challenge, my friends. I have no instructions whatsoever, and the tracing sheet is the most repulsive sheet I have ever seen. This is all I have to make the dress:

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A drawing. And my common sense, I suppose. But I’m up for the challenge!

And now, to find the perfect fabric… Not too heavy, otherwise the full skirt won’t stand out nicely. There’s a fabric market in my town on Sunday November 17, that wouldn’t leave me much time to make the dress, this might be my last resort if I can’t find anything suitable in my stash.

I’m so excited! ūüėÄ

Red Dress Contest – Photo shoot!

Last Friday, I had a professional photo shoot done with a friend photographer, to showcase my red dress. Nothing like nice pictures to get more votes, right?

Here are a few shots:

For all pictures, cross over to my Facebook page!

Red Dress Contest – dress complete!

Pfew! My dress is complete! It’s been quite a roller coaster, more on that further down.

So. It’s done! Here is my dress:

The dress is made out of a gorgeous rayon/lycra double knit, triple the price of what I am usually comfortable paying for fabric. But it was totally worth every single penny. I also fully lined the dress (except the sleeves) in a mesh-y kind of stretch lining. It feels a bit plasticky to the touch, but it is comfortable to wear. I might sing a different tune if I wear this dress during the summer, but anyway.

Of course, you are interested in the back, right? Here’s a shot, with the heart cut-out:

Making the heart wasn’t complicated: it’s just a question of tracing and cutting it out. But attaching the lining to it¬†was a puzzle. What do I sew first? The neckline or the heart? Do I just leave out the lining? Do I make a facing? After much thinking and mental constructing, I proceeded with first sewing the heart, right sides together, trim seam allowance, clip the pointy bits. Then pull the lining to the inside and press. Now comes the tricky bit. You then join the back neck seams, right sides together. You sort of have to sew this seam from¬†under, under your lining, pulling the pieces through the small space between the top of the heart and the back neck edge. I did one side first, sewing up to about the center, and sewed the rest from the other side. I couldn’t take pictures that would be meaningful, so I’m working on a drawing that might be able to explain more than words can do.

After I attached the lining to the shell at the neckline, I pressed everything and top-stitched the neckline and the heart. This is when disaster striked. Don’t ask my how it got there, but somehow machine oil stained my bodice, right on the front. The horror!!! I ran downstairs, poured some¬†anti oil stains product on my fabric, rubbed and scrubbed, rinsed and then put my bodice in the dryer to be able to sew the rest of my dress as quickly as possible. When I took my bodice out of the dryer, I was so relieved to see the stain was gone! But… my heart sank… ANOTHER STAIN? On the back??? I hadn’t seen it and the heat of the dryer pretty much set it there ūüė• Three rounds of pouring, rubbing and scrubbing, and the stain is almost gone. It’s still there, but I can live with it. Man! That’s what I meant with roller coaster!

The rest of the construction was pretty much painless. Attach bodice lining to skirt lining, attach shell bodice to shell skirt. Hem the sleeves pieces, baste together and set the sleeves. I then made a simple hem on the lining and a machine blind hem on the dress.

EDIT: Here are 2 pictures of the inside of the dress (lining), from the front and around the heart cut-out:

And how does it fit? Divine! The pattern was based on my sloper, so it fits like a glove. The fabric is really soft and gives me loads of ease of movement. It’s probably going to become my favorite office dress.

On Friday I have a photo shoot planned with my friend Rubianca of xllens, with my dress in the spotlight. I’m curious to see how it’s going to turn out! ūüôā

Red Dress Contest – first muslin

Last weekend, I worked on my muslin for the Red Dress contest.¬†First I searched for a pattern, but in the end I decided to draft my own. I made a sketch for inspiration. My take on the whole ‘heart’ theme is quite litteral, but that’s just who I am. I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do for the back vent. But at least it’s something to get me started!

I drafted my pattern using my block, and made a first muslin. It ain’t perfect, I need to lengthen the bodice of at least 5 cm at the front and 2 cm at the back, and re-think my tulip sleeves. But all in all, I’m quite pleased with the result. The heart sits nicely on my back, no bra showing (I was afraid of that). Same for the heart-shaped neckline, no peeking bra straps and it is very flattering. Here are some views of my muslin:

  

Next steps for the coming days: make noted corrections and experiment with the back vent.