Friday, April 9, 2010

Silk Vintage Gown is Underway!

Before I get to what I've accomplished so far, I feel I have to address the issue of what to call this gown. The pattern description is prosaic. It only reads "An evening dress in two lengths with stole." What? Well, that is what it is.... but I mean come on! Was it 5:00 and time to punch out when the person who's job it was to write patten descriptions got to this one?

Whatever the reason, it deserves more: "Elegant evening dress or gown with decadent, swagged shaped gathering over the entire sweetheart bodice. Gathering extends below the waistline into the full, billowing eight gore skirt. Wear with stole for romantic evening under the stars." Doesn't that sound better?

So onto the project itself!

After several hours of futzing with the dupioni fabric choices over several days, I finally decided on one. It wasn't the orange-shot-with-red and rose embroidery one. I was a bit disappointed, but try as I may, there was no way I was going to get the eight gores placed properly over the swagged embroidery pattern to make it match up.
I moved onto the solid dupionis and decided upon a gorgeous color described as "rust". It is in fact, a dark sandy color shot with red which gives it the all over rust shade. It is stunning. I love how it picks up the red as you/the fabric moves. This will give hopefully give the gathering great depth and show off finished gowns movement.

Also, the rust should be outstanding for a gown on an autumn Caribbean cruise.

I did not wash the dupioni because I didn't want it to lose the lustre and body. Because the gown won't be something that will be thrown into the washing machine, nor will it be worn frequently, this is not a problem. After pressing all of the yardage yesterday, I cut out all of the pieces for the gown and the stole. There wasn't enough for the skirt lining facings, but I will use a natural, tan dupioni for that.

Yesterday, I also ordered the other fabrics that I did not have in my stash. I'm splurging on a dyed silk crepe for the lining, a silk/rayon brocade for the stole lining and silk/cotton batiste for the foundation lining. While I had silk organza in my stash for the underlining, it wasn't enough so I ordered more of that too.

Today, I cut the organza underlining (that I had) and started basting it to the dupioni pieces. Because organza shifts a lot, I was very careful keeping it on grain before and during cutting. To cut, I used a rotary cutter which is a must for slippery/shifty fabrics!!! Scissors pull and distort the fabric whereas there is no interferance with the rotary.

To keep the organza and dupioni from slipping while basting together, I used a lot of pins. I'm a "pinner". I know lots of people get by without pinning or minimal pinning, but I just can't. I was pleased that the organza and dupioni matched up and sewed well. When basting underlining to fabric, according to my Vogue Sewing Book, sew all the way along one side. Stop and repeat along all sides; the stitching lines will cross at corners... i.e. do not turn the corners in one, continuous line... my pieces turned out flat with no twisting or puckering (something I worried about); I pressed when finished basting.
After the bodice pieces were underlined, I marked the darts and gathering lines. This is the wrong side, organza showing with markings:

Next, I started pinning the organza to the skirt pieces, but then it was time to start dinner! Darn! Why do people have to eat when I'm in the zone! I'm really psyched about this gown which I hope will turn out to be elegant with a fiery glow. I can't wait to work on it tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Project - Vintage Gown

I'm going to make a declaration. 2010 is starting out to be: The Year I Got My Favorite Vintage Patterns Out of My System. All of us vintage addicts have at least one or two or 20 patterns that we have to get out of our system, right? My recently finished red wool dress was one of them.

My new project is also one of them. However like a lot of these drop-dead gorgeous, vintage concoctions, it's not something you'd wear every day... or even once a year. It's a 50's formal gown in all of its opulent glory.

The good news is, I actually have occasion to wear a couple of formals this year. In the autumn, we are going on a cruise with two formal nights! Some people pooh-pooh formal evenings on cruise ships as being outdated or a chore. But oh no, not I. Not ever! It's an OPPORTUNITY to dress to the hilt and relish in the glamor of it all. There are so few occasions in which to dress formally that I will do my part to keep it alive.

So I'm going to make McCall's 3101 - in the full length version.
It's going to be in dupioni silk; I have about 10 or 12 in my stash, most with enough yardage, although I'm not quite sure which one I'll use. The one I'm currently favoring is embroidered, which means a nap layout....which means after it's all lined up to match the pattern, there may not be enough. I just pressed the pattern pieces and now have to lay them out to see if it will work. If not, I'll use a solid.

A little bit of this particular pattern's history: Original Owner only used the bodice pieces. All of the skirt pieces remain uncut. The poor bodice pieces were sliced in half, probably to lengthen, then taped back together with that horrible, old fashioned Scotch Tape which is now yellowed and brittle. I'll need to take great care with these pieces. They are fragile, but thankfully, still 100% there. I'll copy these and save with the pattern.

In the meantime, this is one of those projects that will be an adventure. It will turn out either: a) amazingly amazing, or b) an utter disaster that ends up a wadder. Feel free to take bets and stay tuned!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Apron Finished.. and Auctions! - Picture Heavy!

OK, I lied. I got some sewing in sooner than I was expecting. This was most likely motivation as a direct result of an auction that we attended yesterday. We picked up some stuff...

...define "stuff" you ask? Well, I'm both excited and embarrassed at the same time. I'll explain, but first things first:

The Apron!

It's OK. Just don't look at it closely and it's OK. It's one of those projects that started off enthusiastically enough, but as it progressed, it lost it's luster. I think it's largely due to the fabric. It's cheapo stuff. The one with the irons/butterflies/hearts/etc. is likely a cheap poly/cotton blend from the 70's. It's loosely woven and stiff which makes for unattractive stitching (that's my story and I'm sticking to it.) The solid poly/cotton weaver's cloth isn't much better although it is marginally "softer", but don't confuse it soft. Both fabrics are stiff.

Because of the poly content, the fabrics didn't press nicely. This made the narrow hemming a chore (which I normally enjoy... if you already don't like this step, forget it!) The pressing popped out in several places at first so I had to redo it and pin closer together... grrrrrr.

Then I used a maroon trim that I had in my stash. It's flat, not ruffled as the pattern indicated. Because I had said hemming issue with pressing (see above), instead of picking out the hem I slapped trim onto the bottom edge... but still, some of the original stitching shows (remember, I said don't look closely!!!)

Another little bummer was when I thought I was being clever. Operative word: thought. I didn't like how the shoulder strap was sewn to the back side of the bib. So I thought I'd tuck the straps into the seam between the front bib and facing bib. I did this and woo hoo'd myself. Then I realized the reason the pattern called for sewing it on the back was because of the trim application!!! If sandwiched between the front and facing, as I did, the trim would go behind the straps. So I had to rip the straps out and sew to the back. This wasn't major, but that's what I get for thinking! grrrrrrr.

In the end, the result isn't so bad, just don't look closely!!! This will be our secret!! Nobody but my sewing allies will know!
So, onto the auction finds that spurred my motivation:

For a total of $10, these items were sold as a lot: a) Greist Buttonholer b) another Greist Buttonholer that says "Kenmore" c) Stitch Master d) Singer Deluxe Monogrammer e) Kenmore Monogrammer and Templates (the stitching foot is missing.)

Additionally, I got a Singer Sew Handy children's sewing machine, in the original box with instruction manual. The box is a bit beat up, but nonetheless, it's the box! Also, the spool spindle and seam guide are missing, but these are easily replaced. This was $22.

Next is an old Singer 66... I haven't figured out which model 66 but based on the serial number, it was released between 1953-1955. It's in rough shape, in a blonde wood cabinet (which gave me an idea to it's age anyway)... When plugged in, the motor ran and light turned on. The cabinet has the knee pedal as well as a foot pedal. However, the belt needs replacing and who knows what else. So why buy it??? Well, it came complete with foot accessories and fabulous "Singer Gripper - An extra hand for holding material". I've really wanted one of those for a while!!! Oh, and the machine, et al cost $5. No typo, $5...

I do want to try to get the machine running, but if I'm not successful, the $5 was worth it for the Gripper and additional feet.

And now here's the embarrassing part: there were three treadles and we came home with all three. I wasn't interested in them and had no intention on bidding. But when nobody wanted them, DH was like "What? $5? You can't even buy a beer in England for that! Get them!" So it's his fault. They are in various stages of: death, delapidation, deterioation and disrepair. And that's being kind. Neverthless, each one was $5 and I felt that they need a chance at rehab and life so we'll give it a go at repairing them. I'll get pics of these soon.

We also got other non-sewing items: about a dozen Wheaton bottles (I had some as a kid), Two boxes of Berry Pink solid color marbles, shoe lasts (in eight sizes) with three stand (this was DH's purchase) and two very large bags of costume jewerly, much of it vintage. Oh, and a Sears catalog from 1975 (that was DH too).

I also bought two pairs of 1950's cat eye glasses! I'm going to get at least one filled with my own prescription! I've seen genuine frames sell for a lot of money and I got these for a total of $6.

So now with all of this vintage goodness, I can get on with my vintage sewing. This "old" stuff really does breathe "new" life into me!