Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Skirt Continues

albeit at a slower pace than I anticipated. With Christmas, New Years and everybody home for the holidays (including DH), progress has been.

But that's ok, we've been having a good time!

Yesterday I got the waistband in place, pressed over and pinned, ready to hand sew on the inside. I must say, it looks quite good. The zipper, however, had to be ripped out. I placed it incorrectly, too high not allowing for the seam allowance where the waistband is sewn on. So thinking that I was being clever, trying to avoid ripping the zipper out, I decided to cut it from the top, then sew tacks on the teeth to act as the stops (that were snipped off).

Of course, after the project sat for a couple of days, I forgot that I did this. I didn't get around to making those tacks. After the waistband was on, I was marvelling in what a nice job I did and pulled the zipper up... and the pulled the pull RIGHT OFF. Gahhhh!

I tried to get it back on but to no avail. In the end, I ripped the zipper out and have to go and get another one. Thankfully, this was not the type of mistake that causes any damage. It's a time waster!

Here are a couple of pictures showing the inside of the pleat. The first one shows how the inset is sewn in. The second one shows how the pleat folds and lays in place.

Happy New Year to all and Happy Sewing!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Classic and Sassy Skirt

OK, for the last month or so, I've struggled to find the right project to get back into the swing of sewing.

Finally, inspiration struck. I scapped ideas for several other projects, including the silk slip (I didn't have the right size needles to get going...).

So, yesterday I STARTED sewing a skirt. Note, I said started, not: conceptualized, dreamed of, prepped fabric then proceeded to do nothing.... Yesiree, I actually washed, pressed, cut and started to sew a skirt!
It is one of Marcie's patterns, a McCall from 1958... a cute straight skirt with an inset pleat, back band and bow. The band and bow make this classic skirt a little bit sassy. I'm using a wool blend with a dark brown velvet floral-scrolly pattern. Last year, I made a dress out of a similar fabric: the wool was the same but the velvet was black and of a slightly different floral pattern... The back band and bow are a dark brown microsuede. (The skirt floral velvet photographed darker than it actually it - it is a rich brown, like the microsuede.)

As of an hour ago, I got the skirt front and back sewn together. The pleat is done via an inset, seamed to extensions on the center, lower back pieces. Then the top edge of the pleat is topstitched. I just love pleats and bows. For me, it is very satisfying to shape, press and form them.

This is just the project to get me going: vintage, quick and simple but with enough vintagy flair and detail to be interesting. Tomorrow I should be able to get the zipper and waistband on, then hem it!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Where Did November Go?

Has it really been a whole month since I last posted here????

November turned out to be busy. I never even started the wool crepe dress for the PR "Sewing with Wool" contest, which was a real disappointment. BUT, life was taken over by other things: my husband was in a (minor) car accident (nobody hurt, but it wrote off his car), I was called to jury duty, I made two capes for a friend (paid) out of velvet and FUR for a Christmas parade. The capes were the source of great anxiety and stress because I had all kinds of problems and made mistakes (thank goodness my friends are wonderful and they liked the final products)...

...And I hosted some of my family on Thanksgiving/the weekend. It was fun, it's just that the whole month was busy and there wasn't a lot of time for sewing with one exception. The highlight, was that my sewing friends, Michelle and Elaine, came around on November 21 and we had a fabulous time with the usual chatting and eating!

So I'm ready to pick up a project again! After the cape debacle, I decided to work on a fun project that I've been wanting to do for a while: a vintage slip made from habotai silk. I bought an ivory/champagne colored habotai from Thai Silks several months ago specifically for this project. Yesterday, I washed and ironed the silk. It came out beautifully!
I'm going to make it so that I can wear it under the silk damask Hollywood Dress that I made for my anniversary dinner (and won the PR Vintage sewing contest). Friday is my husband's work Christmas party at a local Golf Club; the attire is "Dressy" and since I don't have time to make a new dress, I thought this dress would be perfect. I still love the luxurious silk damask and the red is perfect for the holidays. It's dressy, feminine and perfectly respectable for a work event.
I love the vintage slip pattern. Didn't anybody tell the girl that you're not supposed to wear shoes when weighing yourself????

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dress Appropriately

Well, I got a Summons for Jury Duty in the mail today.

I need to be ready to report the week beginning November 23... the week of Thanksgiving! And get this, they don't even give you a postage-paid return envelope for the mandatory Juror Profile Questionnaire (but you do have the option to fill it out on-line).

If they use me, this will seriously cut into my Thanksgiving preparations!

As I was reading through the form with all of the instructions, I saw a box on the back side that says "ATTIRE - Jurors should dress appropriately in keeping with court room decorum."

Immediately a little light of excitement went off. Perry Mason!!!!!! Della Street!!!!!! I just love that show. My grandmother was the biggest Perry Mason fan on the planet; she drooled over him. That show was on constantly, in reruns, from as long as my memory goes back.
I can show up to dressed in perfect 1950's courtroom attire... a nice wool dress or suit (like the Thanksgiving dress I'm planning to make). Conservative, but not prudish. Serious but feminine. I could even wear a hat and gloves.

This inconvenience suddenly turned into opportunity!

My son was laughing at me. Maybe the hat and gloves would be too much. But then again, why not? No episode of Perry Mason is complete without a courtroom surprise!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wool Crepe

What the heck happened to October? Other than finishing my red coat, not a lot of sewing got done in October. We did have fun decorating for Halloween, though. I hope everybody else was sewing away and having fun!

I managed to get half of my sewing room re-organized; the annex portion is still a tip! But at least it was a start and I'll get pictures soon!

Now that it's November, I can move on to two projects using one of my favorite fabrics: wool.

The first project is going to be a dress and jacket ensemble using a gorgeous, embroidered wool crepe. I want to wear it on Thanksgiving. I made a wool blend dress last Thanksgiving and I think I will make this my new Thanksgiving tradition!
The second project is a coat from a to-die-for wool herringbone coating called "Ivy League".

I'll get more pictures soon, but wanted to get posting to get myself in gear!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oh, the Shame of It!!!!!

It is with great shame that I am posting pictures of my sewing room and adjacent annex.

Ever since moving last June, I've not really ever managed to get it set up in a way that works and flows well. However, with the latest furniture shifting, I think I this layout may be close.

The sewing annex section (over the garage "bonus room") houses not only sewing stuff, but other craft supplies and all of the vintage jewelery, accessories, games, toys and pop culture things I covet. With no structure in place, it's turned into a dumping ground.

I've made a few efforts over the last several months to sort it out by purchasing little shelves for under my sewing table and long shelving racks on the low/apex walls of the annex section (DH hung those for me).

The whole area is stifling me. I've done nothing this last week because I walk in and don't know where to begin. AND, my fabric haul from Louise's auction isn't even in here! It's been sorted into categories on the big table in my basement until I can wash/treat it and bring it up.

Hopefully these shameful pictures will motivate me into getting my back side in gear. I've just printed off labels for plastic storage bins that need sorting through. I thought that would be a good starting point.

I also need to address lighting, but I'll do that after it's organized.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Red Twill Coat

This coat was a mixed bag. Some parts were easy, other parts gave me fits.
I had issues with the topstitching - it was loopy underneath. I adjusted the tension, used a topstitching needle and thread, used cardboard to keep the fabric flat (chunky SA)... it helped a little but still wasn't perfect.

The instructions would have you sew the bodice lining to the fabric. I skipped this because I bagged the lining. It is so much faster. If you've never bagged a lining before or need a refresher, here is a great article in Threads - How to Bag a Lining.

I continued with the construction of the jacket. Next were the sleeves which gave me great fits. I'm not happy with them. I've never had problems with set in sleeves until this coat. There was a huge amount of ease at the sleevecap. I could not for the life of me ease it in without sewing in pleats. It took me three attempts to finally sew it without pleats, but it is still puckered at the top. I think this is due to the twill because when I did this step on the lining (a softer, more pliable fabric), I had no issues. **I'd be interested in anybody's thoughts or experience about this.

The skirt construction was straight forward; more topstitching along the waistline seam. Here I didn't follow the instructions that have you topstitch through the fabric AND lining. I was already having issues due to the thickness so I topstiched before the lining was added. Same issues.The lining was constructed the same as the jacket, then bagged. I understitched all along the top neckline and front edges.

Because of my topstitching issues, I decided to not topstitch along the top, front and bottom edges. The twill provided structure and understitching preventing rolling.The sleeve edges (fabric and lining) were pressed under and slip stitched into place. I blind machine hemmed the lining and hand blind hemmed the coat fabric. I've grown to love hand hemming!!!

Then I made French tacks at the three seams. It was my first attempt at French tacks, which didn't turn out well. I do something weird with thread (and things like appliance cords) and always manage to twist them. (DH curses me when he pulls out the vacuum.) My tacks were more like French twists... or French tangles! Maybe one day I'll redo them...

After that was done, all that was left were the buttonholes and buttons. Thankfully, the end of the project went smoothly! I used fun buttons that blended from black to gray, to add some contrast and interest. I envision wearing the coat with these colors. The buttons will bring outfit and coat together.

This coat has many flaws and imperfections. But I still like it. Projects are funny like that. Sometimes a garment can be perfectly constructed, but it doesn't send you "the love." This coat, on contrast, has issues that I wish it didn't, but I will still wear it and have fun doing so. It's a great style and I love the vintage red twill. DH said that it looks very retro, like something off of the set of Austin Powers. My DS 11 y/o said it's futuristic! I say it's got style either way!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Win a Vintage Pattern!

I want to thank all of the people who read and follow my blog, read my reviews on PR and those who voted for me in PR's Vintage Pattern Contest earlier this year. I'm humbled that my projects and ramblings are of interest to people when there are so many talented people out there in the blogosphere.

Therefore, as a token of my appreciation, I'm going to conduct a drawing for a vintage pattern. I have a huge stash of vintage patterns acquired from auctions and would like to share them with others who are passionate about vintage.

Here's how it will work:

  1. During the month of October, 2009 sew a project. It doesn't have to be vintage, just made during October.
  2. Post a comment here on my blog that includes a link to your project. I will keep track of the names.
  3. On November 1 (or shortly thereafter), I will put all of the names of those who participated into a (vintage) hat. My son will then draw two names from said hat.
  4. There will be two winners; the prizes will be the patterns pictured below. My son will pick the winner for Pattern #1 first, and Pattern #2 second. It will be completely random as to who wins which pattern.
  5. I will post my email address when the drawing is finished so that the winners can send me their mailing address.
I hope that people will participate! While most of us sew year round, projects have lots of exciting possibilities this time of year with all of the holidays just around the corner!

Thank you for visiting my blog; Happy Sewing!

Pattern #1-Vintage Simplicity 3528: late 50's/early 60's, B32, Partially cut, complete, instructions included

Pattern #2 - McCall's 2619: 1970, B36, factory folded, instructions included.

The Vintage Hat from which the names will be drawn: 100% wool, original price tag still attached, price paid $4.99. Any help dating?

Monday, September 28, 2009

In Memory of a Great Red Coat

I have/had a great, red wool winter coat. It was calf length with bulky, cuffed sleeves, a high collar and a dramatic drape that went of the left shoulder.

I bought the coat when I was 18 (er, um 1984) and it saw me through numerous winters. When I lived in the Virgin Islands for three years, I stored it at my grandfather's house. When I returned to Chicago and moved downtown in late '92, my beloved coat was reinstated into service.

The coat was warm and cozy with all of its bulk and high collar. And it stood out. On more than one occasion on a snowy-bad weather day (the kind when you and everybody else in Chicago is trying to hail a cab), I had a cabbie tell me he pulled over to me because he saw my red coat! Another time when out do dinner, I overheard a gentlemen at a table say to his friend as I walked by "That woman in the red coat looks like a model." (This was obviously a LONG time ago.) Who wouldn't love a coat that get that generates that type of reaction?

My poor coat did not fare well during my England years. It was damaged by moths, along with other silks and woolens, despite my efforts to protect my closet. I was devastated.

It's been eight or nine years since I discovered the holes and I could never bear to discard my wonderful coat. Maybe if I put it to the side, the moth holes will go away...

Well they haven't; I still have the coat. Maybe I'll be able to reconstruct it or salvage parts of it. It's a mess now, wrinkled, covered in dog hair and lint... I mourn this coat. I will bring it to the dry cleaners and see what I can do.

In the meantime, in honor of the red coat, last week I started a lightweight coat. I need a coat for autumn/spring weather, when there's that bite in the air but it's still too warm for a winter coat.

While looking through my stash, Louise's vibrant red, cotton twill kept jumping out at me. Originally, I wanted to make a trench from it. However, it's a vintage 36" wide and with only 3 yards, there wasn't enough fabric.

So I'm marrying old with new and making a stylish, modern coat from Vogue 8548 with this gorgeous, vintage fabric. I love the bucket collar; the twill should hold the shape well. I'm lining it with flannel back satin.

The coat has a fair amount of topstitching. Thanks to the ladies at PR I received some wonderful advice about which thread, needle, etc. to use. I'm using a heavier, topstitching thread by Gutterman and a topstitching 80/12 needle.

It's progressing well although there is considerable ease in the sleevecap which is giving me some fits. I usually don't have issues with sleeves, but I'm geared up to head to my sewing room and get this coat finished!

Must Have Red Coat!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Update - Me Wearing the Blouse

DH took some pics of me in the blouse. As lovely as Doris is, it's always nice to see it on the person for whom it was made.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finally - The Blouse!

Yep, I finished it last week! With all of the landscaping, back to school activity, etc., DH hasn't had time to take any pictures of me in the blouse.

So I took some pictures this afternoon. The lovely Doris was kind enough to model for me, with the condition that she could hang out by the pool for a while and get some fresh air. It seemed a reasonable request to me. As soon as I get pics of me wearing it, I'll post them!

In the end, I had to cut out some of the armscye, 3/8" from the bottom (at the side seam), taping to the front and back about where the notches sit. Since I didn't have enough fabric to make more bias binding, I just narrow hemmed it. However, I think I may at some point take that out and make neutral/nude bias strips when I pick up an appropriate fabric. I think it will just lay nicer.

Despite this project taking longer than I'd expected, I'm pretty happy with the result. I've got that pretty, feminine blouse that I wanted.

In the meantime, I've been working on my youngest son's Halloween costume, a vampire ensemble. But I've got the bug to sew some autumn or winter vintage garments with some of the gorgeous woolens that were in Louise's haul from the May 23 auction... hmmm, I'll have to rummage a bit.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Just Around the Corner

Halloween is just around the corner!

I love Halloween and I sew all of the costumes each year for my family.

I also enjoy making decorative items for around the house. Since the pool landscaping has kind of taken over... and I need to make some fitting adjustments to the armscye on my vintage blouse... I thought I'd work on a fun, simple project in between all of the other stuff.

For years I've wanted a Halloween fireplace mantle scarf, but always seem to have run out of time by the time Halloween came around. I even went so far last year as to design and cut out a pattern piece!

So I pulled out the Halloween quilting fabrics from stash. I stored my "pattern" piece with these fabrics and got to work on the mantle scarf. It was so simple and quick once I got going!

I measured the width and depth of the mantle itself, then added extra for the seam allowance. There wasn't enough length to cut the top/bottom pieces in one so there is a center seam. Using one of these pieces as a pattern, I cut a piece of quilting batting. The batting was basted to the bottom fabric.
I then cut two pieces of fabric for each of the large pendants. I sewed them right sides together, leaving the top open to turn... then I pressed each pendant. I alternated an orange pendant (with the witch/cat pattern) with a yellow pendant.

After all of the pendants were sewn, I spaced them out evenly beginning with middle and end one, leaving equal space inbetween each pendant. Then I made the little black pendants using the same fabric as the base pieces. I actually used the tab pattern piece from my vintage blouse, only enlarged it! It was exactly the shape I wanted!

I sewed the little pendants together the same as the large pendants. Then I pinned them in the spaces between the large pendants. Then I basted the pendants in place all the way around.

Finally, I sewed the top and bottom pieces right sides together (being careful to keep pendants away from seams as they were on the inside while doing this step). I left a three inch opening for turning.

Prior to turning right side out I clipped the corner to make sure they pushed out nice and square. Then I simply slip stitched the opening on the back.

After it was finished, I pressed it out.

I love the look of these fabrics together. They have that old fashioned, vintage feel. The fabric with the witch/cat print is at least seven years old and is from Northcott. The black with gold specs may also be Northcott, but I'm not sure. All the fabrics were purchased from a lovely quilt shop in England (when I lived there) called The Bramble Patch, which is in Weedon.

Now that I finally made this, I can hopefully get that darn vintage blouse finished this week!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Moral of the Story Is...

...don't sew when you are in a rush.
This is easier said than done and not always realistic. I've said it many times to myself. But do I listen???

The reason I bring this up is that last night, I finally made it back into my sewing room to work on my lovely vintage blouse! Yay! I was trying to get the blouse finished before my MIL came to visit, but despite my best efforts, I ran out of time. You may recall, I had some issues with the neck facings.
After re-acclimating myself to the project and what needed to be done, I merrily set off with my seam ripper to redo the facing seams and the 1/4" hem.

When that was finished, I pinned the facing to the blouse. It still didn't line up. I was determined, however, stretching and easing the darn thing until the facing was in. I then sewed it on.

Well THEN I realized that the front self facing edge overlapped incorrectly at the top edge, when folded back into place. It left a large, exposed wad of folds on the top edge. What did I do wrong?

I was stumped. This blouse is the first button front I've made without a collar. I thought it would be easier! I started to think something was wrong with the instructions, something I've not really (seriously) encountered in a vintage pattern.

However, the light went off when I re-read the directions again. IT WAS ME and I felt an odd sense of relief!!!!! Finally I comprehended what I did wrong.

First, the *mistake* I made before setting this project down last month was not a mistake! The facing seams ARE 5/8"... so I needed to once again redo those seams!! Gah!

Second, I figured out how the front edge/facing seams were done. If I had bothered to pay closer attention to the pattern illustration, I would have seen how the front edge of the neck facing is sewn to the front self facing of the blouse. **A further clue is in the notches on both pieces and that the notches are marked #5 on the tissue pattern pieces (I love vintage patterns!)

Third, after seam #5 is sewn, the front self facing is folded back (right sides together); then the neckline facing and blouse edges all line up nicely. THEN you sew the seam and turn right side out. Voila!

I figured that out last night, but decided to sleep on it before making another gaff.

I'm happy to report that this morning, all of the above steps were executed smoothly, without incident. I then proceeded to clip, press and understitch the facing beautifully into place.

Below are pictures of the instructions and the facing construction prior to sewing.

Remember, don't sew when in a rush!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pattern Grading

Today while catching up on my sewing and vintage *stuff*, I came across a great article I've seen before in Threads Magazine about pattern grading. It's called Making Sense of Pattern Grading.

Although it wasn't written specifically for vintage use, I think it's particularly relevant to us vintage enthusiasts. If you all are anything like me, you have at least one (or ten or a hundred) awesome patterns that are not your size, but that you just couldn't live without!

So I thought that I'd post a link here to the article on the Threads website for easy reference. You are now liberated - don't let the wrong pattern size stop you ever again!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trying to Get Organized!

It's been nutty here the last few weeks! My mother-in-law left yesterday after a two and a half week visit. During this time, I had my family visiting twice to visit MIL, the on-going pool construction, my little guy's birthday and the kids went back to school today.

I'm exhausted!

BUT, the sewing room is calling me. I will get back to my sewing tomorrow or Thursday! I hope everybody has been more productive than I have been!

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beautiful Embroidery - Is it Vintage?

My poor blouse, which I envisioned "whipping" out in a couple of days, is patiently waiting again. I made a mistake on the facing (required 1/4" seams and I made 5/8"...).

THEN my MIL arrived from England on Thursday and will be staying with us until August 17. Combine that with the on-going construction of the pool and, well, there hasn't been much time for sewing.

Nevertheless, MIL is a big fan of auction like DH and myself. So on Saturday we attended a local one and came home with some goodies. I got a box of fabric; overall, it was ho-hum with the exception of a gorgeous fine woolen and a nice piece of silk. There is also a nice length of red, white and blue striped cotton.

But what I really love from this haul are some fine baby garments. I *think* they are vintage and upon researching, I *think* they are Feltman brothers.

The dresses and vests are made from fine voile and batiste with exquisite hand embroidery and teeny-tiny tucks. (Ironic since I'm working on a blouse with tucks!). The baby gowns are from cotton flannel, also with the same high quality hand embroidery. All garments are French seamed. There are two vests, two dresses and five gowns (two pink embroidery and three blue embroidery).

There are labels on only two of the items, the two vests. They say "Hand Made in the Phillippeans Size 1 Year".

I'd be extremely grateful if anybody can play detective and has any idea if these are Feltman Brothers garments and if they can be dated.
I was thinking of selling them, but I've changed my mind. I'm holding on to them for future grandchildren (It really is future: my boys are 8 and 11 !)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shaping Up

The blouse is starting to take shape.

Today I finally managed to get into my sewing room for a little while. I sewed the waistline tuck/darts, the bust darts, the back darts and added two darts at the top, back neckline. I also sewed the side and shoulder seams and hemmed the inside edge of the front self-facings.

Because this pattern is a 34B, normally large for me, I pinned the bust darts prior to sewing to check for fit. Often, I have excess just above these darts and below/to the front of my armscyce. I was surprised, however, that this fit well. Could it be my boobs are getting bigger!!!!??? :D :D :D

OK, a girl can hope... obviously it's just the way this pattern runs; I did have the usual excess in the center back which I took out with two darts. I may need to adjust these a bit more tomorrow.

These are the lower back dart/tucks. The small/pointed end starts about 1/2 from the bottom and widens as they go upwards. Then at the top, you pivot 90 degrees and sew to the edge to form a tuck:

The same tucks on the outside give a gorgeous, blousen shape:

This is a lightweight fabric (albeit a bit crisp) with a tiny bit of fraying so I decided to use French seams. I'm really happy with how they worked on this fabric. It's not bulky and presses down nicely.

The center fronts are self facing; I stablized the buttonhole side with fusible interfacing prior to stitching the 1/4" hem and pressing back. You'll notice in the pictures that I hand basted the front fold lines and the buttonholes.

So far, I'm happy with how this is shaping up. DH commented on how pretty it was and that he liked the tucks! I spent a lot of time prior to vacation marking, folding and sewing them so it was nice that he liked the results!
Close up of the front tucks and hand basting:
Hopefully over the weekend I can tweak the back neckline darts, sew the neckline facings, get the tab sewn and cut/sew the bias for the armholes. The buttonholes, buttons and hem will probably be next week.
Also, I hope that when I get final pictures, the true minty-green of the fabric shows! I'll have to get the lighting right!
I hope that nothing goes wrong!