Thursday, July 21, 2016

Early Fall McCalls

McCall Pattern Company released their Autumn catalog today.  I generally prefer Vogue and Butterick to McCall designs, and this season is no different (with one or two notable exceptions).
Other than the fact that the model looks incredibly uncomfortable wearing a hat and gloves, this vintage reproduction design is wonderful!  I have never seen a neckline like this on any 1940s dress, but I like it.  

I never know what to expect with The Archive Collection.  It has only been around for two years, and the decades covered since its introduction already include the 1920s through the 1970s, so it is a little bit all over the place.  The styles are very hit and miss for me.  This one is a definite hit.




Just ignore the styling on this one because the pattern has a whole lot of potential.  And I know that I sound like a broken record, but I really wish that McCalls would include the original vintage illustrations with these patterns . . . 




Then there is McCalls 7431.  I cannot say exactly why I am drawn to this design, but I am.  It is certainly not the color of the fabric.  Perhaps it’s the model?
Which may, in fact, be the answer because the only other new design that is grabbing my attention is this twisted knit, worn by the same model.  This one is also not at all my style.  Maybe the stunning blue color is drawing me in.  The one thing that I consistently do not like about knit dresses is the fact that so many of them have such boring back pieces, and this one has that very issue.  The front, however, may have enough interest to make it worth my while.




And, once again, I have found more patterns to add to the stash (which is definitely out of control at this point).

Monday, July 18, 2016

Farewell DKNY


While I am still very disappointed to know that there will be no new Donna Karan designs released by Vogue Patterns, it did motivate me to dig through my pattern stash to find one to stitch up.


So now I can present my very first machine sewn knit fabric project!  It was a long time coming, and I feel like a complete beginner working with a super stretchy textile, but it also feels really great to get past that first hurdle.


And I am very pleased with how this turned out.


Without a serger, the insides do not look like a traditional ready-to-wear garment, but neither do any of my other hand made garments.


As for the pattern - I love it!  There is definitely a reason that this was such a popular pattern when it was released in 2008.  This dress is so easy to wear!


And I just may have to make myself another version if I come across a suitable fabric.


Uh-oh.  Now I am going to have to explore the knit section of the fabric store . . . more fabric choices is the last thing I need!



Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 1027
Shoes:  Banana Republic
Necklace:  Judith Jack

Thursday, July 7, 2016

New Vogue Designs

The new Fall Vogue Patterns are here . . . but there are no new Vintage Vogue designs.  Boo.  Hiss.  I know the Vintage Vogue collection is not included in every pattern release, but I really do look forward to seeing those designs.  And I was expecting at least one new design after reading the latest blog post from the company.  Perhaps the sales in this category are not doing so well?

The recent news that Donna Karan designs are no longer being produced was also a huge disappointment for me.  The Donna Karan and DKNY patterns are pretty fantastic.  Even when they were not something that I would choose to wear, examining the line drawings and looking at how those crazy shaped pieces fit together is something I am really going to miss.  No matter how simple the silhouette looked, there was always a surprise in the drafting of those patterns.  I would guess that Ms. Karan was not a huge fan of the side seam, and it made for some very creative garments.


As for the actual offerings in this catalog . . . I am intrigued by this Bellville Sassoon design, not so much for the dress, but for the internal structure.  I will definitely be looking at the instructions on this one!


The design is definitely more modern looking than I usually go for, but I am often drawn to Tracy Reese designs, and this one is no different.  The seaming on the back midriff is really lovely, and I like the dropped waist, but I am not loving the epaulets.


I see some potential in Vogue 9201, although do I really need this pattern?  Probably not, but I do like those front pleats.


Now that I am exploring the world of knits, I am thinking about Vogue 9199 as a nice basic.  I could do without the hi-low hemline, but that is an easy alteration.



And every year I think of making myself a few new slips for the colder months, but somehow, the pretty dresses are what end up on my sewing table.  Vogue 9218 may inspire me to finally make a slip.


So maybe there are a few designs here that I like - just nothing that is going to jump to the top of the list.  And I really hope that the Vintage Vogue line is not going to disappear anytime soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Uncharted Territory


I have taken baby steps in the last few years to get over my fear of sewing with knit fabrics.  My journey began by incorporating one of my favorite parts of the sewing process - hand sewing.  I have made a few Alabama Chanin style garments and have come to enjoy hand appliqué using 100% cotton jersey.  But knit fabric has never come in contact with my sewing machine.


Until today . . . 


I purchased this rayon knit last year from Craftsy.  What can I say, I was seduced by the polka dots and the sale price.  The fabric is very sproingy - which is probably not an actual word, but, in my opinion, describes this textile quite nicely.  Cutting the large skirt pieces out was not very fun.  The fabric width is too much for my table, and it was a bit of a wrestling match trying to get the fabric laid out nice and flat without a portion of it slinking over the edge which would then take the rest of the yardage with it.  Cutting into the stuff also felt very odd.  But I stuck with it, and while it is not the most beautiful or accurate job I have ever done, it worked out in the end.


Turns out my Bernina 330 has what I believe is referred to as a lightening stitch.  That sounded a bit more fancy than a regular old zig-zag stitch, so I tried it out on a few scraps of material, and the results (while not perfect) were successful.  The lack of a walking foot means the seams are slightly stretched, but a little bit of steam from the iron improves the stitching line.  After searching online for a solution, I was disappointed to find that my machine does not allow for any adjustment of the foot pressure or feed dogs (at least, as far as I can tell).  I guess Bernina really wants me to buy that expensive walking foot!  


And guess what?  The pattern indicates a use for seam binding - which is so much nicer than that plastic elastic stuff that is stitched into the shoulder seams of some of my purchased knit dresses and sweaters.  (Now I was starting to feel at home!)


I know that some people use a stabilizer for hemming and/or finishing knits.  I have some Pellon sticky tape, so I tried that on the neckline.  I know this is not the right notion to use, but it did make the topstitching look much nicer than without.


I ignored the instructions for the neckline finishing.  I cut my own strip of fabric and stitched it, right sides together, applied the tape, turned it under and top-stitched it in place.  Because the neckline does not need to stretch, I used a straight stitch; this method worked quite well.  For the sleeve hem, I used a strip of fabric, but without the help of the stabilizer since I wanted that seam to stretch as needed.


I am also wondering if it is really necessary to use a stretch stitch on the vertical seams of a full skirt?  I see the need on a horizontal waist seam that requires flexibility to get over shoulders or hips, but does a lightening stitch really make a difference on a half circle skirt seam?  Vogue's instructions do not indicate a difference between the bodice seams and the skirt seams . . .  but they also suggest using a straight stitch and stretching the fabric as it is fed through the sewing machine which sounds like a bad idea to me, so I am not sure I trust them.


The dress is currently hanging on my dress form so the skirt hem can settle.  I am thankful that the instructions noted this - I assumed with all that bounce, the fabric would not drop.  But it sure did.  Now I have to even everything out before hemming the garment (bleh . . .).


I would love to hear any suggestions on how deal with a curved hemline on knit fabric!  A straight stay tape is not going to work, so do I just do my best not to stretch the fabric while it runs through the machine?

And if I am doing anything that looks wrong to all of you knit fabric masters out there, I would love to hear about it before I pick up any bad habits!

Friday, June 24, 2016

"What you up to with Miss Ellen's portieres?"


Scarlett: You're gonna make me a new dress.  
Mammy: Not with Miss Ellen's portieres. Not while I got breath in my body.
Scarlett [grabbing the curtains and tears them down]: Great balls of fire! They're my portieres now. I'm going to Atlanta for that three hundred dollars and I've got to go looking like a queen. 
Mammy: Who's goin' to Atlanta wit' you? 
Scarlett: I'm going alone. 
Mammy: That's what you think. I'se goin' to Atlanta with you. With you and that new dress. 
Scarlett: Mammy, darling....
Mammy: No use to try to sweet talk me, Miss Scarlett. I'se known you since I put the first pair of diapers on you. I said I'm goin' to Atlanta with you and goin' I is.


Last year I travelled to Pennsylvania with my Mom to help empty out and sell a family condo.  In the basement, there was a bedspread, four curtain panels, and a valence made from this fabric that once belonged to my Grandmother.  I am not sure if she made the set herself, or if her sister did.  The fabric was too heavy and bulky to fit in a suitcase, but I expressed interest in the textile and it was eventually mailed to California.


My initial idea was to make a tea length circle skirt, but this was before I had actually looked at the yardage that was available.  The valence was quite discolored and very narrow.  The four curtains were in pretty good condition, although three of them had a few stains and/or imperfections that needed to be avoided.  And the bedspread was very worn at the corners, although the ruffle was in usable condition.  That meant that a circle skirt was out of the question.  


I started pulling out patterns because I wanted to do something with this fabric that would keep it from heading back into storage for another decade or more.  About the same time, while rifling through my closet, I came across this dress.  I really love the design, and had wanted to make the full skirted version ever since the pattern was released.


The four skirt panels fit perfectly on the four curtain panels while also managing to avoid all the flawed bits of fabric!  That left me with a bodice and collar to fit on the bedspread, and I felt like that just might work.


Then I had to deconstruct everything.  To be honest, I was not looking forward to this step.  I really try to avoid a seam ripper whenever possible!  


Turns out, the fabric is in great shape, but the thread did not fare so well over the years.  A tiny snip at one end of a seamline and the thing tore right apart.  I would have been rather upset if I had intended to use the bedroom set for its original purpose, but in this instance, it was a fantastic time saver!


And now I have a new dress, made entirely from stashed items.  It may not be as fancy as Scarlett's amazing creation made from some green velvet drapes, but I am very pleased with my results.


Now that is my idea of repurposing!!




Dress & Belt:  Made by me, Butterick 5747
Headband:  Made by me
Petticoat:  Made by me, Vogue 4203
Shoes:  Remix “Babydoll
Gloves:  Vintage
Necklace:  Made by me
Purse:  Harvey’s Seatbelt Bags

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A rose by any other name . . .


It has been a long journey . . . but my first self-drafted dress is complete, and I have the pictures to prove it!


I am pretty darn proud of this one!  It feels completely mine (with a bit of inspiration from Mr. Dior, of course).


I was even able to design and print the fabric with the help of My Fabric Designs.


finally put my dress form to good use and draped the bodice and skirt, made myself a corselette from cotton bobbinet, and put together the largest petticoat I have ever made!  I also managed to make a little hat to top off the look at the very last minute.  


That petticoat is so fluffy, in fact, that I just managed to fit in my car!


And while the dress might not be very practical in a lot of situations, I love it just the same.


I had quite a few lovely comments the day I wore this dress.


In fact, one gentleman called out "1956" as he was walking by.  Incredibly enough, this is the very year that the Rose de France dress was designed.  I guess I got it right!


Thankfully, the weather played nice, and outerwear was not needed.  But come to think of it, a coat with an oversized shawl collar, three-quarter sleeves, and a whole lot of fabric with this print used as a lining might have to happen at some point!


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my dress!



Dress & Sash:  Made by me, self drafted
Petticoat:  Made by me
Corselette:  Made by me, Simplicity 1183
Hat:  Made by me
Necklace:  Grandmother’s, borrowed from Mom
Shoes:  Blue by Betsy Johnson "Stela"


[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a coupon code which was used to purchase a portion of this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]