Saturday, November 27, 2021

Basic Leftovers

It may not be all that exciting, but this basic black skirt has had more wear this past Summer than just about any other garment in my closet.  Who knew a tea length black skirt was what my closet was missing?!  I certainly didn't.

And while I will still be searching for the perfect top (does the pattern even exist at this point?), I am definitely a big fan of this particular blouse.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I made this one out of rayon?  

I certainly love my cotton blouses, but the rayon fabric drapes so nicely, I may have to make a few long-sleeved tops with the fiber.  And would I like this design as much if it had been made out of cotton?

I will definitely have to remember this pattern, though, once the weather warms up again.  And perhaps test out my cotton versus rayon theory . . .

The design isn't all that appropriate for scraps, even though it uses very little yardage, because the entire blouse front is cut in one, with two backs, and two sleeves.  The collar doesn't use that much, to be sure.  But I do love those patterns that contain lots of little pieces since they make great use of leftover yardage scraps.

I am going to have to try the long sleeved version at some point, that's for sure.

I wait all year to bust out the wool fabrics in my stash, and then once the days get ridiculously short and the temperature dips, all I can think about is Spring sewing.

But I am determined to make myself a wool coat this year before it's too late to wear it.

So for now, I need to focus on Winter appropriate items . . . as far as Northern California temps allow!  But I expect this pattern to make a reappearance sometime soon.  And as for the skirt, I've made Simplicity 8458 quite a few times already, and I may just have to make another solid colored one to add to the collection.


Blouse:  Made by me, Simplicity 8736
Skirt:  Made by me, Simplicity 8458
Shoes:  Naturalizer "Phebe"

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Blue Florals


The wearable muslin returns . . .

I paired my blue floral cotton with this vintage pattern over a year ago, was promptly distracted by something else, and the fabric and pattern were set aside (thankfully I kept the two together).  Well, I finally got around to making my standard alterations to the design a few months ago.

I have no issue adding length to the torso of a contemporary pattern, but slicing into a vintage pattern gives me a bit of pause.  So those changes get made to the traced version made of fabric for my older and more delicate patterns.

I washed the cotton yardage and hung it out to dry one sunny afternoon.

I didn't have very much of it, but this pattern isn't a fabric hog, so everything fit nicely.  And, in fact, it turns out that I could have shortened the skirt length a bit to save on fabric.

Looking at the pattern illustration, this dress is supposed to sit just below the knee, but since it's a sixties silhouette, I decided to hem mine slightly above that point.

The pattern gives the option of adding two little bows to both princess seams at the front waist made from self-fabric.  I thought that would get lost in the print, and a black ribbon would work better.  Well, I found a satin faced ribbon with silver edging that helped the detail stand out, but I really didn't like how it looked.

So off came the bows.  And honestly, I don't think this version needs them.  Which is fine, because I suspect I will make this pattern again, and perhaps that fabric will be more suited to a bit of embellishment.


Friday, November 5, 2021

Halloween Novelties

While I have already posted the finished photographs of this project, I thought that I would go ahead and write down a few of my thoughts on the process of making it, as well as the pattern itself.

I had McCalls 8141 set aside as a pattern that I wanted to try before I was distracted by the 237 other ideas currently running through my mind.  So when I was deciding what to do with this wonderful holiday novelty print, and I saw the pattern sitting on the sewing table, it struck me that the two would make a great match.  I was a bit short on yardage, but after shortening the sleeves and the hemline slightly, I managed to make everything fit.

Before cutting, I knew that pattern matching this fabric was not going to be possible.  The print is rather random, so I was hoping that it would not be too obvious, but the waist and underbust seamlines were a bit of a concern.  And then I had the idea that a bit of trim of some kind would make the unmatched print look a little more purposeful. 

I do love rickrack, but I always have trouble using it thinking that it isn't really the look I am going for with a project.  But a scalloped edge is something that I can't get enough of.  And if you insert rickrack into a seam, you get a scalloped edge!

I really do need to remember this trick for all of that vintage rickrack I have stashed away.

The zipper is hand picked with a lapped application, which is definitely my favorite way to go.  And that's the dress.

Now a few words about the pattern.  I bought this design for those View A sleeves paired with that bow at the neckline.  And as far as those things go, I am very pleased.  But take a look at the illustration.  The technical sketch on the back of the pattern envelope is very similar.  It shows a lot of folds at the hemline, right?  That looks to me like a skirt that wants to twirl, falling from the lower hip into a full hemline.  Now look at the mocked up version that the model is wearing.  Initially I had thought that there were three skirts included with the pattern:  one fairly straight, as seen in View C; a flared version for A; and somewhere in between for View B.  

But wait a second . . . there are only two skirts included, which is evident from the technicals and the pattern itself, obviously.  Do those line drawings look anything like the skirt made out of green satin?  Not to me!  The pattern as drafted is extremely fitted through the hips, although I don't get that sense from the illustrations below.  I knew this dress was going to turn out slightly different than imagined as I was cutting out my fabric, but with an extremely limited amount of yardage, there was no way I could cut a fuller skirt out.  Obviously, one should always take a very close look at the version on the model as it often gives a better indication of how the dress will turn out than a sketch (technical, or otherwise!).  In this instance, I was seduced by an illustration.  Shame on me, because I should really know better.

As it stands, the dress has a very 1930s vibe.  And I actually love it!  So that was a happy coincidence.  But it's just another reminder to look very carefully at all of the information included with a pattern.  I may just have to make myself another version and swap the skirt for something with a little more flare so my original vision of the pattern can come to life. 

And now for the hat.  Throughout the construction of the dress, I thought a little hat or fascinator would make an excellent addition to the outfit.  After messing around with paper versions of different witch-like hats, nothing was really working.  Since the dress already had decided it wanted to look 1930s inspired, I pulled out a few hat patterns that reference that style.  Simplicity 8486 seemed like the best choice that was on hand.

I started by making the pattern as-is, and added a small piece of quilt batting folded in half at the crown of the hat to alter the silhouette.

  With the scraps of fabric that I had remaining, I draped over that new shape.

I am extremely pleased with how it all came together, especially since I only used items that were on hand.  And the hat definitely adds to the final look!  So all's well that ends well, I suppose.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Witchy Woman

Back in the day, I used to make myself a Halloween costume each year, and I loved the process.  I would wear them to work, perhaps even making Mr. Valentino a matching costume.  Some individuals might look askance, but most people got a kick out of it.

A couple of years ago, however, I decided to go the novelty print route.

It's a bit more difficult to find Halloween prints as opposed to Christmas prints, but pairing the novelty print with an appropriate pattern is a fun challenge.  My other rule for this dress was going to be that I had to choose something other than a 1950s or 1960s silhouette.  I love that look, but I thought I should branch out a bit.

Early this October, I had an entirely different idea for a vintage pattern that I have wanted to remake in a holiday themed fabric, but the idea required two contrasting prints.  I didn't manage to find what I was looking for, but I did find this cute print at JoAnn Fabrics.

The pale background gave me a bit of pause since my pasty skin doesn't always do well with such a faded color, but I was hoping that the antique style print would make up for the ecru background.  And the style led me to McCalls 8141.  I barely had enough yardage, but I was determined to make it work once I had envisioned the final product.

Somewhere along the way, I decided that a little fascinator witch hat would make an excellent accessory.

I tried making a test run of a mini witch hat out of paper, but when I put it on my head, it looked ridiculous, and was nothing like what I had imagined in my head.

And then I went back and looked at the dress.

Although the pattern is a contemporary design, the dress I made has a decidedly 1930s look to it.  Which I am not complaining about!

So the solution was obviously to use a 1930s style hat pattern.  But since it was the weekend before Halloween, I was going to have to find something that I had on hand, and something that didn't require any extra purchases, only stashed bits and bobs.

A quick rummage through the stash, and I came across Simplicity 8486, which would give me a basic 30s silhouette.  To make the brimmed cap look like a witch hat, I added a folded piece of quilting batting to the hat, and draped fabric over the newly created shape.

The finished dress turned out even better than I had hoped, especially paired with the hat and my American Duchess shoes which have a definite witchy feel to them.

I absolutely plan to continue my yearly Halloween novelty print frock making so long as I can find fantastic Halloween prints!

Dress:  Made by me, McCalls 8141
Hat:  Made by me, Simplicity 8486
Shoes:  American Duchess "Alice"
Earrings:  Judith Jack

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Atomic Turquoise

Well, rainy weather finally arrived here in the Bay Area, this dress is safely tucked away until next Summer, and I am just getting around to posting photos.

But this was one of my more successful projects this year, if the number of times I have already worn it is anything to go by.

Which is a nice surprise, especially since this was meant as a simple wearable muslin.

I do love a good turquoise, but for some reason, this particular fabric print took years to grow on me.

Thankfully, I never "wasted" it on a pattern design that might not have worked out as well as this one did.

Although I didn't get around to it this year, there will absolutely be another version of this dress that I will make when the perfect fabric comes along. Perhaps the shorter knee length version will win out, or I may stick with the tea length since it is probably my favorite full skirt length.

I would highly recommend this pattern (as many people already have).  This is a multi-cup sized pattern, the straps cover a standard bra strap placement, it includes pocket for those who are pocket-obsessed, and it is a very classic and flattering design.

And the skirt allows for plenty of twirling.

If I had to pick something that was less than perfect, I would say the amount of yardage required is a bit much.  But do I begrudge the dress the required fabric?  Not so much!  It may stop me from adding five more versions to my wardrobe . . . but there will definitely be at least one more.


Dress: Made by me, Vogue 9182
Shoes:  Colin Stuart
Belt:  Banana Republic