Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Floral Bouquet

It all started with a floral knit that I found while taking a turn down the knit aisle at JoAnn Fabrics.  What I was doing there, I will never know.  But this particular print immediately caught my eye.  And it was not made of polyester!! Hooray! 

I was unsure that a rather thin rayon knit would ever come in handy, but it came home with me anyway.  Probably one of the main reasons is that I really love the color turquoise . . . and I find it hard to resist an oversized floral.

A few months later, while looking for a bottom weight fabric for a skirt, I came across what looked like the same print, but this time in the cotton stretch woven textile that I have had quite a bit of luck with in the past.

Aha!  I knew exactly what to do with that knit.  A double layered wrap top was just the ticket, and the cotton/spandex was perfect for a lovely full skirt, making Butterick 6285 the obvious choice.    

This wrap top pattern is wonderful.  I will definitely be making myself another version when the right fabric comes around.  

But for now, I have a lovely new outfit with so many possibilities.  This whole separates business is really beginning to grow on me.  Now I just have to train myself not to avoid solid colored fabrics like the plague and my outfit possibilities will be endless!  

Top & Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 6285
Shoes:  Remix “Baby Doll
Earrings:  Banana Republic
Ring:  Grandfather’s high school class ring

Friday, October 14, 2016

Simplicity Goes Vintage

After the release of the last Simplicity pattern catalog back in August, I had a feeling that there would be few, if any, vintage reproductions this time around.  Boy, was I wrong!

I am not sure what is going on over there, but someone is clearly a fan of vintage, which is making me very happy!  Now if only they would fix that darn website (if you were wondering, an Instagram post from Pattern Review is what alerted me to the new designs).

Choosing a favorite is difficult, but I think I am going to say Simplicity 8248.  I love that Simplicity is reaching further back in the archives and including some 1930s options.  There are so many wonderful choices from that era, and this is a wonderful example.

This 1960s reproduction brings up a few questions for me.  If you look at that original vintage envelope, you will notice that the design is labeled "Designer Fashion."

So it would seem that Simplicity is not barred from reproducing designer patterns when McCalls continues to say that they are.  I have never really noticed the “Designer Fashion” pattern line from Simplicity.  It appears that most of them are from the 1960s and 70s, which may explain why I was unaware of the category since I tend to obsess more over the earlier fashion decades.  

After a bit of internet "research," it turns out that I actually have one of these patterns in my stash and I did not realize it was a designer copy.  What I want to know is what is in the bonus "Designer Touch leaflet" included in the pattern that you can see mentioned in fine print.  How wonderful would it be if the reproductions include some of that information!?  Alas, my 1974 Designer Fashion pattern does not mention a leaflet, nor does it include one.  Do you think they included special sewing techniques, or perhaps styling tips?  

Adding to the mystery is that this design looks suspiciously like a 1969 Vogue Couturier pattern from Frederico Forquet.  Looks pretty similar, right?  The Simplicity Designer Fashions make no mention of the actual designer, although I think this particular one may very well be Forquet.  Perhaps the fact that no name is mentioned is what makes it possible to reproduce them?  But how about that photograph that they have included on the pattern envelope?  Enquiring minds want to know!  

I wish the Vintage Vogue line could find a work around for this issue, because there are certainly quite a few patterns I would love to get my hands on (Schiaparelli, Grès, Balmain, Patou, and Heim just to name a few)!

Moving on . . . this 1930s outfit will definitely be on my to-do list, provided I can find a suitable fabric choice.  Look at the buckle on that red and white dress, though!  And the hat with the red accent - well done, Simplicity.  I am going to give them a pass on the shoes because the rest of this is so very wonderful.

I do like the look of the illustrated version of Simplicity 8249, although the example was obviously made for a significantly shorter individual than the model.  Look at where the darts sit, and the hand on her waist looks over an inch lower than the waist seam - someone forgot that length can be just as important as width when it comes to fitting, which is a shame, because I think she is an excellent model choice for the vintage looks.  

On the plus side, I have been complaining about lack of details and the overall "simplicity" of the vintage reproduction designs, but this time around, I am very pleased with the options!  Those lovely tulip sleeves and those diagonal gathered sections are beautiful!  But again with the shoes . . . just Photoshop it in later if you have to.

The same sizing issue is happening with the skirt and bolero pattern.  The model’s version is much too small.  It looks like she might have fairly broad shoulders, so hopefully the pattern is not drafted in such a way that it does not match the original illustration which covers more of the bust area and fits more like a jacket.  Most of the Simplicity vintage reproductions I have worked with have been significantly shorter than an original vintage pattern would be - this does not seem to be the case here, so hopefully they are giving us a more true draft of the original.

At least they gave this poor girl one garment that fits properly.  This dress with collar and cuffs is adorable!  The dropped shoulder lines are not something that I have tried before; I wonder if this could easily look like a fitting mistake.  But this design may be inching its way to the top spot for me.  I am going to have to go digging in the stash for an appropriate length of wool.  And again, it looks like this dress hemline has not been shortened!

This 1950s design with the redingote is also one of my top choices.  Look beyond the polyester chiffon, and there are some great style lines happening.  Simplicity really is making an effort to make the samples look like the original illustrations.  Some are more successful than others, but I do like the way it pulls the cover art together.  I am curious about those contrast panels in the red illustration.  They are probably just applied lace which is then gathered, but I wonder if there are separate pattern pieces involved.

The Pre-Raphaelite obsessed high school girl in me would be all over the full length version of Simplicity 8256, but I am not sure this is my cup of tea these days.  It does remind me that I have a dress with hand made crocheted trim languishing in a bag somewhere that looks a bit similar to the short version.  I think I cut the lining out wrong and got frustrated and ditched the thing.  I wonder what I did with that project . . . because I haven't come across it in YEARS!

This Cynthia Rowley design has a similar feel, although more simplified.  I think large part of why I am drawn to this is those fabulous shoes.

Sew Chic has another adorable design added to the Simplicity catalog with a definite vintage flair.  I love that asymmetrical button closure.

There is another 1960s simple Jiffy shift option (it seems like there is at least one in every catalog), which think I will pass on, but how about this jumpsuit for one of you out there blessed with long legs!  There is something about that blue illustrated version that I keep coming back to - it's probably the fact that I always wanted to be six feet tall.  That ain't gonna happen, so I think I need to keep away from this design. 

And now I feel like I have posted the entire catalog.  Well, not quite, but there is certainly an abundance of great designs being offered.  Thank you for that, Simplicity.  But I still think you should do something about that website.  Or maybe it's not necessary because no one buys patterns directly from simplicity.com?  I know I will certainly be paying a visit to JoAnn Fabrics the next time there is a sale!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dressed Down

I am going to be honest - this blouse is not that holy grail design that I was hoping it might be.

Then again, I really like how it turned out, so all is not lost!

In the end, the garment reminds me a little too much of a camp shirt to be an all time favorite.  But in the weeks since finishing the project, I have worn this top quite a few times.  So I suppose that makes it a success.

I do wonder if a different fabric choice would change my mind (perhaps a rayon, or something with more drape).

For now, I am going to set this pattern aside and continue the search.

But I am not giving up on this one completely.  

There may definitely be another Simplicity 4256 in my future; just not the near future.

Blouse:  Made by me, Simplicity 4256
Skirt:  Made by me, Butterick 4792
Shoes:  Nina

Monday, October 3, 2016

The search for the perfect blouse continues . . .

In my quest to find the perfect blouse pattern, I came across Simplicity 4256.  

I picked up this factory folded pattern at a local pattern swap a few months ago thinking that it might be just right!  Depending on fabric choice, this design has quite a few possibilities.

I managed to squeeze all of the necessary pieces out of a small cut of fabric that was just over one yard.  It was a bit of a stretch, but I really am trying not to purchase new fabric whenever possible.  It turns out that every button, thread, and bit of fabric for this particular project was pulled from the stash.  Hooray!

After a recent tussle with my buttonhole foot, it was an easy decision to go with bound buttonholes.  They have never failed me yet . . . and I don't imagine they ever will.

But this time around, I decided to try something new.  I stabilized the area around the buttonhole with small scraps of fusible interfacing.  My sew in interfacing was stitched to the cut-in-one facing as suggested in the instructions.

I still prefer a sew-in interfacing to fusible, but this is definitely another option.  And since I am only dealing with tiny scraps of fusible there is a very slim chance that the interfacing will let me down.  

After the facing was in place, it was time for some hand basting!

So add three more bound buttonholes to my lifetime total.  I am not sure what that number is, but it is certainly a large one.

And I even managed to find the perfect buttons tucked away in a drawer.  (Actually, the buttons have roses on them, and the fabric is printed with geraniums, but the colors are spot on!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Vintage Floral

Without a doubt, my cotton voile Anna Dress is one of my favorite frocks, and it certainly gets a lot of wear.  On days when I really don’t feel like getting dressed, that garment is the one that gets pulled out of the closet.  It is incredibly comfortable, and makes me look fairly put together without a bare minimum of effort.

And while I also love my cotton/silk full length version of the design, it just does not compare.

This floral challis seemed like a good choice to finally make myself another version before I wear that cotton one out!

And I have to say that I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

The only modifications I made were to lengthen the short skirted version by ten inches, lengthen the sleeves by half an inch, and re-draw the back neckline, making sure that the dress would still be bra friendly.

I did end up adding lingerie guards because the neckline is a bit wide - the first day I wore this dress, I noticed that my bra straps were peeking out every once in a while.  Can’t have that!  A bit of ribbon and two snaps took care of that problem.

This is one of those designs that really works in a variety of fabrics.

And if I find another floaty rayon that I really love, I would not be against making another Anna Dress!  A lightweight wool might even take this design right through the colder months . . . 

Dress:  Made by me, “Anna” by By Hand London
Shoes:  Banana Republic
Earrings:  Shadows

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Giving New Life to an Old Dress

Over a year ago, I came across this cotton dress in the back of the closet.  

I would guess that this particular garment was completed approximately fifteen years ago.  The copyright on the pattern is 2000, and back then I did not have a large pattern stash and generally cut into a design soon after I purchased it.

I could not say exactly why I chose to spend all that time embroidering the floral pattern on a fabric that looked slightly dingy right off the bolt.  Unfortunately, because of that, the dress has not seen much action.  

When the dress was pulled from the closet, I noticed a few spot stains on the skirt.  Arghh!  My first thought was to dye the dress.  The only problem is that the embroidery is cotton crewel thread so I was afraid that might take the dye as well.  I also was concerned that the thread might be 100% polyester and would not take a fiber reactive dye.  And that white polyester zipper was definitely not going to take any color.  That left me with very few color options - all of which would have to be very pale or pastel.

So the dress sat in the to-do pile for an entire year.  Well, it has been mocking me ever since.  And with Fall rapidly approaching, I really did not want to put this project off any longer.  So I soaked it in an oxygen wash product.  That took the stains away, but the appearance of the "white" fabric had not improved.  The next step was to dye the dress.

The pale pink color that I went with is fairly subtle, but that white zipper was definitely a problem.  And the installation of said zipper was terrible.  (I have one other sundress with a zipper that is about 3/4" from the top that I made early on in my garment sewing adventures - not sure why I thought that was the proper construction, but I figured out a better way fairly quickly, thank goodness!)

The waist seam was also off by about 1/4".  Unfortunately, some of the embroidery was worked through the zipper tape, so it would have to be ripped out if I decided to replace the zipper.

I couldn't believe my luck when I went right to the old stashed crewel thread that was used for the embroidery.  Sometimes hoarding all those little bits pays off!

While I was in there, I went ahead and stabilized the back opening with some interfacing.

And I found the perfect matching zipper in my drawer of invisible zips.

Then I just needed to remember how to make a stem stitch and brush up on my French knots, and the project was complete!

I did get a chance to wear this before the weather turned, but I think it is time to say goodbye to the pastels for a few months.  But next year, this will definitely be on wardrobe rotation!