Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Vintage Pattern with a Sunburn

A few years ago, I was lucky to have the chance to attend an Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the De Young Museum where there were many exquisite examples of couture garments on display.  My favorite of the day, surprisingly, was was an unassuming wool trapeze dress.

It was far from flashy, but I was in love with the simplicity of the silhouette and the perfect tailoring.  If I could have managed to take it home with me, I would have.  And ever since, I have been wanting my own version.

I initially thought that I would alter Simplicity 1197 into an approximation of the original YSL dress.  However, that particular design was much more fitted than I had expected.  So I decided to set my sights on some of the other project ideas floating around in my head.

Imagine my surprise when I came across this vintage Advance pattern on Etsy.  Clearly, it is a direct knock-off of the very trapeze dress I have been lusting after for years.

This copy of the pattern has a bit of sun damage.  I am always amazed just how sturdy vintage pattern tissue is, but it seems that sunburn is a problem for old sewing patterns as well as pasty skinned people. 

This is a "Sew-Easy!" design, and while there are not very many pattern pieces to deal with, the drafting is pretty darn fabulous.  Even on a basic pattern, they have properly drafted a collar and under collar.  Hooray for vintage patterns!  The pockets are purely decorative (and I am sure that the original couture piece had useable welt pockets), but that is really the only sign that this design took an easy way out.

I would love to make this up in a nubby wool at some point, but this linen cotton blend kept nagging me to give it a chance.

Once I started putting everything together I had a bit of a worry that it was going to look like a muumuu, thanks in large part to the print that I had fallen in love with.  That, or it would have too much of a maternity vibe. 

To reign in some of the extra fabric, I stitched two pieces of grosgrain ribbon in each side seam that snap together at the center back.  My idea was to use a sort of modified bustle effect.  At certain angles, it looks like a bit of a robe à la française (I think there is a more proper term for the sack back gown where the fabric is a part of the bodice itself, but I cannot think what it is at the moment).  This trims the silhouette down a bit, but there is still a lot of volume depending on the angle.

So, I had my doubts about this project while it was in process, but I really do like how it all came together.  And I may just have to try it out in a solid colored wool, perhaps a bit shorter than the drafted version, and let all that volume run wild!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Sometimes a simple project is just what you need - and this dress definitely qualifies.

Of course it helps when you love the print you are working with (there are moments when simple becomes downright boring).  And I did want to match up the print as much as possible, so the cutting and sewing did require a bit of thought.

But this project was basically a breeze from start to finish.  The most irritating thing was gathering the skirt - not my favorite thing to do, but hardly something worth complaining about, right?!

Because I did not want those birds looking catawampus on the waist ties, I had to cut them on the crossgrain.  For this particular fabric, there was quite a bit of give on the crossgrain, which was going to be an issue.  Also, the pattern is drafted as a single layer, and the reverse of this print does not look great.  To solve both problems, I cut a duplicate layer of each tie on the grainline, and stitched the pair right sides together, trimmed, and pulled them right sides out before securing them in the side seams of the bodice.

This dress has turned out to be a real favorite.  The silhouette is so easy to wear, I think I may have to make myself another at some point.  I really love the striped version on the pattern envelope, so I will definitely keep my eyes open for a suitable striped fabric option.

Dress:  Made by me, Butterick 6318
Shoes:  Remix Vintage “Babydoll

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Falling Behind

This blog has definitely been neglected as of late.  I can’t say exactly why - I suppose it is mostly because I am just not as motivated to turn on the computer these days.  I have been fairly productive with my creative pursuits, though.  

Which means I have a huge backlog of photos to get through, and plenty more finished projects to photograph.

This quilting cotton was purchased at JoAnn Fabrics at the same time I picked up the poppy print for this skirt and this dress.  I love both of the designs, and this particular cotton fabric just gets better and better the more it is laundered.  I cut right into the poppy print, but the birds were tucked away, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.  

When I decided that I really wanted to find an appropriate pattern for this fabric, Butterick 6318 was not the first one that came to mind.  And technically, I did not have enough yardage - but I was not about to let that stop me.

And I am really glad I went for it, because I love this dress!  It has had a lot of wear this year.  It may be rather simple, but sometimes that is just what is needed.

This garment has been washed, pressed, and tucked away in the closet for now, at least until Spring arrives.  But I am so glad I finally gave these birdies a chance to sing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Shades of Green in Silk & Velvet

Last year I cut into this lovely silk/cotton blend jacquard.  I was hoping to have a warm weather dress in a Fall appropriate color for those transitional days when I am ready to wear darker colors, but the days are still quite warm.  The weather turned cold before I got very far with it, and since I did not feel like rushing through this project, it was abandoned.  

There really is something about lovely fabric that makes me slow down!  (Which is a good thing!)

This fabric was originally a very olive toned green.  I have no real problem with the shade, but it has a problem with me and my skin tone.  The obvious thing was to dye the fabric.  Since I have fiber reactive dye on hand, and since the textile contained cotton, I went with that.

The dye worked like a charm on the flat side (I suppose you could call it the “wrong” side) of the fabric, but not so much on the silk portion.  Go figure!  

I thought about overdying with an acid dye for a cross dyed look, but in the end, I just used the flat side of the fabric.  This makes the garment look slightly less dressy, which I rather like.

This design could use a bit of a swayback adjustment on me, but as long as I do not stand in direct sunlight and twist my torso, the wrinkles are not very noticeable.

It may not be the most perfectly executed garment I have ever made, but I really do like this dress.

The style lines are really lovely.  I may even have to make another version.

And because it got chilly before I had a chance to wear my new dress, I pulled out this old thrifted dress one to use as a cover up.  I really was determined to wear finish and wear this dress before another year passed!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 9103
Velvet Dress:  Thrifted, T. T. Mar
Necklace, vintage, borrowed from Mom
Shoes:  BP

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Butterick Patterns for Winter

Butterick has just released their Winter pattern catalog.  And I have to say that I am in love with this Lisette coat pattern!  

Love the shawl collar, love the pockets, love the single button closure - yes, I really, really want this one!  Each year I fall for one or two new outerwear designs, but rarely get around to making myself a new coat.  I think the time has come for me to do something about that.

There are two new Gertie patterns, and I think both of them are really lovely.  The front bodice treatment of Butterick 6412 is wonderful, and that neckline is gorgeous.  This would make a wonderful day dress in a lightweight wool, and it clearly works quite well as a cocktail dress.  Hooray for winter dresses with sleeves!  

The second Gertie pattern is very 1950s Hollywood starlet à la Marilyn Monroe.  This is the kind of midriff baring dress I can get behind!
At first glance, I thought that the necklace worn with the navy version was the collar edge of an illusion neckline (similar to a vintage Peggy Hunt or something like this dress from All About Eve).  Hmmm . . . I think that might be fun to play around with.  Maybe not with this particular design, but something similar.  Add that to my growing list of possible future projects!

Butterick 6411 is a knit dress from Lisette.  I see some definitely possibilities here, but finding the right fabric would be important.  And I really am trying hard to use what I already have and not be tempted to make new fabric purchases, so this one may not come home with me for the moment.

Butterick produced a male version of a jacket/jodhpur combo a few seasons ago, and I recall wishing that there was a similar design drafted for the female form.  Well, here we are!  Tailored jackets are a lot of work, and whether or not I ever get around to making this remains to be seen, but I really do like the style.  Is it acceptable to wear jodhpurs if you do not plan on riding a horse?  Because I really do like the look - until I remember that I am not built like a model.  I think I better steer clear until I feel comfortable in public while wearing a pair of plain old trousers!  Baby steps, right?!

I would have loved one or two new retro designs included in this catalog, but overall, I am very pleased with the offerings.  Now I just need to motivate myself to get started on a coat project!

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!