Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Winner of The Magic Pattern Book is . . .

The Winner of The Magic Pattern Book is . . . aus_chick!
Congratulations!  Please email your mailing address to [lauramae.p.s [at] gmail [dot] com] so Workman Publishing can send you your new book.

 And happy sewing, everyone!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lots of Little Details

When I left off sharing the insides of this dress, I was working on the skirt, which includes a layer of Pellon.  Watch out, my hips and I are coming through!

There is a bit of seam binding in there, surprise, surprise!  I rarely make it through a project these days without adding a bit of the stuff.

The instructions for Vogue 4203 included a new-to-me bound buttonhole technique, so I tried it out (first on a scrap of muslin, of course).  

It will not replace my favorite technique, but I love having different options.

And a bit of thread tracing is still a good idea, no matter which technique is used!

And, of course, the facing . . .

Lots and lots of buttonholes!

It's funny, I have done this so many times, I actually find it relaxing.

(Provided I am not working on a deadline, or in the dark - bound buttonholes are definitely a day time activity!)

I also underlined the bodice with a plain cotton.  It didn't seem fair to give the skirt so much extra body, only to ignore the bodice pieces!

The waist seam has bias covered piping made from the thickest yarn I could find in my stash.  I pre-wash a length of yarn and stick it in the dryer before doing this to make sure all of the shrinking is out of the way. 

The piping is then basted to the bodice.  It also finished the neckline as well.

The pattern includes this feature.  Oh Vogue Special Design patterns, how I love thee!

I often make a belt to match back to a fitted waist dress, but every once in a while it is nice to be reminded of other possibilities.

For the view I chose, the back bodice buttons closed, but just to the waistline.  That means a side zipper is needed to get in and out of the dress.

I hand picked a lapped zipper application.

And, of course, a waist stay was added.  Somehow I did not manage to get a picture of that . . . it is a pretty pale pink grosgrain, so you can just imagine that!

Because the bottom of the skirt is cut on a straight edge, a nice deep hem is an option.  It also adds a bit of weight to a hemline that might like to fly up at an inopportune moment!

And that is the dress!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Roses are Red

Wonderful news - thanks to your votes, I am a runner up in the Sew Your Style contest!  So thank you very much - I really appreciate your support!!

This is the dress that reminded me how much I love cotton. 

But I think I am going to wait until next year to pull out more of the stuff seeing as the weather (while quite warm during the day) has changed.  There is a definite chill in the air each morning and evening. 

But at least the print is Fall friendly.  With the petticoat, I should be comfortable for at least another month.

Like a few other projects, this one got sidelined for a while, but I certainly did not forget about it.  And it feels really good to complete something!  Maybe I should pull out a few other works in progress . . . the sense of accomplishment is rather nice.

This dress pattern will probably be used again.

Now that I have a suitable petticoat, I might as well fill the closet with more of the same silhouette, right?!  I think a textured wool would be lovely . . .

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 4203
Petticoat:  Made by me (tutorial here)
Shoes:  Nina
Bracelet:  Borrowed from Mom
Earrings:  Gift

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Magic Pattern Book: A Review & Giveaway

Today I have a book review for you:  The Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman!

The premise of this sewing book is a wearable wardrobe made from six basic patterns which can be transformed into many, many different looks.  Included is a tank top, skirt, dress, cardigan, coat, hat, and tote bag.

The Magic Pattern Book is geared towards the beginner, and uses a very intuitive approach to teach garment sewing.

The book also includes basic construction techniques that will be quite helpful for anyone interested in learning to sew.

Each individual pattern also includes a few sidebars with suggested design changes and fabric choices to keep you thinking of even more creative uses for the base patterns.

The patterns in the book are included on a CD in sizes S-XXL.  Finished garment measurements are noted on the first page of each individual design; for instance, the "Anne" shift dress ranges from a finished bust of 38" - 45.5".  Most patterns work directly from body measurements, so I am not sure why this choice was made.  And yes, these are PDF patterns.  This is my least favorite part of the book, and unfortunately, it seems to be a growing trend.

What I really love about this book is the fact that it encourages beginners to be creative with pattern pieces and fabric choices right from the start.  Six basic patterns may seem limiting, but in reality, it takes away some of the guess work while still allowing for creativity.  (I clearly remember sitting at the pattern book table in JoAnn Fabrics many years ago and feeling completely overwhelmed by hundreds of choices, none of which were exactly what I was looking for - this book would have been very helpful at that moment.)

I think Amy has created a clever approach for someone interested in learning to make their own self-made wardrobe.  There is a lot of wonderful information contained within the pages of her new book, but it remains very approachable.  The illustrated diagrams are clear and concise, and the overall layout of the book is easy to follow.  And best of all, while working your way through several iterations of one basic pattern, you cannot help but learn how to do the same for any design you come across in the future.  

Workman Publishing has generously offered a copy of The Magic Pattern Book to one lucky U.S. resident.  To enter, leave a comment on this post - if you like, tell me what your next sewing project will be.  The giveaway will close at midnight on October 21st PDT.  

And make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour!

October 15          Four SquareWalls
October 16          Pink Chalk Studio
October 17          City Stitching with Christine Haynes
October 20          Cut Out & Keep
October 21          He Sowed, She Sewed
October 22          Chic Steals
October 23          Threads
October 24          Indygo Junction

[A copy of this book was sent to me for review, but the opinions expressed here are my own.]

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cherries Jubilee

Here is the finished dress!

I have to say, I am quite proud of this one - which is certainly a relief after all that work! 

I started with two separate patterns from Mrs. Depew Vintage, some gorgeous fabric from my New York trip, and the motivation to make something truly “me.”

The original patterns are solidly based in the 1950s, but what I came up with feels a bit different.

What can I say, I was inspired by the fabric . . . which, let's be honest, really makes the dress.  Thank you, Peter and Mr. Charles James, for the motivation to vacation in New York City, or I would never have found it!

Now that I see the finished dress, I also see my recent inspiration.

I was not even aware how some of it creeped in there, but whatever works, right?!

There is definitely some 1950s in there, a bit of Sleeping Beauty’s pointed bodice, some ballet references because of this book, and definitely some Charles James thrown in there for good measure.

Today I stitched a couple of ribbon hangers on the corselette/petticoat, made a cover, and placed it in the back of the closet.

The next step is doing the same to the dress.  Perhaps putting this project completely to bed will narrow my focus so I can move onto the next!  Because, to be honest, I am feeling a bit adrift at the moment . . . and exhausted!

Dress: Made by me, Mrs. Depew
Corselette/Petticoat:  Made by me, Vogue 7698
Purse:  Made by me, Vogue 625
Petticoat:  Purchased
Necklace:  Vintage Dress Clip
Ring:  Grandfather’s class ring
Shoes:  Miss L Fire "Bel-Aire"
Stockings:  Nordstrom
Velvet Flower:  Made by me

Friday, October 10, 2014


After a long week, I am looking forward to a couple of days off!  My sewing motivation is slowly coming back after a bit of burnout (I am guessing it is partly from this project).  And I have quite a few finished project pictures to get through and share!

But my goodness, there are some strange moments that a camera catches.  I will not subject you to the worst, but this one was pretty funny thanks to a gust of wind – especially since there was a group of can-can dancers at The Gala in honor of the French themed program.

And I bet you didn’t know I sleep standing up in full make-up and formal wear!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Last Minute Details

Just like every other gala project, I was stitching away on this dress right until the last minute.  Every year I tell myself I am not going to let it happen, and yet, it always does.

Since the petticoat had horsehair braid stitched into the hemline, I did not need to bother with that for the actual dress hem.  I think it looks much nicer to have a soft hem and let the undergarments do all the work to create the silhouette.

I did add a second (less substantial) waist stay to the dress.  The corselette was going to hold me in, but having one on the dress makes zipping it up so much easier!

And yes, that grosgrain ribbon is navy blue.  That is what I had on hand, and there was no time to go and pick up a length of black.

I like to offset the hook & eyes from the center back zipper - I feel like it cuts down on any possible bulk, although I may be deluding myself that this makes a difference.

One thing I forgot to mention during my sleeve post was the second bit of elastic I added to the sleeve hem.  This one really is a scrunchie!  I tacked it to four points along the lower sleeve circumference.  This gave a little extra help to keep the sleeve in place.  I like to think of it as a less extreme version of a waist-stay; the idea is to help counteract gravity and the weight of the substantial sleeve pulling downward.  The cotton underlining was used as a cover since there was no possibility it would be seen.

Mom came over to help with the hem - thank you, Mom!  I had a hand basted line of silk thread where I guessed I would want the fabric turned up, so we started there.  Miraculously, the finished hemline was pretty darn close - somewhere between tea and ballet length.

I basted that foldline in place (that's the green thread) and removed those pesky pins.  (The pink stitches were my original guess at a hemline.)

I evened out the excess allowance and trimmed away.  This was done in a poorly lit sewing room when I was feeling quite exhausted - it is a miracle I did not clip through the skirt!

The hem was then catch-stitched to the skirt underlining. 

Next, I covered that raw edge with some seam binding.  There was a whole lot of basting to remove, and that task was accomplished sometime around 11:30 p.m. Friday evening.  There were still hook & eyes to attach, and a purse made of velvet to sew.

And that is the dress!  I promise, this is the very last construction post.  Now I just need to get through all the photos from the day of the gala.  At this point, I am sick of looking at myself, so it will take a couple of days before I can face that task - but I am not sick of looking at the dress!  I still cannot believe everything was finished in time!!