Saturday, April 22, 2017

Summer Simplicity

The Simplicity Summer catalog has been released, and they even managed to get their website updated in time!  That has not happened since the website revamp, so perhaps things are going to improve as far as that goes . . .  

With no new vintage to gush over, my favorite design by far is the American Duchess version of that famous red Outlander gown (Simplicity has recolored the dress to be a greenish teal for the website, so not sure what that is about?).  With the panniers, this dress is very unsuitable for my daily life, but it is really gorgeous.  Swanning about in over 8 yards of fabric sounds pretty darn fabulous, actually.  Just not sure that I would be able to squeeze into my car - otherwise it would certainly be fun to show up wearing something like this to work!  I haven't dressed up for Halloween for a few years now . . . maybe that will have to change . . .

The Cynthia Rowley top/dress is cute, but I already have a ton of her patterns, and rarely make them up.  And I am not so sure that skinny off-the-shoulder elasticized piece looks especially comfortable, so I am going to have to think about this one.

While I have not seen the new Beauty and the Beast movie, I was very disappointed by stills of the yellow gown, especially the bodice treatment.  But looking at the line drawing for Simplicity’s version, I actually like the flounces on the skirt back very much.

They also have the cartoon version of the yellow gown, made up in a particularly horrible polyester satin.  My skin is getting itchy just looking at that thing.  The model does not look terribly pleased, either.  Someone please destroy all of the Casa Collection satin and embellished organza - the world would be a much better place for it!

Simplicity is also jumping on the pattern hacking bandwagon.  Is this not what everyone already does with a pattern?  I suppose it could be helpful to a beginner who might not otherwise understand just how easy it is to add a ruffle or shorten a hem or scoop out a neckline.  Do you think they include instructions on how to properly draft those changes?  I may take a peek at the insert on this pattern next time I stop by the big box fabric store.  (I have to admit that when I first started using dress patterns, I thought that the instructions should be followed verbatim, so they may be onto something!)

I guess that means there is only one pattern that will definitely be coming home with me this season, but it's a good one!  Now if only 8 yards of glorious silk would suddenly appear in my apartment I could get started . . .

Monday, April 17, 2017

Out of Season

Today's unseasonable and very soggy weather reminded me of this outfit.  I was almost tempted to throw on a wool sweater in the middle of April.  What is going on?!?

And what the heck happened to our beautiful Spring weather?  I am really getting tired of the gray skies and the rain.

This garment will be getting a whole lot of wear towards the end of the year, but for now, I am much more interested in light colors and fabrics (even if the weather is not playing fair).

I sure do love a circle skirt, though!  If I can find a suitable mid-weight wool in a beautiful color, I may just have to make myself another for next Winter.

The most irritating part was, you guessed it, evening out that darn hem.  Even thick wool coating is not immune to the dreaded bias droop.

The sweater was a quick knit when I was in need of a portable project that would not require a lot of fuss, and one that I would be comfortable stopping and starting at a moment's notice.

It served its purpose quite well, and I may want to make another in a warm weather appropriate fiber.  If the rainfall keeps up, I may finish my current knitting project soon and do just that!

Sweater:  Made by me, “Jumper with a Boat Neckline” 
Skirt:  Made by me, Vogue 2902
Shoes:  Royal Vintage “Marilyn

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Finishing Touches to Shades of Blue

I have not been spending as much time in the sewing room as I would like to, as of late.  And I am still unable to motivate myself to deal with the dreaded dropped hem on the full skirt, but I am very, very close to finished with this dress!

I decided to use an invisible zipper this time around.  The design has a definite vintage vibe, but I thought a streamlined approach would work well with this print instead of a lapped zipper.  I also had a very good color match in an invisible zip stashed away, so I went for it.

Just like the straight skirted version of this design, I did not use the given instructions.  This involved a lot more hand sewing than the pattern intends, but I prefer the control I get working by hand.

A bemberg rayon was not a suitable choice for this stable mid-weight cotton, and since I had enough leftover scraps of the printed fabric (but not enough to make another garment) I decided that I might as well use it for the lining.

When I posted some of these images to Instagram, I received a lot of questions/comments about the bra situation for this design.  It is possible that a bra with a very deep plunge could work.  It would also be quite easy to alter the depth of the v that is cut out of the midriff piece if the plunge almost works, but not quite.  But as drafted, this will definitely not work with a standard bra.

My solution was to add the foundation garment to the dress itself.  I have found that I prefer the "soft molded bra cups" to the "molded" ones, which feel a bit like armor.  The soft version is quite pliable, and while not as supportive as an actual bra, it definitely makes a difference to the garment's structure, in my opinion. 

If the bra cups you find do not reach to the seam allowance, you can stitch a scrap of fabric directly to the cup so that you have an anchor point.

I use a very loose basting stitch or catch stitch to anchor the cups to the seam allowance, and then cover the whole thing with the lining.  Just make sure you try the dress on to ensure everything is in the proper place before stitching the lining down permanently! 

I also added two ribbon hangers to each side seam since the neckline is very wide.  A length of narrow ribbon gets folded in half and stitched to the seam allowance before the lining is stitched down.  And this is the step I am most likely to forget on any given project!  I cannot tell you how many time I have had to re-open a seam because of this . . . it must have something to do with the fact that the end is almost in sight.

And now I really need to get over myself and fix that darn hem!

[Disclosure:  Contrado provided me with this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Monday, March 27, 2017

Vogue Patterns, Summer 2017

Vogue 9255

The new Summer Vogues have arrived.  There is a single Vintage Vogue design this time around, so they have not done away with the line entirely, but they do seem to be phasing it out.

Vogue 9255

I certainly do not anticipate ever needing a bikini, but this pattern is pretty darn cute, just the same.  If only the hat and purse were included in the envelope . . . because I would definitely make those!

Vogue 9255

I am intrigued by the new Rebecca Vallance pieces.  I have never heard of this designer, and while the garments are not really my style, I really appreciate the details.  Would I ever make this dress?  Probably not, but I love that this is a complicated piece of design.  A dress like this makes me want to pull out the pattern instruction leaflet just to see how everything is put together.

Vogue 1545

The fit on the second Rebecca Vallance is atrocious, but the style lines are very interesting on this dress, as well.  I really like the skirt detail.  What is clear is that this designer really likes her separating zippers, and is very anti-bra.  But I would be interested to see more of her designs in the future.

Vogue 1546

We now know from McCall Pattern Company that these are the original garments from the designers, but for goodness sake, find a model that fits the dress, or use a few binder clips to make it appear like it fits!

Vogue 1546

Vogue 1548, on the other hand, is a basic design that has been around for years in many different incarnations (hello, updated black Audrey Hepburn dress from Sabrina), and I would guess that Butterick and McCalls have also produced a similar pattern, if not currently, somewhere in the not so distant past.  But the fit is spot on, and it almost makes me want to pick up a copy of the pattern, even though really don't need it.  The Very Easy Vogue selections continue to impress!  I also think using the original designer garments for the Vogue Patterns cover art is often a mistake, especially when compared with something like this. 

Vogue 9252

Many years ago, a dress on Pattern Review used this bias tube detail along the neckline of a green linen dress.  It is a lovely technique, and I still remember that dress quite vividly.  I am now wondering if Patricia Jeanne Keay was the designer of that green linen dress?  If not, I am quite certain that Patricia Keay has seen that very dress! 

Vogue 1542

And there always has to be a little bit of crazy.  This Guy Laroche dress is reminding me of the fencing inspired looks on the Dior Ready-to-Wear runway for Spring 2017, crossed with a soupçon of military detailing.  If I ever take up the sport, I may have to try this one on for size, although I suspect that the short skirt might prove to be problematic.

Vogue 1548

So, nothing that has me clamoring for the next pattern sale, but when the next one comes around, I may pick up a couple of the new Vogues.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Matched Set

On this first day of Spring, the weather took a bit of a backward turn, and last week’s gorgeous sunshine was replaced with gray skies and rain.  Boo.

This skirt was what I pulled out of the closet this morning to brave the wet weather, along with a sweater, a pair of pumps, and some red lipstick.  It was a bit of armor, if you will, to face the week.  

The first outing for this skirt, however, was back in December.  It has taken me this long to get through the photos, and there are quite a few other finished garments that I would like to get around to posting at some point!

This daisy print was originally destined to be something else entirely, but I have managed to make a cropped jacket, a full skirt, and a pencil skirt from the yardage.  So, all in all, I am going to call this a success!

These three pieces have become staples in my wardrobe.  They are in heavy rotation from season to season, and I think they will continue to be for many years.

I love the opportunity to go all out with an outfit, including a hat and gloves, but I am also finding it very helpful having more and more separates in my closet.

Now I just need to make friends with solid colored fabrics so more of those separates will work with each other.

But I am not sure I will ever be able to resist a textured floral textile, and I am not sure I want to!

Jacket:  Made by me, Vogue 9082
Skirt:  Made by me, McCall 2698
Shoes:  Royal Vintage “Marilyn
Hat:  Made by me
Necklace:  Grandmother’s (borrowed from Mom)
Earrings & Brooch:  Grandmother’s
Gloves:  Vintage

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Beautiful Silk Wool Blend

There are so many reasons I enjoy working with gorgeous fabric; one of the main ones, of course, is that it makes garment construction so much fun!

After managing to squeeze all of the pieces out of my leftover fabric, it was time to baste the layers together.  I like to use silk thread for this task - it is so much easier to remove, and definitely a pleasure to hand sew with silk.

I had my suspicions that the neckline might want to gape, so I used a scrap of organza to stabilize that portion of the fabric (this particular scrap is dark green because I dyed it for use as the underlining of this dress, so it is a little bit difficult to see, but it's there, I promise!).  I measure off the length of the seamline and then subtract an eighth to a quarter inch and distribute the extra ease in the garment fabric along the length of organza.  The organza is then stitched into place just inside the seamline so those pick-stitches will not show when the edge is finished.

The skirt and midriff pieces went together fairly easily.

The most irritating part of the process is removing those white basting threads after each seamline is stitched by machine!

The skirt was then pinned to my dress form while I cut out a second version of the dress.  Does anyone else have nightmares about slicing through a portion of a work in progress while using scissors on something else nearby?  I have never been able to get over the paranoia, so I try to keep everything at least three feet from the working scissors!

The bodice sleeves are raglan for this particular design, so everything looks a bit crazy during the construction process.

For very special fabrics, like this one, I do a lot of hand stitching.  Because all of the pieces are underlined, those stitches are easily hidden from the right side of the garment.  In a silk blend fabric, this is especially helpful, since even the tiniest of stitches stand out.

The midriff cutouts on this design require that certain points be snipped right up to the seamline.  A simple line of stay-stitching did not feel sufficient, so I used another scrap of organza and this gusset trick to keep any raw edges nicely contained.

There is quite a bit of catch-stitching in this piece!

I like to use a ham to elevate my project an extra few inches - this makes it easier on my back when I am hand sewing for long periods of time.

The real moment of truth is putting the bodice, midriff, and skirt sections together.

Everything looks good!  Now I need to tame those oversized seam allowances . . .