Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Finding an Original

It’s the small things . . . today I happened upon this photo as I was perusing Pinterest . . . 

I nearly squealed out loud!  I just happen to have the sewing pattern for this Ceil Chapman design, as well as my very own version of the dress.

According to the caption, Jean Patchett's version was worn in a DuPont Orlon ad in 1955.  So her gown is probably made of rayon satin, or perhaps an acetate?

I love having the chance to see how the designer originally envisioned the piece.

A similar thing happened with my Emerald Green Ceil Chapman gown a few years back.

A random Etsy search led to the discovery of yet another original Ceil Chapman that was reproduced as a Spadea pattern.

Now I just need to find a vintage photo of that dress on a model!

[Click on image for source]

Friday, March 23, 2018

A Pocketful of Wool

It's back to working with wool for me, although Spring weather is just around the corner (I hope!).  

The one thing I am not completely in love with on my blue swing coat is the in-seam pockets I added to the design.  They work just fine, as pockets go, but I wanted to go with something a bit different for the wool version.  I knew I wanted pockets of some kind, but I was not going to deal with a welt on this incredibly thick wool.  Instead, I decided to go for patch pockets.

What I didn't know was just how large I wanted them to be, so I made a few mock-ups with some typing paper.  This is an incredibly cheap and yet effective way to play with size, placement, style, etc.

I originally thought I would go with a really over-sized pocket.

In the end, I kept trimming that paper down, and went with something a little more proportional.

I added a fold over flap to the top edge and cut two of my new pockets out of wool, and two out of the lining (minus the flap)

I did throw a bit of Hug Snug in there, just for fun.

The flap gets stitched, right sides together, as far as the folded over bit.  A bit of pressing . . .

and a bit more pressing . . .

And the lining is ready to stitch to the wool.

The worst part was making sure that the two pockets were placed in the same place on the right and left fronts.

But once that chore was done, it was smooth sailing.

And I think I actually like these more than I would have liked the welt pocket on this length coat!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Swinging Good Time

If it’s looking a little like Christmas in these photos, that is because I wore this outfit back in December to a Marin Symphony holiday concert.

This is my wearable muslin of the heavy wool coat I have been working on.

As I suspected, a swing coat was something I desperately needed in my closet!  And I would love to have another . . . which explains the pink version I am working on.

For this blue version's first night out, I wanted to find a dress that would be up to the challenge of showing the coat to its advantage.  What I came up with was this green dress made up way back in 2011 using a vintage reproduction pattern purchased from Eva Dress.  

I love the Vogue Couturier Design!  It doesn't get much wear, and, like so many things that I made many years ago, there are things that I would change if I were to stitch this together today.  But overall, I am very pleased with this garment.  I recall that I meant to make another more every day version by eliminating the drapes . . . yet another project that was dreamt up but never completed due to a lack of time and the distraction of other patterns and projects.

I did not find a hat in my collection that I liked with this particular ensemble, so I made a quick velvet bow out of some leftover red velvet.  

I loved wearing the outfit, and I am really glad that I finally have this coat in my closet!

Now if only I could find a gorgeous wine colored wool, because I am always wishing I had a coat in that color.  But that will have to wait for a few months since I am very excited about making some Sping and Summer appropriate frocks.

For now, I am really pleased with how good I am being about sewing with stashed fabrics (including this navy blue mystery blend)!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 883 (Eva Dress E50-883)
Coat:  Made by me, Simplicity 8509
Shoes:  Kristin Cavallari “Copertina”
Necklace:  Banana Republic
Ring:  Mom’s high school ring
Velvet Hair Bow:  Made by me

Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 Spring McCalls Patterns

New pattern release alert!
I can't quite point out why these dresses are so unflattering on the model, but they are.  If you can look past that, though, the style lines are actually quite lovely.  Or is there an inherent flaw in the design?  Are the straps never going to look right on an actual moving body?  

Only time will tell if this is a winner in the reproduction category.  I am definitely going to try my hand at this one to test the theory (just not sure how soon I will get to it!).

I recognize the High Line as the background in these photos, and I applaud The McCall Pattern Company's use of more interesting locations.  But could they also take a bit of care with their samples?  Yikes, this dress is an awful mess.

It does have some interesting lines, though, just look past the puckered and wrinkled mess on the model.  If they did not offer line drawings, I would have run away from this as fast as I could, but upon close inspection, I really like the dropped shoulder, and a button-front frock is always nice.
Continuing with the ridiculous . . . anyone looking for costume ideas for a production of Li'l Abner?  Because I have found your updated Daisy Mae look!  Okay, so she wore polka dots, but that is the flavor I'm getting from this shirt.  Maybe Daisy Duke?  The actual pattern, M7753, is not as terrible as you might think from this example, but yoinks, what were they thinking?!? The addition of the horsehair braid with this print makes it look like the fabric was purchased at a party supply store and is made from a disposable plastic tablecloth.

Now this is what you do with gingham, people!  The illustration is adorable on the pattern envelope of M7752.  So cute, in fact, that it almost makes me want to purchase the pattern, even though I really don't need another cute sun top.
Speaking of adorable illustrated prints . . .

The McCall Company really are trying to make their catalog look more fashiony.  I hope this continues.  Do I need this pattern?  No.  But those back details look like super cute dresses from the 1960s.

And while I do not have a place or the confidence to wear something this midriff baring, this outfit makes me wish I was.  I don't even like yellow, so why am I so drawn to this look?  It must be the ruffles.

Speaking of ruffles, I also really like this dress.  Even the Angelina Jolie-esque thigh-out-to-there pose is not putting me off M7745.  I think it has a lot to due with the lovely floral fabric (don't break my heart and tell me it's poly).  Wrap dresses can be quite irritating to wear, but I do like that off the shoulder flounce.

So, nothing that will have me rushing out to JoAnns to purchase my own copy, but I am intrigued by a couple of the new designs.  Or am I being distracted by the new photography locations?  Do you have any new favorites?

[Click on image for source]

Friday, March 16, 2018

And in other news, my iron and clapper continue to get a workout.

Back to my wool coat.

I am trying to be better about trimming stray threads as I go.  Now that I am in a new sewing room setup, I believe I am going to have to make myself one of those thread catcher things.  Perhaps that will motivate me to keep clipping those threads!

There is one tricky spot on this design that requires clipping to stitch the bodice front dart which happens on the front facing and on the coat front.  I used my trusty gusset reinforcement trick and used another scrap of silk organza (I am getting low on my stash - it's amazing how often that stuff comes in handy!).

Because this wool has a very loose weave, I added another layer of protection with a dab of fray check.  Miraculously, this fabric does not seem to shred that easily, but I don't want to have an issue with this clip down the line.  Someday I will have a project that is suited to arrow tacks, but for now, this is the route I am going.

Because of all the bulk, I also decided to open the top half of the dart and press the heck out of that thing.

The instructions suggest reinforcing the opening edge with a length of twill tape.

I went ahead with it, although I am not sure that this stable fabric really requires that step.  But it can't do any harm.  The tape will be caught up in the seam that connects the facing to the coat.

Speaking of seams . . .

This is probably the thickest fabric I have every worked with, and it continues to require a lot of time at the ironing board.

Each seam is pressed flat to set the stitches.

Next, it is pressed open.

And then, it is pressed in the open position with added pressure of the clapper.  Sometimes I did this more than once.

I can't say enough about this sewing tool.  There is no way that any iron would be able to press these thick layers flat without it.

I also added a few more catch-stitches at seam junctures to help keep everything in place.

I have definitely had a workout hauling this thing back and forth between the machine, the table, and the ironing board!  But I believe all that extra work will be worth the effort.

I went with a fusible interfacing because a sew-in seemed like the wrong choice.

Unfortunately, the stuff started to bubble as soon as I started moving those pieces around, even though I let those pieces cool completely before moving them during the fusing.  Does anyone have suggestions on a good fusible?

But other than that hiccup, everything else went together without much trouble.

I added a bit of width to the cuffs.

The sleeves start to flare out from the hemline, but the cuff pieces are a rectangle.  This means that the cuff is smaller than part of the sleeve.  It was not such an issue with my drapey blue coat, but I expected it might be with this thick coating.

So far, it seems to be working!