Monday, August 28, 2023

Cherry Blossoms

As soon as I saw this pattern, it brought me right back to the days when my friends and I were obsessed with Jane Austen.  Quite a few of my early garment sewing projects included an empire line, and while I have moved away from that silhouette over the years, I thought it might be fun to try this pattern.

However, it was not to be found in either of my local JoAnn Fabric stores for many months.  At that point, it seemed like it was not likely to be restocked and I forgot about it for a while.

But when I rediscovered this fabric (that I have probably had stashed away for about twenty years), I decided that this particular pattern was the only possible option for my very limited yardage.  I had two and a half yards, which had always kept me from using the lovely print; because I just couldn't see what I would pair with a skirt made from the print, or alternatively, a top.

The block print also posed some potential fabric/design pairing problems.  But a dress seemed like the only thing that was going to get me to cut into the cotton.  So I ordered the pattern directly from McCalls, along with a few other patterns that I felt I couldn't live without.

Pattern matching was never going to be possible due to the style lines, not to mention the limited yardage, but I did my best to keep the different colored motifs from ending up directly next to each other.

As far as alterations go, I decided to trim about 1/4" from the interior upper portion of the straps.  My shoulder slope seems to sit flatter than most patterns are drafted and I thought this might keep that edge from sticking up.  We will see how that turns out . . .

I have a few dresses where this is a "problem" and since I thought about it before sewing this dress together, I thought that it might be an easy fix.

I do love this fabric, and I am so pleased to have finally found a use for it!

Those shoulders are looking very wide, but I think it would look odd if they don't line up with the princess seam of the bodice, so I am leaving that as is for the moment.

And here is a sneak peek of the sleeves.  Which, if I am being honest, is one of the main reasons I gravitated towards this design.

I had enough scraps of fabric left to use for the lining of the bodice, so I went for it.  There really wasn't enough to make something else with the remnants, and I didn't have plain cotton in a suitable color, so I guess it was meant to be.

I lengthened the skirt by 1" - I was pushing it with the limited amount of yardage, but I don't really like summer dresses to be more than a couple of inches above the knee.

But back to that bodice.

The sleeve bands need to be folded under, but those puffs are looking really great!

Did I mention before that I love a square neckline!  Only time will tell if those shoulders are going to say in place.

The pattern suggests an invisible zipper, but I wasn't sure how it would play with the seamline bulk, so I went with a standard dress zipper.

I thought about doing a centered application, but in the end, I decided to go with my favorite lapped version.

At which point, it was time for my favorite part of the process . . . the hand sewing.

Tino likes to think he helps with this part.

And here is the dress.  I'm not sure it's totally my style, or what my current style has evolved to be, but I definitely think it's cute.

I'm just not entirely sure that I am an empire line girl anymore.  But I am willing to try it out.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Floral Explosion

In my quest to find the perfect blouse, I made a rayon challis version of Simplicity 8736 a few years ago.  And while I wouldn't classify it as my ultimate dream blouse, it gets a lot of wear, and it turns out, I really like the design.

So when I had a hankering to make a blouse from this lovely cotton (which was a bedsheet set in a previous life, found at an estate sale) I thought that it would be nice to have another version, but in more of a pastel colorway.

I did not worry too much about pattern matching, but made sure to keep matching floral motifs away from matching seamlines.  Interestingly, the roomy set-in sleeve is cut on the bias.  I can't remember coming across or making another design that is cut in this way, but it gives a lovely drape to the sleeve.

Since this particular cotton is quite lightweight and drapey, I decided to use French seams where possible.

And that collar . . . I love the way it looks in this fabric!

The center back is self-faced, and I used a strip of bias fabric to finish the neck edge.  I never can remember that the binding should go on top of the facing, so one side had to be unpicked and fixed.  I thought that I had checked myself before pinning everything together, but somehow I got completely turned around.

But that's okay.  It all worked out in the end.

Yep - that collar still looks fabulous.  Why don't I have more peter pan collars in my wardrobe?!

Bound buttonholes were not going to work with this particular fabric; both the sheer factor and the weight/drape of this textile was going to make that technique look rather odd.

So I pulled out my vintage buttonholer.  And while keyhole buttonholes are generally reserved for more tailored pieces, I have never tried that particular shape, so I thought I would go for it.  This blouse closes up the center back, so if I hated the choice, I would never have to see it.

Machine buttonholes are the most stressful portion of the sewing process for me, but the vintage attachment does make things a little less painful.

I don't have very many white toned buttons (just a metric ton of off-white options) so I knew that I wanted to use these diamond shaped ones.  But I only had four.

Since I will always tuck this particular blouse into a skirt, that was not a problem.  The lower buttonholes were swapped for three snaps.  This is a very common technique seen in vintage pieces.  Because if the buttons are not visible, why waste them?  Also, a small snap is probably going to lay flatter than a button, especially if that button has a shank, so you can avoid bumpy buttons under your skirt or pants.

And that's it for my new blouse.  I am definitely a fan of this design.  

But honestly, I'm fairly certain that I would love just about any garment made from this lovely print.

Monday, August 21, 2023

"It would give me such a thrill . . ."

. . .  just to wear a dress with puffed sleeves."  

These particular sleeves might not be quite puffed enough for Miss Anne of Green Gables, but I rather enjoy them.  Come to think of it, I seem to recall that Anne had an aversion to the color pink, so she might not approve of the outfit at all.  But that is not going to stop me from wearing pink, even if I do wish my hair was a shade of red or auburn.

Considering that this top was created as an afterthought with some leftover yardage and meant to be a wearable muslin in order to test out some alterations to the original dress pattern, I am very pleased with the outcome.

This pink skirt has been getting a lot of play this summer, and surprisingly enough, so has the top (although not necessarily paired together).

This is what comes of working with a color that matches a bunch of separates already in the closet!

Having made the dress version of McCalls 8108, I knew that the shoulders were quite wide, so I altered the bodice slightly to narrow that part of the design.

And after wearing the top a few times, I can confirm that the alteration is definitely an improvement, although I could have taken in the center back slightly, as well.  

Since I intend to make another version in blue denim to match my skirt, I will probably make that additional change.  However, a scooped out front and back bodice is always going to have a tendency to want to slide off of the shoulders.  But that's okay - the line is so pretty, it's almost worth the extra aggravation.

The empire style/raised waistline was one of my favorites when I started making my own clothing years ago, but I moved away from it because it's not the most flattering look for me.  

Adding a fitted midriff yoke remedies that.  And it makes me want to play with some different style lines . . . but that's for another day.

Top: Made by me, McCalls 8108
Skirt:  Made by me, Stanwyck Skirt
Necklace:  Judith Jack
Shoes:  Nine West

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Toga Party

And here we are again with Vogue 9253, otherwise known as Vogue 1735.  This was such a popular pattern that they rebranded it a few years after its first release.

As discussed in a previous post, I finally got around to making this extremely popular pattern.  And I can confirm that there is a reason for all of the hype.  This is a great pattern!

It feels a little bit like cheating because I made it out of a set of sheets . . . which means that I have actually wrapped myself in sheets.  A caftan pattern wasn't quite comfy enough for me, so I took it to the next level by making one out of cotton sheeting.  

Don't feel like getting out of bed in the morning?  No problem!  Just wear your sheets.  And as I have had quite a few questions about where I found such a lovely sheet set, I will say that I just got lucky at an estate sale a few years ago, finding this Pottery Barn set along with a second floral sheet set, both of which were hardly used, if the state of the cotton is to be believed.

This takes me back to living on a college campus with fraternity and sorority houses and those silly toga parties (which I never actually attended).  While this dress was more work than wrapping a newly purchased sheet from the local department store around one's body because of a "Greek" themed keg party, I suspect it is just as comfortable.  Maybe even more so, since this dress isn't going to come unwrapped!

Almost as soon as I completed this version last year, I planned to make another.  Alas, time did not stand still, and the weather became uncooperative.

But I have a dusty lilac colored tencel that I think would work quite well with this pattern, perhaps slightly shorter and more tea length than this version.

I keep meaning to make that my next project, but inevitably, I get distracted by something else in the sewing room.

One thing that many people have mentioned is the deep plunge of the front bodice.

This version is as drafted, but since wearing this a couple of times, I have fell stitched that seamline closed by approximately one and a half inches to make it slightly easier/more appropriate to wear.

For that short tecel version that I keep meaning to get to, I may draft a slightly overlapping bodice piece as a few others have done.  I am not afraid of a deep v-neck, but this particular pattern is rather extreme, so it's something to keep in mind.  But is this pattern worth the hype, low neckline included?  Absolutely!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 9253
Necklace:  Vintage, from Mom
Earrings:  Etsy
Shoes:  Born