Tag Archives: patterns

Look what I found!

girl's dress

This isn’t what I found, actually, I’ve had it for ages, since I was 10 or 12 and actually had a chance of fitting into a 30″ bust. I even got a royal blue sprigged quilting cotton with this dress in mind, but never got around to even looking inside the pattern envelope. Until today, when I reached inside for the instructions, hoping to find the date (I was organizing my patterns chronologically, for no reason) and this fell out:

front page

A Hollywood Patterns catalog from 1942!

front page

rick-rack dress

chic crocheted hatss

Chic crocheted hats.

suit dress

suit dress

suit dress

What would 40s fashion be without suit dresses?

dress

The back page is torn, unfortunately, but I really like this dress.

children's fashion

children's fashions

There are some children’s patterns (like mine).

back page

The back page. Shirtdresses, and a tip to read Glamour Magazine to find out how to meet and marry men.

Amazing. I can’t believe this has been sitting in either mine or mother’s stash for so long and neither of us ever realized it.

The pattern that I have is 847, and the catalog starts numbering in the 60s, so it’s probably from late 1941 or early 1942. A pattern piece also fell out with the catalog, and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t try to make this 8 years ago because my 12-year-old sewing skills would definitely not have been up to the challenge of an unprinted pattern.

unprinted pattern

I wish now that it was a grown-up pattern, because it’s a really sweet little dress.

drafting a dress

I want to make this 50s halter dress from BurdaStyle.

I have a green and black gingham seersucker, and black broderie anglaise for the straps. Or something. I’m still a bit hazy on the details. Maybe I’ll make my own piping, if I’m feeling really ambitious. The fabric, being seersucker, has really subtle stripes, and I have some idea of chevrons in the skirt, if I have enough fabric. Can you make chevrons in a circle skirt?

But, I don’t really want to buy it, print it out, tape it together, trace it onto pattern paper, do an FBA, and then realize that it doesn’t fit me right anyway (I’m facing the terrible fate of having to grade all of my patterns, ever). So, I decided, why not draft it myself? It has two darts, how hard can it be? (Ha ha.) I would never knock off a pattern from an indie pattern company, but this is Burda and vintage and, well, I don’t feel bad.

I am using a piece of muslin, a tape measure, the Burda line drawing, and a giant roll of paper towel to draw my pattern pieces on (I couldn’t find a newspaper). The pieces themselves are coming along all right, but I feel that the construction may prove difficult. Burda seems to have made the X across the bodice out of one piece, but surely that is not an economical use of fabric…

Floral Drop Sundress

The moment I saw the Joel Dewberry Floral Drop pattern (used in three different colorways in this quilt!) I knew that I wanted a dress out of it! Never mind that it’s quilting cotton, it HAD to be a dress for swing dances and ceilis–even in January, you can only wear sundresses because it gets unbearably hot, and the best sundresses are twirly ones, because what is dancing without lots of spins? Less fun, that’s what. Luckily, the fabric store in Astoria had the red colorway on sale, so I bought a couple of yards it to make my dream dress.

dress and sweater

And it is such a dream dress! Let me tell you, I want five of these dresses, in a variety of beautiful prints, to wear in all seasons to all dances and classes and parks and dates. It is so comfy and pretty, and the fact that it’s quilting cotton matters not a bit–it actually makes it better, because it gives the skirt some stiffness without needing a crinoline. It’s a fantastic sundress, and if it’s chilly, I can just wear a sweater and tights!

I’m actually wearing white tights in these pictures, but you can barely tell because my skin is pretty much the exact same color. It’s nice to feel sunshine again! (Though Sierra had me face the sun for better lighting, and I haven’t mastered the ability to stare at a brilliantly glowing object with a straight face.)

floral drop dress

I knew I wanted a sweetheart neckline (I have admired them for ages, but never had a dress with one until my Macaron), so I used the bodice from the Macaron pattern, sans yoke. I had to take it in at the sides, and make it higher front and back to cover my entire bra. It took ages to alter it just right, and foolishly, I didn’t trace my finished product out on pattern paper, so for the next dress, I’ll have to figure it out all over again. Oh well.

I wanted a full skirt, because it’s a dancing dress, and I used a circle for maximum twirliness. I didn’t originally buy enough fabric to finish the circle, so the project was put on hold for a couple of months until I had enough. It twirls excellently!

floral drop dress back

The back. My straps are quite wide–perhaps a little wider than they need to be, but I wanted to be sure they would be stable and cover my bra straps.

floral drop dress

From the side. I put this zipper in and ripped it out twice before realizing that I’d been doing it right the whole time. After that, I didn’t have the heart to take it out again and try to make it properly invisible. I don’t think I’ve ever done a zipper well–I’ve done two in the last week or so and neither of them came out very well, though I’m probably the only person who will ever notice. Maybe in the future I’ll just handpick them all.

I also hemmed this dress twice. I cut it out sloppily, thinking that I would take off length once I’d tried it on, but I liked the length so I didn’t trim it down at all, I just hemmed it. I didn’t notice anything wrong, and wore it around one day, and then dancing a few days later (I got a very nice compliment from someone, who was very impressed when I told her I had made it and wanted to know if I’d used a vintage pattern!), but when it was hanging in my closet afterwards, I noticed that it was not even at all… so I had to rip it out, trim off about an inch from places in the front, and do it over. It’s just a machine hem, luckily. In the end, I decided I like this length much better, it feels like a much more reasonable amount of fabric for some reason.

floral drop dress

It’s been such a gorgeous weekend, I’m so happy it’s sunny. I went for a two-hour walk/run in the state park near campus, and have played a ton of frisbee in the sun. I have been making a Colette Violet blouse in a charming print, but my sewing room was taken away and I no longer have a place to set up my machine, so I’ve started sewing it by hand–just the darts, so far. I don’t want it to be half hand-sewn and half machine-sewn, so I’m hesitant to go too far, because then I’ll have to finish the whole thing by hand! Ah well, anything to teach me patience…

Dragon-skin Parka

Over winter break, I made a brief foray into the World of Practical Sewing, and sewed an actual, functional, waterproof garment. Not for me, of course, I have far more waterproof garments than I ever wear in my indoors-y lifestyle.

My dad bought several parkas a couple of years ago, made of canvas. I think they were Swedish army surplus or something, effective windbreakers but not terribly useful in the rainy Pacific Northwest. He took one of them apart to make a pattern, and bought a great deal of Goretex. I sewed it up, with some alterations of course, and finished it mere minutes before I returned to school.

The Goretex didn’t iron very well, even on low heat with a towel, and all the seams were flat-felled, which would have been a lot easier if I’d been able to press it without melting it. I had to use a 100 needle and change it regularly, especially when I got to the point where seams began to intersect and the fabric dulled the needle really fast. I pretended that I was sewing out of dragon skin, in order to make the fabric’s idiosyncracies less frustrating. It worked pretty well to imagine myself as an apprentice dragon-skin-tailor, who had finally earned enough skill to try making something out of real dragon skin (I spent most of my formative years reading fantasy novels, if you couldn’t guess). Because I was flat-felling my seams and working with such an unusual fabric, I could look past my slightly wobbly seams and see the beginnings of a ready-to-wear garment–except not ready-to-wear, made by me! It was really exciting to be making something so practical and ordinary-looking (weird…).

This sort of excitement really only lasted up until I had to put the underarm gussets in. I’d never done gussets, and in a stiff fabric with flat-felled seams–well, it wasn’t too pretty. Everything really started to disintegrate around there. Gone were my clean, straight (ish) seams and smooth surfaces, now all was wrinkling and puckering and weird gathers. I managed to set in the sleeves, though I had to re-do one of them and probably should have re-done them both, if it wasn’t for the holes that the needle made in the fabric. I knew they would leak forever, and in a parka specifically made to keep water out, I decided that a wrinkly sleeve was better than one that let the rain in.

Because of the nature of the pattern, there were no instructions whatsoever, so I sort of had to make up the order of construction and how the pieces fit together. That was most troublesome with the hood, which had be far the most pieces, but it the end it looked better than the sleeves.

Here is the parka, as seen already in Mother’s post of a few days ago:

parka front

And here is the back:

parka back

I have a few conclusions from this whole adventure:

Goretex is a pain to work with.
Flat-felled seams are now a piece of cake.
Practical sewing is kind of fun! My dad has swatches of super lightweight waterproof synthetic something-or-other that you can use to make backpacking tents/tarps. It’s super cool and comes in all kind of bright crazy colors, so there may be a neon tent in my future…

Herringbone Macaron

I bought Colette Patterns’ Macaron pattern on Black Friday, when all of their patterns were 30% off. I had coveted Chantilly for a long time, but Macaron is such a sweet pattern with a lot of room for variation, and a bit of a break from my normal full-skirted silhouette. I didn’t end up saving that much money, since shipping turned out to be about 30% of the pattern price, but my Macaron arrived in the mail a short time later, in an adorable pink booklet! Then it sat on my shelf while I frantically packed and sewed Christmas presents (for the most part undocumented, I’m afraid) and took my finals.

I brought it with me on break to my parents’ house, where it languished in a paper bag while I made a quilt (more on that later). I had brought with me a few yards of brown herringbone wool rescued from the Bins (a terrifying place, but lots of very cheap fabric if you care to find it). I didn’t really have any plans for it, and had only brought it because it didn’t fit conveniently in any of my boxes. I thought about making an a-line 60s miniskirt out of it, or a vest, or something. However, going through Mother’s suitcase of apparel fabric (most of which she has given to me), I came across a lovely sheer burgundy and brown floral, which, held up to the herringbone, cried out to be my first Macaron.

Newly enthused, I set about muslining!

…and muslining.

…..and muslining.

I have made things from patterns, but they have either turned out ill-fitting (as in my green blossom dress), or needed no alteration (as in my corduroy Burda skirt). I had never altered a pattern to fit me, and didn’t really know how to go about it. I made three muslins before I was finally happy enough with the result to make it up in my fashion fabrics.

My finished dress:

macaron

(It’s January, it’s freezing out. Also, time to invest in some hairclips.)

My alterations:
I shortened the bodice pieces by 1″, narrow-ed the back by 1″ (tapering off to normal at the waist), deepened the armscyes, widened the waist by 1/2″, shortened the entire bodice by an inch (I think I’m a petite size, technically), and did an FBA!

The last is really the exciting thing. I’d never done an FBA, and had really hoped to avoid it since Colette patterns are drafted for a C cup… but alas, ’twas not to be. The pattern piece was not meeting in the middle, so I pulled up a couple of tutorials and started drawing lines all over my pattern. (I traced it, don’t worry.) It fits much better now, happily, though I can’t say I’m thrilled to have to do that with every pattern I make.

macaron back

A little too much fabric in the back yoke, but the skirt pleats look fine despite my apprehension.

I bound the neckline in bias tape, and the same with the hem. I was going to use hem tape and do it all properly, but the wool is so bulky, I didn’t want to fold it under or anything. I got a bit lazy there…

bodice

With my next Macaron, I think I will have to alter the armscye in order to get rid of the excess fabric in the yoke (though you can’t see it so much in these pictures, so am I imagining it?). I deepened it here, which didn’t really solve any of my problems and resulted in it looking a little silly.

The sleeves are lined with purple silk:

sleeve

And the pockets are silk too! I won’t be able to put anything heavy in them, but any pockets are a luxury.

pocket

My invisible zipper is invisible this time!

invisible zip

The waistband doesn’t line up though, so oops.

In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with this dress, though it’s not perfect. I had some issues with the different types of fabric, which were all unstable and tricky in their own special ways. Some of my pattern alterations didn’t really work, and some of them worked but not well enough. But, it’s the first pattern I’ve ever altered, and it’s quite pretty, considering. I wanted the insides to look really nice, but they don’t, particularly. I should go back and bind them with bias tape of purple silk, but that stuff is hellish to cut so I seem to be putting it off.

Now, for something completely different:

chicken and me

No country home is complete without a pet chicken.

A Scholarly Skirt

It’s a rather amusing fact, that although I spend most of my time in an academic setting (school), and hang out with academic people all the time, I don’t really care for academics. My own inner academic is a flighty and theoretical person, who gets very excited about picking out classes and purchasing textbooks, but vanishes completely at the first sign of an essay. I am a theater major (hurrah!) who finds history and literature very fascinating indeed, provided I never have to formulate a thesis sentence connected with them.

Be that as it may, this skirt definitely speaks to my secret English major.

skirt

(Corduroy doesn’t photograph well at all, hm. It’s really pretty, believe me!)

It’s something about the color, or the corduroy, or the pleats, or the high waist. I don’t think the pattern itself is inherently collegiate-looking, but maybe the fabric is. Doesn’t it just look like I should be reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the library on a rainy afternoon? Or walking across campus with a bookbag and a blazer with orange leaves falling around me? I could be in one of those college brochures, except no one would ever believe it. (OK, maybe it’s not that over-the-top, but wait until I get my hands on a sweater-vest.)

OK, but as for the actual skirt. They had a bunch of corduroy at JoAnn’s when I was there with my mother, and I wanted to make something I could wear with blouses. I debated navy or forest green, but settled on green because–forest green corduroy! How do you get any better than that?

I picked out Burda 7300 for my skirt pattern (look at me, using a pattern!), not understanding that the little arrow on the diagram means “cut on the bias.” It did initially bother me that all the little lines of corduroy were going to be doing whatever they jolly well pleased and not going up and down, but I got over it. I even bought a lining fabric! (Let’s be real, I spent a lot of money at JoAnn’s, but hey! I can line garments in forest green polyester for years to come! And the skirt is absolutely worth it.) I made view A with the view B waistband and without the tulle . . . or else I made view B shortened and with a lining. You decide.

I cut out all the pieces in a straight 10 as my measurements decreed, and didn’t have to alter anything, which was delightful. Of course I cut out one of the skirt pieces on the wrong side of the fabric since I didn’t pay enough attention to the instructions (the tale of woe is here). Luckily for me, I am about five inches shorter than the person the pattern was intended for, so my only real alteration was to chop an inch or so off the hem, which somehow magically fixed my wrong-side-of-the-fabric problem. I think it also messed up my bias-cut on one of the back pieces, but it’s not like I had enough fabric to cut a whole other skirt panel properly on grain, so I decided it was close enough. 30 degrees, 45 degrees, what’s the difference really, right? Ha.

I also french-seamed the entire thing, which was a poor decision on such bulky fabric with only 5/8th seam allowances. But I love french seams so much, and corduroy ravels super easily. When I did it on the waistband, the interfacing and the corduroy made really thick seams and it was too tight. I don’t like a lot of ease around my waist, but I do like to be able to eat and breathe and move comfortably, so I half-unpicked about four of the seams, trimmed the fabric, and sewed them up again with smaller seam allowances. This gave me plenty of room, in fact, I’m glad I didn’t do it with all of the seams as that would have been too much. In retrospect I suppose I should have bias-bound all my seam allowances instead, but hey. All’s well that ends well, as they say (they also say, platitudes are fun!).

I did bias-bind my center back seam, actually, though to be honest I didn’t know what I was doing and my bias tape was too wide, etc. etc. It’s hidden by the lining, though.

back lining

(Or maybe it’s my lighting that’s terrible . . .)

Please excuse the sloppiness of the zipper. I biked to Mill End to purchase bias tape, an invisible zipper, and a zipper foot, but they only had one zipper foot and when I came home I discovered that it didn’t actually fit my machine, so I had to sew the zipper in by hand. Luckily it was only nine inches. I usually find myself sewing in 20-inch zippers and that is never any fun at all.

skirt back

Something about my hand-sewing abilities resulted in my invisible zipper being visible. Alas. But it’s the same color as my skirt so I can live with it.

Here’s the front of my lining.

front lining

It was super slippery and not fun to sew at all, especially since I couldn’t tell the right and wrong sides apart and kept doing all my french seams backwards and inside out. I was also supposed to hand sew the whole waistband lining in, but I got bored and very slowly machine-stitched about half of it instead. The fabric is some sort of cheap anti-static polyester which will hopefully keep it from clinging to my tights as skirts are wont to do. I have quite a lot of extra too, and four enormous pirate shirts sewn from lining fabric that I can cannibalize, so I think I can happily avoid buying lining fabric for the next sixty projects I do!

Anyway, I like this a lot, and I can see myself wearing it excessively when the weather gets colder. I have a pair of forest green suede Hush Puppies that will definitely come into use a lot more now that this skirt exists. I actually might have to make another version soon-ish, so I won’t wear this one to death, or else maybe make a rule about the number of wearings in a week. We’ll see. I certainly won’t be sewing with corduroy in August again anytime soon! The fact that school starts in a few weeks keeps tricking me into thinking I can start wearing fall clothes again soon (thank goodness, my wardrobe is not geared towards warm-weather dressing), but in fact there is still over a month of summer left! Good news for our upcoming outdoor theater piece, sad news for someone who wants to wear her new corduroy skirt.

Look, a pleat! Isn’t it pretty?

pleat

And some more just because this post isn’t long enough yet . . .

hems

The hems were not miserable to sew, for once. This might mean I’m getting better at it.

yay, skirt

In which I am pleased with my skirt (not so with my bags of paper and fabric scraps in the background, but I’m moving, so my room is chaotic).

OK, this post is definitely long enough to convey my enthusiasm for my new skirt. Now, I have to pack my entire room up by Saturday so I should go work on that, probably.

A Work in Progress, Disrupted

I’m leaving this evening to go see Henry V at OSF, but I was really excited for my green corduroy Burda skirt, so I decided to just cut it out, and sew it up when I got back, you know, actually taking time and care to do a project like a proper sewist. I cut out the lining, even though it was slippery, and that was all right. Then I laid out the corduroy and began to seriously doubt that I could get all the pieces out of it since the skirt is on the bias. But, I did! Sure the nap is sort of willy-nilly, maybe, but that doesn’t really bother me a lot, especially since the pleats will sort of break it up anyway and it is such small corduroy.

skirt panels

Look how nice they look! Don’t mind the wrinkles, they kind of laid on my bed while I went to the Post Office.

But wait…

oops

When they’re actually laid out like they would be in a skirt, my mistake is revealed. And SUCH a basic mistake! I cut out the same piece twice, instead of reversing it the second time. It’s not even a matter of nap, it’s a matter of paying attention. I even read the instructions, where they specifically told me not to do this. I did it with my brown skirt two months ago. But I can’t just fix this one like that, because it’s a pattern. And I’m going away in a couple of hours, so my mistake is bound to haunt me all weekend. I still can’t come to terms with the notion that I ruined my skirt, maybe if I shortened the hem all around I could get away with a couple of seams in the wrong places? (Probably not.) I guess it’s yet another sign that I’m not giving the directions the proper respect they deserve.

In other news of failure (but less disappointing, this one), I taught myself to put in a lapped zipper last night. Without a zipper foot, even!

IMGP0281

OK, so it’s an enormous lap, but I have the basic concept down.

zipper skirt

Useful skill aside, the finished project was not something I’d want to wear, so I ripped out the zipper and cut up the skirt, which never fit me very well anyway. I guess my closet is smaller by one garment, then, thank goodness (I am running out of hangers). It would make a nice spot for my new skirt if I can ever rescue it, and really I have to, because my heart is set on this green corduroy and I would be so sad if I had ruined it forever!

Patterns!

Mother and I went to JoAnn’s today to buy a pattern so that I could make a nice high-waisted skirt (because obviously I need another project). Looking at patterns is so much fun! It’s almost like shopping for clothes, except that you get to make them, too. I returned from the store with these exciting purchases:

pattern

A skirt, which I’m going to make up in A length but with B waistband. (I’m sorry this image is enormous, but I can’t seem to find a smaller one.) It was surprisingly difficult to find a high-waisted full skirt, although there were a few compelling high-waisted pencil skirts and a lot of pretty true-waisted skirts.

pattern

Knickers! I was so excited when I saw this pattern that I bought it despite exercising exceptional restraint and NOT buying any pretty dress patterns or basic simple blouses. I don’t wear pants very often, and I’m okay with that as I am not incredibly comfortable in them. But little knee-length short trousers (are these what Dickens referred to as “smalls”?) are just so charming and Dickensian. I want to make these out of some crisp suiting, and maybe some velveteen, and some plaid (oh plaid!), and some corduroy. (And then I want to buy some tall riding boots that actually fit me.)

Speaking of corduroy, I bought some to make the Burda skirt, in a lovely forest green. I even bought lining, because I am determined to do this thing properly even if it means I don’t have an instantaneous garment, and everything feels more professional if it’s lined.

Last, but not least, I found this Vogue jacket pattern that Mother bought me for my birthday a few years ago:

pattern

Isn’t it pretty? The dress is nice too, although it is certainly not what drew me to the pattern. It is perhaps a bit more complex than I can handle right now, but someday! The back of the pattern envelope claims it is “Easy/Facile,” but it looks like an awful lot of pattern pieces to keep straight.

I feel like I’m developing quite a little pattern stash by now, as I have three or four others at home, and it’s pretty thrilling. I want to get more, and make them all! Of course, I still have to learn how to make them fit me…

Some garments that are kicking around in the back of my head:
-A yellow blouse with small puffed sleeves, a peter pan collar, and flower-shaped shell buttons (I love yellow, I really do)
-A royal blue wool circle skirt, knee-length, for winter
And a million and one other things, slightly less clearly pictured. School starts soon, though, and I don’t expect I’ll have a lot of time to sew. It is very sad indeed.

Oh, and I am considering buying another sewing machine. I adore my little Singer Featherweight, absolutely adore it, but I would really like something that at least does zigzag and has a zipper foot. Or, I may just invest in a pair of nice pinking shears and persist in my somewhat impractical sentimentality, because why do something easily when you could do it vintage-ly?