vogue 2926: the “hangover” top

By on June 22, 2012

The Facts:

Fabric: leftover liberty of london tana lawn “durie” (from modified/self-drafted simplicity 4903)
Pattern: bodice portion of vintage vogue 2926
Year: circa 1950s
Notions: zipper, sew-on snaps
Time to Complete: 4 hours
First Worn: June 22, 2012
Wear Again: yes
Total Price: ~$30
Challenge Theme: “Las Vegas”

this top has been a true “hangover” – i knew i was going to make it since i finished my frankenpatterned version of McCall 7743 last year in august. we went to las vegas to celebrate my grandfather’s 86th birthday and i wore the dress out to dinner one night in celebration.

excuse my bronchitis face. i have a tendency to be what my family calls "sickly."

this pattern was super-easy, but i did try to tweak it for fit with moderately successful results. while it does now more appropriately match by bust-to-neck ration, reducing a great deal of pooling that would have occurred with those super-intense bust gathers, it is rather short-waisted, even for me. my midriff-baring days are (mostly) behind me and this was definitely shorter in that area than i had intended.

i would have finished this one on time (for a change) but i put the zipper in the normal way and realized that i wouldn’t be able to squeeze into it without the skirt (and skirt zipper) opening the CB all the way past my hips. easy fix: i put the zipper back in, upside down, and overcame this issue. i just didn’t have a chance to do that until now, well after the vegas challenge.

it’s been in the 100*F range here for the past two days, so i needed to stay cool. i hope wherever you are, it’s more comfortable than here!

parting shot: the cat wanted to help me cut.

this top was made as part of the sew weekly.
cross-posted from puu’s door of time.

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1940s | Dresses | Rompers / Playsuits

(almost) simplicity 1975: a field of poppies in tana lawn

By on May 29, 2012


i’d been toying with the idea of purchasing simplicity 1975 for something like months when i decided to do it properly:  draft it myself.  the sizing on the pattern specimen i’d located is so off i’d have ended up re-drafting the thing anyway to get it to fit properly, and i wanted to learn how to draft a strapless bodice that might actually fit me.

it took me two tries, because i misunderstood some measurements in my pattern drafting book, but my trustly sloper did not steer me wrong and i ended up with a very serviceable strapless bodice with princess stylines. step one completed!

much-loved but ill-fitting vogue 2961

then i had to disassemble a much-loved but little-used garment, my vogue 2960. it was one of my early garment attempts, and while it was actually pretty f-ing awesome for a girl who had only been sewing a few months, that girl, now with almost 3 years’ experience, cringed every time she put it on and it sagged in all the wrong places. i saved the skirt (mostly out of laziness and fabric stinginess) and constructed my bodice, including a boning underlayer and bra cups (construction details here).

it still needs tweaking, because in order to finish it this week (for the sew weekly 1940s challenge) i had to take a few shortcuts that need to be fixed in order for this dress to have the glory it deserves. firstly, because i purposely constructed the bodice with more torso than i should have, i need to tweak the fit near the waist. you may be able to see in the photo that there is a lot of blousing where the bodice meets the skirt, and that is because i need to shorten the torso of the bodice so that it matches the width of the skirt more accurately. i did it this way because otherwise, i was afraid the waist would be too short. according to my moulage, i am absurdly short-waisted, but i’m still in denial about this, so i figured i’d rather have more torso than not enough.

also, because i can only go to the buttonholer on saturdays, i closed this (temporarily) with a CF zip, which is throwing off the perfect fit under my arms and just at my bust. the bodice was drafted to accommodate the overlap of a button placket, not a zip.

all in all, i’m quite thrilled with the final result, because now i have a wonderful strapless sloper to work with! i already have two more tops rarin’ to go and plans to fix a long-stranded UFO that i accidentally fit too small. (two inches at the CB! how does that even happen?!)

full story, including construction details and inspiration photos, at puu’s door of time.

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1950s | Rompers / Playsuits

advance 7049: weekend road warrior, or, outfit for a sunday drive

By on May 23, 2012


i had a bit of a harrowing drive last weekend, but fortunately was able to complete it in true vintage style.

so here is me, travel-weary and travel-stained, clutching on to my reward for surviving the drive:

two words:  vanilla.  milkshake.  (if you are wondering what the white stuff on my legs is, it’s sunscreen. my AC was broken and i made the entire drive, 2 tunnels and a bridge included, with the top down in my little VW beetle. yeah, my cousins were crying for me, too. :-))

Pattern Review:

Pattern Description:
play separates: button-front sleeveless shirt, cuffed shorts with released pleats in front and darts in back, button-front overskirt.

Pattern Sizing:
size 16/34B

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
the shorts, which i made, look exactly like you would want 1950s-style shorts to look.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
i did not use the instructions, but they are typically vintage: great diagrams, sparse wording.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
i love these fifties-style shorts because they are high-waisted and wide-legged with a fairly deep crotch curve. thus, they sit at your natural waist, actually allow air to circulate around your legs, and are not all up on you like a second skin.

Fabric Used:
leftover “bottomweight” fabric from jo-ann.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
i needed to deepen the pleats big time to get a better fit at the waist.

shorts are so easy they are almost hard to actually sit and finish. for example, these sat unhemmed for 6 months until i realized they would be comfortable and perfect for sunday brunch and a long drive with my beloved renfrew top, so i….glued the hem with steam-a-seam. try not to judge me too harshly. but now they are done, they are an instant classic and i need many more pairs.  rinse & repeat.


full post, including travel rant, at puu’s door of time.

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1950s | Skirts

butterick 8170: “fish” out of water? or perfect adaptation?

By on April 27, 2012

The Facts:

Fabric: mystery poly blend (twill? crepe?) from paron’s annex
Pattern: butterick 8170
Year: 1950s
Notions: hem lace, snaps
Time to Complete: 1.5 hours
First Worn: April 27, 2012
Wear Again: yes, yes, yes!!
Total Price: ~$15

i originally made this as part of this week’s “sew weekly” challenge–circle skirts.  this is one of those challenges where i knew immediately what i wanted to do: a circle skirt with an asymmetrical hem, like a lovely example i’d seen on cation designs. in fact, i orginally intended to pair this skirt with a blouse that was going to be my answer to last week’s “childhood” challenge, but i went with a renfrew instead last week. never fear that this dashing blue lovely will be a closet orphan, however. i’ve already made 3 blouses that needed a blue skirt as an accent and have a 4th in the works for later this spring.  and, since this is we sew retro, never fear, all of the tops are vintage patterns.

i was completely smitten with cation desgin's "carry my heart" number. homage, or theft? discuss.

drafting this baffled me for reasons i cannot explain–but there’s no post if i don’t try, so here goes. me sew crazy’s fishtail tutorial was my second stop after cation, and she does a lovely job explaining the simple drafting steps to make a circle skirt into what she calls a “fishtail” circle skirt. for reasons of pattern paper, fabric width and laziness, i had no interest in a true circle skirt pattern, but wanted to use my on-the-fold circle skirt with wrap closure from butterick 8170 as my base pattern. i sat and stared at it for something like an hour last saturday night (what? so i have no life. don’t judge. especially since i also had a fire in the fireplace, a homemade hazelnut fudge ice cream milk shake and a gorgeous spring rain shower to keep me company) before realizing, DUH, i could just trace the waist line of the skirt pattern, move it down along the center front seam, and re-draw the center back fold along the new angle–keeping all of the same length in the back! so the front is about 19″ and the back is 26″.

for something that had no seams, no need for a strictly measured hem, and no waistband (i’d run out of fabric), i was strangely reluctant and lazy when the time came to actually “sew” it. i turned the raw edges of skirt sides in over some steam-a-seam, to make a clean finish, sewed some pretty blue lace over the hem and some petersham ribbon over the waistline. after hemming and hawing for 3 days, i finally sat down last night (after my beloved vampire diaries was over) and attached two snaps to create the wrap closure.

cross-posted from puu’s door of time.

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1960s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

simplicity 5408: a refreshing pop of yellow on an (almost) summer day

By on April 18, 2012

i actually made this dress over two years ago, let it hang for a while, finished it in a mono-induced spurt of productivity, and then hated on it for another year.  while it’s adorable, and i love the original pattern, i couldn’t make it quite click for me.  also, now that i know from a moulage, the back doesn’t fit comfortably and that bothers me.

fortunately, a nice, matching belt from pat’s seemed to work out all of those kinks.  and it was almost 90F yesterday in NYC.  in APRIL.  that demands a summer dress, wouldn’t you say?

also, now that i have found the most amazing sweater-shrug EVER, i had something to wear over this little sleeveless specimen so that i could not die of hyopthermia in my office.  am i the only one with this problem?  sometimes, in august, when i am wearing a wool cardigan and sitting under a blanket, i am pretty sure i am. and the cardigans get old fast, especially when a little shrug that hits right at the natural waist is a much more flattering option…


cross-posted from puu’s door of time.

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more dressing downton without a corset

By on February 28, 2012

working on my titanic-style dress for last week’s sew weekly means i actually cannot stop thinking about downton abbey and its influence on my current mood boards.

i love lady mary’s formal dinner gown from series two–especially now that i can see it is blue, not black. (which should have been obvious–wouldn’t it be inappropriate for a lady NOT in mourning to wear black to dinner?)

i’ve become quite fond of the idea of doing this look as a blouse. a nice, basic bodice with vaguely corset-inspired stylines would be a great start:

in this instance, i would probably trace off the pattern to get the right shape, and eliminate the button front by re-aligning the center fronts minus the placket. then i could decide whether to commit to the pintucks or keep it more straight. can’t you see it in a great blue lace with a blue underlining? and the sleeves would be fun to figure out, although probably a fair bit of work to determine the best way to design, cut and insert those velvet bits and the tie-end.

i recently had an epiphany, of sorts, about using vogue 1043 or 8409 as the basis for lady mary’s series 1 evening dress:

and i am not sure i mentioned it, but i’m having pleat obsessions and it’s entirely because of this skirt and its fabulous movement and design details:

oh! and i nearly forgot! have any of you checked out susan khalje’s new craftsy course? firstly, how exciting is it that someone as great as susan khalje is doing an online course like this? first gertie, then susan, and now even the wonderful kenneth king is jumping on the bandwagon. that’s good news for all of us looking for new techniques from wonderful teachers, no?

anyway, susan’s course focuses on a single pattern, vogue 8648. but check out these style lines:

i’m seeing definite potential.

part 1 available at puu’s door of time or right here at WSR.

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dressing downton without a corset: some designs and thoughts i have been playing with

By on February 24, 2012

it’s an obsession, and many of us have it: the clothes in downton abbey. i’m sure loads of you have been scouring the internet for thoughts on how you might get an exact look–or, if you’re like me, you’ve been collecting images and adapting them to patterns you’ve seen or may already own, modern and vintage, to create your own spin. i’m not a costume sort of girl, and i love the idea of flouncing around the office in my downton-inspired garb, but still looking like i belong in the 201os instead of the 1910s.

for some thoughts on accurate recreation, i’ve been entertained and inspired by the efforts of the girl with the star-spangled heart. for myself, i’ve been thinking in these terms…

i love this overblouse and the gray skirt. i’d probably go for a great vintage bolero pattern, a simple blouse (or T!) in lace or cream, and a gray a-line skirt for the look.

ahh, the flower show. scene of triumphs and heartbreaks. honestly, this is probably my favorite episode of series 1. the two base patterns i’ve honed in on for a version of this look are the folkwear garden party dress:

and the sense and sensibility tea gown:

either would be a perfect blank slate for some great design options in those front panels, or the skirts. i love the layered look of the S&S pattern and could have a lot of fun with that.

the obvious and excellent choice in this instance is the folkwear patterns “armistice blouse.”

as illustrated in the inspiring version casey made for the sew weekly:

my favorite piece from series 1 is definitely mary’s casual jacket with the contrast upper collar. as i see it, there are two great options to consider: a modern girl might go for vogue 8601:

and someone looking to play more to the times might consider this little gem from reconstructing history:

this is a beauty, and it’s all about the details. for my own version, i’m going with a deep blue, and definitely taking inspiration from the mix of textures here: a matte silk/wool blend will be my base, with the upper collar and waist details in a silk charmeuse. covered buttons will be a snap with some help from pat, and i’m using as my base the delightfully chic simplicity 8142.

this great a-line skirt may be a bit of a no-brainer, but i’ve been thinking about it for a while and still can’t decide between a version using the colette ginger skirt, a bias-cut skirt, or something self-drafted with a bit of flair. but as you can see from my musings, the possibilities are nearly endless. i’ve already acquired a lovely belt buckle to add a bit of extra interest at the waist, like miss mary here, and i’ve got a RTW silk purple blouse that is always looking for a new friend. the color, too, is gorgeous. in fact, all of the colors of the girls’ skirts i’ve seen this season have been lovely, from the rich gray paired with mary’s cream-colored blouse, to this beautiful wine color, to the stunningly bright blue worn by lady cora in multiple episodes.

believe it or not, this blouse would be lovely and easily done using the colette jasmine blouse. i had this realization over the weekend, while i was prepping the pattern for something else entirely. the neckline would be beautiful in a simple lace and the shape would be chic and modern while still having a romantic feel to it. obviously the sleeves are infinitely adaptable: you can stick with the short sleeve included with the pattern or swap in a long or 3/4 sleeve for something more akin to mary’s look. and who doesn’t love a decorative button treatment?

what have you  been sewing from the 1910s lately?

pattern ideas continued here.
my downton abbey review here.
my additional downton abbey ramblings here.
my titanic/1910s inspired vogue 8409 here.

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