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Folkwear’s Russian Settler’s dress: Sarafan

22 Mar

A bit late for last year’s Vintage Pattern Pledge, but hey, it’s done! And please to also admire my lovely overgrown garden 🙂 It’s about 3 times bigger out there now, the middle of the wet, than it was when these piccies were taken towards the beginning of the wet season. This picture was taken on a dark cloudy day in murky light, but the camera picked up all that glare. Inneresting…

Oh wait, this is a sewing blog? Not gardening? oh ok then…

I used this lovely pattern from Folkwear:

Construction:

The construction is supposed to be very straightforward. Two rectangles of fabric, the front one with a bit of shaping at the top for the waist. I added in a dart at bust-level to accommodate my D-cup bust, however I could have gotten away without it.

I accidentally adding some shaping round the waist and hips, where the pattern is literally straight down. I cut it a bit wrong then to fix it I needed to add to the hips. I wish I’d been able to make it without that hip shaping. I figure why bother making something different to your usual fare then accidentally make it half-similar after all. Ah well…

The pleats were also straightforward, till I misread the tape measure (dyslexia, honest!) and thus miscounted. Lots of faffing round and eyeballing it eventually got it Good Enough. In the notes on the history of the Russian Settler’s sarafan it says the women making them would do the pleats completely by eyeballing it, creating a mass of tiny pleats. Wow. I’m impressed!

I brought the ribbons up from where they were indicated on the pattern and still they held the pleats down to my waist. I was after more of an empire-line skirt. More swishy. Butterflies need to swirl!

Sarafans usually have two straps from the front, joining as one in the centre-back. I made two so I could wear it with a bra, without a top on underneath the dress.

Preparing the pleats – a task impossible without the help of a sewing-cat …

All pleated fairly evenly. Finally!

Getting distracted by a ta-ta lizard on the screen door

The pattern said traditionally the hem is finished with rows of ribbons and matching lace. I envisioned it with a good few inches of lace, but the only matching lace was very narrow, though prettily gathered. So I used the same fabric as the chest bands and shoulder straps as a ruffle to add to the effect. I may or may not be a total sucker for ruffles of any sort 😛

This photo makes me laugh, I look like I’m Receiving The Light! However I wanted to show how flat the front is on this style of dress. I wanted something different to my usual fitted silhouette and I got it 🙂 I love how the fabric released from the pleats curls over the hips and flares nicely.

Lovely, isn’t it?

It just had one major flaw. So major in fact that I’ve cut the top band off and will remake it as a Tina Givens-style lagenlook-y dress (Well that’s the plan, at least.)

In butterfly purple and grey   A sort of modern does 1920s dress. Greta dress by Tina Givens

The flaw? Look at the hemline in the above photo, the front is higher than the back. It wasn’t sewn that way, but there’s twice as much fabric in the back as front, so gravity pulls the whole dress backwards after only a few minutes of wear (or adjustment). The front chest band rides up nearly to the neck. It was SO uncomfortable. I tried some lingerie straps to help anchor it, they didn’t work at all. I considered a waist stay but the loose nature of the dress made that inappropriate. It’s actually a similar issue to the realities of the Walkaway Dress that so many people found. The heavy back pulls the whole thing out of alignment.

GAH!!!

And it was such a pretty pretty dress *mourns*

To be fair to the pattern there’s one version with equal amounts of fabric front and back. I’m sure that would have worked out just fine.

I am sure I can create something equally lovely, maybe even with better swirl for the butterflies on the fabric to swirl beautifully. But I’m still very very sad about this not working 😦

Mind you, there’s a definite satisfaction in just having made the dress, and all those pleats! And I have the photos to prove it 😛

You can find a pattern review here

Vintage sewing pattern pledge update

29 Dec

The original plans of what patterns to sew totally went out the window. No worries, I replaced them with a whole lot more though.

Firstly what I have done so far:

Bolivian Milkmaid’s jacket in a blue velvet. Mmm! Sadly the fit was so boxy I am not sure I can adjust it to be more flattering. I didn’t like the peplum either, with the boxy waist it just looked huge, not flattering.

Mind you, I learnt an enormous amount! And I also had a lovely jacket for the trip I went on. Here’s the best photo, where I’m pulling the jacket in at the waist in the back. It doesn’t look too bad at all in that photo!

I think this macro I found on Sew Pretty In Pink’s blog. I think it’s appropriate for this jacket too (I so ❤ Anne!)

3dfd4-tumblr_lnqobbivnf1qb5fseo1_500

Next, I sewed up Mrs Conover’s blouse.

Miss Conover's blouse, 1921

 

Here’s my mock-up version in an old sheet that’s a horrible colour on me. I decided it was a terrible pattern, until my mum and best friend both convinced me the icky bit was the fabric, not the style:

 

I found when done up in nice fabric that it was just too big. I took it in, then took it in, then took it in. Each time I did it looked better and better. I finally stopped taking it in when it was this big.

But do you think I could get a decent shot of the front? NOPE!!! and then it was all spoiled anyway when the green fabric colour ran the first time I washed it, and made the yellow icky *cries* I love the top so much I’m planning on trying to fabric-paint the neckband yellow again. *hopes*

Next was the swirl dress! Soooo much fun, the sewalong group was fantastic, and Beccie was also fantastic.

The fourth vintage sew – two dresses from this mid-1970’s pattern

For me…

And for my mum…

Fifth pattern: made the underwear part of this pattern too but no piccies yet.

 

So that’s six garments from 5 patterns.

Well that was my original pledge amount. Why aren’t I finished yet?

Well… I got all inspired by Amanda of Bimble and Pimble’s nightie-tops. (Ok, properly the Alice top 😛 But I just so have a vintage nightie pattern that is very similar to this!) I hope it’s not rude to just borrow the picture of the blog post. But it looks so good! And so cool! And so inspiring! And that dotted swiss voile is made with neon dots!!! (Go read the whole post, that’s one groovy top 🙂

Tessuti-Fabrics-Alice-Top

I just so happened to have bought 3 vintage nightie patterns not long before christmas! (Yeah yeah I love nighties :-P) Now what on earth could I do with those patterns??? I’m aiming for photos and a post about it on New Year’s Eve my mum’s birthday to nicely round out the vintage pattern pledge!

Swirl dress!

1 Dec

Here’s the swirl dress I’ve sewn as part of a sewalong I’ve referred to a couple of times, held by the talented and awesome Sew Retro Rose.

Here I tried the classic pin-up girl pose so commonly seen on sewing and fashion blogs; I think mine needs some work. But it probably won’t get worked on as in taking this photo, the whole ‘pin-up’ women as sexual images for men’s consumption thing did upsetting things to my head. (Hence the rather unsure smirk on my face.)

Moving on to happier thoughts, the front trim for the original pattern stopped at the shoulders. Since I’m not really into coffin dresses, I continued it round the back and down to the waist. A word on the fit of the back, shown below, I think it’s about as good as I can get it until I learn how to fit it more effectively. Due to the wrap-over part it was much harder to work out how or where to take the extra length up, so I just took it off at the waist. It’s good enough.

I love the effect of the bias-cut back skirt that is subtly observable in gingham. The front is on the straight grain, and the back is a semi-circle so curves from straight at the sides to the bias as the edge of the wrap. I love it!

You know, I’m not sure if I was just standing oddly, or not, but in this photo I look like I really do have a sway back. I never thought I did, just that I had a very short back. I should keep an eye out for it to see if that is my natural posture or not.

The side view, for what I can learn about fitting:

  • Perhaps my FBA wasn’t big enough? There’s more differentiation between front length and back length in my body than there is in the dress. Or perhaps it’s being distorted by catching under the arms?
  • The back’s too long but we knew that already 😛
  • It’s also too wide across the shoulders, so it’s catching under the arms when I have my arms forwards, rather than falling away from my arms smoothly like it would if properly fitted across there. I’ll take it in. The skirt’s fine though.

In this photo I don’t look at all like I have a sway back.

See the wavy hem? In the hopes it might flair the skirt in a suitably vintage manner, I put some horsehair braid from my stash in the hem. First time I’ve ever used it, and I’ll definitely use it again, it helped sew the hem really easily and with no warping of fabric as I went round the bias parts of the hem. Awesome!

However, the poor braid had been stored in a nice neat oval-shaped roll for so long, when unrolled and put into the hem, it still held the curves of the roll. I am very sure all I need to do is press it on a suitably low temperature to straighten it out, but I didn’t have time before these photos.

I’ve since washed the dress, (the braid handled being through a normal wash cycle perfectly), but it still causes the waves shown above! So I definitely need to get in there and press it properly flat.

The hair kerchief is one I made years and years ago, blue roses on a yellow background, with toning blue ric rac trim round the edge, all in one of my favourite colour schemes, baby blue and soft yellow. Like the dress! A happy accident that the two matched 🙂

Charlie’s Aunt retro handbag

31 Oct

Someone complimented me on my handbag today, and I realised I hadn’t reviewed the pattern, Charlie’s Aunt’s ‘Brideshead Bag’ like I’ve been meaning to. So here it is.

I fell head over heels in love with this bag! I mean, hey LOOK at it. Isn’t it gorgeous? Such beautiful style lines!

Let’s be totally honest: I’ve been very wary of Indie patterns for various reasons that have been well-explored by other people in the sewing community; no need to go into them here. So it took a lot of umming and ah-ing to decide whether to risk wasting money on a potentially lousy pattern, or just develop my own based on the pictures.

In the end I decided to buy it in the hopes a formal pattern might actually get me making a bag. Thing is, I don’t like bagmaking but I really needed a new handbag as the old one was falling apart. I couldn’t find one that suited my needs for a price I could afford, in any bag shop. And we won’t talk about the Amazon vendors who refuse to post beyond the US.

What also weighed in the decision to buy the pattern was that I did feel pretty strongly that if I liked the design enough to copy it, the designer ought to be getting some credit and financial recompense for it.

 

Alterations The silly thing in the end was that I actually did end up ‘designing’ most of the bag myself. The pattern size was just too big for my needs. I asked the designer before I bought the pattern if it would downsize ok. She said no, because everything was drawn up in correct proportion to each other and the seam allowances etc.

Pah! Proportion and readjusting seam allowances are bread and butter for me! No worries! So I bought the pattern and made it a good 5-10cm smaller and it did indeed come out just fine 🙂 I also added in a million more pockets as there were only the one shown on the front, and a similar one with no fastening inside.

The fastening in the pattern was for a magnetic clip between the front and back right at the top. Instead, I chose to put a zip along the top because I have a habit of throwing my bag into the back of the car or onto a chair when I get home and I didn’t want things to fall out. Yes yes I know, similar to my lack of respect for jackets. I expect a lot of my handbags!

I lengthened the strap as I prefer over-the-shoulder bags and widened them for comfort.

 

My biggest regret with the bag is that I didn’t interface the pattern because I like slouchy bags. But then of course the top was soft. making it hard to open and close the zip. *facepalm* Ok, ‘fessing up here, I almost never use interfacing. It’s just one extra layer to make clothes hotter. And the softer the better when the humidity is up, which is like most of the year here. But duh, I should have interfaced the bag. I talked it over (after the bag was made, not before, of course :-P) with a friend who makes a lot of bags and she said interfacing really helps a zip be zippy. Note to self: interfacing a bag won’t make your clothes hotter to wear and will make the bag’s zips work better.

The other negative issue is that the flap is also fastened with velcro. However the velcro disintegrated quickly and hasn’t gripped since not long after I made the bag. The pattern says to use a magnetic clasp, but I went with velcro because I wanted to keep the bag’s weight down. With the zip-top it’s really only decorative anyway, but yeah, I’d go the magnetic clasp next time, regardless of the extra weight.

 

Front (like my little polar bear zip-pull from a friend in Canada? His name is Little Polar Bear 🙂 I used two different but matching tapestry fabrics from Spotlight. I knew from the wear such tapestry stood up to with this hat, that it would last the distance.

A close-up of the front. The pockets (black tapestry on the lower half of the bag) close with velcro strips I kinda cut and spread to match the curving top. I added the velcro before sewing the side seams. The velcro works really well and stands up to heavy wear as I use them every time I use the bag. I’m pretty pleased with them, and also amused because I get so many comments from people about how they too need a bag with velcro-closing pockets!

Back I’m pretty sure there weren’t back pockets on the original pattern. I just cut two mirroring pocket pieces, then created the back pocket in the same way as the front pockets.

Yeah yeah, the base might have benefitted from some interfacing too! But I do like slouchy bags…

There’s no piccies of the inside because there’s nothing of excitement in there. The outside pockets are enough, and so very convenient to use that I am glad I didn’t bother with doing the inside ones, and they probably wouldn’t have been used.

I’m very happy with my bag! I’ve even gotten used to the soft zip. Little Polar Bear helps with the zipping, too.

Yes I would love to sew it again! I keep thinking I’d love it in a green leather, and it’s a simple enough style I think it would work very well.

But then again, I’m also so very much in love with The kitchen Bag from the same place …

Sewing pattern to make the Kitchen Garden Bag - PDF pattern INSTANT DOWNLOAD

 

Vintage pattern pledge – where I’m at so far

25 Oct

The Bolivian milkmaid’s jacket – done! hehe I’m VERY pleased with myself with that one. I made a jacket! Having said that, I’m planning to refit it before it gets its next outing. But yeah, it’s been sewn and been worn and I love it. Yeah!

Nothing else is finished yet, but there have certainly been developments, like oh you know, a whole lot more patterns I’m planning to make up *sheepish* But I just couldn’t resist …

I signed up to a Swirl Dress sew-along. I’d never even heard of Swirl Dresses, they sound like they might be a purely American phenomena? But the moment I saw the pattern I realised I needed one – you know how it goes 😉 I’ve bought some baby blue gingham for it. I’m looking forward to the sew-along. I’ve never done a sew-along, not my thing, but it’s turning out to be fun, so I may end up actually doing this one. If not I’ll just sew it up on my own.

The next addition came about as a result of a terrible terrible wardrobe tragedy. Sadly one of my most favourite dresses EVAR fell apart on me. Noooooooo!!! Worse still, it’s just the time of year where a loose style of dress is mandatory, weatherwise. I really need to replace it asap, so I desperately searched stashes of fabric and patterns, and came up with this 1974 dress pattern. (My sister’s vintage, aw cute!) The loosish fit through the torso looked good, weatherwise, especially if fitted on the looser side.

Here’s the almost-made dress, donchya love the pretty cotton/lycra satteen fabric?! And see the three pleats at the shoulder? The original pattern has two but I added another pleat as part of my customary FBA adjustment. The seaming details made it so easy to fine-tune the fit, and I can happily report it looks beautifully while still being suitably loose. It’s even a bit swishy, mmm! (It surprised me as sateen doesn’t usually swish.) Now I just have to finish it off. Not my forte, starting projects is so much more fun :-P, but the awful weather is driving me …

I thought the pattern might work on mum, too. I’ve realised recently things that look good on one of us will often work on the other. Only took me 38 yrs to notice mum and I have the same figure, just in different sizes, DUH!!! Her style’s vastly different though, for eg she wouldn’t be seen dead wearing something like this 😀 But the 1974 dress? Right up her alley, I suspected. She agreed, so I drafted her size, then cut it out in this fabric. A selfless sewing make could be part of the vintage sewing pattern pledge?

Another addition came about by a much happier incident! Ever since I bought this lovely pattern I’ve been trying to find just the right fabric for it.

1940s Inspired Misses Princess Seam Peplum Blouse Sewing Pattern, Simplicity 1590 or 0229 Sizes 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 uncut

I found it the other day! The fabric colour is actually shades of navy blue through to white,no idea why it came out so grey. *facepalm* It’s much more beautiful irl! So of course this pattern has been added to 2014 sewing list.

The last addition I found in the op-shop the other week. Is it beautiful or beautiful?

V9230

Not needing a swimsuit (I SO hate swimming, I know, so un-Aussie of me *hangs head in shame*) I’ve graded up the knickers part of the ensemble, and cut them out in soft (woven) cotton for undies. Fun! One day, not necessarily as part of the vintage pattern pledge, I wouldn’t mind trying to convert the top/overdress into a proper dress while keeping the overall feel of the style. As for the hat omgsoperfect for a woman with stupidly fair skin living in the tropics! Must make! I haz Big Plans for this pattern!

 

Blue velvet jacket!

15 Oct

I finished it! I wore it! It’s awesome!

See?! See?! Isn’t it beautiful?!

… ok ok enough with the ! and onto some substance… Warm clothes pose problems when you live in the tropics. Unless you never go anywhere else, you not only need warm clothes, you need seriously GOOD warm clothes because you get cold long before people living in a temperate climate do. It’s worse coming from Darwin, because unlike northern Queensland, we never, not even in the depths of ‘winter’, get very cold. 16C is a freezing night for us, with the days still getting up around 30C. Your body just doesn’t get practise at coping with the cold.

Some people simply leave a box of warm stuff with their relatives for when they visit. As kids, our Granny lived in Hobart. Yes, indeed, an entire continent away from all the tropical warmth of Darwin:

Map of Aust + antarctica

 

Granny kept all our warm clothes. Hobart airport was tiny, smaller even than the old Darwin airport back then. We’d shiver our way off the plane, onto the tarmac and finally finally through the doors into the waiting arms of our Granny, who had this comical but deliciously warm hug-while-wrapping-the-grandkid-up-in-a-parker greeting perfected. Next came the ordeal of waiting in a breezy freezing shed for the luggage to be brought in on trailers dragged by tractors. (I wonder if there’s finally got a proper luggage conveyor belt yet?! And if so, is it in that draughty shed?)

However, this approach only works if you visit only one place. But as an adult I have friends and family all over the country, so I need to keep a warm wardrobe here.

A huge hole in my warm-clothes wardrobe has been the lack of a light jacket. I’ve got a big winter one for the times I’m insane enough to visit my brother’s family in NSW Southern Highlands between May and November. But I also need a light jacket cutting out a cold wind and giving just a bit of warmth.

So that’s what this velvet jacket is for.

It also needs to look good (not dated) in 10 years time, because that’s the other thing about living in the tropics, your warm clothes don’t have a chance to wear out. I still have yummy woolen skivvies I bought in NZ over 15 yrs ago. I’ve focussed on building a wardrobe of classics. Ok so a Bolivian Milkmaid’s Jacket isn’t exactly a classic. But a simple princess-line jacket with nipped-in waist, flairing out over the hips is one of MY classic sillouhettes. So is dark blue.

I decided I wanted the jacket longer than the pattern, so I cut one godet per section (The pattern has two) and lengthened it. To be honest, having it the original length might make the jacket more useful. Less warm. The blue velvet is pretty warm.

Looking at the pattern reviews on sewingpatternreview.com the jacket looks nowhere near as shapely as it does in the line-drawing. I tried to bring the waist in a bit on mine, but I didn’t really manage it. It’s the only issue I have with it. In the first photo in this post, I was cheating and pulling it in round the waist, to see whether that is what it needed. I think that and the photos below confirm it would be worth refitting it before my next trip.

The jacket is lovely and soft and unstructured, which is just how I wanted it. It was so soft and comforting to my feet when it was stashed under the seat in front of me while flying. (hey I needed some comfort. I was flying Jetstar. ‘Nuff said?) I really meant it when I said here that I needed a scrunchable jacket 😛 Old backpacking habits die hard…

Taken on the path over the dunes to the beach, I’m ‘striking the pose’ here as my friend taking the photos told me to do 😀 (She’s a jazz singer, I’m a dancer. We’re such a pair of show-ponies :-D) Like my socks? They’re from Sock Dreams. The blue lace headscarf is a length of fabric from Kerryn’s Fabric World. That tiny width was all I could afford. Fortunately fluffy curly hair looks great with hair-scarves.

Hopeless phone camera is hopeless. *sigh* But you get the idea 🙂 I love the big sleeves. Although they’re literally half as full as the pattern. I didn’t have enough fabric to do the full deal.

And when it comes to timeless warm clothes, that scruffy-looking skirt is letting the side down. REALLY need to do something about that!

I thought the blue flowers (lobelia I think) would highlight the blue in the jacket but I think as far as achieving that, this photo is a sad FAIL. But hey…

Just a little peak at one of the divine places we visited, this is a beach that went on forever, along the Sunshine Coast. So beautiful! So odd to have the sun set behind the dunes, too…

Pretty white tops or: omgitworked!!!

16 Sep

What worked? Well…. Let me tell you the story. I am SO pleased with myself 🙂 although possibly I should just be pleased that the person who drew up the pattern draft was very competent? *ponders* Nah, there was a lot of my own cleverness in there too!

This, this! I made this! From Tudorlinks, a wonderful site with a number of original patterns for historical clothing.

Front View, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

 

And that’s as big a picture of the finished product you get. It’s called ‘Lady’s old-fashioned chemise‘.

Now see why I’m so proud of myself. I made one that actually works, fits me well, and that regular readers of my blog will already have seen before. These meagre pictures are solely what I created my pretty white linen top from:

Front Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Back Piece, Lady's Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893Front & Back Yokes, Sleeve & Sleeve Band, Old-fashioned Chemise, 1889 - 1893

And these instructions:

This 1889 pattern was reprinted in 1893 and it can be used at least as late as that date, though this yoked style was in use from the crinoline era.

Note also that there is a misprint on the back yoke. The part marked “Top” is actually the centre back. We have correctly labelled Top and CB in red.

We do not have the scale measures for drafting this garment, so draft to the size given and then alter to fit.

That’s all I had to go on. I’d like you, dear readers, to note that these are inches, and I’m Australian. I am not too bad at working with inches as my mum, when teaching me to sew used imperial or metric in a kinda random manner, (although she learnt in inches, as a science teacher she quickly learnt metric when it was brought into Australia). I ended up using either kinda randomly too, but for the difficult stuff I always use cm because they make the most sense, and besides everything else in my life has been done in metric so of course I’m by far the best at metric, and this project was difficult!

Measuring systems aside, I managed to get this out of this meagre pattern! (I love the way linen creases so I’m making no apology for its unironed state :-).

So how did I do it?

I printed out the pattern pieces given, and the line drawing, and worked my way through each piece, drafting it onto paper. I added in a bit more of a bust dart and length into the front yoke piece, seeing how I usually need an FBA, and I concentrated the gathered sections to be over the bust at front and in the middle of the back. My experience from sewing old-fashioned nighties showed me that’s where it’s most flattering to add gathered ease in. In the original chemise draft it is evenly gathered along the yoke, front and back. Then I added in my seam allowance. (1.5cm coz I cut my sewing teeth on the Big 4, and that’s what they use.)

I had about 80cm of white linen left over from another project, and I decided to try for a wearable muslin. I love wearable muslins! I’ve also learnt if I’m aiming for a wearable muslin to make it up in fabric I like. Using fabric lying around unused because I don’t like it kinda defeats the purpose of the ‘wearable’ bit.)

Fitting

Initially I figured the yoke section would be too small across the shoulders on the general principle of people being smaller back then, but took a punt on it as drafted, because when I measured my shoulders and the pattern yoke width, they seemed to match up pretty well. And … it fits perfectly 🙂 I suspect it would fit well over a range of sizes actually. On someone smaller across the shoulders it would just sit further out. On me the edge of the yoke hits the tip of my shoulder right where it should in a properly fitted shirt.

The sides fall shorter than the centre front and back, which is very obvious in the second and third photo.  But the length for both front and back pieces are even, so I think that is just the pattern. That they are even suggests to me I got the proportions of the ‘FBA’ right and that this pattern is just drafted to be shorter at the sides. I like it. It’s a flattering gentle curve. I also think at a more chemise-y length it would work nicely as well. If it doesn’t appeal, you could just lengthen it at the side a bit.

The length of the chemise I squeezed out of my fabric was just odd, neither top nor tunic nor dress, so I sewed in some wide horizontal tucks to bring it up to a definite shirt length. I then found some pretty gathered broderie anglaise style lace in my stash that I finished the hem with. It’s so pretty! All feminine and soft and gently sitting round my body in a way that is comfortable and loose and floaty, or all pretty and flattering to my little waist with a belt or sash round the waist.

 

Construction notes

Rather than sewing the yoke together at the centre front, I sewed the pieces separately (I lined the yoke with some cotton batiste) and put some fake pearl buttons on it. I didn’t bother with doing them to properly button and unbutton because I didn’t need it to open to get it over my head. I just sewed the front yoke together with the buttons.

 

The biggest issue I had in putting the whole thing together was the sleeves. Honestly? I’m used to sleeves being cut INTO, not set OUT from the bodice. My modern perspective meant it took me a while to work out what to do with them, what bit to attach to what other bit. The sleeve band is shaped too. Another thing to confuse the uninitiated. It took a few goes and lots of unpicking to get it right. *phew*

My arm is waaay bigger than the sleeve band so I didn’t sew it together at the underarm, and then left the sleeve bit open far enough down to accommodate my modern-sized frame and bowhunter-y arm muscles. It’s really comfortable, which I’m glad of. I really didn’t know how comfortable adding a supposedly sleeve-like affair OUT from the straight edge of bodice would be. But yeah, it works! It’s actually similar in feel when wearing to this chemise pattern (Which, although this silk chemise got sent to my sister, I made the pattern up in cotton as nightie for myself as well. YUM!)

Here it is inside out. The sleeve opening goes down to the bit of a corner in the fabric near the 4 corners of the ceramic tiles at low right. The band only goes for 2/3rd that distance. Did women have tiny arms back then? The sleeve piece itself goes down to the bottom of the picture. You can also see where the batiste inside yoke has pulled away a bit near the shoulder. Oops!

 

The right way out: The seam joining the band to the sleeve is messy and folds out to show on the outside at the bottom of the band where it’s narrower than my seam allowance. If I made it again, I’d make lengthen the sleeve band to fit my actual arm properly, and if it was too narrow to hide the seam properly I’d either widen the band a bit or handsew the inside band down. I hate handsewing so it would be the first option, being entirely honest 😛

I do, however like the way the band is shaped to be wider at the top than the bottom. Just looks nice when the seam is behaving itself 🙂

Conclusion

LOVE it! And I’m keen to try some other vintage and historical pattern drafts floating round the internet, some of which I’ve outlined in this post here.And oh boy am I proud of myself for working out how to draft and make this chemise!

What sewing achievement are you particularly proud of? I’d love to hear 🙂

 

 

Jacket sewing is hard work! :-P And a question on jacket hemming.

26 Aug

Can’t please me! It’s scary or it’s hard work! Sheesh, any other complaints, Imogheena???

Actually I have a question to the more seasoned jacket-sewers out there. How do you hem the jacket and lining? Is it best to sew the lining to the jacket hem somehow, or better to hem jacket and lining separately with the lining able to swing free? I am worried if I sewed it to the jacket hem it would sag down below the hem of the jacket over time. If I sew it separately then I can sew it a bit shorter than the jacket hem, and if it sags I can fix it easily.

Which is best? or some other option this jacket-sewing novice doesn’t know of?

Anyway, I have been finding sewing this a bit of hard slog. It’s such a BIG project, bigger than most of the things I sew and I’m starting to never want to see blue velvet ever again. Oops! That wasn’t my intention… I’m getting through it though, I’ve just today joined the lining and the jacket. That was big stuff. To do from now on:

Press the front/neckline jacket and lining seam.
Cut the armscye lower, adjust sleeve, set sleeve in, bind sleeve seam.
Put cuffs on the sleeve. (Maybe do that before setting sleeve in?)
Make buttonholes for front and sleeve cuff.
Make back belt to pull waist in. Sew it on, and two extra buttons to allow for weight changes.
Hem jacket and lining.

Tomorrow I’ll focus on the sleeves. If I could have them finished by the end of the day (Can’t really sew once it’s dark as the fabric is so dark it needs natural light to enable me to see properly) then I’d be a Very Happy Vegemite!

I’ve got a week to finish because I’m flying out monday afternoon in a week. Oh oh oh! how exciting!

Here are piccies taken just before I sewing the lining to the outer fabric.
Outer jacket:

Lining:

This is the sleeve and the cuff above it. Not very exciting, but it gives a pretty good example of the true colour of the velvet and also how it reflects the light. Oh ok, I’m not reeeelly never wanting to see it again, no not reeeelly. It IS gorgeous gorgeous fabric 🙂

The jacket was making me look terribly short and squat, but then when I put the sleeve on my arm and held it in the right position against the jacket armscye, it suddenly looked fantastic. The sleeve defined the waist beautifully, probably because you could then see there was a gap between the waist and the sleeve.

I’m rather relieved – I know if I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes I’ll never pick them to wear when I’m bleary-eyed and sleepy in the morning. Short and squat doesn’t do much for my confidence, and I’ve put a LOT of effort into this jacket. Too much to throw it away by not wearing it coz I feel ugly in it. Or only wearing it because I’m cold but have nothing nicer. So yay for sleeves helping to define the waist!

I think too, I’m just not used to seeing 2 layers of clothing on me. So much bulk…

Eh, who cares! I’m on holiday next week!

Back to the sewing machine…

Jacket sewing is scary!

12 Aug

The expression on my face in the above picture captures the scary-bit really well!

And then, bit more confident but starting to realise photographing dark blue velvet is ridiculously hard.

And even harder to do a back-view-mirror-selfie of dark blue velvet.

So uh, just what are these pictures supposedly showing? Well, glad you asked!

The Bolivian Milkmaid Jacket in dark blue velvet, (oh yum! *dies of happiness*) the bottom view, which is the ‘traditional’ version, adapted to my needs in a jacket – well what I fondly hope are my needs.

Why is jacket-sewing scary?

I have made a grand total of two jackets in my entire life. One from this cat-eaten Style pattern (I adore Style patterns) in a bottle green, that I took with me backpacking, and used for three years and yet have no photo of me in it. Go figure eh?

(I also made the trousers for my sister once in a soft crepe of a dark background with little green flowers on it, that draped like a dream. She looked fabulous in them if I do say so myself! Anyone that tells you 5 foot nothing is too short for wide-legged trousers is using the wrong fabric.)

The second was a lovely little bolero jacket out of black silk noir. Simple and beautiful. And very easy!

I’ve tried to do a few more and they became UFO’s for various reasons like the one I explain about below. I think the Scary Bit is partly because I have so little experience making jackets, and partly because the only jackets I have made were made when I was young and knew everything 😛 However, the technique I employed with both jackets, was to gather my courage up and jump in the deep end – and do something I rarely do – follow the instructions exactly. It worked! (And those are double-welt pockets lurking under those innocent-looking flaps) So I’m doing the same again. So far so good…

What I need in this jacket:

  • Look good (yeah of course, right?!)
  • Be able to be worn with anything at any time, anywhere. Kinda like The Goodies 😀 (Seriously though, I’m not asking too much. I have a black woolen coat I bought from Max 17 yrs ago in Auckland, (Italian wool because it’s somehow better than either NZ or Australian???) It fufills these needs, except for the minor detail that it’s a coat and thus a bit hot for like ooh say my upcoming trip to SE Queensland. I want all that but in a jacket that is more about cutting out cold wind in a Brisbane winter, or a temperate climate spring or autumn, than suitable for a NZ or southern Australian winter.)
  • Scrunchable. Looking after jackets isn’t my forte – I’ve got almost zilch experience!
  • Something I can actually sew in the tropics without getting either heat exhaustion or prickly heat rash. (Mmm prickly heat rash, such fun. *shudders*)

I know from sewing a couple of pairs of cotton corduroy trousers for mum that I can sew that fabric without dying. I have the most divine red boiled wool from the then Global Fabrics in Wellington 10 yrs ago. It was to be the fabled go everywhere do anything jacket. But I couldn’t do more with it than sew up the main seams before I got so hot and bothered and prickly and irritated by little bits of red wool dust that I scrunched it up (see what I mean about not knowing how to look after these kinds of things?) and threw it in the back of the top cupboard behind all my winter gear. (It’s still there. It’s too beautiful to get rid of and too hot to sew. Impasse.)

Just to explain why mum and I have winter gear when we live in a climate where 18C is a freezing cold night, I have a brother, sister-in-law and a gorgeous little nephew who live in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Fellow Aussies will know that has very cold winters. If we visit from late Autumn through to about mid-spring, I need every soft warm fuzzy thing I own, and then some! Same with Mum. My nephew’s birthday is late August; a few years ago mum and I went down for it, and Oh My GOD I almost died of ice-blockedness. I swore that no matter how much I love my nephew, I’ll have miss his birthdays 😦

Anyway, cotton velvet is very similar to handle and sew as cotton corduroy, and I’m not overheating! And what is more, I’m actually enjoying sewing it. Nice huh?

Construction notes:

After looking at reviews on sewing pattern review I decided the jacket was too short for the look I wanted, so I lengthened it. I also felt the amount of flair over the hips created by godets set into the seams and darts was just too much with the longer length. In the pattern, each seam has two godets in it, so I simply only used one. This also meant I only had 7 godets to sew in, not 14. Always a bonus 😀

This is the godet set into the centre back. Wow, appreciate for a moment you can actually see something in this photo!

Here’s the one set into the front dart. It was actually harder to do than setting the godets into a seam. Technically it shouldn’t have, but in reality it was just harder and more fiddly to get right. Fortunately, I’ve discovered, velvet is fairly forgiving of things like a bit more or less fabric in a seam allowance than is supposed to be there. I hadn’t expected that, but I’m happy to take it!

To line or not to line?

Originally I wanted a lining, one of those nice slithery things that make putting a jacket on extra-easy. I’m not that good at putting heavy clothes on. Yes, a velvet jacket is heavy! But I didn’t want acetate. Sticky. Doesn’t breathe. I tried to track down some rayon bemburg lining in a dark blue, but just didn’t find any, either in my local Spotlight (though they had signs up for the price of it. Typical Spotlight huh?) or online anywhere. I wanted dark blue because it’s BORING. Yes boring but will mean the jacket is more likely to still be in use in 17 yrs time. (I didn’t think of silk till it was too late to get any sent here)

I gave up on trying to line it, and bought some navy bias binding (yes yes, BORING, I know) to do hong kong seams.

However… after trying it on for these photos, the silly thing stuck to my clothes and seemed more to resemble velcro than anything else. So that’s it. I’ve just gone and got the nicest dark blue lining I could find in my local Spotlight, a thick viscose/polyester affair that is apparently both Italian, and anti-static.

Well, I supposed I’d better go and sew some more 🙂

What I’ve learnt about sewing undies

19 Jul

Undies, knickers, panties, those things! Being an Aussie I’ll refer to them as undies, m’k?

A personal goal of mine is to make my own lingerie, inspired by the likes of Bloom’s Endless SummerHandmade by Caroline, Sewaholic, and all the lovely patterns and blog posts on sewing lingerie to be found in the online sewing community. I figure ‘if you guys can do it, then so can I!’ Right? Right!

(I’m sure I got this at attitude from being a little sister. All my life I’ve watched my older sister do stuff, and I’m thinking ‘If SHE can do them, then so can I!’ Mum reckons this attitude always annoyed my sister no end. Poor Kylie!)

Sewing lingerie is a pretty daunting goal though, so I divided it up, starting with undies.

What do I want in a pair of undies?

I feel kinda crazy talking about the different roles of undies in my life! But there’s no point in sewing undies I won’t wear, be them ever so pretty in my lingerie draw, so bear with me?

I need to:

  • be able to walk over an hour in them
  • dance over and hour in them
  • bike ride an hour in them
  • do a pilates class in them
  • not have to adjust them just at that moment I am sighting a feral pig down the length of my arrow – or even having just gotten out of the car, for that matter
  • not have them show under my clothes
  • look suitably cute and appealing when viewed by my partner

Gosh I don’t ask much, do I!

There’s a few rtw styles that fulfil the requirements – the ubiquitous Bonds hipster bikinis(left) and Parisian knickers (right).

I can buy them fairly easily, so why am I so determined to make my own? Well, the Bonds bikinis are BORING. The Parisian Knickers are hard to find in cotton – polyester undies in this climate? No thankyou O_O. But mostly because they just don’t last long . I suspect this is a climate issue – the lycra in the fabric dies within 6 months. It happens with t-shirts with lycra in them too.

Heh, and I bet too, that now I’ve told the world how much I like them, they’ll both be discontinued by this time next year.

Oh yeah, and, I like a challenge:-)

Patterns patterns patterns

I made a pattern from each rtw style.

Next I pulled out the most likely suspect from my pattern collection, a Kwik Sew boyshorts-style pattern from an op-shop. The pattern envelope has long gone so I don’t know the pattern number, sorry 😦 However here is the pattern after I’d muslined them for a one-way stretch cotton knit. (More on muslining later.)

I also looked online for more inspiration. I fell in love with the Granny Panny from Sew Vera Venus. She offers a number of truly awesome patterns for free, including the Granny Panny.

And lastly, I have a pattern from off the internet that I’ve thrown away the original printout, and on the tracing I kept, all I wrote on it was simply ‘Pretty Things’ . I have NO idea who or what Pretty Things undies are, but if you do know, please tell me so I can a) acknowledge them properly, and b) thank them, because they are really comfortable!

What I made!

The RTW undies: When made in similar fabric to the originals, both the Parisian Knickers and the Bonds bikini were almost exactly the same as the rtw. This surprised me. I had my doubts that copying a rtw pair would produce anything much useful, but it was actually really effective. Yay!

I don’t have a picture of the me-made Bonds bikini, but could you just take my word they were very comfy? Here are the Parisian Knickers:

Photo

For these, I used stretch lace fabric found in the scrapbooking section of Officeworks. Seriously. *rather bemused* All I can say is it is a good advertisement for the value of reaching out to touch every textile you ever see 😀 It was only when touching it that it became obvious it was stretch lace. Why you’d need stretch lace for scrapbooking, I don’t know…?  The fabric is modal jersy/lycra from Dharma Trading and I’m sadly disappointed by it. It’s a nice comfy stretchy cool fabric – that pills the moment it’s washed. And I have a front loader I only use cold water with, so I am not butchering them 😦

The Kwik Sew supposed boy-shorts in one-way stretch cotton from Spotlight (This is how they ended up after adjustments to make them fullfil the Undies Requirements. Not exactly boy-shorts anymore, are they!)

My version of the Granny Panny (Oh why isn’t my photo all neat and shapely like Sew Vera Venus’s?), in a very funky purple polkadot cut a dress I found in an op-shop. I never took to the dress, but as a pair of Granny Pannies? LOVE!!!

 

The mysterious Pretty Things undies, in modal rayon/lycra from Dharma Trading, and stretch lace from Spotlight. Very comfy!

Hey Imogheena, just get to the good stuff already!

ok ok, So what have I learnt?

Patterns…

  • Why have more than one pattern? The patterns have very different layouts – some take up a lot of fold, some barely use a fold. Some are made of one big pattern (nice and easy to work with!), others two or three smaller pieces which fit on small scraps of fabric better. For eg I got 2 Parisean briefs out of a singlet top requisitioned to undies-making. If I’d used the Granny Panny or even the Bonds bikini, I’d have only gotten one pair from it. Conversely, with the modal rayon/lycra, I could get more Bonds bikinis than any other type. However it was so slithery, the Granny Panny with only one main piece, would actually have been easiest to use.
  • Crotch style (eg attached only at the sides/a seam down the centre/no seam/sandwhiched onto the front and back etc) has a huge bearing on how comfortable undies are, and there seems to be as many different versions of crotch-linings as there are undies patterns!  I found it’s pretty easy with a bit of judicious tracing and perhaps a seam added or taken away, to adjust most undies from one crotch-lining style to another. The increase in comfort a crotch-lining in your prefered style creates is well worth the effort.

Muslining undies…

  • Muslining is really really useful. And I HATE muslining, so I don’t say this lightly! Often quite small differences in stretch and recovery between fabrics can make a huge difference when on your body.
  • It works an absolute treat to literally draw with a pen where you want the exact leg-opening and waist-opening to fall on your own body! It was perhaps the most useful thing I worked out about sewing undies. Yeah! Go me!
  • If you do draw the openings on your muslin, it helps to have fabric to draw on, so cut extra length in the leg and waist openings.
  • There are tutorials out there that teach you how to adjust the pattern to different fabrics. (Using this principal in this tutorial by Cloth-habit) However they don’t take into account the lengthwise stretch or lack, of a fabric. But this is important for the comfort. You can do the same calculations for the length, but neither of these approaches necessarily made the leg opening fit well. (Noooo I’m not finicky! Honest!) I found muslining the easiest way to solve all of these issues at once.

Elastic and stretch laces…

  • The width of the stretch lace needs to be calculated into the fit. ie if the fit is perfect with 2cm wide lace, if made with 4cm lace it isn’t gonna fit right, especially through the crotch which will now be 4cm wider than drafted. Yeah I know. Obvious when spelled out, right?! Fortunately it’s easy to just cut that extra width off the pattern pieces before applying elastic.

How much elastic/ stretch lace to apply to each opening?

Like fabrics, different lingerie elastics and laces all have a different stretch and recovery. You want to get this bit right. After all a leg-opening that binds is a misery; too loose a waist and you might lose your duds, too tight and you’re back to misery. I decided the best thing to do was just experiement. Make 200 undies! (Well, not literally. I  mean the 200 zips concept) figuring eventually it would all make sense. And it did! Phew!

Firstly I simply measured each kind of elastic around the relevant body part at the taughtness that felt comfortable. Boy did that not work! Often the elastic I’d cut would be longer than the opening it was supposed to pull in. Huh? Even when it was smaller than the opening, once applied it was usually just too loose.

Eventually I realised that so long as the undies fit nicely, all you need is to cut the elastic a bit smaller than the circumference of the opening. DUH!! So obvious – well, now I’ve worked it out…

The caveat is: the ‘bit smaller’ varies with the stretch/recovery property of each elastic, and I haven’t yet found a way to work out how much by other than trial and error. I’m open to suggestions!

Fortunately I’ve now done so much trial and error I’m starting to intuitively know how much smaller particular elastic needs to be.  The 200 zips principal at work. YAY!

THEN I discovered that like bras, elastic in undies loosens as it ages. *facepalm* (I blame the Bonds hipster bikinis that I didn’t know this already – the fabric dies long before the elastic does.) So now I add that into my calculations too.

Construction…

This is the easiest way I’ve found, it means you’re applying elastic to a long edge rather than in the round, making it a lot easier to handle and match the elastic evenly along the fabric.

  • Sew the crotch seam and sew or baste the crotch lining in
  • Apply leg elastic to both leg edges
  • Sew up one side seam
  • Apply elastic to waist
  • Sew the other side seam up

 

Applying Elastic…

I’ve seen many suggestions for applying elastic, and duly tried them all. I’m really sorry that I can’t credit these suggestions correctly because they were gleaned from many late nights vegging out on pinterest and following links and I’ve long forgotten who said what. They’ve come from tutorials on adult lingerie, children’s undies (Do children have lingerie???) and swimwear for both adults and children. One day I intend to sort my Pinterest sewing boards a bit better, when I do I’ll come back and link to the lingerie-sewing board.

The suggestions:

‘Stretch the elastic more across the back than the front leg opening.’ IME it makes no difference and is a pain to do, so I don’t do it.

‘Stretch the elastic and the fabric a bit’ and conversely ‘only stretch the elastic to fit to the fabric’ IME this also makes no difference. What DOES matter is that you have good control of both fabric and elastic. Some elastics sit better on fabric that is stretched, others on fabric that is lax. Some fabrics are easier to sew the elastic to when stretched, others not. I do what works best.

The other important thing this impacts on is the stretchiness of the seam itself. I discovered the seam itself needs to be very very stretchy. If the seam is any less elastic than the lace it feels binding. The zigzag chosen needs to be very wide, and not very long.

And not elastic but still a common suggestion, ‘You can cut up old t-shirts to make undies!’ Hmph. See the point about muslining. By the time you’ve muslined there probably won’t be any fabric left for the Real pair. However if you’ve sewn 200 undies (or thereabouts ;-P) you’ll have enough experience to use t-shirts effectively. But when learning? IME it makes it harder, not easier.

 

Pretty pretty undies all cut up (from two singlets I wasn’t using) and ready to sew up 🙂

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