Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Christmas Dresses, Two at a Time

Hello! Hope everyone's had a lovely holiday. I know I've eaten my own weight in chocolate and cheese, so that counts as a resounding success. I don't know about you, but I always like some new stuff to wear for Christmas, whether I need it or not. I had made my mind up to make one final dress for the #vintagepledge, and at the last minute decided to knock out one more, because as you'll see, the first dress, although a joy to wear, is not the most practical when roasting a turkey.

Christmas dress number one is from this 1967 Simplicity pattern:

Simplicity 7088, 1967

I can't remember where I saw this pattern, but when I did I knew I had to have it. I raced around loads of sites looking for it, and eventually bought it from ogy0531 on eBay. It was nearly £20 with p+p, which is more than I would normally spend on a pattern, but I had to have it! And it isn't even the right size - this is a bust 31, I'm more of a 36, so I used this pattern which I know fits me straight out of the packet, to grade it up to my size:

I used reams and reams of tracing paper, and even made a toile, which looked like this:

At this stage, I was concerned that I was going to look like this:

Agnes Moorehead as Endora in 'Bewitched'

- but I carried on despite this. But a part of me always loved Endora's sense of drama, so in tribute to her I decided to go for a gold and black look, courtesy of some cheap lame knit from Walthamstow market.

Enough of my waffling, here's the finished dress:

Of course, the most spectacular part of the dress is the back:

This is certainly the most comfortable 'glamour' dress I've ever worn; it sort of feels like a hospital gown because it's all loose and swingy at the back, and feels like it could fly up at any moment.

And the secret to the shape of the whole thing lies in this sneaky little bra extender, which is hidden inside and keeps the front portion close to the body and lets the rest hang free:

I lined the whole dress in a light weight poly to give it some stability, and the bra extender was hidden under the cape - here's a flash of the inside (excuse my big red bra):

Here's one more swish:

As much as I love that dress, it's more of a night time look, not really suitable for turkey and gravy on Christmas Day. At the very last minute - December 22nd - I decided to make a more wearable dress out of some stash fabric using a pattern I've used before:

Simplicity 9330 from 1971
I used some bargain-tastic viscose and light weight poly lining I picked up, once again, at Walthamstow market. I got it cut out and sewn up in 2 days, which is super quick for me, and it was my first invisible zip in a garment - milestone! Here it is:

It was all pretty straight forward, I knew it would fit so I didn't have to try it on along the way, and the invisible zip saved so much time:

Not bad for a first attempt - why did I wait so long to do this?!!?
The only slightly tricky bit is the collar/bow thing at the neck, which involved a bit of basting and a bit of unpicking to finally get right:

The fabric has a bit of stretch in it, so was ideal for sweating away in the kitchen, then eating all of the roasted goodness, as well as pudding and other sweets.

So all round a sartorially successful Christmas. Hope everyone had a good one and here's to a fabulous New Year!

See you soon!

Friday, 13 November 2015

A Winter Jumpsuit - Burda #130

Every now and then I stray off the vintage path and make something from the present day. This Burda jumpsuit caught my eye, partly because it reminded me of something which Clare at Sew Dixie Lou brought my attention to:

Joan Collins in 'Tales of the Unexpected', 1980

It's a massive stretch from Joan and her zips to Burda 09/2011 #130, but stick with me:

(Is it me, or does Burda Girl look massively depressed, so much so she's taken to drinking alone, while staring out the window, wondering where all the time went, or something...)

This is one of a number of projects waiting to be blogged, but I've been too busy wearing them. This jumpsuit has been a particular favourite, though I somehow couldn't get it to photograph at it's best. Excuse all the wrinkles and draping, the fabric was misbehaving!

I used a wool/poly/lycra blend from my new local supplier in Walthamstow, The Man Outside Sainsburys! (#TMOS), which was only £3 per metre. It took 3 metres, so a total of £9 - bargain! It's one of those in between colours, a bit brown, a bit grey, a bit khaki, but it handles beautifully and the stretch makes it really comfortable to wear.

Here's the back:

I'm used to wearing quite fitted styles, so something this loose and draped is a total departure for me. At times it feels like I'm wearing pyjamas. Unlike the girl in the photo, I have boobs and an open front to deal with, so I had to add a hidden hook and eye and press stud to keep it decent:

As I usually do with trousers, I lined the back seat section for stability and comfort:

I'm not a big lover of PDF patterns, but this one was really inexpensive - £3.99 - and wasn't as painful to put together as they usually are. 

The instructions are a bit vague, but it all went together pretty well. The only thing I would recommend is to use an invisible zip for a sleeker look; I used a lapped zip and it sticks out a bit. Might change it later...

Some other details - 

The sleeves are pretty long, but going by the picture they are meant to be rolled back in a cuff, as are the trousers. And there's pockets, which is always a plus!:

And I think that's it! See you soon!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

From Paris to Walthamstow - Butterick 5281

 In July, went on a quick trip to Paris with my family where I couldn't help but have a quick look around the fabric shops in Montmartre. It would be rude not too, after all! And that's where I found this beauty: 

I love nautical clothes, jewelry, motifs, and so on - I don't really know why, other than it makes me feel like I'm on holiday. I'm terrible at swimming!  As usual I had no real plan, so I bought about 2.5 metres, and I think it was about 12 Euros in total - not too bad when you think a coffee in Paris is about 4 Euros... 

I added it to my sizable stash, and didn't give it any more thought until I saw that Weaver Dee had a sale on patterns, where I got this lovely little dress: 

Butterick 5281
I didn't immediately put the fabric with this pattern, but it somehow just clicked one day when I was looking through my fabrics that they would work together. But before I cut into it, I wanted to make sure that I got the fit just right - now for the tracing and slashing, which there was A LOT of!

You may have noticed that the pattern is sized 6 - 12. I'm between a 12 and 14, depending on the cut, but being a total cheap-o, there was no way I was going to buy 2 patterns. I figured I was experienced enough to size it up in the places I needed it, and the draping over the right shoulder and left waist absorb any fullness I needed to 'hide'.

I won't go into all the details because quite honestly I can't remember everything I changed but mostly I added 1/2" to the centre front and back, pinched some fullness out of the armholes and swung them into the gathers at the waist and pleats over the shoulder. I also lengthened the bodice by 1". 

Phew! After all that, here's the finished dress, as photographed on the streets of Walthamstow:

After mucking around with the toile for ages, the actual dress went together really well. I really like the way the draping works over the shoulder:

 Here's a close up of the gathers by the waist:

The neckline actually opens on the left so that you can get it over your head; the instructions tell you to close this with press studs, but I decided to change this and instead of snaps used buttons, which I got from Walthamstow market:

I lined the whole dress with a light poly cotton, again from Walthamstow:

And finally, some shoulder pads were put in to give it that 40's silhouette:

And that's pretty much it - see you soon!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Film Noir Dress

Hello! I've been away from the land of Blogs for a while because of life and stuff. I've just moved house - the first time in 20 years! - which has disrupted my sewing and knitting out put. But I made sure I made one last thing before the big move, which I'm sharing with you now.

I've had this pattern for ages, and while I always loved it, I never really felt I had the right look for it until now. According to the Vintage Pattern Wiki, it's from 1951 - it definitely has that haughty, Parisienne fashion look about it from that time:

Simplicity 8424, 1951

And even better, I had a length of black, grosgrain-type fabric I acquired during the swap at the Sew Brum meet-up which Claire from Sew Incidentally had donated.

The finished dress has a feel of something a no-good dame from a film noir would wear. Or if you're familiar with the work of artist Ryan Heshka, it kinda has the pointy-boob, big hip thing going on that one of his scary women would wear:

Mean Girls Club - Ryan Heshka

And here it is:

As you can see, I decided to pursue the film noir theme to its logical conclusion and take some shadowy photos in my new back yard.

Apologies for the wrinkly look in the photos - there's something about this fabric that just resists all ironing. I've tried steam, heat, spray starch, alone and in combination - it just doesn't want to know. Hence the crinkly lapped seam in this photo:

But it's still a great dress to wear. I particularly love the pockets, which sit away from the body and make your waist look smaller:

Close-up of pocket
Other details:

The buttons at the neck are covered in the same fabric as the dress:

I reinforced the base of the button facings and the pocket seams with embroidered arrowheads:

It's hard to see, being black on black, but there's an arrowhead on the left!
And I lined the skirt in red, as well as finishing the hem, as always, with matching bias:

The only fitting adjustment I made was adding some extra room in the bust; other than that it all went together pretty well.

This dress is surprisingly comfortable to wear; I might even make another one, if I ever get my sewing things unpacked... Anyway, it's great to be back on the Blog-wagon - see you soon!