Summer Dress #1: Vogue 8993 in linen

Or, I finally finished something.  Sewing has been taking a backseat to everything else.  On top of that, I’ve decided to incorporate couture techniques from Susan Khalje’s Craftsy courses. It’s taking a while to finish anything.

I LOVE this dress.  Not happy with the fit…. because I gained weight between the time of the muslin and finishing.  You see, it’s not just sewing that’s taken a backseat, so has my diet and exercise program…  I went for a long walk today, and am going to make it a priority again.

pattern description:   Very Easy Vogue 8993 c2014.  I bought this for something else, but never got around to it.  Then I bought the linen, and it was a good match.  From pattern: dress has neck band, cut in armholes, close-fitting lined bodice with side front and back seams, front pleated skirt, side pockets, back zipper and stitched hem.  I made View B, the midi version, which is really closer to just above the ankle (and I’m 5’9″).  I paired it with a slender silver-tone belt.

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Vogue 8993, View B
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sizing:  8 through 16. I made a 12 in shoulders and bust and graded out approximately to a 14 at the waist and hips.  I also made my standard torso length adjustment of about 1.5 inches added.

fabric:  I LOVE the linens from Marcy Tilton.  I don’t buy much else there, but I love it when she has linen.  This one was a digital print, Copeland, which is now sold out.  It’s light to mid-weight, drapey (when washed), soft.  The weave is a little looser than I like – the grain shifted a bit on the collar, I’m afraid.  I underlined the skirt with cotton batiste (from Susan Khalje).  I underlined the top with silk organza (Gorgeous Fabrics) and lined the bodice with the batiste.

tips used during construction:  I was watching Susan Khalje’s couture classes on Craftsy and used the couture techniques for the bodice.  I did the skirt the “traditional” or pattern way (but really didn’t pay that much attention to those instructions).  I used the instructions for the neck band/collar.  I added a waist stay after an exchange with Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics.

instructions?:  I didn’t really use them, except for the neck band.  There has got to be a better way to attach the neckband for a better quality result.  Here you sew the band, right sides together, trim, press and turn right sides out, stitch to bodice, slip stitch to the lining.  Easy enough, but getting things perfect at the front – not easy.  I want a nice clean line from the bodice to the band at the join, and that is a challenge to do well.

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construction notes:  I used a hybrid approach – home sewer techniques for the skirt and neck band, couture for the bodice and attaching the bodice to the skirt.  I did machine stitch the invisible zipper.   I feel like I got better quality results on the bodice all around.  I was more accurate using stitching lines (instead of cutting lines) and I put in the best lining I have ever done putting it in by hand the way Susan shows in her videos.  I always have difficulties with the arm holes – here perfect.

Even though this pattern is suitable for a lightweight denim, think about it before you do that.  This is a light/mid linen, underlined with very light batiste.  All the weight of the skirt is in the front – deep box pleats and pockets.  When I attached the skirt to the bodice, the weight of the skirt pulled the front of the bodice down, causing unattractive drag lines and gapping at the arms.  Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics suggested a petersham waist stay, which did the trick. I later found her blog post on the subject.  The petersham, attached at seams and darts of the waist, takes on the weight of the skirt, relieving the pressure on the bodice and shoulders.

Speaking of stays, I used organza selvedges at the v-neck and shoulders to stabilize and prevent stretching in these areas. I also used a double layer of organza, sewn in, for the neckband interfacing.  I did not top stitch the hem.

comments:  I love this dress.  I feel pretty in it, even if it’s a bit snug at the moment.  Give me a couple of weeks on that.  I will likely make this again, in the shorter version, with some design changes.  One thing I’m going to add – lingerie/bra carriers.   I didn’t realize they were showing in the photos.

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When to set aside a project?

In this case, when I can’t muster the enthusiasm to work on it and keep thinking of the next project.  I’m afraid that I will be sloppy as a result.

I’ve been working on the top to Vogue 1213, in a beautiful, easy to work with 3 ply silk crepe.  I love the blouse and I will finish it – in fact I don’t have far to go and I’m not putting it completely away.

You see, when I started this project, work was calm.  Then it became a storm – a hurricane.  I think I may have found one hour in an entire month to sew.  And now that things have calmed a bit, I’m not interested in working on it.  Part of the problem is that my brain has moved on to the next project.  And part is that the formal part of my job has ended for a few months (I’ll be working from home) and I don’t need a silk blouse right now.  I need summer dresses.

So here it is, and I do plan to finish it:

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Why do you put something aside?

 

Rucci Suit Jacket & Skirt (Vogue 1437)

I’ve completed two muslins on the blouse for 1213. But I never finished this post.  I finished the jacket in December, and almost all of the skirt then too.  I was unhappy with  the waist treatment, so came up with something different last week.  Better, but not great, still needs some work.  This was the most challenging combo I’ve ever made, and I learned a lot.  I’m happy/unhappy, and this exercise had many expensive lessons. I blogged the blouse here. I can’t believe this is already out of print.

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There’s just something about this jacket – is it the challenge?  The unusual shape?  It doesn’t scream traditional suit, which I like. I decided to make this three piece outfit in parts, interspersing “quick hits” to give me a feeling of accomplishment.  When I was finishing the Tilton raincoat, I kept thinking about this jacket, and found it distracted me from focusing on the raincoat. I also wanted to re-design the skirt entirely, which I did.

I started with a muslin.  Some reviewers on patternreview suggested that the jacket ran small, and would fit a small back well.  This was mentioned of the blouse, but the fit for me was fine.  Still, I made the muslin not so much for the fit, for the techniques.  The fit across the shoulders would be critical on this jacket (and something I think is problematic with the Tilton raincoat, even cut a size smaller).  But I read the directions several times: with the unusual shaped pieces, slash to dot techniques, etc, I knew I needed a practice version first, to work out the kinks.

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On the dress form, before completing the skirt side seams.

The muslin revealed the following:  BASTE, BASTE, BASTE.  Precision matters – I marked the dots, slashes, notches etc before even cutting. (I usually cut downstairs, carry up and mark later, but fabrics do shift).  Mark with a color scheme (squares one color, circles another). Keep track of the pieces – face side, top etc. I also cut pieces as I needed them.  The actual assembly of this jacket, wasn’t too difficult, once I got going.  It made more sense with the pieces in hand than reading alone.

But when I did the muslin for the jacket, it wasn’t enough.  I only did the one layer (outer) and discovered additional challenges working with both layers.  In addition, because the jacket is self lined, it’s also a bit smaller than a single layer muslin.  It’s close fitting.

One one level, I learned a lot working with this more complex design.  I successfully applied a grosgrain waistband with an underlap in a way that is comfortable.  I learned that with patience I can do a decent job of hand top-stitching.  I feel more confident about tackling more advanced projects.  But I also learned that fabric choices can lead to other things.  Here, my fabric was a bit heavy, and nothing about this jacket is interfaced (it relies on the topstitching).  My wool gabardine needed silk organza underlining at the very least.  After hanging two months on my dress form, it’s sagging against those top stitches, creating drag lines that didn’t exist when I first finished it.

So here is the review, with some live action shots my assistant took of me delivering a lecture this morning.  I do not like this suit with the blouse tucked in on me – it blouses too much, creating even more of a tummy than I already have.

The pattern:  Vogue 1437, Ralph Rucci.  Fitted, self lined jacket has front extending into back collar, side panels, no side seams, side front slanted pockets, back seem detail and sleeves shaped at lower edge.  Semi-fitted partially lined skirt has yokes, insets extending into tie ends, left side front slit, very narrow hem.

Pattern Sizing:  6-12.  I made the size 12.   Mine looks both larger (longer) and smaller (tighter in the arms, and I’m skinny armed) than the model.  I made no adjustments to sizing the jacket, and I normally add two inches in length.  As you can see from the back photos, this cutaway style is long.  For the skirt, I think I added to the side seams a smidgen, but I can’t remember.  If I didn’t I should have.  Or I should start exercising more.

The Fabric:  I splurged.  Not because I wanted to, but my preferred fabric sources weren’t offering colors in tropical wool that I wanted.  And I couldn’t wait.  I should have, though they still haven’t offered what I had in mind.  The recommended fabric choices are tropical wool, linen, shantung.  I went with a very fine gabardine from NY Fashion Fabrics, in a blue/turquoise and black.  The lining for the skirt is Amsale black silk crepe de chine from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Look like the pictures/drawings:  Yes and no.  The jacket doesn’t hang nice like on the model (fit? fabric? both?) and I completely changed the skirt.

Pattern Alterations/Design Changes:  For the jacket, I only made two changes.  First, I eliminated the pockets.  The instructions weren’t very clear, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like the finished look.  The size was just big enough to fit a lipstick (the pockets are hidden in the front band).  The bust darts were finished after putting the lining in, so if the jacket flipped open you would see them.  I finished them separately, opened the darts and flattened them, and carefully lined the outer and lining up to stitch together.

I completely changed the skirt.  I liked the inset, hated the high slit and didn’t like the idea of a narrow hem.  It also seemed short.  I started to play around with the color blocking – my original choice was to put the blue at the bottom of the skirt.  In the end, I added three blue insets to the solid black and eliminated the ties.  The blue insets are the same size as the original one inset (3/8″).  The top two are separated by a black inset of the same size, while the third inset was placed in between the middle and lower skirt pieces.  This effectively lengthen the skirt, and made it more a-line.  I did have to edge stitch the black edges next to the insets to get the gabardine to behave.

Three other design changes to the skirt. I fully lined it.  I faced the hem.  And the waistband – the original simply had you sew the lining to the skirt, right sides together and flip the lining to the inside.  No support for the waist – no band, no interfacing, no facing.  Naturally, even with staystitching, it stretched out.  I applied a black grosgrain with an underlap, which helps, but I need to take in the waist, because it’s too big now, and sags in a not-so-flattering way.

Instructions?:  Not good.  The illustrator and the copy writer were definitely not talking about the same things at some points on the jacket.  I even emailed Vogue about some points and they said, yes, that’s wrong, but didn’t give me any clues to remedy things.  It’s been a while since I sewed this, but I will point out some places that were wrong or confusing or could have been done better:

  • The picture on step 7 appears wrong.  The directions say to put the pieces right sides together, but that’s not what’s illustrated.
  • I wrote error on step 11, but I don’t remember why. I think it has to do with the pockets, and one reason why I cut them out.
  • Step 17 shows a non-existent notch, so does 20.
  • Step 18 is not clear.  Same with 22 – I think I basted farther than I needed too, as I noted that I needed to rip the basting out later. (Another note about basting in 23).
  • I wrote wrong on the pattern for steps 25 and 26.  I’m not sure why, but I remember wrestling to finish the sleeve edges and doing it wrong, trimming where I shouldn’t have and generally cursing when I don’t normally curse.  I eventually managed it (using binder clips) but they are a bit wonky.
  • Step 30 has the darts going in weird, but not necessarily wrong, just leaves them unfinished in a place that will show.

Recommend? Do it again?  Maybe. I don’t like the blouse tucked in with this.  I’m proud of my ability to tackle it and finish it, even if it is far from perfect.  I will likely wear the blouse and skirt as a pair more often (and not the jacket). I may try the jacket with jeans.  I’m not sure I’ll make it again, partly because it is so distinctive.  But you never know. Maybe when my skills improve, and if I found the right fabric…

Action Shots (what better way to see an outfit and how it moves, rather than posed shots, though please excuse the microphone clipped to the collar and reaching under the jacket in the back):

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Action shot

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Updated Vintage: Vogue 1213, part 1

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So I fell in love with an embroidered linen, on line.  Bought it, and then had to consider how to use it.  I knew I wanted a skirt, but I needed a pattern with simple lines.  I had had my eye on the top for Vogue 1213 (Lanvin-Castillo) for some time (the jacket too).  I thought I could make a work and heat friendly version of the the skirt and blouse.  One day I will make the jacket, not for a suit, but for jeans.

Lo and behold, I went to make this, and was missing the directions.  I made an appeal and Kate of Fabrikated emailed me photos of the directions from London.  I love our sewing community!  Thanks Kate!

This is an easy, easy skirt: front, back, pocket, waistband.  I didn’t really need the directions for the skirt.  But it was nice to know that I had planned to do the pocket the same way.  You see, the pocket is hidden in that front pleat!!

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The pockets were cut in batiste. I’m basting the pocket to the fashion fabric, right sides together.  The center line with pins is the cutting line.

I still had to do a muslin, as the pattern I had was for someone teeny tiny.  I needed to add 4 inches of girth.  I ended up adding most of it to the side seams, but did shift the center back and center front off the fabric fold by 1/2 inch (one each each total) to shift the darts and pleats to the right place.

I was also watching Susan Khalje’s Couture dress on Craftsy and decided to try out a few things:  the way she cuts out the fabric and uses stitching lines – not cutting lines, how she marks the backing fabric/underlining, and her hand stitched lapped zipper.

 

So the details:

Pattern Description: Vogue Paris Original 1213 by Lanvin-Castillo. “Slim skirt has side front pockets.”

Fabric:  Embroidered linen (white on black) from Farmhouse Fabrics.  Underlining (and pockets) Japanese cotton batiste from Emma One Sock that’s been stashed for some time.

Pattern Sizing:  Size 12, but the old Vogue 12, with a bust of 32 and hip of 34.  I wish.  See above.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, but the linen isn’t as drapey, and mine is shorter on me. I’m still not sure I like the length, but I’ve got some room to play – and when I do the blouse I’ll post a photo of me in the outfit for comments about the length (hits me mid/lower knee).

Instructions? Great – though I only half used them. I’ll really need them for the blouse.  I love the old school directions.

 

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The hidden pocket

What do you like or dislike about the pattern?  Clean lines, simple. The pocket hidden in the pleat is really cool – it’s not really on the side, but further in on the hip.  They aren’t that deep/big though, so don’t expect to stick your heavy keys or smart phone in there.  I also liked that this skirt is underlined, rather than lined.  I’ve come to prefer this treatment.  It gives the fashion fabric a little something extra, and with linen, reduces wrinkling. I forgot to add in the original post:  when I traced the stitching lines onto the muslin, I noticed the darts were ever so slightly curved – not straight angles.  It made for a much nicer dart, skimming over the curve of the body.

 

Pattern alterations or design changes?  I changed the sizing.  I hand inserted a lapped zipper.  I did serge the seam edges and didn’t give myself enough to do a proper lapped zipper, so I had to insert/baste in some grosgrain, which solved the problem, and stabilized the hip curve.  I also sewed the waist band on according to her out-of-print

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The lapped zipper, with grosgrain added to widen the seam allowance.

book.  There you staystitch the waist, baste grosgrain in place, sew the waistband on, fold it over the grosgrain and finish as desired. The inside of the waist band (facing) is serged, and I sewed it in place by stitching in the ditch.  I finished my edges with the serger instead of hand overcasting.

 

 

Would you sew again? Recommend?  Sure.  I haven’t made a skirt with an actual waistband in a while, so let’s see how I like that in the Florida heat.

Conclusions:  A simple skirt, with a fun pocket that allowed me to work on fundamentals in couture.  While I didn’t apply everything I’m learning from couture classes/books, I think what I did do helped considerably:  from the muslin to the backing to hand placing the zipper.  I feel I improved my skills and I’m happy with the final product.  Surprisingly, I found all that basting quite meditative.  The end process is a skirt that I really love that I feel I did a great job on.  Even though it took longer than normal for me to make, I enjoyed every step of it, which is nice.

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Pictures don’t do it justice.  It doesn’t fit the dress form; on me, the waist sits flat and does not flare out.  A new dress form?  Or just time to go outside for pictures? Or find someone to take pictures?

 

 

 

Help from the sewing community, please!

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Does anyone happen to have the instructions for Vogue Paris Original 1213 (Lanvin Castillo)?  I’d like to make this, but the version I bought on e-bay is missing some of the instructions…

I’m sure I’ll figure it out – but there is an interesting pocket treatment on the skirt that I’m interested in…

FINALLY, the Tilton Raincoat (Vogue 8934)

This is a project that started, in some sense, when the pattern was released in 2013, and I still lived in DC.  I bought the pattern and the fabric right away.  Then I hedged on lining, which I finally bought a year ago.  At that time I sewed right up to step 26 of 35, and put it away.  Then every excuse in the book couldn’t get me to start again.  Then when I did a month ago, I procrastinated.  Hurricanes, work, the fact that it doesn’t rain here in the fall, etc. What was it really?  I hate making machine buttonholes.

I made the plain coat, version B, in a size small.  I would normally wear a size 12 (medium) but this felt big when tissue-fitting, and I’m not likely to wear heavy layers with it.  Here in Florida, it’s a winter coat more that a light raincoat.

After I took these pictures, I realized I did a terrible job pressing those darts.  Must fix.

The Fabric:  A long sold out nylon supplex, that I purchased from Marcy Tilton’s on line store. This a tightly woven synthetic, that should repel water. It is one she recommended for the coat.  I like the color, but the fabric was challenging – a hard fabric, difficult to hand sew (i.e., hems), difficult to press.  The lining was also Marcy Tilton, also sold out, a black Valentino synthetic.  It was fine for the project.

What I changed:  I cut the collar facing out of the fashion fabric.  With the wide open collar, the lining would show.  Since my lining was nothing special, I switched it out.  I wish I had done so for front facing as well. I lightly interfaced with tricot the right fly, even though the instructions didn’t call for it – I needed to do this for stable button holes.

I made a cutting error (more below) on the shoulder seam, so I edge-stitched the shoulder seams to strengthen the very narrow seam I ended up with. I also knew within one inch of ditch-stitching the collar and band seams that it wasn’t going to work with the nylon supplex.  So, I edged-stitched here as well.  Both small changes, but they did add a little something to an otherwise very plain jacket.

Construction & Instructions:  Generally speaking the directions were fine, with one major exception. I read the instructions for the right fly, buttonholes and facing (steps 26-30) at least five times.  The illustrations don’t match the text well, especially in step 29 (which seams to be in error).  I thought I had puzzled it out, but in the end, I did it wrong.  The jacket looks fine in the end, but it’s not quite what they ask you to do.

You should take extra caution when cutting out the coat.  View A and B naturally use the same pieces.  The challenge is that View A’s placement lines for the patches are very close to seam lines, especially at the shoulder.  I must have been tired because I cut along the wrong set of lines.  I’m not a big fan of multi-size patterns when the markings are very close together anyway, but this was annoying.

What I learned: Well, I can do button holes, but they still look ugly. Is it me or my machine?  I really think it’s the machine. It’s very basic.  I think I’m going to practice hand-worked buttonholes for the future.

Overall, the jacket is fine, but I don’t see it being one of my favorites. Well, off to sew the Rucci jacket, which will be a far more interesting project in an amazing wool gab.

The Rucci Suit, part 1 (Vogue 1437)

This suit caught my eye when it was first released.  I kept waiting and waiting for my fave on line fabric retailers to offer the fabric I had in mind, and now a year has passed!  I finally found what I wanted (though paid dearly).  I love the look of this suit – refreshingly modern.  I’ll be posting as I complete the ensemble, and I started with the easiest piece, the top.

Line art for Vogue 1437.  This post is for view B.

 

The fabric:  I purchase a few yards of a sueded silk crepe, in black a couple of years ago for another project.  That project never came to be (I wanted to copy one of Amal Clooney’s outfits). The weight is heavier than a crepe de chine, lighter than a 4 ply.  It is heaven on the skin, and much easier to work with than lighter and slipperier fabrics. I still had some novice issues, so I basted all seams first. For the lining, which is used for binding the long front shawl-like collar and for hong kong seams, I used a slighter lighter crepe de chine. Both were from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I will buy more of the CDC, and if Ann offers more sueded silk like this, it will be in my cart.

Construction and Instructions: Basting gave me more control over the fabric.  In addition, because I didn’t want to damage the fabric by ripping out poor quality top-stitching, I hand top-stitched the lower hem and armhole facings with a running stitch.  I also hand stitched the “stitch in the ditch” part of the Hong Kong seams.  It was a lot of work, but I got a superior look than if I had done it with the machine.  I enjoy hand work – find it peaceful, as long as my hand-stitching sessions don’t last too long.

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Hand-stitching on the hem.

In general, the instructions were quite good – though I can see why some over on Pattern Review had issues.  The front and back are joined with sharp right angles to the yoke/at the shoulders.  (Basting really helped me here, getting the angles just right.)  Later, you fold the shawl collar and stitch-in-ditch to the shoulder neckline. I think it would have been better to clarify exactly how this is done.  When you stitch in the ditch to that seam, you’ll have a 5/8″overlap if you follow the fold line from the pattern (which I did and preferred).

Several people had issues with a wonky and unprofessional hemline.  I think this is due to the instructions not being exactly clear – it’s almost as if they copied/pasted the instructions over from the binding.  It’s a facing, not a binding, so the raw edges should be aligned (not said, but if you note they ask you to trim said edges in the next step.)  Then the superfluous line, “trim raw edge of binding close to stitching” could lead to confusion.  There is no raw edge if you complete a facing, as it’s encased by the top-stitching, and it’s not a binding.   The instruction doesn’t belong there.

Last, it has you press, but don’t press the fold line.  I did, and you can see from the pictures that I need to press that out from the shoulders down.

In all, this is an easy top, but for one or two places.

Fitting: Several reviewers suggested this ran small – was tight across the back.  I made it in a size 12, my regular size these days.  The muslin, which has less give, suggested a ever so slightly snug fit.  I did nothing to adjust here, and in the silk, I don’t feel any snugness.  I’m happy with the fit.  I do suspect that you could have a wardrobe malfunction if you don’t watch your posture in this top.  I’ll be wearing it with jeans tonight, and we’ll see how many times my husband points out the lack of modesty…

What I learned: Basting is my friend.  It’s much easier to sew a basted seam than a pinned one.  Takes a little more time, but I didn’t rip out a single seam, so maybe it doesn’t take more time.  I will say to be super careful pulling out the basting; I damaged the fabric as you can see in the picture.  Black is hard to photograph – and it also hides mistakes.  I also learned to take my time.  I need to sew more often to work on my skills, but I was pretty pleased with the quality of my hand-stitching – not perfect, but I’m gaining the confidence to tackle more difficult items… like the jacket, which is next (after two other things on the sewing table).

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Ack! I pulled a thread on the fabric!

This looks better on, than on the dressform, and black is very difficult to photograph.

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Fuzzy, and you can’t really tell how it looks, but it does look fine untucked with jeans.  I’ll be wearing this tonight with jeans and a tan leather jacket.

 

Connections: Vintage Vogue 1415

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My family.

My in-laws recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  They asked everyone to dress from the era (1966).  A few months back I ran some ideas on this blog, but in the end settled on a very different, much simpler dress.  Little did I know when I selected it, that it would connect me once again to family – this time my father’s mother.

While we were traveling, I fell hard for the Marfy re-release of their first pattern.  I didn’t feel ready for a Marfy dress, so when I got home, I looked through my pattern collection and found Vogue 1415.  It was perfect, even though it’s a simple shift dress.

 

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Grandma, 1927

I didn’t know my grandmother well, though I wish I did.  This is a picture of her as a young woman.  It’s her senior yearbook photo when she was at Duke University.  She graduated in 1927.  She loved history, and was in the Women’s League of Voters at Duke.  According to the yearbook, “she was the embodiment of dignity and modesty, and hers, too, is that rarest of womanly virtues, silence. When occasion demands, she talks and what she says is well worth listening to. That she will be a success is a foregone conclusion.”

She died when I was just 13, of heart disease.  Most of my early life I lived far from her.  I did get to know her husband, my grandfather.  Even after she had been gone for 20 years, he still spoke of her with respect.  I didn’t really know her, except that I admired her.  She was elegant, sophisticated and an amazing cook.  We took walks together whenever I visited.  But I never knew she sewed.

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Love these directions!

So when I opened Vogue 1415, which was her pattern, I was surprised to see her fitting notes on the pattern pieces.  I made version E, the print dress on the right in the photo, the same one she chose.  I don’t know if she made this dress for herself, or for my Aunt, who would have been in her early 20s at the time.  (I’ll never know as my Aunt and grandfather both passed away in 2003). But I felt connected to her in a way I hadn’t before.

Sewing details:

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Pieces cut, underlining basted in.

I used a silk/wool sharkskin suiting from Emma One Sock.  This fabric can have a fair amount of luster, depending on the light. Because this is a superfine worsted wool, I decided to underline the dress with silk organza.  Though the dress didn’t call for lining, I used black silk crepe de chine to line the dress.  Both lining and underlining came from Gorgeous Fabrics.

My first lesson on this pattern… 1960s sizing with a modern body. I made a muslin first: the pattern envelope had the right measurements for me, but I’ve been having fitting issues of late.  This is bustier than I expected – the darts and princess seaming were difficult to adjust just right.  If the girls weren’t high, the dress itself had all kinds of drag lines.  So, I found a bra that did the trick.  (My grandmother noted that the bust darts seemed high).

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Back princess seam, needing a better press.

Though the muslin fit well otherwise, it was very fitted, so I used 1/2 inch seams.  This gave me a bit more wearing ease, though the fit is still off a bit. In addition, there was a fair amount of easing to do in the princess seams, and I’m glad I discovered this in the muslin first.

The second lesson was the fabric.  Worsted wool requires tailoring skills – and that means proper pressing skills.  I made good use of a press cloth, steam and clapper to get the seams to lie flat.  Still, the final pressing was problematic.  Why?  I didn’t finish sewing in the lining or the hem until after we got to North Carolina.  And the folks at the airBnB had a fantastic collection of movie memorabilia, but only a miniature iron:

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Not angles.  That really is the size of the iron. The stick in the cabinet, directly above the iron, is Hermione’s wand from the Deathly Hollows.

I had better success using my flatiron and press cloth on the hem.

Overall, I was pleased with the dress.  I wore my grandmother’s pearls and an old pair of Betsey Johnson platform heels.

Some parting photos:

 

 

A Tale of Two Skirts (Vogue 8835 & McCalls 7022)

I’m trying to get back in the swing of things – so how about a couple of skirts to warm up those rusty skills?  Short story: I’m pleased with my sewing quality, but displeased with my fitting work.

Vogue 8835:  This is a very basic (now out-of-print) work skirt. I made view A, with modifications.  The first time I made it back in 2012 or so, I threw it away.  I thought it was the cotton poplin I was using, but I really do think something is up with the way it was drafted.

I used a very fine grey wool suiting from Emma One Sock, in “banker’s grey” (sold out). I really love the fabric, but it is “superfine 120” and needs a lining.  This skirt is unlined.  I decided to flat-line it with a silk/cotton batiste from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I didn’t have the right buttons on hand, so I left them off.  I added a 2-inch hem, and a self facing to the flap that opens.  In the original, these are all done with narrow 5/8 inch hems.

I also made this in a size 14, based on my measurements.  I should have made a muslin to perfect the fit, because this doesn’t fit well – too much pulling across the hips/thighs, but too large in the waist. Something to keep in mind for the next project.

I’m not sure I’ll keep this.  I won’t have a need to wear it until Fall, so if my waist/hips change more, we’ll see.  Otherwise, off to the charity bin.  I won’t make this skirt again.

McCall’s 7022:  I made version C before, in a denim.  I love it and wear it all the time. I’ve always wanted a circle skirt, and I like having a yoked skirt.  I paired view F with a beautiful and drapey fine black linen from Gorgeous Fabrics.  It’s the last of the linen from when I made this color-blocked dress a few years back.  I have no more, and it’s sold out!

Since I’m still wearing the denim version, I made the same size (12). I made no changes to the pattern.  I should have though – the yoke is cut on the bias, and it grew on me, even though I was careful and interfaced pretty quickly. I didn’t have this problem with the denim, so I might have cut it on the cross-grain – and should have here.

I love it – though I’m not convinced it’s my style.  It’s super-comfortable and breezy.  But fair warning:  the finished hem width is huge!  It took a very long time of careful machine stitching to make a narrow hem.  Don’t forget to let it hang for a day or two to let the bias set. I measured multiple ways to make sure I got the hem even, but it’s tough to do without help.

 

Last, what about my time-hop choices?

I haven’t decided yet.  My mother-in-law suggesting finishing the red Patou.  I tried it on and it is very tight.  I’ll have to do some major work to get it to fit my body after all this time.  But we’ll see.  The Balmain got the most votes from friends and family, but I’m not sure on fabric choice.  Assuming a muslin shows it works for my body, I’m going to make the Finnetti in either a pique or stretch cotton sateen (I’ve got six fabrics in contention).  My 30th (!) high school reunion is three weeks after the anniversary party, and it will work well for that.  Whether I end up with one or two  dresses by the beginning of August remains to be seen!

Which dress for a party? Time-hop.

My in-laws will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in August!  Yay (my parents did 50 last year).  They’ve decided to have a party in the southeast, at a planetarium.  The theme: “Across Time and Space.”  There’s no requirement for formal or even cocktail wear, but you can if you want.  They’re telling their guests that they can dress from whichever decade they so desire… which means… SEWING CHALLENGE!

Now, I love to dress up!  And I love to make pretty things.  So I went through my stash of patterns and selected a few patterns.  I can dress up/down with fabric/trim choices.  And if I don’t finish?  No problem, I already have a back up in my closet.

So will you help me choose?  Leave a note about your fave in the comments.

1960s:

From left to right:  Vogue 1128, Patou; Vogue 1340 (Balmain); Vogue 1931 (Cardin); Vogue 2249 (Pucci). The first two seem dressy, though I have almost completed Vogue 1128.  The fabric is a bit too dressy though (but pretty!):

IMG_1093
Where I left off on the Patou. The shoulders are pinned together, the belt is missing and I have a whole lot of fixing to do.

1980s-1990s (nothing from the 70s, that I already owned, made the cut, but feel free to suggest):

My younger sister wore the Kasper (Vogue 1623) to her prom in the 80s – long, bubblegum pink, poly satin.  I have a nice mesh net that would work for the skirt.  In that one, and the Vera Wang (Vogue 2291), I would make short versions.

2000-2016:

And, finally, the last 16 (!) years.   Vogue 2001 (Platt); Vogue 1267 (Platt); Vogue 1432 (Unger) and Vogue 1498 (Finetti).

Help me decide!