Monday, January 31, 2011

songs to remember.

When I was 11, I fell in love with a movie.  Mostly it was the score, but the sweet adventure story stole my heart.  The movie was High Road to China, and for years my parents were terrified because I so adamantly insisted I would one day fly WWI biplanes.

John Barry was the composer, and a few years later he wrote what I think is one of the most beautiful scores of all time, Out of Africa.  I have many John Barry scores on my playlist now.   It has always been music to simply...listen to.

John Barry

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vtg Simplicity 3430 - in progress #2

Ok, this is turning into one of those projects.  You know the ones.  Where everything SEEMS to be perfect and sunny and then whammo...some stupid mistake or fitting issue rears its ugly head.

How about some pictures though (taken with flash and my son's little camera, because I left my card at school!)  First, the back "fix".  I decided to go with the strip of matching fabric because as much as I loved Kristine's idea, I didn't have a coordinating color solid. 

I like it. It turned out really cute!   Wish I'd carried it all the way around front.  (I didn't think I'd like it, so I didn't do the front too.  I figured I wouldn't be the one looking at it, being in the back and all.) 

And you see that flash of color in the zip?  Yeah.  Who doesn't have a WHITE zipper on hand?  Yours truly, that's who.  I don't know if that has ever happened.  I ALWAYS keep white zippers (it's a thing.  I don't know why.)  Anywho, I had the perfect color of purple.  A color I almost never wear.  Perfect length too, so I just did a side-lapped zipper:

It doesn't really show this much when it's all zipped up.  I love that it matches the purple though, even if no one knows but me. (and you).  It was a bear to put in though.  I've been trying to follow the vintage directions exactly (or as near as possible) and I had to cull a side zip set of instructions from another pattern since this one featured a center back zip. 

Well.  The directions said to stitch the side seam, leaving an opening for the zipper.  Baste the opening, press seams open.  Here's the tricky part:  turn under left side of seam allowance and press at approximately 1/8 inch.  If you do that, there's not enough room under the "seam allowance" for that much turned seam.  Does that make sense?  Or it's really, really close. 

Then you slide the zipper underneath and topstitch on the 1/8" fold.  This was nearly impossible.  Shifty, horrendous mess.  I ended up hand-basting the whole thing and I still had to rip out twice.  It's in now though, and looks pretty.  I'll be searching for a new method of side lapped zip instructions though!

Here's the front with the skirt attached.  I didn't have enough fabric for the extra full cupcake skirt.  This is 2 full widths of 45" fabric (one for front, one for back).  It's just "regular" full, not "50's" full.

Unfortunately I can't show you a photo ON me because the dang thing is too tight!  I don't know how that happened because it was perfect to the point I was afraid it'd be too loose.  I guess I overzealously stuck to the 5/8" seam allowances. 

Now comes the fun of picking them out and stitching with 1/4" seams to see if I can wear it this spring.  Oh, and Lean Cuisines for dinner.  (Which, I was going to do anyway.  Apparently the steroid/antibiotic combo I had the joy of receiving recently added a bit of weight.  After I went to all the work of getting really sick and losing some!)  So...skinnier seams + skinnier me = pretty spring dress.

Leaving you now with this lovely photo of Priscilla and her favorite person (me), taken by my rotten 16 y/o who said really it was most important that PRISCILLA be featured in the majority of the shot.  Gee, thanks.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vtg Simplicity 3430 - in progress

This is totally not my original Vintage Sewalong pattern choice!  The original plan was for Hepburn style trousers and a pretty 1940s-inspired blouse.   I did finally receive my patterns in the mail last weekend and I altered the pants.  I still don't have a clue what to use for fabric for either pattern.  Hmph. the interest of other patterns calling my name, I've moved on for now.  Yesterday I traced and altered this sundress because...fitted bodice! square neckline! RICK RACK!  AND...a little princess seam bolero?  Awesome.  

I haven't finished altering the bolero, but I did get the bodice for the dress cut out this morning.  I used this spring-ish pink and lavender print.  It's cotton, and has a stripe woven in.  I have NO idea where I got it, but it has been in my stash for at least 10 years.  I thought it was perfect for this dress.

Bodice Front:  I had to add 2 inches to the to the front using the pivot/slide method (Nancy Zieman), and I added 1" length.  I also  lowered the bust dart approximately 1" after trying on my tissue and marking bust point.  I had to re-angle the waist dart about 3/8".

Apparently all my fiddling was worth it because the front fits really well through the bust and waist.  This is my "padded" dress form:

Can you see my boo boo in this photo?  (No?  You're looking at that pointy 50's shaping, aren't you?)

Well.  Let me tell you about the bodice back.  I altered the back with 1.5" using pivot/slide (this was a size 36 bust and my full bust is 45").   I knew from previous experience with this era of patterns that a size 16 or 18 neckline is pretty perfect for me, but the bust and back requires quite a bit of additional room. (Weirdly, no additional FBA though).
I also lengthened the bodice back by 1".  Or so I thought.  But look at the side seams:

Well, rats.  I have no idea what went wrong.  I must have "intended" to add the additional 1" and didn't.  Who knows.  At this point I have to decide whether or not to fix this somehow or just scrap the bodice and save the skirt pieces and scraps for a pretty skirt instead.  

Which would be such a shame since the neckline is so pretty and fits so well:

The choices as I see it are, trim off the excess from the front bodice to match the back (easiest), OR, add two strips cut from my straps, to the bottom of the back bodice pieces, trying to match the print and the woven lines in the fabric.   Stinky.  But, probably the best choice in the end since I really need that extra inch.  

Or just scrap this one altogether and move onto another fabric.  The good news is, if I do try the "strip" method to piece back onto the back bodice, I can cover the seam with the rickrack rows (in theory).  

And honestly?  Who's ever going to notice but me?

I hope your weekend is going well!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Burda Feb '11

I was so surprised to get the February issue of Burda Style yesterday!  On first thumb-through, I loved it!  That makes 2 issues in a row that I have earmarked several possible future projects.  (More Burda mag excitement than I've had in several months put together!)

I really love this dress.  I probably have a vintage pattern that looks exactly like this, but this is multi-sized (haha!) 
 This high-waist skirt is fab.
 Great basic tee.  I have had good luck with shaping on Burda mag tees.  This one appears to have some decent shaping in the side seams (at least in the line drawing):
 Another high-waist skirt...fabulous princess seaming in back for those booty-licious girls.
 I don't know why I'm attracted to pseudo-1980s Flashdance type garments.  But I am.  Oh wait, the 1980s were AWESOME....What a feelin'!!

In the '80s I could have worn this little mini...alas, I think this one will remain in Lu's realm of future garments.  (It's so cute too!)

Great basic short.
 Another vintage-y pattern.  Adorable doublebreasted front!
Requisite February safari-style garment.  Except, I always enjoy these.  I never make one, but I always MEAN to.  Maybe this year.
And now, onto the lovely plus section!  Sexy ruched dress... this one in a stretch-woven ("crosswise stretch" required). I really like the back princess seams, lots of room for adjustment.  The "back" is always so difficult to fit, isn't it?
 Another pair of high-waist pants, this time in a slim leg.  Now (if you have January's issue) you have both wide-leg and a slim fit.  Woot!  Really lovely back waist. 
 Ok, I can see this being a little "Cary Grant Smoking Jacket", but I love it.  I think it would be beautiful in a sweater knit.
 And a dress version...
 Basic tunic, but you should see the model photo.  It looked hot! 
 And a dress version:

Once again, the plus section comes through with really lovely garments.  I can see they may not be to everyone's taste, but I loved them!  So, spill!  What are your favorites?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

vintage pattern catalog: Lily 1940

I'm almost embarrassed to admit I don't remember buying this. :) It's possible the sweet seller that sent it with a recent order threw it in for free?  But I don't think so, because it's a real gem!  I just probably loved it on sight and ordered it (promptly forgetting.  Oops.)

 The original booklet is printed in a lime green color.  I converted to black and white because the lime green didn't scan very well.   Here's the cover:

I scanned the pages (only 6 pages long plus a back cover) to share with my vintage lovin friends, because the styles are so sweet, and of course, from my favorite era!  I've never seen a Lily pattern in person, Lily Mills Co. was located in Shelby, NC and manufactured threads, yarns, crochet cotton, and embroidery floss.  I wonder what happened to them?  A quick google search yielded lots of auctions and very little info.

The inside pages are below (although not in order, I think).

Love the little bolero in the top left:

 Pretty dresses for "town":

Oh gosh, you know 1940s blouses and tops are my weakness!!

  More lovely tops and suits:

Summery housedresses and an interesting apron/pinafore.  For as little as I like to clean house, I find it curious that vintage housedresses are my favorite style!

Some darling little girls' dresses:

 I didn't get the back cover scanned.  It doesn't have any clothing patterns on it though, just threads and the order form. 

In that same vintage pattern/book order, I got three GORGEOUS 1930s Ladies Home Journal magazines.  I would love to scan and share some of the beautiful pages with you, but it will take some finagling.  They are very large!  About the same height and width of a modern-day pattern catalog at Joanns, to give you an idea (not that thick of course!)  I'll try to get my favorite images scanned throughout the week. 

Off to work on my pants muslin!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vintage Sewalong: trouser grading tutorial

My pattern arrived this week!  In case you've forgotten or missed that post, for the Vintage Sewalong '11 I'm making McCall 4803, a 1940's trouser:

Lovely, right?

Of course, as is the case with many of my vintage patterns (especially bottoms) this one is way too small.  Pattern waist = 26 inches.  angie.a's waist = more than that.

(Oh all right.  In the interest of full discloser, 10 inches more than that.)

So, how about a little tutorial on upsizing a vintage trouser/short pattern? (And when I say little, I mean in miniature.  hehe.)

Step 1:  Gather supplies.  I use at least 2 colors of pen or marker, scotch tape (or acid free if you have it), scissors, things to use for weighting down tissue/tracing paper.

Step 2: Carefully press out any wrinkles in vintage tissue if necessary (I never use heat since that would degrade tissue further.  I just gently press with my fingers on a smooth, hard surface).  I also carefully tape any tears or rips in the (usually very old and brittle) tissue. 

Trace pattern transferring all markings to tissue or tracing paper. (I use a 36" roll of tracing paper from Dick Blick Art Supplies).

Step 3:  Math.  I need to add 10" to my pattern at the waist and hip.  There are 4 side seams (2 front, 2 back), and I have always had good luck with pants and skirts by just adding to the side seams.  Some books say no more than 2" but I've added more than that lots of times.  You will probably have to fiddle with your pleat/dart placement later.

So, 10" divided by 4 seams = 2.5".  I make a mark near the top (waist) 2.5" from the side seam with a new color pen. 

Slide your original pattern piece over to the  mark and line up the waistline.  Look at the grainline markings on both your tracing and the original (you can see through the original tissue) to make sure they are parallel.  Trace your  new side seam.

Step 4: Alot of people need to remove crotch depth in 30s/40s trousers, but I personally like to add a bit more.  I have a full high hip, and am very short waisted (so, conversely, I'm long from waist to crotch).  Generally a 40s trouser pattern's extra long crotch depth is usually good for me as drafted.  I'm adding 1" here because this particular pattern doesn't appear to have that gigantic crotch length I'm used to seeing in this era.

Using a similar slide method, I measure up from the waistband 1" and make a mark.  Then slide the waist of my original pattern up and retrace the waistline at 1". 

Slide pattern piece over to align at your new side seam and trace the rest of your widened) waistline.

**Note that if you have a more normal "crotch length" style of pant and you need to grade up, you would likely need to add to the crotch length in this same manner.  I just don't have to do this with the extra long length in 30s and 40s patterns as a rule.

Step 5:  Now let's adjust those tucks!  Remember though, dart and tuck and pleat placement is pretty relative.  You can always pin them and try on your muslin and adjust placement until they are in the most flattering spot.

The original pattern shows the tuck placement to be approximately in the center of the pant front.  So, I just scoot the original over so that there's an equal distance from side seam and center front (to the original), like this:

Then I redraw the darts in their new placement (with the new color so I don't get confused).

I will probably have to increase the distance between the tucks too, so the proportions are still good. That's what a muslin is for, right?  
Here's my actual (graded) pattern tracing:

I hope this might help some of you who are putting off trying those too-small vintage patterns in your stash (or your etsy cart!)

Next up, MUSLIN!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

a vintage wardrobe: tops

Vintage top patterns are my particular weakness. So many lovely little details!  I gravitate to the 30s and 40s, and although I try to stick to my size range, if it's an especially beautiful pattern I'll snap it up no matter the size. 

You might recognize the very first photo, I loved the shorts in yesterday's post, but in truth, I loved the entire outfit!  And I have the perfect pattern too, a 1940s Simplicity.  The 2nd pattern below I love for the variety.  I'm dying to muslin the interesting keyhole/cutout neckline (but it's the bow version that is a ringer for Gene's blouse).

I think Esther Williams is adorable and I love this little peasant top!  I have already made it up once, so I know it's a good fit and very sweet.  (Those are fabulous printed shorts she's wearing too.) And another beautiful photo of Gene Tierney, wearing the perfect 1940s blouse, a tie-neck.  My vintage sewalong pattern will be perfect for this one, with a minor change for the tie.

Anyone else a Thin Man fan?  Love Myrna Loy!  So classy.  I wish I had more 1930s separates, but most of my 30s patterns are for dresses, coats, and pjs.  I adore her top.  I could knock it off with one of my (many) 1940s blouses, but I am holding out for this Butterick 6423.  I just missed it on Etsy (rats) a month or so ago, but the search continues.  It's gorgeous enough to wait for. 

Lastly, a more casual blouse worn by Rita Hayworth.  I ended up with several choices for photos featuring this blouse, and I chose this McCall pattern I picked up last fall on ebay.  It has a placket rather than a button-front.  Love the tailored sleeves.

I'm having an unexpected snow day today.  I'll be doing a muslin of the sewalong patterns with my surprise free time and hopefully will have pictures to show shortly!

Monday, January 10, 2011

a vintage wardrobe

While I wait (im)patiently for my sewalong patterns to arrive, I've been perusing and sorting my vintage pattern stash along with my likewise enormous stash of vintage images.  I'm especially fond, as you're probably aware, of 1930s-50s movie star glamour.

As one of my '11 resolutions was to sew up at least one vintage pattern per month, I've been thinking I might work best with some sort of plan.  The good (or bad, as your viewpoint stands!) news is that I cleaned out my closet and dressers of nearly all of my clothes this fall.  (I wasn't wearing them anyway).

Probably an odd place to start considering the snowy weather, but I'm feeling the pull of spring and summer-wear.  Today I bring you Vintage Shorts Inspiration

Full shorts, pleated or tucked, are often seen as "dowdy".  Um, two seconds worth of Rita should change your mind about that!

My pattern choices are Simplicity 2017:

and Simplicity 1230:

You might remember S1230 from last summer, I had a very successful pair of shorts from it, so yay for TNT's!  My fabric choices include a coral linen, a brown/pink plaid I've had in stash for a while, and possibly a white pique. Here are last summer's shorts:

 In addition to full shorts, I'd like a few pair of fitted shorts as well.  Inspiration:

I am SO in love with the middle photo, look at that waistband!  These shorts are wonderful in that they're not so fitted (or short) as to be ridiculous on this (my) body, and they're very tailored and classy.

Two of my vintage pattern choices, Simplicity 4285:

And Simplicity 2996 (bonus, this one has a wide waistband view that would be prime territory to knock off Ava's shaped waistband):

Or these lovelies, one of my favorite patterns, Butterick 6568, which includes a variety of styles (including a pleated "skort"):

I've got a variety of linen, twills, and denim in navy, red, royal, and taupe. 

Tomorrow I hope to have a post together for Vintage Tops Inspiration for you, followed by Dresses, Trousers, Bathing Suits, and Lingerie.  I leave you with more vintage shorts inspiration!

Happy Monday!