Monday, May 31, 2010

~vintage pattern acquisitions~

I confess I haven't just been on a fabric buying spree lately, I have also delved into a little vintage pattern buying.  

I've been thoroughly inspired by all the bloggers out there sewing up  40's and 50's vintage patterns, but I'm not sure these are really my style.  I'm more of a 60's fan and think this decade is more wearable for me.  I love Mod styles with their clean structured look, and they were always a big influence when I was designing.  It is great now that you can easily obtain patterns that are the real McCoy, and interesting to see how the fit and silhouette compares to my own patterns!

So watch out for some of these being reincarnated in the future:
  • Simplicity 4649 - Misses Suit:

The sweet thing about this pattern is that the original receipt is enclosed in the pattern envelope - the purchaser, a Miss Humphrey from Point Chevalier, paid 5/3 for this pattern from Rendells Department Store on 4 April 1963 - I would love to see what her finished suit looked like!

I have some black wool/cashmere that the cat is longing to make into her permanent bed, so I might salvage that for this little suit.  I made a quick toile of the jacket, and although it is boxy it is very flattering - almost tapered, with the bust area quite loose and the hem fairly close fitting.  The shoulders are far more sloped than I am used to - I have square shoulders so might need to adjust this as it causes the neckline to sit quite high, but maybe this is how the fit is meant to be - it does look ok, just feels different.  Which is understandable considering it is nearly 40 years old.
  • Vogue 7496 - Misses Jacket, Skirt and Pants:

This pattern originally cost $1.15 so it must be dated sometime after 1967 when we changed to decimal currency in New Zealand, and also by this date the pattern is actually printed rather than cut with perforations.  I kind of like the jacket with the back belt and yoke, and the trousers look well cut too - you can definitely see these styles moving in the direction of the 70's.
  • Simplicity 3266 - Misses Blouse:

This is a 50's kimono sleeve blouse which looks really flattering, and I'm always on the lookout for more tops in different styles.  Maybe I should use my yellow stripe - whatever, I have plenty of other shirtings to try this in too!
  • Butterick 2870 - Misses Day or Night Ensemble:

This is a classic skirt, button back shell and jacket, fairly plain but a classic 60's cut - don't you just love the illustration?  It cost 5/3 also, so could be early 60's too - just like Miss Humphrey's pattern!

I'm going to have fun making these up and I really can't wait to start!

Friday, May 28, 2010

~fabric acquisitions~

If you read yesterday's post you'll know what I got up to, and here is the result:

With 30% off everything, I saved about $70!

The yellow is a cute lightweight cotton shirting - I haven't worn yellow much in the past, but it seems to go with lots of things from jeans to charcoal grey, so I figure it is time to introduce this flash of sunshine into my wardrobe.  It was $18/m and has a very cute texture:

This was an impulse buy - it was only $8 in the remnant pile for a 90cm piece and I picked it out while the girl was adding up my order!  It is a black viscose georgette with yellow circles which I hope to squeeze a top out of.  My son loves it - he said it reminded him of a bee - mmm, now I have my doubts!

The orange is a fine Italian cotton twill that I will make into a summer skirt.  It is a gorgeous quality, and was $18/m:

As you can see it is Autumn here, and our grapevine is about to lose all it's leaves for the winter! 

I fell in love with this black silk jacquard with cherries - it is a Marc Jacobs piece and was $24/m.  I was considering buying some last time I visited, so was pleased to get it with a discount.  It will end up as a top of some sort:

This pic shows the cute cherries better:

I also picked up this tweedy stuff that I will make into a Chanel-style jacket - I've always wanted one to wear with jeans!  I was also eyeing this fabric up last time I visited, but it was $32/m and had no wool content.  It is actually acrylic/polyester which I'd normally avoid for a jacket, but this is loosely woven so is acceptable to me.  Plus I love the camel and pink colours woven throughout.

I've saved the best for last - a textured wool in a cute pink that just shouts Jackie Onassis!  I think I will be making a little retro jacket out of this - something to brighten up jeans or a basic black outfit.  I can't remember whether it was $24 or $32/m, but it doesn't matter - I would have bought it regardless!

So that is the result of my little splurge - I'm happy now!

But there was that yellow and white floral linen that I thought would make a great vintage sundress.....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

~fabriholics anonymous~

I am rather excited about today!  I received the above postcard in the post a couple of days ago from my local fabric retailer - Global Fabrics.  They obviously believe I have a problem, because they have invited me to a support meeting.

I have only been there twice, but I must admit each visit did take about 1 1/2 hours.....

My only concern about a day of fabric buying, is that my money is going to run out in the first ten minutes - even with the 30% discount.

So fellow Aucklanders, I'm sharing with you this tip-off:
Global Fabrics are having a 30% off sale on Thursday 27th May from 9:30am
Just don't get there until about 10am because I won't be finished ;)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

~a trench coat~

Until now I have resisted making a trench coat for myself, as belted waistlines don't really suit me-and-my-short-waist-that-is-not-getting-any-smaller, but rummaging through some of my fabrics I found some stone coloured stretch twill, and thought I'd give a slim-line trench coat a go. 

I thought I had a pattern somewhere for this one, circa 2000:

We produced this one in viscose coated polyurethane with an embossed snakeskin texture - a rather cool fabric in its day, but the pattern must have been one of the many I discarded, thinking I would never use it again.  Famous last words!

You know when sometimes things that you think are going to be relatively straightforward, just don't end up that way?  This was one of those times.  Anyway - third toile later - I am finally onto the sleeve and collar draft, but here is the body so far:

As you can see I don't believe in the concept of a 'wearable muslin'!  For me a toile is simply to check fit and design lines, so I draw all over them.  Here you can see my outline of the storm flaps, pockets and buttons - these are all transferred to my pattern and the toile goes in the bin.

I think it looks more flattering without the belt (my son's!) but I can't imagine a trench coat without one so I'm running with it.  I will take it in a bit under the bust as pinned, and although it looks A-line in this photo, it straightens when belted so I'll leave that.

I'll stick with the classic design details - adaptable collar, epaulettes, L shoulder gun flap and back storm flap, welt pockets and cuff straps.  I have the exact same fabric in an inky black, so might even try a cropped version if this one is successful.

I was checking out trench coat designs online, and the history is quite interesting.  Thomas Burberry developed a durable waterproof wool gabardine in 1880, and this was used in coats worn by soldiers in the Boer War, and later by exploreres such as Admunson, Shackleton and Mallory. 

In 1901 Burberry submitted a design to the British War Office for an Officer's raincoat which was subsequently adopted, and in 1914 the War Office commissioned Burberry to develop a practical and protective storm coat to be worn by the frontline soldiers in the trenches during WW1.  Adding epaulettes, D-rings and straps and using a fine twill gabardine, it was soon nicknamed the trench coat.  It is estimated half a million Burberry trench coats were produced from 1914-1918, and Aquascutum also produced trenchcoasts for the allied soldiers.

Civilians adopted the practical trenchcoat after the war, and the iconic Burberry check was patented in the 20's and began to be used as a lining.  During WW2 trench coats became a part of every enlisted soldier's kit, and were also adopted by the US forces.

Trench coats featured in many iconic films - glamourised by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffanys, Catherine Deneuve, and as classic detective attire by Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame.

With all this history and mystery, I think I'm going to enjoy wearing my new trench coat even more! 
Are you a trench coat fan too?

Monday, May 17, 2010

~well suited~

I needed a suit - the one that I do have doesn't fit anymore, so I made one!  I've got to say it is great when you can make one to your own specifications - and you can save so much!

I found a gorgeous wool herringbone stripe in a charcoaly slate colour.  It is very fine and loosely woven (ie, frays when you just look at it) but is very covetable.  I blockfused everything except the backs and sleeves, where I reinforced the seams with fusetape to prevent seam slippage.

This jacket isn't my design - I unashamedly drafted it from a picture out of a magazine!  It is rare that there is nothing I want to change about a design (after all that's probably why most of us start sewing!), but this was one of those instances.

The jacket is too large for the mannequin and looks floppy on her, so I 'm showing you just one side to try and demonstrate how it fits on me.  Once upon a time we were exactly the same size, which was very convenient, but I am afraid that is no longer the modern day reality.

The pocket is quite cute isn't it?  Studying the photo I really wish I sewed it on from the inside, the edgestitching and herringbone weave clash.  I did bound buttonholes because I don't have access to a keyhole buttonholer at the moment, but much as I like them I do prefer to finalise my button position at a final fitting.

The sleeve head is slightly gathered, and it does look better on real shoulders than my mannequin who is lacking in that area.  I recently did a tutorial on tailored jacket sleeve vents using this jacket as the sample, so do check it out if you plan on doing these soon - using the correct method they are not hard at all. 

This jacket has a curved front neckline, and it is the first time I have constructed lapels cut separately from the fronts, and I am not entirely happy with how it sits at the break point.  This is a soft fabric and sits not-to-bad, but with a heavier weight fabric it wouldn't be quite so co-operative, so I need to make some cloth allowance adjustments, and maybe strategically trim some seams to enable the  roll to form at the correct point.  I don't want to slot both layers of the lapel into the neckline seam as I have seen in cheap ready-to-wear, so suggestions welcome!

I nearly forgot to mention the skirt!  It is a tapered pencil skirt, with side back seams.  The lower centre back panel has a horizontal seam with some flirty gathers and a bow trim just like the pocket!
Plus - I have a dress length of fabric left over that I should be able to squeeze a shift dress out of!
But I think I'll make a trench coat first.....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

~croquembouche for breakfast~

I have to share with you what I had for breakfast the other day:

(image from delicious magazine UK)

Mmm... Croquembouche!  It didn't look quite as fabulous as this one, and the morning after the party it actually looked more like this:

But I think I enjoyed it even more sneaking leftovers out of the fridge to go with my morning coffee!  Lots of choux pastry puffs filled with vanilla custard and stuck together with spun sugar, which became a bit gooey overnight in the fridge, but still edible in my book!  But then I have been known to consume sweetened condensed milk straight from the tin.

When I asked my son what sort of birthday cake he would like, he asked for Croquembouche.  This was a few days after the final of Masterchef, where the finalists had to make one of these elaborate French wedding cakes as part of their challenge.  The things you do for love...

I used this recipe, but halved the quantities, because my croquemboche didn't need to feed a whole wedding party, just a family of three.  And I used an ordinary metal bowl instead of the traditional pyramid because, let's be honest, I don't have one. (Do you?!).  On Masterchef they were allowed three hours to complete their challenge, I allowed myself a leisurely six.

The choux pastry puffs went well - I have made them a few times in the past, and even remember learning the technique way back in Home Economics at school.  Despite halving the recipe, I still ended up with about 100 puffs!

But homemade custard was a new experience for me.  As I was dutifully following the instructions and "stirring it over a medium heat" I could feel the custard thickening on the bottom of the pan, and then eventually I saw some ghastly lumps!!  However I continued to stir, and it continued to thicken rapidly, and with a few quick stirs it became perfectly glossy and smooth - I couldn't believe my luck.  So if you try this - have faith, and don't bin it too soon!

You need to pipe the custard into the puffs, and then stick them to the inside of the bowl with toffee.  Admittedly, some parts collapsed when I removed it from the mould - but nothing a bit more toffee could not fix!  I had to make 3 batches of the toffee - the first set in the pan as I stuck the puffs into the mould, the second set as I started the fun and games with the spun sugar, and the third finally allowed me to finish everything off.  I have always wanted a sugar thermometer, and this day I needed it!
Even though I forgot all about the very-important-strawberry-touch, it looked pretty good.  Our 11 year old was very impressed, and informed me that I was the best Mum in the world - which of course made the whole rigmarole worth it :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

~tricks of the trade: jacket sleeve vents~

Here's a tutorial on how to sew a two-piece sleeve vent on a lined tailored jacket like this:

With this method, the vent is first constructed, the lining is attached, and then the buttons are sewn on - I don't usually bother with buttonholes, but if you decide to insert them do it before you insert your lining, and there is no need to cut them as they are nonfunctional and purely decorative. 

I hope you'll find this tutorial helpful - a lot of people bumble their way through this with bits of handsewing here and there, but it really is very simple to machine sew everything when you know how!  And most important is that your pattern is configured correctly and that you understand how the pieces go together.  Preparation is the key!

Have a look at your topsleeve and your undersleeve - they should look something like the pattern pieces below.  Check you have the following notches - if they're not there add them in as indicated below:

  • hem notches - on side seams at level of hem fold line. While you are here, fold up along the hemline, and make sure your hem mirrors your outer shell.
  • undersleeve notch - draw a line from your hindseam stitching line to the lower edge of the undersleeve, parallel to the vent edge, to position this notch.
  • 2 topsleeve notches for the vent mitre - fold back your topsleeve hem fold line and vent fold line, and notch where their edges meet.  You can trim the bulk away leaving a seam allowance, but I haven't on this example because I was err... lazy

Now make some fusing patterns just like the shaded areas on the diagrams:
  • 2cm above your sleeve hem
  • 2cm in from each sleeve seamline
  • 3mm in from each cut edge of sleeve patterns
Cut out your fusing patterns, then cut and apply your fusing to your sleeve panels.

Can you spot my mistake?

I have a bad habit of cutting my fusing direct from the shell pattern without going through the process of making a fusing pattern, and you'll notice the fusing on my undersleeve vent is narrower because I was taking dodgy shortcuts.  Now this isn't critical so I will run with it, but now you know yours might look a little bit different.  (note to self - do things properly!)

Now you can start sewing, but guess what - if you've followed the preparation above, there are only three lines to sew in  your sleeve vent!  Easy-peasy - here goes:

First sew the hindseam from bottom to top - begin 1cm from the vent edge to allow for a turnback, stitch along the upper edge of the vent ending with your needle down, lift your foot and turn your work to stitch the remaining sleeve seam:

Fold the top sleeve right sides together so your mitre notches meet, then sew from the notches to the fold line, exactly perpendicular to the fold line:

Clip away the excess and turn to admire check your mitre:

Now sew your undersleeve corner - just fold your hem up along the hem fold line, bag out at 1cm and turn corner through:

The hindseam will be pressed open, so clip the undersleeve only into that turning point. Don't worry - this area is all reinforced by fusing, and clipping on the bias means it is even less likely to fray. And once your buttons are sewn on there will be no stress on this point anyway.

Overall you should have something that looks just like this:

  • the hindseam is pressed open
  • the undersleeve vent edge is pressed back 1cm (3/8")
  • the top sleeve vent fold line aligns with the undersleeve notch (highlighted here)
  • the topsleeve and undersleeve hemlines align - not like this example below! 

Sorry, but if you end up with this, you will have some unpicking to do!  If you are a couple of millimetres out, it is possible to unpick just the undersleeve bag out, and restitch it so it is level with the topsleeve. More than this, and you need to check your allover accuracy. 

Once you have this area looking good, sew your forearm seam, press open and your sleeve shell is done!

Now for the lining.
I use a 4cm hem allowance for my sleeve hems, and this means you can cut your lining to the hem fold, giving you a 2cm allowance for ease in lining length.  Cut your lining to this length, omitting the vent allowance as in the diagrams below - blue = lining pattern.  (I will save the armhole end of the sleeve for now - that's another tutorial!)

Sew the forearm seam and hindseams of your lining, leaving a gap in one forearm seam for bagging out. 

Now sew the lower edge of your lining to the hem allowance of your sleeve shell.  When stitching the shell and lining together, note that the forearm seams of shell and lining will meet exactly.  But near the vent your lining hindseam will match the undersleeve notch that you really wish you'd made made sure you had earlier on (see photo above).   The topsleeve hem is often cut on a slight bias, so to the inexperienced eye it may feel like the two layers don't fit - but if you cut your lining pattern as above and match your notches correctly it will fit perfectly - I'll give you permission to use pins here if you want :)  I usually have about a 1cm gap in my stitching around the vent, but that is OK, it presses upwards, and will be enclosed when you attach the buttons.

Don't press your hem yet though - you need to tack the hem up at the forearm seam first!  Fold the forearm seam along the hem fold line, and from the inside grab the seam allowances lying face to face on one side of the forearm seam and sew them together.  Use your handy-dandy hem notch as a folding guide, line up the cut edges of the seam allowances, and backtack about 2cm above the hem fold.  Now you can turn your sleeve through and safely press.

Sew your buttons on through all thicknesses.  Your lowermost button needs to be attached through the hem layers to ensure the corner of the vent sits flat.  In my example above they are a bit too high and the corner of the vent curls out - not pretty on a 3/4 sleeve!  I will be repositioning them at my earliest possible convenience :)

Hope this helps for happier sewing!

Friday, May 7, 2010

~a house dress~

I have a roll of rather-boring-brown-knit.
I don't know why I was left with this piece when I sold off all my fabric ends - I'm guessing it fell off the back of the truck, or maybe the guy left it behind on purpose!!
Whatever - there is 10m of chocolate brown 50% wool/50% viscose stretchy stuff. 
Now you know I don't like throwing things out, so I thought I'd make it into something.  You can't go wrong with a top, so I made a top:

This is Burdastyle 11/2008/103B top - it is the same as the cap sleeved version I made earlier.  I'm really not very excited with this top, but it is nice to wear and I definitely need more tops for knocking around in.

Now the fabric is 160cm wide, so cutting this top barely put a dent in the yardage.  Which leaves me with a new predicament: what to do with 9m of rather-boring-brown-knit?

I felt like something cosy, comfortable, something to wear around the house.
Everything I thought of seemed overly frumpy, until I came across this little number in Burda 5/2009#103B:
Do check it out - that is definitely not overly frumpy, that is completely oppositely very sexy. 
So some quick maths: boring-brown-knit + very sexy = potentially wearable!

I cut it out one night, and before I knew it, it was sewn up.  So here we have my modern-day housedress, complete with the perfect sleeve length for dishwashing, lots of comfy stretch for a multitude of houseworky contortions, and certainly more acceptable than your sleepwear for unexpected visitors like the meterman!

Still unexciting, but I suppose it looks better than the cloth on the roll! 
Here's a close up of the bodice detail and my split ends:

I did a couple of minor modifications - I abandoned the CB seams because I thought they were totally unnecessary, and I joined the midriff band at the side seams instead.

Now for the remaining 7.5m of rather-boring-brown-knit, suggestions welcome!