Monday, January 26, 2015

• 1940s Winter Wool Dress •


As I mentioned in my last post, I have a terrible tendency to make nothing but cotton dresses year round. Lightweight, pastel, summery cotton dresses. And that just isn't always practical when it's freeeezing cold outside! Thankfully, I managed to be in the mood for sewing a couple of warmer garments in the last few weeks. It was actually quite fun!!
I purchased this wool, 3 yards in total, last summer at our local fabric shop on clearance. I can't say that I actually loved it, because I didn't, but I really didn't care. Pendleton wool, 60" wide, on sale, USA made.
Irresistible, right?

I tucked it away in the "winter" section of the stash, figuring that I would make a jacket out of it eventually. Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it out to see what, if anything, I felt like making it into. We recently bought the new Vogue pattern 9052, which only calls for 2 7/8 yards for the dress. Heehee. Perfect, right? Except, who wants short sleeves on a winter wool dress? Not I. An eighth of a yard is not enough to get longer sleeves, but I decided to just start cutting out skirt pieces anyway in hopes that I could squeeze longer sleeves in later.
Thankfully, I was able to get three skirt pieces cut out of the width of the fabric, so that left me with plenty of leftover fabric to make my desired sleeves. I used the pattern's sleeve cap, but made the rest of the sleeve from Simplicity 1777. Now I have elbow darts. Happiness. :)

For being my first plaid-matching project ever, I'm definitely happy with how it came out! The fabric was really nice to work with, unlike the flannel on my pleated skirt.

I am glad to say that our lovely fur piece goes with the dress nicely! :)

Since the neckline of the dress pattern was quite low, I decided to do away with the front slit and replace it with a back keyhole opening. It worked out great, and I really like the slight V-neck effect that the final dress has. I used a plain cotton for the facings and topstitched to keep everything in place. I just love that little candy red button!

After I had the dress assembled, I tried it on and was shocked after looking at it. P-l-a-i-n. SO plain. Terribly, shockingly plain. The depths of despair were nearby, but I warded them off and started thinking about what I could do to make it interesting.
What would redeem it? Buttons? Pockets? Sashes?

I finally decided on pockets, and they ended up being just the thing. It's really nice to have them on a dress at long last! I used to be adamantly against them, but I'm starting to discover their uses. :)

It was so cold out that we decided to try an indoor photo shoot for once. But when you combine bad lighting and a bright red dress with a horrible photo editor (me), the photos end up being a little...interesting in color. I think I need to study up on Photoshop. A lot. Or become realllly good friends with a photographer. Hmmm.
All that aside, I am very happy with my dress! Now I will not be cold!!

• Photography by my mom •
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Monday, January 19, 2015

• 1930s Wintry Plaid Skirt •

At last!! I made something wintry!!
It did seem like I never would there for a while, but I'm a firm believer in making whatever kind of garment I feel like, whether it is seasonable or not. Everything just seems to go better that way!
In any case, I did, at long last, make something that is winter-friendly, and I love it! I was starting to desire something warm after freezing to death in little cotton dresses. (Don't worry, I'm still making them left and right.)

I got the fabric last fall, hoping to make something like this skirt. I never worked up the nerve to make it though, so the fabric sat patiently in the stash all these months. I pulled it out with trepidation a couple of weeks ago, wanting to make a skirt, yet not wanting to because of my lack of blouses to match.
I finally set my fears aside and jumped in, figuring that I probably had something that remotely matched it in the sweater department.

I had just finished making another plaid garment (coming up on the blog soon), so I felt slightly nutty jumping from one plaid right into another one. Somehow though, I managed to escape enormous frustration and whipped up the skirt anyway.

I used McCall pattern 6993, but skipped the yoke and just made a regular waistband. I also made the pleats begin about an inch and a half lower than the pattern since I was lengthening it...a lot.

This particular flannel, while being of fairly nice quality, still isn't the greatest, so although I matched the plaids to the utmost of my ability, they aren't perfect. The fabric has an element of almost-stretchiness which made it a little annoying to work with. It's very soft, warm, and comfortable, however, so I can overlook the deficiencies. It has become a definite winter wardrobe staple!

The pattern calls for pleats cut on the straight grain, but I wanted to add a little extra vintage flair to the skirt, so I cut them on the bias. I really like the effect, and I think it would look splendid in a more stable wool fabric.

This little jade brooch was my grandma's. I'm not sure where or when she got it, but it is definitely one of my favorites.

I have made this skirt in a solid color as well, but it is strangely loose in the waist, so before it gets any blog outings, it's going to have to face some revisions. This skirt, I'm glad to say, fits like a glove! :)

I am still on a definite 1940s kick, but I may force myself to take a break from it and venture into colonial sewing. I've got the shoes, I've got the fabrics, now I just need the clothes. And the HSM challenge for this month (foundations) is the perfect incentive to get started. We'll see how it goes! I am almost excited! ;)

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

• VSFLO • 1950s Gingham Baby Dress •

(That's vintage sewing for little ones...just in case you'd forgotten)
Back about 4 months ago, I shamefully admit, a friend at church's daughter had a birthday. Someone procrastinated - namely me, and didn't get her little dress done until now. I think, however it was worth the wait! I absolutely love how it came out!

Of the humongous number of vintage kids' patterns that we have, (three), none of them are for a 1-year old. Problem. But around here, creativity is sometimes present, which caused me to start drawing up a pattern! I never dreamed that it would come out this good - it's actually dress-shaped and everything! ;)

I didn't want to make a tiny little dress into too big of a deal, so I decided to make it a one-piece (no seam at the waist) dress. It definitely needed some sort of accent, so I dug out some checked pink fabric that I had in the stash. It really sets it off perfectly and gives it the color that it needed. (And it's all gingham. I LOVE gingham.)

Once I had the bodice drawn up, I knew I was going to have to tackle some sort of sleeves. Oh. boy. I just really love the idea of making up sleeves! Or not! I decided to steal a sleeve from the size 6 dress pattern that we have and try to make it baby-sized. Amazingly enough, it actually worked.

The only thing I would change on the next dress would be the size of the armhole. I got a little carried away with the size of it, but it still shouldn't be too much of a problem. 

I gathered the waist area of the front on each side and topstitched on a faux waistband which continues into ties.

Originally I was going to put a little collar on the dress, but when I made the collar, I ingeniously forgot to allow seam allowances for the neckline. The result? A collar that would have been too small for a ladybug. It ended up being all for the best, however, because the bias neck binding is cuter than any little collar could have been.

And for the first time in my life, I made more than a 5/8" hem! Since the dress is for a little one, I wanted it to be able to be made longer as she grows. I literally had never made a hem that wide before, so it was a completely new experience. It turned out much better than expected! 

I can't wait to make more little clothes for little people! It's so much fun! If and when I ever get enough things sewn for myself (I think that sounds selfish, but....), I am going to start sewing little clothes for my own future use. The box of leftover fabric from my sewing projects is starting to bulge! :)

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Monday, January 12, 2015

• Little Black 1940s Dress •

This post marks a momentous occasion - I am finally several projects ahead of my blog! Although we haven't gotten pictures of them yet, it's a tremendous relief to have something already made to blog about rather than counting on my current project being finished in time.

I can't believe I am writing a post about my very own black dress! I bought this fabric early last year but never ended up actually making it into anything. I decided later on that Butterick 5281 would be just right, but still never was in the mood to "tackle" it. A couple of weeks ago, however, I finally was in the right mood! I was always somewhat frightened of this pattern for some reason, thinking that it simply must be terribly difficult. It isn't! In fact, (confession time), I already have another dress made from it that just needs to be hemmed. Long story short; it's a fun (and easy) pattern!

It probably does look slightly weird to have short-sleeved dress pictures out in the snow, but, well, sometimes you just have to have a picture! It was actually around 30 degrees, so it wasn't nearly as bad as the past week has been. The snow transforms the back yard into a more palatable backdrop than usual and it even snowed a teeny bit while we were out there!

Ordinarily I try to avoid that awful, slippery lining fabric like the plague, but for this dress it wasn't possible. Since the dress fabric is polyester, I knew that if I used cotton to line it, it would be too hot. Thankfully, the lining was not too painful to work with, and it really does feel so nice and slippery!
The main dress fabric was SO much fun to work with. It drapes beautifully, irons and sews easily and doesn't wrinkle. Three cheers for polyester!

I have been a bit lazy in the pin-curling department, but doing it again rejuvenated my love for it. Even though they're not perfect, there's just nothing like pin curls! I am happy to say that in only 11 1/2 hours or so, even though I have relatively thick hair, the curls are completely dry! That is a tremendous relief! 

I love all of the subtle but elegant details of this dress. The pleats on the shoulder, the decorative skirt seaming - it all adds up to a classic 1940s look.

I love my buttons. So much. Shiny pieces of happiness.
 I raised the neckline 1 1/2 inches, topstitched the part of the bodice that connects to the yoke, then stitched the bodice to the yoke about 2/3 of the way across, leaving enough of an opening to be able to slip over my head. Nicely enough, I didn't even have to sew on a hook and eye!

It is wonderful to finally have a black dress. While I am definitely a flowery-dress-kind-of-girl, a black dress is so versatile, and pretty much perfect for any occasion! I'm so glad I finally took the plunge and made it!

I'll leave you with a photo I took of the splendid drifts in our yard. It was SO. COLD. the day that I took snow photos, but once again, sometimes you just have to have them! I posted more pictures from that day on my photography blog.

• Photography by my mom •

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Monday, January 5, 2015

• Floral 1940s Dress •

I am very excited about today's post!! I just made this dress last week, but it is already a staple in my wardrobe. Everything about it makes me happy!
I intended to make a different 40s pattern out of this fabric, but the mockup looked less than stellar. The fabric just had to be made into a 40s dress though, so I decided to make Simplicity 1587. I have already made this pattern in a polyester crepe, so I was very familiar with the design. It was not very much fun to make out of such a stiff yet slippery material, so making it out of cotton was a breeze! This has to be the fastest dress I've ever completed. So much fun!!

Since the back yard gets realllly extra boring for a backdrop, we finally decided to head into town (barely a town) and take some pictures by the old train station. It ended up being the perfect backdrop for photographing! We will definitely be back there again soon!
It was the outrageously warm temperature of 17 degrees, so if I look frozen, there's a very good reason. Times like that are what make me thankful for slightly warming objects like gloves and minks!! :)

The hairdo. I got a haircut several weeks ago because I really wanted to start pin curling. I was sick of 2014-trying-to-look-1940s hairdos, so I decided to get a bit of a trim. I only got about 3, maybe 4 inches taken off, but it made the difference between being able to pin curl and not being able to.
This was actually only my second time ever, so it was nowhere near being perfect, but I think it's not bad for starters! It's going to take commitment to pin curl every single night, but if that's what it takes to get a good vintage hairstyle then I'm all for it! I look forward to perfecting my techniques and being able to do more styles.
One of the many benefits of a pin-curled hairstyle is that hats look so good! I never was quite sure about this one in days gone by but I absolutely love it now. I think it's time to go hat-hunting again!!

As for the dress, I made a few slight alterations to the pattern. I lengthened the bodice and sleeves a bit, and added a bit of length to the bow as well so that it would drape nicely. I used the skirt from Vogue 8767, flaring it out from the waist down as much as the fabric width would allow. 
Since the neckline is a little lower than I prefer, I made a panel to wear underneath the dress. I wish I knew how to raise the neckline, but I really don't have a clue how it would be possible amidst all those pleats. Maybe someday.
I also omitted the back neck keyhole opening since I could get it on and off easily without it. All in all, I was able to get the whole dress, excluding the belt, out of 3 5/8 yards. For me, that's about like getting a whole dress out of a fat quarter when compared to the usual 5-6 yards I need for an average dress. 

I am so excited to finally have a dress that is mink-friendly! I love our little furry footed friends and can't wait to wear them more!
I wasn't sure what to do for a belt buckle, but then I realized that this lovely vintage brass(?) one was the perfect accent! I definitely need to build up the buckle stash.
This lovely purse was a prize find a few weeks back at the antique store. It was only $10, and in nothing less than perfect condition inside and out, which is amazing considering all those beads! The front and back are slightly different so it can coordinate with a lot of different outfits. 

I love the American-made cottons that JoAnn has started selling. They seem to be very good quality, and the price is great! More for less is the way to go! I've got my eyes on that green polka-dots-on-polka-dots material. Hello, 1950s dress!
I have a definite addiction to 1940s dresses these days, so don't be surprised to see more of them soon! I'm trying to resist the urge to just make 57 more of this same exact pattern, but it isn't easy.
In any case, I'm going to make a career out of staying far away from that horrible "publish" button until it's time....gulp.
Thanks to my lovely mom for the photographs!
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