Monday, September 12, 2016

1940s Floral Dress

For my next 1940s dress, I chose this lovely pattern:


I had some very odd pieces of my floral fabric, because I had originally used it to make a mock-up of one of the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding, and it was cut on the bias.  So I had about a yard and a half of yardage left, plus scraps like this:


I needed to use these odd scraps to cut out some of the bodice pieces:


It was a little funky cutting them out, especially since so many of the pieces needed to be cut on the fold:


I used the thread-pulling method to determine the straight of grain:



I cut out the bodice using my new multi-size cutting method - size 12 at the shoulders, 14 at the bust, and 16 at the waist.


To help me remember all this, I like to highlight the size I'm cutting at each juncture:


This pattern only went up to size 14, so I had to improvise slightly:


You'll see I also wrote some instructions on the pattern piece for making it into a blouse, which I actually did before making the dress, as a sort of test-run for my modifications.  The blouse is halfway done, but that's another post.

Construction was fairly straightforward, just following the pattern instructions for once (although I accidentally installed the invisible zipper on the opposite side seam as directed).  The only issue I had was with attaching the skirt front to the yoke:


It may be hard to see in the pictures, but the center of the gathered skirt section formed an odd little bump which would be decidedly unattractive on the finished dress.


I solved this by pulling that center section upwards until the excess fabric was eliminated:


This is how the revised stitching line looked on the inside:


Other than that, the pattern and instructions were excellent.  I had one more small issue, but this I blame on my fabric:


Kind of hard to see, but the bottom point of the back neck slit frayed out.  I doubt I would have this problem with a sturdier fabric.  I had chosen a rather cheap polyester satin.

To solve the problem, I hand-stitched around the edge of the point with a buttonhole stitch, just as I would do with petticoat pocket slits in my 18th Century costuming.


I hemmed the dress with lace seam/hem tape from my stash, sewing the top edge by hand:


I like the extra weight and stability it gives to the hem.

I actually finished the dress in early August, and wore it for the first time when I was still in Iowa visiting my parents and sisters.  I got a couple pictures of it then, but didn't do a proper photo shoot until just over a week ago, after Brian the Engineer and I got home and had settled back in.


I love this dress!





I set my hair in pin-curls the night before, and did my best to wrangle them into a passable 1940s style:


It's a learning process.
I of course accessorized with my red sunhat and Loraine 1940s sandals from Royal Vintage Shoes.  





You may notice one thing missing from the 1940s silhouette - shoulder pads.  I haven't decided yet if I want to add them and make the dress more authentic, or keep it as-is - 1940s inspired.  I worry that shoulder pads would look wrong on me.  I do not have 1940s shoulders.

I have 1840s shoulders.  
Nonetheless, the dress is comfortable and incredibly fun to wear.


Especially with awesome accessories!




After the photo shoot, I played some more with my hair and came up with a more formal updo:




If it weren't for my aversion to shoulder pads and lipstick, I think I could be quite at home in the 40s!  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fabric Shopping and Suffragette Plans

So what did I buy at my favorite fabric store while wearing the dress I made from the fabric I bought there on my last visit?  Well, fabric, of course:

Cream rayon, gray, blue, & brown houndstooth wool, purple rayon, teal silk chiffon, and off-white wool voile
And petersham ribbon in several widths and colors:  


Here is what I spent:

Notice all the fabric was 50% off!  
Now what am I going to make with my latest haul?  Well, the cream rayon will become Agent Carter-inspired 1940s blouses to go with the rest of my 1940s wardrobe, and the purple rayon will be another 1940s dress.   The teal silk and the off-white wool will most likely end up in my Regency wardrobe in some way or another, but the houndstooth wool is going to branch out into a new era, for me:

Ooooh, Edwardian!
Now, I may be crazy, but I've had this idea that won't let me go:  Dress up as a suffragette to go vote in November!


If you think about it, this is an historic presidential election - a woman running against a...  But I don't want to talk about politics on my blog.  This is a happy place.

However, I want to commemorate the fact that women have only had the right to vote in this country for less than 100 years.  Isn't that amazing?  Men were flying before women could vote.


I've started a Suffragette Inspiration board on Pinterest (in case you couldn't tell), and I'll be adding to that in the next few weeks.  For now, here is my main outfit inspiration image, the suit on the left:


In addition to the Butterick pattern shown above, which will be useful for the shape of the coat, I have purchased the 1911 Narrow Panel Skirt and 1903 Plain Blousewaist from Truly Victorian.  I just need fabric for the blouse, some undergarments, and accessories.  And finally, an "I Voted" sticker!

Friday, August 12, 2016

1970s Ikat Wrap Dress

So remember this fabric I bought at my favorite fabric store back in December?



I felt that it had such a 1970s vibe that I needed to find just the right pattern to make a dress from it.  (I actually don't know why this particular fabric called to me - it's really far out of my usual comfort zone, both in color and in print.  But for some reason I love it!)

I got Simplicity 8013 at a JoAnn's pattern sale, and thought it was perfect:


The pattern is for a faux-wrap dress, with a separate sash and a center back zipper.  Of course, I hate sewing zippers (which is part of the reason I love historical costuming so much) and felt that, with a few tweaks, I could make the faux-wrap pattern into a true wrap dress!

I also didn't have as much fabric as the pattern envelope called for, but since when has that ever stopped me?  :p  I figured that by omitting the separate sash (which takes up an incredible amount of fabric all by itself) and occasionally fudging grain lines and tapering the wide ends of skirt panels to fit, I could get the shorter-length dress from my 3 5/8 yards of 55" wide fabric.  I was right, but more on that later.

I started with a bodice lining/mockup cut from an old sheet:


Notice how the side bust darts are in two different places?  The left one is as printed on the pattern:


And the right one is where my mom pinned it for me, so it actually fits me:


We made some other adjustments to the fit, like taking in the back neck, the tops of the shoulders, and the top of the underarm seam.  I have very narrow, sloping shoulders, and I'm finally learning (with Mom's help) how to cut patterns to fit me better in this area.

Since the print is too big and busy to be obviously directional, I was able to cut for best fit of the pattern pieces:


I transferred the alterations from the mock-up to the tissue pattern pieces, and cut the center back piece on the fold:


The center back is taken in more at the neck than at the waist, where it's just 5/8" to account for the seam allowance.  


Then the shoulders are tapered down from the neck edge:  


I may have to start doing that with all of my future bodice shoulder seams.  

I cut the sleeves next.  Of course the pattern piece was too large to fit on my fabric folded in half:  


So I measured the width of my folded fabric:


Then measured the widest part of the sleeve piece:


Since the sleeve was five inches wider than the fabric, I measured in 2 1/2" from each side, and tapered the sides of the sleeve in by that amount at the lower edge.  Simple.

I measured my remaining yardage, and found that I easily had enough to cut two of each skirt panel piece.  First the front and back pieces - center front on the fold, center back on the selvedge:


Then I realized:

Cut 4.  Oops.
I needed four copies of the widest skirt panel!  Oh no!

Would I have enough?  I knew I would have to cut them individually from the full width of the fabric.  I unfolded it:


Since I wanted to make it a true wrap dress, I would need some overlap.  I left the extra fabric on right-hand side of the pattern piece uncut:


Then removed the pins and flipped the piece around to get a second copy:


Where it went off the edge of the fabric, I tapered it in the same way I had done the sleeves:


Just folded the tissue paper and cut along the fold:


And there was enough!  *Whew*  I moved the pattern piece down to the end of my remaining fabric, so I could leave the largest scrap piece possible along the edge:


This was later cut into strips that then became the attached self-tie that keeps my dress closed.

Construction was pretty straight-forward.  I followed the directions for the most part, just omitted the zipper and left the front edges open.  That extra fabric I left on the one side-front panel is the only part of the skirt that isn't gathered into the waist seam, and it's covered by the overlapping right side of the skirt.

Instead of cutting the skirt lining using the included pattern pieces, I just measured the length and width I wanted and cut one big rectangle from the same old sheet that I used for the bodice lining.  It is also gathered to the waist, and the waist seam is sandwiched in between it and the outer skirt.

My one complaint with this pattern is that it has a tendency to gap at the bust, even with my alterations.  I think I'm going to need to add some elastic to the front edges like I did with my 1940s Halter Dress sides.  I should have enough space between the seam edge and my understitching on the lining to insert a length of narrow elastic.

Of course there wasn't enough time to do this before I wanted to wear the dress.  I had a slight fit of crazy and made the whole thing in one day.  Actually 13 hours from start to finish, including a couple hours to eat and go for a walk with Mom.

And why was I in such a hurry to get this dress done?  Oh, because I was going back to my favorite fabric store the next day!

*happy sigh*
And here I am wearing it back to the store where I bought the fabric! Although not the same location... details.   
My sister Gretchen was kind enough to brave the mosquitoes and take these photos for me after we got back from Minneapolis:



Clover the cat photobomb!

The dress is very fun to wear, and quite comfortable.  And as long as I keep my posture the gapiness is not terrible.  Just to be safe, I wear a tank top underneath.






The sleeves are quite fun.




And that's a wrap!  Will make again.  :)