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.  :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

1946 Wool Dress

Remember my plans for a Winter Wool Wardrobe?  Well, I never blogged about it, but I did finish one dress!

I don't have any good in-progress photos, since for some reason the only things I felt worth photographing were the way I graded up one size from the largest one on the pattern, and the different methods I used to mark all the various dots for darts and pleats and such.  Oh, and this:

I was amused that a typo (that pattern piece is supposed to be for a belt) got translated into four other languages.  :p

Anyway, without further ado, here is the finished dress!

Oh yeah.  I've got mad mirror-selfie skills.
This look is one way the dress can be accessorized - with a navy velvet ribbon belt (I haven't actually made the self-fabric belt yet, though it is cut out), brown tights and my navy blue heels with the fun sparkly shoe clips.  

I wore it this way once or twice in February and March, and then it got too warm in Virginia to wear it much anymore.  It's a nice transition dress, but not great for Virginia summers.

However, I did have my cousin Jason's wedding to attend in June in Colorado.  It was an outdoor wedding, and since the mountains get cool very quickly once the sun goes down, I thought it was time to bring it out again!

I tried to get some shots of me and the mountains, but either I was backlit or the mountains got washed out in most of the photos.  C'est la vie.

I wore my blue straw hat (also seen here), my gorgeous aquamarine necklace and earrings from Dames a la Mode, the same velvet ribbon belt, navy tights this time, and my brown Claremonts:

They may be my favorite shoes of all time.  
I am very pleased with the dress, and will likely make another from this pattern someday.  I would have liked to have given this one long sleeves, but I used nearly every square inch of my fabric and these were the longest sleeves I could get.  Still classy, though.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that, thanks to this dress, I now have a favorite lining fabric!  It's the Ambiance Bemberg rayon lining found at JoAnn's, and it is fantastic!  Not only does it feel nice against the skin, but it does not get static cling!  If anything, it clings to the dress fabric.  I even tested it out when I washed it before cutting out the dress, sending it through the dryer, and no static!  I was amazed.  I'm going to buy it for all of my wool dresses from now on.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Purple Shift Dress

This is another dress that I cut out back in September but never got around to putting together.  Which is a shame because it was such a quick and easy project, but oh well.  It's a summer dress anyway, so I wouldn't have gotten much wear out of it last fall.

I started with VERY limited fabric, even moreso than usual:

Two pieces, this size, were all I had.
The fabric came in the form of two gathered trapezoidal pieces that were attached to a belt for a costume dress that I bought at the same costume sale where I bought the Ivory Hat.  Both pieces were lined with this black brocade-y fabric:

I somehow got it into my head that I could make a dress from just this much fabric, so I cut the two layers apart and later made a cute little nightie out of the black layer from this fabulous free pattern from Sew Vera Venus.  (I may blog about it later.)

For the dress, I chose this 1967 pattern from my Mom's stash:

But really the only piece I used was the yoke.  I also modified it because the back of the dress did not have a yoke, but did have a central zipper:

I did not want to use a zipper (because we HATES THEM!) and I also did not want to sacrifice length in order to get the yoke out of my Very Limited Fabric TM.  Luckily, I found an old t-shirt that used to be my sister's, and the color was the perfect match!

The beaded motif on the pocket was done by my aunt Diane, and I saved that part so my mom can put it into a t-shirt quilt later.
I cut two yoke pieces from this shirt, and used the skirt front pattern as a guide for cutting the armholes from the top corners of each trapezoidal piece of my base fabric, but otherwise left them both intact.  This was as far as I got in September.

Now back at my parents' house again, I used my mom's stash of interfacing to cut duplicates of the yoke pieces:

And flat-lined the t-shirt fabric with them, to prevent stretching:

I stitched them together along the outer edges, with the stretchy t-shirt side down.  I always do this when I have two fabrics with different amounts of stretch.  Since the bottom layer of fabric gets moved along by the feed dogs, it doesn't get puckered as the top non-stretchy (or less-stretchy) layer moves smoothly under the presser foot.

Next I cut two more yoke pieces from some lining my mom had leftover from a dress she had made, which was just the right color, as well.

This color, which I cannot find a name for, is so hard to photograph!  The lighting in my parents' dining room, where Mom and I sew, is also weird.
I tried on the yoke pieces for fit, and found that I did not like how high up on my neck the front piece came.  I really struggle with wearing anything that has a high neckline (turtleneck sweaters are right out!) so I measured down an inch and a half from the center front, to make the finished edge lay just below my collar bone.  I smoothed this line back in to the seam allowance at the shoulder, then copied it on the other side and stitched along this line and across the shoulders to attach the lining:

I did the same with the back pieces, except I kept them at the original stitching line.  Then I pinned both yokes to the front and back of the skirt sections, which I had already sewn together at the sides.  I tried this on and adjusted the front slightly to make the two sides match.  Then I took it off and moved the pins so that they were each 5/8" from the edge of the yoke:

Flipping it over, I measured up from the pins on the inside and marked 5/8" seam allowance on the skirt:

Then I took them apart and trimmed the skirt on this line:

Before I attached the yokes I needed to face the armholes.  I traced one side, placing the side seam on the fold:

Then marked in 2" from the traced line:

I finished the inside raw edges of the facings with an overlock stitch, then sewed them to the armholes with a 5/8" seam allowance and understitched the seam allowance to the facing.  Then I attached the yokes to both front and back, turned the seam allowance up toward the yoke, and turned under the yoke lining and hand-stitched it to the inside.  (No pictures of this part.)

I tried it on again and marked with pins where the back yoke overlaps the front, then attached buttons to the front yoke and fabric loop buttonholes to the back on both shoulders.  This allows me to get in and out of the dress without the aid of a zipper!  :D

My mom has an enormous stash of buttons because she obtained a large display case full of buttons when a store in town was going out of business almost 30 years ago.  This case now lives in my parents' garage, so it was little wonder I was able to find six purple shank buttons that matched my fabric:


Finally, here's me in the dress!  Gretchen once again took photos for me:

Bonus Ivory Hat picture!

The dress is very comfortable to wear, plus cute and casual.  It's a perfect summer dress.