Friday, July 26, 2013

Simplicity 1694: A Collared Shirt with Volume

I was extra anxious to take pictures of my latest project for the that I could see whether I liked it or not! In the mirror, I couldn't tell: nice or awful? 

The big surprise is that I like the way the shirt looks, but the fit of the back of my made-to-wear-with-it basic black ponte pant is dreadful. If it's not one thing it's another!

What was it that drew me to Simplicity 1694, which is very different from my usual pattern picks?

Who knows? My fabric choice was quite a bit less fluid than what is shown in the pattern photo. I used lime Brussels Washer from (they have it for an excellent price, by the way), which is a linen-rayon blend. I've used this fabric a few times and it is a pleasure to sew, washes well and does have some drape. Not as much drape as a soft silk, rayon or poly, however.

Side maternity view (not really!)--I refuse to worry about looking pregnant, but I will confess that the side seam is swinging to the front.

The back view of the shirt was the one I was worried about, but now that I get a good look at it, I think it's fine.
When it was finished, I didn't care for the length of the short sleeve, but it has a deep hem which is perfect for cuffing. I think it would be cute with a little button tab, but I'll have to go back for more buttons.

The shirt is huge! I made the XS, which has a 40" bust measurement. No fit adjustments. I could have shortened it (I am only 5'2"), but I decided that more coverage might be a beautiful thing. The shoulders are slightly dropped, which absolved me of worrying about an accurate fit in the shoulder area. Something about the top of the sleeve in the back doesn't look so good to me, though; there is a deep fold.

To state the very obvious, this is a comfortable outfit to wear. Now, to figure out how to fix those wrinkles in the back of the pants!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ruffly Britches: White Linen Bloomers

I've evangelized about the raptures of bloomers before. What with summer and all, I felt a need for a ruffled white linen pair.

Good for puttering around the weed-filled tangle I call my garden in a fantastical mood.

In a former life, this medium-weight linen fabric was curtains in my living room (also made by me). Removing the creases left by the hem folds was the toughest part of this project. 

The pattern is my go-to elastic waist pajama pant, Burda 7765, now out of print, shortened 12". For the ruffle I cut two strips of 3" wide fabric on the cross grain, the full width of the curtain panels. After finishing one long edge with a serger rolled hem, I ran the other edge through the ruffler attachment to make even gathers. Then I measured the lower edge of the leg to get the right length to cut the ruffle. Another way to approach this would have been to sew the outer leg seams and then to attach the ruffle to the flat leg, before stitching the inside leg seams. Working flat is more efficient, but I often want to check the length of the garment on me once it's stitched up before determining the depth of the trim or ruffle.

I used 3/8" seam allowances rather than 5/8" to make these pants a little oversized. You will see that a lot of my inspiration pieces are even more voluminous. I took a middle path.

Pants like these have been on my to-sew list for about five years. Now that I have them I'm not so sure they are as indispensable as I thought they'd be, but at least I don't have to wonder any longer. These pants seem to need just the right thing to accompany them. Because they are made from a medium-weight linen, they are fine as pants with a longer top, but they are a bit bulky under a light dress. I might like another pair in a handkerchief linen or cotton voile. Or more long funky tops. Or both.

Here are some light summer bloomers I found inspiring.

Susannah Dashwood Verity Hope Dress and Bloomers (it seems her site and pattern business may be inactive now)
Sarah Clemens Clothing on Etsy
Linen Clothing by Bonnie Harris on Etsy
Linen Clothing by Bonnie Harris on Etsy

Conscious Clothing on Etsy

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

1940's Short Sleeved Blouse: DuBarry 5265

Have you noticed how many cute 40's-style blouses have been popping up on the blogs lately? There have been bunches, and that made me ask myself why I didn't have more of them. The few I have made all have some issue or another. I want easy-to-wear blouses that look tidy in that particular way that vintage blouses manage to do.

Somehow it doesn't seem that I have blogged about DuBarry 5265, an eBay pattern purchase that I made into one and a half dresses last year. The "one" was a successful rayon short sleeved dress, and the "half" is a half-finished, lined, somewhat tailored long sleeved wool version. The plan is to pick the wool dress back up and finish it this fall.

Three features of this particular princess-seamed shirt dress distinguish it from modern versions of the same general design: the princess seams run closer to the center front than on modern patterns, the convertible collar is wider and cut much higher on the chest than today's shirts and the sleeves have darted caps. 

The forties blouses I have admired have been short, wide at the shoulders and relatively tapered at the hem. I tried to replicate those qualities in my adaptation of the dress pattern. The center back length of this blouse is just 19" from neck to hem. Of course I am short myself. This length hits at my high hip, which makes for a good proportion with dresses and high-waisted pants.

The shorts are New Look 6100, which my new blog crush Lizzie of The Vintage Traveler reminded me to wear. Check out her version--they are oh-so-perfect. This summer has been so rainy and cool I hadn't even thought of wearing shorts! But the navy of the shorts does work well with the print of the blouse. The fabric came from dear FabricMart, a nice-quality cotton lawn with coral and ivory flowers on a navy ground. It must now be sold out; I can't locate it on their website. It is somewhat similar to a Liberty lawn. Not as quite as fine and silky, but nice and detailed, and not inclined to wrinkle.

I'd like to find some nice novelty prints for more versions of this blouse. It's surprisingly difficult to find just the right thing--not floral, smaller scale, without a definite stripe element, in colors that work for me. Many of the novelty prints that appeal to me are too big for such a short blouse which is chopped up into four panels on the front and six on the back (I added a center back seam for shaping). But I do have a white linen-rayon blend (Kaufmann's Brussels Washer) lined up for a nice basic white blouse. I'm sure that will be very useful.

This blouse counts as a success in my book--it's easy to care for and wear, flattering, comfortable, interesting and has a vintage flavor. I'm happy with it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Making a Shift: Vintage Simplicity 7477

Ragtime Vintage Clothing in Asheville is a favorite shop of mine. When I'm lucky enough to have a chance to pop in, I usually find at least one thing that I didn't know I was looking for until just then when I found it. Last week I found a narrow black leather vintage Coach belt (for $10) and a wonderful basic Levi's denim jacket from the eighties ($24). No dresses that fit me, but I was a bit fascinated by the sixties shifts, which is not a style I've much favored up to now.

Another influence must surely have been Gertie's versions of reissued vintage Simplicity 1609, especially the cute green gingham:

Sheeplike, I actually bought this pattern but then decided that it was too...several things for me. Too sleeveless. Too collarless or Peter Pan collared, which is too sweet. Too high at the neck. Too unadorned generally. For me.

So out came a vintage shift pattern bought from Goodwill a few years ago, Simplicity 7477. Here is a photo from the vintage pattern wiki (my copy is B34):

I always liked this collar, which the pattern describes as an "Italian" collar. Ironically I didn't do the best job of sewing it (must mark those dots at the end of the collar better next time and also understitch), but I do like the shape.

Refreshingly, this dress was quite easy to fit. The previous owner of the pattern had cut it out very neatly indeed, and she had added about an inch of length to the bodice. I removed her extra inch plus another 1 1/4" of length. Then there was a swayback adjustment (5/8") and a fair bit added to the side seams for extra width through the waist and hip. I shortened again at the hem, two inches more. All together, I shortened the dress 3 1/4". That still left a generous two inches to turn up for the finished hem that hits right at the middle of my knee. The front darts were shortened by 3/4", and the shoulders were narrowed 5/8".

Nearly impossible to see, but the back has neckline and waist darts in addition to the center back seam for shaping.

This fabric. I love it so. I bought a bolt of it from the late, great vintage fabric store Make Me in Asheville when it went out of business. It must be an upholstery fabric from the sixties: fairly heavy and looks like a sofa! I've made and sold a slew of pillows and bags from this fabric. I always wanted a dress version, and in fact I had in mind something like retro reissue Butterick 5748:

Two problems with that plan: first, the fabric is really too heavy for a full skirt. Second, I am all of a sudden feeling less like a sixties debutante and more like a sixties matron. 'Bout time, too!

The side view is the most matronly of all, but I wanted you to see how nicely it fits, especially the sleeve. I have a great range of motion without any excess sleeve flopping around. Very happy about that.

I didn't have to buy a thing to make this one: fabric, interfacing, buttons, thread, pattern--all from what I had on hand.

There is not a lot that is current, sexy or especially flattering about this dress, but I like it a lot in spite of, or perhaps because of, all that. I have lots of ideas for different versions--we'll see if they come to pass, or if I shift again to something else.