Saturday, June 26, 2010

I <3 my toaster

Since those who love vintage patterns often love other vintage things, I thought I'd share my toaster.  It's from the early 1960s, and has been refurbished.  The sides are glass, and the design is silkscreened.   It came from, which was recommended to me by a co-worker.  I've seen the same toaster go for far less on eBay, but I didn't want to take risks where electricity is involved.  I hope it'll make me toast for another 50 years!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Godets revisited

So, I made a second version of New Look 6944, the skirt with godets.  I'm happier with this one: I made the godets out of the same fabric as the rest of the skirt and so they provide an interesting shape without being all in your face about it.   In fact, I wore this version to work on Monday.  (So far my dressform has been in charge of wearing the first one.)  My husband took pictures as I was on my way out the door.  No, I don't dry my hair before work.  The mean old Texas sun does that for me.

I used some unusual fabric I bought at Jo Anns: it's kind of twill-like, but its fiber content is cotton and Tencel, so it has a nicer drape than a twill should.  I'd love to know where to get more fabric with Tencel in it -- if you know of any, please clue me in!   I also really like the color and pattern, which together remind me of raindrops.  For some reason I don't gravitate to blues, but I find this one appealing.

Back in 2008, I started a project with this fabric that went bust.  Literally, I guess, as the problem was that the bodice part turned out to have more va-va-va-voom than I could hope to come up with in this lifetime, and at that point in my sewing career (and still, really) I didn't know how to fix it.   So I set aside the project, which was from a very old Burda issue -- June 2002, I think?  I think the "good luck" sign in the picture was a special message to me, as in, "Good luck making this thing.  Sucka!"   I very rarely set aside projects: I prefer to fish or cut bait.  I must have had some lingering hopes, but as time passed I've grown less and less enamored of this, especially given its impending fit issues.  I finally accepted that we'd grown apart, and took the very full skirt part of the jumper out of the plastic sack it had been languishing in and cut all the New Look skirt pieces out of it.  Thank goodness that's over. 

This skirt took a little while longer than version one, because not only did I line it, I finished all its many seams on both lining and outer fabric.  I line almost everything these days, usually with cotton batiste, because they just look better.  Here are my skirt innards:
I just happened to have a cotton batiste on hand that was very close to the skirt color.  I made the lining about an inch and a half shorter than the skirt, but an inch would have been plenty.   I didn't take any length off it when I hemmed it other than doing my usual tapering so that the back is an inch longer than the front.  

I used a lavender zipper and thread since that's what I had, but it blends in well enough.  I made a size 10, except for adding an inch total to the waist, and used the size 12 piece for the center front/back to accommodate for the extra yoke width.   The fit is pretty much perfect, and I think I'll wear this one a bunch. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Double button happiness

After complaining about how pattern prices have gone up, I found a few this past week for some great prices!  See, sometimes it pays to complain.  Anyhow, check out this early 60s pair:

I was inspired by a pattern I saw a while back but decided to pass on because it was more than I wanted to pay, plus a bit on the large side for me.   I made a sketch, and figured I'd find something similar eventually.  And hooray, these two came along -- together they were half the price of the original.  The pattern I didn't buy was more of a jumper: sleeveless, and with inverted pleats in the full skirt.  I like these as-is, but I think I can use them to create something pretty similar the original vision.  I'll take the bodice from Advance 3001 (which has back neckline darts, hooray!), leave off the sleeves, and try to bring the neckline closer to Advance 2958.  The button configuration should be like Advance 2958 view 2, and I'll take the skirt from view 1.    The fact that 2958 is a wrap dress while 3001 zips up the back might cause me some problems, but surely I can figure it out, right?  I think I'd need a solid fabric for this, so that the buttons and stitching would show up.   No specific ideas there, because my fabric stash is full of prints.  I don't feel compelled to stash solids for some reason.   

My schedule for the next few weeks is full of lots of not sewing, and I've already decided on (and purchased notions for) my next project, so it'll be at least a month before I could possibly embark on this pattern mash-up insanity.  And by then I'll surely have been distracted by at least one, if not dozens of other sewing fantasies (which are so much quicker to finish than actual sewing).   So I figured I'd capture   my sewing hallucinations here, so that I can find them again someday, perhaps when the stars are property aligned for their transition into the real world.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A sample of my early work

Juebejue's post at Petite Republic inspired me to share one of my early sewing projects.   Because of all the ways it is not like her professional-looking, charming creation:
Do you know what it is?   Don't feel bad if you can't guess.   It's supposed to be a stingray, but clearly design and attention to detail were not skills I had honed at 15.  I'm not sure why I thought it should be shaped like a disc.  I do know why I put the bow on the tail though: it hides some seriously ugly stitching where the pipe cleaner-filled tail joins the body.   I was proud of it at the time, believe it or not.  Little did I know that my when my little sister reached the same age, she would sew me an entire dress!    Granted, she probably had some help from our mom.  I on the other hand hate to ask for help.  I prefer to do a terrible job all by myself.

Now doesn't this make you feel better about your first sewing project?   I hope it inspires you to share it, too!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Go go godets!

OK, this is my latest skirt.   I used some fabric that was leftover from a dress I made last year, with a complimentary fabric for the godets.  And while like the idea of mixing patterns, I guess it's just not my personal style, because in this I feel a little like a cheerleader at a quilting bee.  That said, I like the fit of the skirt quite a bit, and the godets were strangely fun to sew.  I thought they'd be hard, but it's quite easy to get that nice little point at the top.   I did the bias tape hem thing again because I thought the contrasting edge suited the graphic nature of the print.

The pattern is New Look 6944, and I made view E.   I will probably make this again, but in all one fabric and perhaps in a slightly drapier material.  I have a really nifty cotton/Tencel blend fabric that might be perfect for this, actually.  (Why isn't there more fabric with Tencel in it out there?)

Other than hemming this beast, I didn't do any sewing yesterday, but I did finally organize my patterns.  I keep them in storage boxes made of fabric with metal frames, 14 (!) of them in all.  They started out roughly sorted by era (40s, 50s, 60s, etc.) but when I had them upstairs, they were in a hard-to-reach place, and this coupled with the fact that some boxes were full had resulted in significant organizational devolution.  Finding a particular pattern usually meant rifling through several boxes at a minimum.  But after my hours of labor yesterday,  they are now sorted by era, AND within their eras they are sorted by brand and pattern number!    This was actually kind of fun to do, since it brought patterns that would have been released together side by side, and it was interesting to see their similarities.  Maybe at some point I'll post some of these pairs here.   For mail order patterns I didn't try to put the numbers in order, but grouped them roughly by era, and the same for 1930s patterns, since I have relatively few of them.

I also weeded out a lot of 34 bust patterns that I don't think I'll ever bother drafting down to my size.   I now have an entire banker's box crammed full of patterns that I don't intend to keep.   I'm thinking I will put them on etsy ... there's another project for the future!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Looks, old and new

Blogger now has a template designer that I used to make my blog less ugly.  I had been meaning to apply some sort of custom design to it (and still may, someday ... ) but for now this is quite nice.  Of course, if you're like me and do your blog reading via rss, this is entirely irrelevant information.   :)

Here are the patterns that found their way to me in the mail this week.  I guess I was feeling the bow -- hadn't realized until they arrived that both patterns I chose had them.

Simplicity 1164 is from 1944, and Simplicity 2429 is from 1948.  I guess I was feeling the 40s as well.   Is it just me, or are vintage patterns getting a good bit more expensive these days?   I used to be able to pick up lots of patterns for $4 or $5 -- now it is hard to find  anything pre-1980 at that price.  I even saw some patterns priced above $100!   Could this price creep reflect a resurgence of interest in vintage patterns, or just a stronger economy?

I also found this fabulous fabric in the clearance area of my local Jo Anns:

It's a lightweight cotton with a nice drape, with embroidery on the border.  This photo does not do it justice.   Incidentally, my JoAnns is in the midst of remodeling, which seems to involve pushing all the quilting fabric and crafty doo-dah to the front, and the fashion fabric all the way to the back.  Sigh.  It was nicer to be met at the door with a colorful array of fabric bolts instead of a double row of dingy metal shelves.  But I suspect this change reflects the proportion of their sales.   I should be happy that the fabric wasn't kicked right out the back door.

I have a skirt almost finished -- perhaps I'll be able to post pictures of it later this weekend.  It's ... well, hm.  I'll say more when I can post a picture, but I'm not sure it's right for me.  I enjoyed sewing it, though, and that's what counts!  

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Butterick 6574, or what up with pattern sizing?

So, I finally finished the second, better fitting version of Butterick 6574 (from 1953) yesterday.  I think I am going to have to come up with cute names for these in the future -- I am tired of having to go look up the pattern number every time I want to write about something I'm making!    Anyhow, the second version fits a whole lot better, so hooray!  There is still room for improvement, but the remaining fit issues don't really bug me so I'm going to put this one in the win column.

That's version number 2 at top left.  I did quite a lot of alteration (for my beginner-ish self, anyhow) to get there.  What I did not do is adjust the waist length (or even width, actually) and I am actually quite happy with the result!  So thanks again everyone who gave me feedback on my earlier projects where I lengthened the waist.  I agree that this works better!

I posted a picture of the re-drafted bodice pieces earlier, so I won't show that again, but here's an itemized list of the alterations I made:

1. Take a wedge out under the arm hole, tapering to nothing at the waist.  I did this a couple of times, as the  drafting progressed, so I'm not sure how much the total amount was.
2.  Rotate bust darts up slightly -- this one was very easy to do.
3.  Rotate shoulder strap position inward.  (The original version was hanging off my shoulders!)

1. Add darts at the neckline, pointing at the tops of the waist darts.   This helped a lot with the extra fabric I had going on in back, but there is still some unresolved looseness where the darts taper off.
2. Take some extra out under the arms.
3. Rotate shoulder strap position inward.

When all's said and done, I eliminated quite a few inches of fabric from the top half of this dress, as compared to the original draft.   I know ... different times, different undergarments, but really, there was at room for five or six extra bras in the original!  I used my first version as a muslin: I basted the bodice together twice and took it apart again as I worked through the initial fit issues.  I re-cut the bodice front between the first and second rounds of fitting but the first version (the green one) is still too loose.  I think I have trouble completely seeing the fit until it's all together.  Maybe this gets better as you do more of it?

Other little details I changed from the original pattern ... the pattern called for facings (ick) but I did a full lining in cotton batiste for both versions.  I thought I might have trouble getting the lining together around those flaps for the button in the front,  but it was easy.   After the trouble I had wriggling in and out of the first one, I used a 14-inch zipper rather than the 12-inch called for in version two.   And on the second one, I finished the hem with contrasting double-fold bias tape because I had cutter's remorse after marking and cutting the hem, and wished I had left it a bit longer!  I actually really like the way it looks.   I tried off-white bias tape originally, but it just didn't look right after I pinned it on.  The green looks much nicer:  I think a darker shade "anchors" the hem better.

All the pictures I took of Butterick 6574 are here in my Flickr stream.  And keeping me company here is my dog, Dinky.