Upcoming and Planned Projects

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Tula and Henry Retro Blouse

These very girly fabrics were just made for this 1940s blouse. Such old fashioned girly fabrics, such an old fashioned girly blouse. Both in a good way. The main fabric is Tula Pink, from her Parisville collection, and is called Topiary. The pink peplum and collar fabric is a Henry Glass, and is called Miss Modd.

I've actually had both fabrics for almost five years but couldn't find what I wanted to make with them. I'd thought of using them together, but was a bit in two minds about it, and didn't have any patterns that really felt like they were right for either fabric. But when Spotlight had a pattern sale a few months ago I managed to snap up a few reproduction vintage patterns, including this one. Although the original pattern doesn't call for two contrasting fabrics, when I was going through my stash to find something to make the blouse with, it was clear that yes, the fabrics do work together, and this was the pattern that would make that happen.

This blouse is another addition to my work-appropriate clothing needs. The pattern is Simplicity 1590, which is labelled as a "Misses' 1940s Retro Blouse". There are two variations, this high necked option or a scoop neckline. Because I wanted to use the contrasting fabric I decided to make the high necked version so I could make a contrast collar. But I did leave off the waist ties and neck bow, deciding they were probably a bit much on an already very girly blouse.

I'd forgotten how high the necklines tend to be on 1940s patterns! I've made a few in the past and generally lowered the neck a bit at the front so it didn't feel tight, but I forgot to do that with this pattern. So because it is slightly uncomfortable done up, I decided to leave the top button undone. Also the way the collar is made it won't sit properly if I have the top button done up even though I'm sure I followed the pattern correctly, so I'll just leave it undone when I wear it. It kind of makes it a bit more modern and less costumey, too, to wear it not done up to the top.

When it came time to choose buttons for this blouse, I wasn't really sure where to start. There's a lot of colour in the two fabrics, so trying to find something that matched was a clear possibility. But then I had to work out what colour to match. I decided not to try and match one of the secondary colours in the main fabric's flower circles because I thought adding anything extra to the two already dominant colours might be a bit much. Pink buttons was my next thought, so that they'd join the collar and peplum as a contrast. But when I went through my tin of vintage buttons I inherited from my grandma I found these green ones. The colour isn't a perfect match but works tonally, and there were the exact number of them that I needed. I did do the buttonholes in pink thread to keep the contrasting going.

 I'm mostly happy with this blouse. I've alreay mentioned the very high neckline which I can't button all the way up and have it comfortable and have the collar sit right. I also should have slimmed in the front bodice from the waist to the underarms. I don't do it for every pattern, but the way 1940s patterns emphasise the shoulders means they can be a little baggy on me around the bust. I could always go the whole way down the 1940s path and add shoulder pads to give the blouse a lift, but I think it's fine without it. Pattern placement for the main fabric was another issue I was conscious of, and I don't know that I got the best result, but I did manage to avoid anything inappropriate. But weirdly the thing I'm least happy with is the back seam for the peplum. It tickles me whenever it moves, which is going to take some getting used to.

But still, it's a lovely pattern, and gloriously girly fabrics. And it's nice to have used some fabrics that have been in my stash long enough they could be starting school this year! This is also my first vintage pledge make for 2016. I'm aiming for at least eight, so we'll see how I go.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Midsummer Day's Dress

This is the Midsummer Night's Dream Dress by Papercut Patterns. Papercut are a great New Zealand independent pattern company who make some really elegant but easily wearable patterns.

I've so far only made a few Papercut Patterns but I've really enjoyed them. The packaging is lovely, and the instructions are clear and well-written. This dress was fairly quick to make in terms of the actual sewing. It's quick to make because although there are a few pieces - three skirt, three bodice, ties and binding - it's very straightforward to put together. All the stitching involved is straight stitching. Attaching the self bias needs a little more attention and effort to make sure it's folded and placed correctly, but it is easy enough. My fabric didn't entirely press down sharply so I had to use more pins to hold it in place, which makes sewing a little slower, but made sure that it was all even and correct.

I did find that the bodice was initially a little loose around the arms and potentially would slide down and expose bra sides. I'd already added the binding andstra ps and didn't really didn't want to undo all of that just to trim the bodice in, so I decided to put a few quick tucks/bust darts in at the sides. There are two on each side, and the print of the fabric makes them imperceptible. They're just enough to pull the dress in around the arms without affecting how the shape of the bodice or how the dress sits.

This dress was also my first rolled hem. As with all sewing machines, mine has a few different feet, some of which I've never really used. After hanging the dress for a couple of days to let the hem settle, I luckily only had to trim off a little unevenness. I then tried it on to decide how much I wanted to hem it by, and was pretty happy with where it sat. So I decided to have a go with my rolled hem foot. I also thought a rolled hem would be a good choice for the flow of this dress, as a minimal hem would have no effect on the dress' shape and movement. The fabric did try and slip out of the coiling part of the rolling foot, but it turned out almost perfectly even, which I was pleasantly surprised by.

The fabric is a rayon crepe from Spotlight. Given that the skirt is pretty much a semicircle, the print couldn't be anything directional. The dress also has a soft flow to it, so the fabric also couldn't be anything heavy. Originally I was looking at some all over floral prints, but when I saw this one I thought it would be perfect. The colourful jagged waves already have the look of movement, so it was well-suited to a dress with flow. It's also lightweight without being completely flyaway, soft but not see-through.

This one has taken a lot longer to get to here than it should have. I got the pattern in June, the fabric in September, and made the dress over the Christmas-New Year's break, and finally got around to wearing and photographing it yesterday. When I bought the pattern and fabric it was of course still cold, but the summer's been long and hot, and this dress is perfect for that sort of weather. Better late than never.

I love this pattern because not only was it easy to follow and the final dress beautifully elegant, it's also a wrap dress so it's relaxed and comfy. And isn't that one of the best things about sewing? You don't need to choose between comfort and look - with the right fabric and pattern, you get to have both.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Flower Power Midi

Floral prints seem to be in at the moment. At least I've seen a lot on sewing blogs, in fabric stores, and in the windows of clothes shops. But I haven't seen so many giantly oversized florals like this 1950s-feel midi skirt. So I guess this skirt is both on-trend and individual.

The fabric is an old doona (quilt/duvet) cover I picked up at an op shop a few years back. Op shops can be great places for fabrics, and very cheap too. When I picked it up I didn't realise it was double sided - this skirt is only one quarter of the fabric. As soon as I saw the doona cover in the op shop I thought the giant flowers would look great as a skirt, but when I realised there were a total of twelve flowers, I thought I should come up with something that used more, if not all of it. But I didn't have any ideas, and so I put it away, buried in my overflowing fabric drawers.

From memory there was no label on the doona cover when I bought it, but the print seems to me to be a bit Skandinavian. Whether it is Ikea fabric or just trying to look like Ikea and Marimekko prints, it has that sort of style. Each flower has a different coloured centre: yellow for the centre front flower, red for the left, blue for the right.

 The skirt itself isn't really that exciting. It's self-designed, and without any measuring at all. I simply sewed up the back seam leaving room for inserting the zipper, and then went to work pinning it on my dressmaker's dummy Ilse-Jane. I eyeball measured to try and keep things even, although the side pleats are narrower than the front and back pleats. But the large-scale print means that these slight differences don't really matter - the flowers still stand out anyway. I hand-stitched the waistband down so that I only stitched through the insides of the pleats, allowing the pleats to stand out and so that there was no visible stitching line through the tops of the petals.

I have to admit that generally, the midi length isn't really my favourite. I think it can look a bit odd, either like a child playing dress ups in their mum's clothes, or  a kid wearing clothes they've outgrown. But with this print I really had no choice. There was no other way to show off those giant flowers. I do like how the length looks, I really do think it suits the print, but the length still isn't something I normally wear, so it is going to take some getting used to.

Although I'd had this fabric for ages and had known exactly what I'd wanted to make when I saw it, it took somewhere around 4-5 years to get around to making it. I do still have three quarters of it left (anyone want it?), but I have been thinking about the need to sew my stash, rather than just buying more fabric. And especially making something like this, which was not only something I'd already completely decided on but was also extremely quick to make.