January 31, 2012

Finicky Fabric Quirky Vintage Mod Garment

Dear Finicky Fabric,
I love a challenge, I really do. But as Brocade Lame you are not a peach. Why must you spite me?

Love, Melody

As a budget sewist I picked up my finicky fabric on the cheap, naturally.I thought it would be reminiscent of a mod vintage fabric like this one on etsy.
And looks a lot like the cover photo, no? You know I love a good vintage cover copycat.
Fabric Problems:

  • Stiff and itchy – A simple A-line design to work with the lack of movement in the fabric, sure that should do. Lining fabric for the body to repel the itch, excellent. 
  • Easily unravels – Do not trim SA (Seam Allowance). Serge, serge, serge and serge some more, likely excuse to use my new Brother overlock. 
  • Loosely woven – Again the lining fabric would help buffer, so I substituted it like an underlining fabric. This also helped control the darts as both plys are stitched as one, however this could be bulky in other scenarios; the finicky fabric is thin and my lining fabric is thin, should do 
  • The fabric hates all sewing needles – I changed out myriad needles and I still ended with areas of pulls and puckers in the finicky fabric structure along the seams (FYI, I hate those). What I am referring to us when your needle will not pierce the thread but pushes on it, pulling the entire grain (warp or weft thread) in the garment. So in the case of this fabric the needle would not pierce the gold threads but instead push them out of the stitching line causing pulls and puckers of the material around the grain being pushed. In retrospect I should have used a knit needle however this may have wreaked havoc on my lining fabric, what’s done is done, the dress is assembled. 
Along with the fabric construction issues I realized that hemming would give me grief. So I decided to implement a faced hem band. So at this point I was redesigning the look and I thought why stop there. I knew I would need to take my pattern out as I am broad shouldered and hippy. So I added a center back extension, this allowed me to add a heavy duty zip and back detail. Why stop there and I did not I added bias strips to the seams for even more zing.

Hem Band

Back zip extension

In the end a fun and quirky mod garment… where the heck am I going to wear this?

January 29, 2012

Crazy Color Cynthia Rowley Simplicity Sewing Pattern 2281

I went color crazy. I have absolutely no rhyme or reason for doing do. The fabric has been kicking around my stash for at least a year. I remember purchasing it in the clearance section during an additional sale and thinking this print is mad (you may take that as good or bad, I am still not sure either). I had the intent to use it as a coat lining however like most of my project concepts that went by the wayside and the material went to live in a bin. I have been digging Simplicity’s Cynthia Rowley pattern collection as of late. I love the use of asymmetrical darts and gathers that are laced throughout the patterns. On this pattern I decided to up the ante, I knew I wanted to use the waistband applique detail. I had assumed the applique would be a good project to repurpose some fabric scraps from prior projects and then was struck by the crazy notion that this print would be a good idea too. I have yet to confirm nor deny this as rational thought.

Back neckline tie

About that waistband applique: I am NOT a fan of fashion garment fronts and plain garment backs. I know it is commonplace and reasonably acceptable but I personally feel that it is a mass merch Cop-out. I can see when there may be a time when they are necessary, garment costing and the like. However I get the joy and burden of making this garment and can add and subtract to my flights of fancy, and I did. I duplicated the applique pieces and adjusted the size for the waistline back; I ended with a continuous waistband. In the future I will only use the waistband applique if I am using a solid color, I am fairly certain that this is a common rule but at least I will never be caught in the same dress as someone else!

Inside Garment View

Side placket zip from inside

January 21, 2012

For the Love of Circle Skirts Sewing Retro Circle Skirts

I have currently found myself in the midst of constructing another fab Butterick Retro pattern! Butterick 4513. Retro' 57.
As previously stated I love these. For the record, I might just love circle skirts. You know for the twirl-ability and the hip-hide-ability (scientific terms and reasoning).
When I dive into a pattern with a circle skirt the first thing I do is shorten the skirt pieces as most vintage pattern sewists do as well.
Over the years I have developed a rubric for lengths that work for me (read: Melody is a shorty). So at 5'5" o.k. fine I am really 5'4" but my ID states 5'5" so it must be true, right?
I have my three desired length categories as follows:

Throw back vintage calf length: 25" from waist line + add variable hem allowance. This will fall just below my knee at the meaty part of my calf. I rarely find myself making this length unless, I have a substantial amount of fabric or I am looking to preserve the true vintage vibe. Why you ask, because I feel that this length make my gams look like tree trunks.
Reasonable length for one to wear to work: 23" from waist line + add variable hem allowance. This is my choice length, it will hit just at my knee. It is not so long that I feel it is unflattering and not so short that I am checking my coverage constantly.

Short party time flirt length: 20 - 21" from waist line + add variable hem allowance. I think this length is comparable to the current mass market trendy lengths, I find them too damn short for conscientious comfort. The rare exception is a special specific occasion garment that I find to warrant the length.
Along with the end length I have to decide on how the skirt will be finished, hemmed, lined etc. for the addition of variable hem allowance. Commonly my first choice is to line everything, all the time. Therefor I will add 5/8" hem allowance to the desired skirt length. I prefer full lining, yes, I know it is more work. And I know, most of the time patterns will only guide you in partial lining, lining of the bodice and not the skirt. Which is fine and an easy fix, add skirt cuts for the lining too. However there are times when I say no to lining a circle skirt the reasons will vary: petticoats and slips, a lack of lining fabrics on hand, sheer laziness, possibilities of trunk bulk. In these cases the Hem Allowance can vary greatly, 1/2" narrow hem, 1-1/4" standard hem to a 3" hem with horsehair braid.

This current pattern Butterick 4513, calls for no lining. Naturally, I choose to line it. My reasoning cotton dress = too flimsy = needs lining. To each their own. Any way jumping to where I am now in the construction process. I have no idea what the guide sheet tells one to do as I have a knack of not ever reading them. What I did:
sew the side seams of the skirt on my cotton fabric
sew the side seams of my broadcloth lining
place the two plys RST and stitched my circle hem
clip, then press and flip and press again to form the clean hem.

Butterick Retro 4513 hung for bias drape
The skirt is constructed and ready to be attached to the bodice or is it?
I have this ritual I must hang my circle skirts. I place them on a hanger or/and pin it to my dress form for at let 24 hours and to check the hem for evenness after the fabric falls into the bias position  So the question and why I posted this. Am I the only person that does this? I goggled it to find an answer but found nothing. is this just a lost construction method. Has anyone experienced negative effects from not doing so?

January 19, 2012

Vintage Copycat Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8722

Sewing Objective: create that cute striped number with the retro cut out neckline.

It is no secret that I am mad about 60’s mod looks. I flipped when I found this pattern Simplicity 7288 dated 1970 in my archive. The style of the views shift on the front the envelope. The design is quite basic, a line shape french darts yet the hem goes from mod late 60’s mini to 70’s mindi to boho maxi in a flash.

At any rate I loved the stripe button combo and could not help to vintage copycat the look. I found this cotton stripe plain weave some time ago from the mecca: fabric.com - $1.95 per yard awesome section. It was quite sheer, or what I refer to as a blessing to fully line! So off I went with some cotton lawn remnants. Thus a lovely early spring in the Midwest Mock Mod frock.
Implementing some cute little buttons and a vintage zip from my stash and maximizing on my fabric scores, I cannot help but to boast that I spent less than 10 US dollars on this garment.

See the interfacing-facing
Down side to this pattern, my original was missing a piece; it did not have the front neckline facing piece with the CUTOUT !?. Insert: sad face. No fear, I drafted it myself, as nothing would stop that cut out from happening. and theen due to the fact that I had elected to line the dress I thought that I could just cut the facing pieces in interfacing and fuse the facing-interfacing to the lawn lining. It ended being neat, clean and without bulk.

January 10, 2012

Sewing Garment Separates Red Skirt and Project Runway Blouse

McCall's 5590 - Skirt View B.
The skirt is made in a red cotton twill fabric. In my first concept for this garment I did not incorporate the piping.
I planned to use the buttons as the pattern calls for them but, as I was beginning construction... I could not visualize this mass of red with two little black buttons.

At first I had the idea to pipe around the waistband tabs. However I decided that this would be too bulky at the side seam right at the waist and no lady wants that. So I concluded to pipe the side seams as well as the top edge held by the facing.

As for the blouse: I made it last spring it is Simplicity Project Runway Pattern 2612. I loved the full flutter gathered sleeve. It is made in a flower printed cotton lawn with vintage 70’s buttons.

January 8, 2012

Butterick Sewing Pattern 4512 Retro 1957

Butterick 4512 date: 2005, View C Dress
I think this might be the best Retro yet!
I did not change much from the pattern, of course I had to add lining to the skirt and shorten it.

Lovely Bow


Inside Garment View

January 6, 2012

Modern Sewing Pattern McCall's 6278

McCall's 6278 Date: 2011. Dress view C with view A hem band. I thought it would be fun to play with construction point turns and pivots in this color blocked dress. it was fun at first then I was so over it as the dress was fully lined and the acetate lining was not nearly as willing to pivot, clip and turn as the stretch cotton fashion fabric.

Inside Garment View

How to stitch corner seams
A Guide to Fashion Sewing (4th Edition) Connie Amaden-Crawford

A Guide to Fashion Sewing (4th Edition) Connie Amaden-Crawford
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