Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Do Your Trace?

I trace all of my patterns.  I like to make changes and adjustments to the patterns so tracing is a must in my book.

The question then becomes: What do you use to trace your patterns?

I have a thick sort of tracing paper that I have no idea what it is.  It appeared magically at my office door one day and even though I told the delivery person that it was delivered to the wrong address and left it outside the office door for a week hoping the original owner would check tracking and find it….the roll of paper remained.  So after a week, I dragged it inside the office to join the two tables that had previously been misdelivered to the office.  So this tracing paper of unknown origin has been what I primarily used to trace patterns. 

The upside is that it is not too opaque that one can trace anything with it.  The downside is that it is stiff and rather hard so fitting with this paper is impossible.

I also have some  large pads of post it type paper.  I have tried using this with marginal success.  It works well on modern patterns printed on heavy paper.  It does not work well on any other patterns.

So, investigating options I wanted to give soil separator a whirl.  It is cheaper than the famed Swedish tracing paper but I had read that it is just as good still being fabric.  I considered medical exam paper which was cheaper still but really wanted that fabric so that I could try pin fitting.

The other day, I awoke with a mission.  I have free time so I will head off to Home Depot looking for soil separator.  Off I drove, through some substantial post Christmas police activity, through the gauntlet of a parking lot, weaving through those migrant day workers asking if they could assist straight to the garden center.   Lo and behold, what did I find?  Why nothing with the name “soil separator.”  Nope, nada, not a thing.  However, I did find a product called “weed blocker.”  Helpful hint here:  if you do go to Home Depot or another home improvement center ask for both soil separator AND weed blocker.
This is the roll of commercial weed blocker - it is 4 ft by 50 ft.

What the weed blocker actually looks like.
If possible it is even darker  (camera flash)
Weed blocker is made of fabric that looks like a interfacing web so I was excited.  But then I noticed the colors: black, brown and grey.  What?????  That won’t work.  After discreetly opening a corner of the grey, it being the lightest of the colorways on offer, I determined that it was not completely opaque and could work.   It was also 4 feet wide which you have to love.  So, it was purchased, dragged to the car and off home I went.

This weed blocker would be perfect if not a dark color. 

It works though I did have about an hour of problems finding a pen, marker or pencil to write on the stuff.  Once that hurdle was over, it was easy sailing.  It is just light enough to work and works fine with printed patterns.   With non-printed patterns, it is more difficult but I have found it works.

With the help of the weed blocker I have more than accomplished my December pattern tracing goal!  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Here's hoping that everyone is having a wonderful Christmas with their loved ones!!

I know I am even though there were a couple of power outages last night which left this house in utter darkness.  But candlelight added a nice ambiance to Christmas Eve!

Luckily, my computer was not fried even though I always leave it on!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Its the Shortest Day of the Year

It is the winter solstice, so let’s take a look at men with pipes wearing large shorts.

Is there not something incredibly effeminate about the man in shorts? Or is it the balloon shorts? I don’t know but something strikes me as off.

Looking at this picture and other men’s pattern renderings through my all too modern eyes, I am always amazed at the pipe smoking going on? Did men really smoke pipes that often?

The boy’s patterns seem nice enough.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Technique?

The August 1949 Butterick Fashion News’ sewing tip is how to set in sleeves. It looks like a decent method but I still prefer to pin the bejeebuz out of the sleeve and then sew it in. Works every time for me and I am not going to mess with success (it took me long enough to get to this point with sleeves).

But if you are interested in trying a different technique……here you go!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun in the Sun

No sun here just miserable rain. Blech.

However, Butterick Fashion News, August 1949 is here to supply the sun!

Take a look at these sun dresses. Though, I am curious about the thought process that determined to place fringe trim across the bustline of 4890.

My favorite is 4898. I can see making this into a strapless party dress in addition to a cotton sundress. Wow there are a number of copies of this pattern available but not for my purchase since the price is over $50 which is way out of the range of my budget. I will not even spend $40 on a pattern so more is definitely out. The fact that I can find one gives me hope, I bet I can find another with a cheaper price somewhere!

These resort ensembles are just perfect for a summer BBQ ----if only it was either summer or the sun showed its face. The crazy weather extremes are bizarre. Last weekend it was in the 80s now it is rainy and cold.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More of August 1959............

Again August 1949 Butterick Fashion Nes. I am really enjoying this issue.

Here are 5 young compliment catchers!

I love Pattern 4956. Again, I am disappointed in that my searches have failed to yield an example of this pattern out there. It is now a quest for me to find a pattern that I like from this issue! I love the yoke and I have a similar pattern from Simplicity but this one is a little more refined. I love the length of these dresses. It seems everyone, myself included, shortens vintage patterns to adhere to our modern ideas of length for dresses when the goal is to wear the outfit in our real life. Next time I make a dress from this period, I am going to leave it a little longer to adhere to the length sensibilities of the time the patter was manufactured.

I know tonight I will be dreaming of these elusive patterns.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moving on to August 1949.


 The cover of the Butterick Fashion News for August 1949

The back cover :

Wow do I like this floating panel dress. It is Butterick 4973 and I want to make this dress! My search today for the pattern has brought up many ladybug glove patterns (also Butterick 4973) but not this elegant dress that I want to own! Alas….I will have to continue searching.

What I also loved about this Fashion News is the action wear – nothing that we would really call action wear. The tennis dress I understand. I just have to keep it in context of the times. Though, I have to say I prefer this action wear to modern day action wear for daily use. Horrors of horrors, the women sitting in front of me at the opera on Saturday night were wearing work out pants ……yes …..both of them. Even a nice little dress would have looked more appropriate. Oh well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How to Sew On Lace

Still with Butterick Fashion News from June 1949 - very appropriate for the weather over the weekend, in the 80's which is just wonderful for what is supposed to be a cold Decembe.  But I digress.....

The Butterick  Fashion News has instructions on how to sew lace.

Butterick is also advocating jackets and stoles for sun dresses.

I particuarily like pattern 4898. Very elegant.

Friday, December 10, 2010

June 1949 - Butterick's Recommendations

Whew, following a to do list is really unexciting.  Trust me.  So I am not going to provide daily updates because it would put everyone who reads it to sleep...including me.  However, I think that black and white swirly dress has bad karma or maybe it's cursed!  Seriously, it took me hours upon hours to get that zipper in.  First I baste it in backwards one direction, then the next.  Then I get the right side but forgot to cut the extra bit at the top...and on and on and on.  No wonde this became an unfinished object, I almost tossed it aside for the second time!!!

But...take a look at these:

Every month Butterick, and I am assuming other pattern companies, would publish advertizing pamplets with what is "in."

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Perpetual Meh

It is not done, but here it is in it's present state.  Does the fabric give you a headache or just annoy you?  I cant decide.  I will shoot an upclose picture of the fabric, it is very busy.

It needs a zipper and a hem.  I wonder where I put that zipper I bought for this dress?  This is what happens when you buy notions  a year and a half before you need them - you end up buying them again.

No Zipper, no finish
Interestingly, this pattern seems to be ever so popular and I like some of the dresses made up with the pattern.  I think the fabric is just not drapey enough for the pattern.  It is also a pain to press.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Black and White Swirls or UFO #1

UFO #1
The first item coming off of my December list is this UFO.  It has been sitting on my sewing table for about a year and a half.  It will be off of the table by the end of 2010.

A year and a half on from the point of just giving up because the bodice was inches bigger than the skirt which made putting them together seem impossible, I have learned many skills which would have prevented this from occurring.

In fact, many problems I encountered with this pattern I would not now encounter.

There are a number of reasons this dress became an UFO;

  1. I didn’t like the fabric.  This is now a no-no for me.  If I don’t like the fabric, no matter what, I do not buy the fabric.  The irony is not just that I don’t like the fabric but I spent more money for it than I normally did.  Also, it is a cotton stretch….ugh. 
  2. I did not know about FBAs at this time so I cut the bodice to fit what I thought was the correct bust size.  Wrong!  I had so many fitting issues because the bodice gaped at the arms.  Much fiddling occurred to try and fix that.  A simple FBA would have resolved that issue!
  3. I had never eased in anything.  You will note there are no sleeves in this dress because at this point in time sleeves scared me.  It wasn’t until I picked this back up today when the lightbulb went off and I figured I could just ease the bodice into the skirt.  Duh….how simple.  Never occurred to me when I was first making the dress.
  4. I didn’t know about different types of interfacing and the one I have is too heavy/thick.  This problem still exists but I if I made this up now, it wouldn’t.
  5. The ribbons on the pleats just would not press correctly.  I now know what to do to fix this and may work on this before I go to sleep tonight.
  6. Zippers scared me.  Not any more.
  7. I was making this to go to a party.  What was I thinking???   I didn’t love this outfit so why would I hurry to complete it to wear to a party?  Once the party got close and I had issues, this was tossed aside with pleasure.
  8. Hubris: I seriously thought I would be able to whip this together in a few days….right!  Now that would be a possibility but then….no way.

Current Status:  Bodice and skirt have been sewn together!  It did take a while to ease the bodice into the skirt but it was doable.   

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sewing Goals for December

December is such a busy month for me even with a week+ off from work, there is simply not enough time for everything. In an attempt to keep my sewing focused… I go making lists.

1. Under no circumstances am I permitted to purchase fabric. Notions such as thread and zippers are permitted.

2. Finish a minimum of 2 UFOs for the learning process involved. I have 4 UFOs on my sewing table and by UFOs I don’t mean the hem has not been sewn up. I mean a project that is in such an unfinished state it is unwearable. These are all over a year old, some even older (YIKES…embarrassing).

3. Fix that darn wonderful vintage coat. Last February, I bought exactly the vintage coat I was looking for: size, color, length and price: everything PERFECT, I mean the dealer reduced the price to $35 for a wool coat! I inspected it and it looked to be in pristine condition. Well, the first time I wore the beauty, I reached up to bring down the garage door and I heard a RIP..WTF? It turned out that the perfect lining had been replaced with the tags sewn back in. However, the lining was sewn back in by HUGE running stitches…lets say an inch and ½ in length. I need to resew that lining.

4. Hems: Must sew up at least 2 hems. I hate sewing hems and if I don’t do this right away, the outfit sits and sits waiting for attention.

5. 1 new skirt out of existing fabric.

6. Trace off 3 patterns so they are ready to roll in 2011.

This list is already scaring me! But these are goals – what I would like to accomplish. I do not have to accomplish not what is required….must keep that in mind at all time.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


No, unfortunately not the skirt. Rather my serger has been hobbled…maimed….destroyed…by me.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend of sewing non-stop for hours on end, a pin dropped into the serger and when I went to use it snapped off one of the burrs. Yikes!!! No more serger. I now have to figure our repairs. This all happened last Friday and since I had to finish the dress, it really isn’t until now that I have been able to stop and contemplate this turn of events.

I did not always have a serger. It was a Christmas present a few years back. However, now I cannot imagine sewing without it for edge finishing. Truth been known, I am deadly afraid of the blades and have only used the blades on a few occasions…..make that well less than 10 occasions. The upper blade is always disengaged. It is scary.

With that being said, I use my serger on everything I sew now.

This is impacting what I sew in December. My local Janome repair place is not close by and I can only take in my machine on Saturdays. Every piece of material I am picking up I am quickly putting back down for fear of shredding while sewing.

Bah…..I am victim of technology.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Desperation = Invention

Here are additional pictures of my quick and desperate attempt to save the dress.  You can see more of the skirt which has been covered.

Interestingly, depending on the light, the contrasting whites do not look so bad together.  There is a place in my house where they absolutely work and places they clash.


I can see that I tied the ties too tight.  The bottom ties should be loser.  An easy fix at least.

She Shall Go To The Ball

Over Thanksgiving weekend I put in over 36 hours of sewing creating a ball gown.  What a mess.  Who knew that buying white fabric could be so difficult!  The white silk I bought for the skirt in no way matched the white for the rest of the dress.  The skirt white was blinding!  The whitest white I ever came across.  It didnt look that way in the store.

You might ask what do you do?  Well I thought about a tea bath much to late to try that.  I may still do that.

So what do you do when you realize on Friday night this isnt going to work at all??  Well, you take whatever remaining fabric you have and do not cut it but drape some overskirt.  Yah...that's the ticket and hope no one notices what in the world is going on.  Finish this up 25 minutes before the ball starts so forget about any further planned embelishment.

This is what you end up with............  you breathe a sigh of relief and go dance.  What else can a girl possible do.  The only other option is to stay home which is not an option.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy thanksgiving to everyone regardless of whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving.

I have so much to be thankful for and I truly am.

Enjoy the day and just a peek at what I am working on this weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Soooo, no sewing because I have been finishing up my Christmas shopping and food shopping for Thanksgiving.  I used to always have my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving.  But, the last few years, I end up finishing the shopping a few days prior to Christmas.  Bugger that I told myself this year.  I am finishing the dreaded Christmas shopping as soon as possible.  I used the gift card "bonus" I got from work last year and headed out this week.

It really pays to hide those things you like at TJMaxx.  I did this with one item in particular.  I relied on the basic laziness of all people; I figured most people would look at the size and just put it back on the rack.  I just changed it from a Medium hanger to a Large hanger in the correct section.  2 weeks later I made it back and I was sure that the item would be gone.  However....lo and behold....there it was still in the wrong section waiting for me!!  Yes, it is a good idea to rely on the basic laziness of people.

I have also finished shopping for food for Thanksgiving.  Wow, I spent too much on food.  But it will be a nice meal and no turkey.  I really cannot abide the stuff.  Besides, having off the boat parents, we never had a traditional American Thanksgiving, it was really what a traditional British meal....think Christmas dinner with some Greek dishes thrown in for the other side of the family.  Certainly no sweet potatoes with marshmallows ever touched our table. 

But you are really here for the sewing.  Vogue 6329 is done and dusted.  However, the photographs are just not turning out well.  I am not sure why.  Live shots are just not attractive...I blame the photographer.  The shots on the dress form show many small wrinkles which are not present except in the photograph.  Thus steam pressing needs to ensue so I can present the finished skirt.  Gah..... frustrated.

In other news, I am way behind on my ball gown.  I may have to wear something old.......

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Interesting Construction

The instructions for the waistband provided with this Vogue pattern were odd to say the least.  I did contemplate not following them but decided to give it a go.

After cutting your waistband, the instructions had you fold the waistband in half.  Then after folded in half, fold up the seam allowance.  After folding up the seam allowance, the waistband was placed on the skirt.

How odd!!  Then you just sew the waistband on.  It turned out fine, but it still seems a round about way of doing this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sewing in the Center

Zipper is in.  Not my usual invisible zip.  Instead, I challenged myself and tried a regular zipper.  To make it easy on my self (ha!) I decided to do a centered zipper.

I read and watched a variety of tutorials, all helpful, some very different.  I enjoyed hearing that you can glue stick the zipper to the fabric instead of basting or pinning by decided to leave that method by the way side because with my luck, the glue would stain the fabric.

Anywho…..I put in my first centered zipper.  Aint bad for a first try if I do say so myself.

It hangs better when it isnt flat.  It really looks better than this photo seems to show. 

But I digress.  I wanted to put this zipper in by machine, you know to challenge myself.  But that did not work out at all.  I just cannot seem to get a handle on machine sewing zippers.  It bubbled, the seam was wonky so out it came.  I decided to give an hand picked zipper a go.

Much better.  First try was not rip worthy.  It shall stay put.  I feel confident that this process will become even easier.  Besides, what better place to practice but on a side seam zipper on a skirt.  This puppy is one small zipper, all 25 cents of it!  If any one is close enough to comment on the zipper they need to back the hell up. 

Also, Rosy thanks for the help on the lined skirt!! It is much appreciated!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking Down on a Mountain of Fabric

Work has been too consuming this week.  I have not been getting out in time to sew.  So, all I have is a zipper 1/2 basted into the skirt.

Why oh why does work get in the way of the things I want to do?  Oh yeah, that’s just life.

In other news, some pictures of  only some of the fabric I purchased.  I had a lot of trouble with picture taking, especially with blues and greens.  I am leaving out the blues because not one picture showed the correct color.  I had a furry over-seer of all the fabric

The velvet is a stretch and a green and way nicer than this picture looks.  I think I ended up with 6 yards of this.  Though I will not be using it until probably next June.  I have a plan.

These plaids will make nice skirts.  I love the blue and yellow stripe in the one.

This is black and gold and shimmery but it looks like yick in this photo.  It really is much nicer.

Monday, November 15, 2010

It Seems to be Working

I sewed up the lining and while I like the fabric for actual lining it was horrific to cut out and sew.  Even with a lot of pins, there was slipping and sliding galore!

Here is the lining:

Boring but I wanted proof that I went forward with the lining.  This fabric is heavier than the cotton I am using and I like the combination when the fabrics are put together.

Here is the skirt with the lining attached.

Some white peeping out.

Now, a zipper.  The instructions next tell you to do a placket.  I will give it a try tomorrow.  If I have any problems, the placket is bye-bye because the lining does give the skirt a nice finished edge.  Maybe the placket should just be tossed……hmmmm something to think about.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Update on the Lining

First off, thank you all for commenting and providing guidance.  I sometimes get caught up in trying to do everything just right which causes me to spin my wheels endlessly.  The lining was one such issue.

I have cut out 1/2 of the lining and sewn it using essentially the same seam allowances because the fashion fabric is a nice crisp cotton and I really just want the skirt to hang properly.  If I do not like how it is hanging, well there is this wonderful tool called a seam ripper and I shall make adjustments.

In other news, I went fabric shopping on Saturday and boy did I buy fabric.  Lots and lots and lots of fabric.   I must have come home with over 30 yards.  I know 2 purchases were 8 yards each.  I had to go back to my car 3 times to dump off bags of fabric.  I even had one store put some fabric aside so I could come back later because I just could  not carry any more.

I was disappointed in one of my favorite stores for silk.  The have almost doubled the price for silk dupioni.  Yikes, I almost croaked when I was told the price.  Then they gave a song and dance how price of dupioni has increased in all the stores because the cost to make it has increased.

Well, the next store I went to and asked about the same color dupioni gave me the expected price!  So, count me disappointed.

Tomorrow, photos of fabric will be forthcoming.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lining - - -SOS

I decided that this skirt needs a lining.  The fabric is a little crispy and wrinkled just trying it on this evening.  I have a stash of lining material so why not?

EXCEPT – I have a question that my books do not answer for me.  It may be obvious to everyone else….so if anyone knows:

When making the lining for a skirt where there is a 5/8th seam allowance, is the seam allowance on the lining 5/8ths as well? Or is it smaller or even bigger??

If anyone can help, I would greatly appreciate it!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Something Like Instant Gratification

Wow, why have I never made just a simple skirt before?  This is coming together so quickly I am downright amazed.

Once the pattern was traced, I zipped through cutting out the fabric due to my rotary cutter.  Then, zip zip zip and the seams are sewn.

This is almost done but not yet pressed so ignore the wrinkles for the moment:

Now, I need to figure out the placket thing.  Also, I do not have a zipper in this color, so I fear not a lot will be done until the weekend. 

I did shorten the pattern by 2 inches.  I think it needs a little more.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Just a Taste

Here is the fabric for the skirt:

Actually, this picture does not do it justice but camera problems forced me to go with this one!

Also, here is another fabric that I am going to start cutting into this week.  It will be for the bodice of a gown for one of the upcoming balls.  It is an embroidered white silk dupioni.

This time of the year is known as ball season so a girl needs some options.  Unfortunately, this was just a remnant of maybe 3 yards.  I purchased this a long time ago for a ridiculously low price.  Now I need to get some plain white silk dupioni this weekend for the skirt.

If only work did not get in the way of sewing.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Up Next

Recently, I went on a spat of skirt pattern buying so I knew the next project would be a skirt.  I also knew I would want to line the skirt even though I had never done that before.

However, since the last project, which I do love, took a really long time to complete, I think I am going to forgo the lining at the moment.  I may change my mind; it is a woman’s prerogative to do so. 

I also knew what fabric….a green, somewhat a cross between lime and khaki green.  No photo since I just popped the fabric into the washing machine.

I then dithered around trying to decide on which skirt pattern to use.  After a lot of dithering, I decided to go with this one:

Vogue 6329 from 1952; it is perfect for work.  Imagine my surprise when I decided to look this pattern up on the vintage pattern wiki to find that the actual pattern sitting on my desk is the same pattern on the wiki.  How do I know?  Easy….it has the exact same writing about Carolyn’s dark green “coudroy’ [sic} on it.

Don’t you just love it when there are notations on the pattern?  I do.  I know some of you are collectors and want a pristine envelope and pattern.  Not me, I don’t mind a torn envelope; it just shows that the pattern has had some use.  Not a bad thing in my opinion, but I am not collecting.

In this case, the pattern looks pristine so I have to wonder if it was ever used.  It is not a printed pattern so it is going to be a little harder to trace…argh.